The Eze Ndi Igbo in Lagos, Nwabueze Ohazulike, has called on Igbo residents in the state to remain calm and go out on Saturday to exercise their civic responsibilities without fear of intimidation.
He also admonished Igbo residents to continue to nurture the cordial relationship between them and the Yoruba community.
Mr. Ohazulike stated this, Wednesday, during a press conference hosted by Igbo leaders in Lagos.
“The Igbos have a long history of cordial relationship in Lagos State with the Yoruba community and other Nigerians and shall continue to cherish such relationship and make concerted efforts to protect and enhance it and to continue to promote the spirit of unity of Nigerians, love, peace and inter-ethnic harmony in the state.”
The Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu, had told a gathering which had Eze Ndi Igbos (traditional rulers) of all the local government areas in Lagos State that they should cast their votes for Akinwunmi Ambode, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, or “perish inside the lagoon.”
“On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water,” Mr. Akiolu had said.
The monarch’s statement angered the Igbo community in Lagos, even as it came under severe criticism, with christian groups and opposition politicians lambasting him for the utterance.
The APC swiftly issued a statement distancing itself from Mr. Akiolu’s remarks saying that he does not speak for the party.
In his press briefing on Wednesday, the Eze Ndi Igbo in Lagos described Mr. Akiolu’s statement as “detestable and unacceptable.”
“We have also noted that His Royal Majesty had declared that he was quoted out of context,” Mr. Ohazulike said in a prepared speech read out on his behalf by Henry Okoye, the Palace Secretary.
“We request for all Igbos to remain calm and to go out massively on Saturday to exercise their civic responsibilities without fear of intimidation,” said Mr. Ohazulike, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Association of Eze Ndi Igbo in the Diaspora.
“Igbos are not discouraged by this latest development and would continue to cherish democracy and its universal concept of one man one vote and as enshrined in the constitution of the federal republic.
Mr. Ohazulike dissociated himself from the group who paid a courtesy visit to the Oba of Lagos, adding that those who were at the Iga Idunganran Palace do not represent the Igbo people in Lagos.
“How can I send such type of people to hold brief for me when I’m in Lagos? They are looking for money. They are looking for influence,” Mr. Ohazulike said, in response to a question on whether he send delegates to the Oba’s palace.
“This Ezeship in Lagos, we are heading to 20 years now, we are not doing it with money. Our own is just to do our culture. And this is politics. Politics is where you like you cast your vote. This country belongs to all of us. Nobody has right to intimidate a group of people like Igbos because of politics. I have my civic right to perform on Saturday, so do all Igbos.
“Those people that visited there are nearer to lagoon, they have to take those people to lagoon. I was not there. Those that saw lagoon, it is very very easy for them to march to the lagoon. I didn’t send them.”