Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Pained by the orgy of unprovoked attacks against Igbos and their business interests in different parts of Nigeria particularly in the wake of the 2023 general election, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Council of Elders, has declared that Igbo would no longer watch idly, the senseless killing of their kinsmen in any part of the country again.
The elders took the firm decision after an emergency virtual meeting of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Council of Elders which had in audience, participants from across the globe.
They reviewed the barbaric attacks against Igbo living in Lagos especially the burning of Igbo dominated markets in the former Nigeria capital in the aftermath of the general election, and vowed that the masterminds of the heinous acts must not be allowed to escape judgment.
The elders noted that illustrious Igbo sons and daughters played key role in Nigeria’s independence, and have continued to contribute immensely towards her greatness, hence, do not in any way deserve what the race gets in return from the Nigeria State and her citizenry.
A communique issued after the emergence meeting read in part: “The Elders have resolved that Ndigbo will no longer fold their hands and watch their kit and kin humiliated, brutalised and killed.
“Based on the foregoing, the Council of Elders directed Ohanaeze Ndigbo to set up an Emergency Telephone Line where Igbos in Lagos who are victimised because of their Igbo origin will report.”
The Council also resolved to probe the attacks against Igbo interests in Lagos in the aftermath of the elections, and take necessary local and international steps to make the perpetrators pay for their evil.
“The Elders have directed the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in association with Council of Elders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to set up an Enquiry to carry out full investigation into the killings and destruction of properties and assets of Ndigbos in Lagos. Amongst other terms of reference, the report must indicate: Number of Igbos killed; Number of Igbos injured and hospitalised; Number of Igbos permanently incapacitated; Comprehensive report of Igbo assets and properties destroyed including the burning of market.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo will ensure that all perpetrators of this criminal activity are brought to book and adequate reparation/compensations paid to the victims.”
The elders also resolved to set up a high-powered delegation of Ndigbo to engage the Lagos State Governor, as well as Yoruba Leaders to ensure harmonious relationship between the the Igbo and their Yoruba hosts.
The delegation is also to meet with the Federal Government on how to safeguard the security and protection of Ndigbo living in any part of Nigeria.
“High powered Igbo delegation will be sent to Lagos to meet with some Leaders of Lagos State in order to establish a lasting cordial and peaceful relationship between the Igbo and the Yoruba in Lagos.
“The Elders resolved to formally petition the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR in order to express our sadness and disappointment over this unfortunate development. We also intend to send protest letter to the National Assembly and other relevant agencies to express our feelings.
The communique further read: “An emergency virtual meeting of Council of Elders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide was convened to review the painful and agonising experiences of Igbo in Lagos during the recent Nigerian General Election.
“During this election, innocent Igbos resident in Lagos who came out as patriotic Nigerians to cast their votes were assaulted, brutalised and some were reported to have been killed in the process by some miscreants and thugs recruited by some desperate politicians.
“These unpatriotic Nigerians destroyed properties belonging to the Igbo, for example, a whole market was burnt.
“Information available to us reveal that they are still threatening the lives of Igbo and their properties in Lagos State.
“The Elders at this meeting critically reviewed the Igbo experiences in Nigeria and unanimously agreed that Igbos since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 have remained committed towards peace, progress and economic development of Nigeria.
“The Igbo at various times demonstrated this commitment by the activities of some of their sons and daughters. For example, an Igbo son Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was very prominent in the struggle for independence of Nigeria. Azikiwe with some other nationalists from other ethnic groups worked very hard to ensure that Nigeria attained Independence on October1, 1960.
“In various fields of human endeavour, the Igbos have blazed the trail and very often projected Nigeria to international recognition and fame.
“The Elders recalled with sadness and deep regret, the events of 1966 that led to the Nigerian civil war. The civil war destroyed many Igbo lives and properties.
“Indeed, Ndigbo at the end of the civil war in January, 1970 were impoverished and brutalised physically and materially.
“The Elders drew similarity between the current events in Lagos to those that led to the civil war. In the recent events, the Igbo were attacked during the Lagos governorship election for voting for political parties of their choice in an election which featured only Yoruba candidates.
“All the candidates for the election in Lagos State were Lagosian or Yorubas. It is therefore strange, unjust and inconceivable to profile the Igbo and their assets for destruction because they exercised their franchise in favour of the Yoruba candidates.
“It was observed that any Igbo man who attempted to defend himself was branded a thug, arrested and detained while the assailants who manifested and exemplified thuggery were freed.
“We appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to bring to book all those who played remote and immediate roles in killing, maiming and destroying the properties of the Igbos in Lagos State.
“We also appeal to the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Babajide Sanwolu, to use his office as the Chief Security Officer of Lagos State to protect Igbo lives and properties and ensure that the Igbo who are maliciously detained in various police stations are released.
“We have been in touch with some Leaders of Lagos State and we are convinced that there is no state of war or crisis between the Igbo in Lagos and Lagosian or Yorubas, rather it is the handiwork of a few desperate politicians and miscreants.”
“We also intend to point out to the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Governor of Lagos State that, just as the votes cast for the Labour Party in Lagos State could not have been from the Igbo community alone, there are numerous Igbos in Lagos State who are not only staunch members of the APC, but vehemently supported and voted for the APC in all the elections.”
The Elders advised the Igbos living in Lagos to remain calm and go about their normal businesses.
Signatories to the communique include: Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Chairman, Ohanaeze Council of Elders; Ambassador Okey Emuchay, Secretary General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo; Chief Simon Okeke; and Elder Adolphus Agbason (Europe).
Others are Mazi Ignatius Muotoh (Europe); Prof. Godfrey Ajoku (USA); Chief Kingsley Obaji (USA); and the Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Dr Alex Ogbonnia.
Meanwhile, Eze Igbo in Lagos, Chief Nwajagu, arrested for allegedly threatening to invite IPOB to help protect Igbo interests in Lagos against incessant senseless attacks by hoodlums is still in custody even as perpetrators of the attacks and their masterminds are yet to be picked up for questioning.