•Ohanaeze condemns arson, vandalism in Lagos
Christopher Isiguzo, Gideon Arinze in Enugu and James Sowole in Akure
Governors of the South-west states have tasked security agencies to defend the country as the #EndSARS protests and activities of hoodlums escalated nationwide.
This is coming as the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned the vandalism, looting and arson unleashed on Lagos State by hoodlums who took over the EndSARS protests after the imposition of curfew in the state.
The governors expressed solidarity with their Lagos State counterpart, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, over the violence in the state, which they said has impacted negatively on the region.
They noted that a protest, widely acclaimed as peaceful and purpose-driven, has been hijacked by some people to execute a destructive design.
The Chairman of the South-west Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), in a statement yesterday in Akure, said President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governors responded positively to the demands of the protesters.
Akeredolu said the decision reached at the National Economic Council (NEC) that all state governors should set up judicial panels of inquiry, had been complied with.
Akeredolu noted that recent developments showed other reasons for the continued protests.
He said the spread of fake news and videos, which followed an allegation of shooting by some soldiers with a claimed heavy casualty figure at the Lekki Tollgate was responsible for the subsequent loss of lives and property.
He commiserated with the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, on what he described as the sacrilege committed at his palace and condemned the vile destruction of businesses where a former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, has interests.
He said: “This regression into savagery exposes our land as not only vulnerable but susceptible to vile manipulations by elements keenly anxious to annihilate the South-west and destroy our common heritage.
“We are deeply concerned with the ease with which public buildings, utilities, police stations and investments of our people have been burnt despite the proximity of security agencies in those areas. We call on the heads of all security agencies to be alive to their obligations to defend the country. We charge the relevant security agencies to investigate all cases of violence with a view to identifying the culprits.
“We are particularly worried that, 48 hours, after the unfortunate incident at the Lekki tollgate by persons adorning military fatigue, there has been no definitive statement from the military authorities on the incident. Our anxiety becomes heightened by the categorical denial of the governor of Lagos State concerning the deployment. No governor has the power to authorise the deployment of military personnel in Nigeria.
“We note, with great relief, the confirmation by the governor that no fatality was recorded at the Lekki Tollgate incident based on visits to hospitals, mortuaries, both private and public. There were no doubt different levels of injury to persons arising from the incident at the Lekki Tollgate.
“Consequently, we insist that full investigation be conducted to ascertain the veracity of the news items liberally circulated by some local media.
“It is becoming very clear that the conflagration may have been caused by deliberate deployment ‘a weapon of mass confusion,’ apology to Dr. Ope Banwo. The attendant damage was extensive and massive.
“The selective application of jungle justice raises suspicion as regards the real motive of the arsonists and vandals. We use this medium to appeal to the youth, especially those of South-west extraction, to be circumspect lest they lend themselves to the evil schemes of those who want to destroy our land.
“The protests started off as genuine, demanding reforms and restitution. The current happenings across the South-west, especially Lagos State, have exposed dubiousness and complicity evidencing malice afore-thought.
“We enjoin our youth to rise up to defend our land and people against the diabolical incursions ravaging our space. What do we stand to gain destroying ourselves? We cannot continue to fold our hands and watch our heritage destroyed and our people suffer. We must engage, constructively, all those whose dubious solution to a social problem is the descent to anarchy. We appeal to them to calm down.”
The governors commended Sanwo-Olu for his administrative acumen.
“We note his patience and understanding in the face of unwarranted provocation by agents of darkness. We stand, resolutely, with him at this trying period. We should not allow brigandage and wanton destruction of lives and property within our walls in the South-west.
“As we await reports from relevant agencies and action of government, we appeal to the young ones again to suspend the protest, remain calm and vigilant,” he said.
Ohanaeze Condemns Arson, Vandalism in Lagos
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned the vandalism and arson in Lagos by hoodlums who have hijacked the #EndSARS protests.
It condemned attempts to spark off a war between the Igbo and Yoruba following the ethnic colouration that has been given to the ongoing protests by youths.
Ohanaeze condemned the destruction of property belonging to the Yoruba, particularly in Lagos State, amid the protest against police brutality.
In a statement made available to journalists yesterday, the President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, expressed dissatisfaction with the statement by a Yoruba group, the Apapo O’Odua Koya (AOKOYA), alleging that Igbo youth were involved in the Lagos protest as part of plans to destroy the economy of the Yoruba.
He said Ohanaeze believes that the press statement is craftily drafted showing a skilful use of underhand tactics to set the Yoruba against Ndigbo.
Nwodo said the organisation was ready to resist all disagreements, knowing the historical affinity of the two great ethnic groups dating back to the days of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe through to the famous handshake across the Niger propagated by Ndigbo’s iconic leader, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu- Ojukwu.
He said: “This spontaneous relationship built by our forefathers over the years has been strengthened in the last three years by the political emancipation movement, being propelled by the Southern and Middle Belt leadership Forum (SMBLF) made up of four ethno- political bodies of Ndigbo, in the South-east, Afenifere in the South-west, PANDEF in the South-south and the Middle Belt Forum in the North Central Nigeria.
“Ohanaeze feels based on the intelligence available to it that the motive of this disturbing statement is not only to overtake the mileage covered by this group in setting their people free from the hegemonic bondage but to ensure its destruction.
“Ndigbo are focused and unequivocal about what they want in a contemporary Nigeria as already articulated in the terms of engagement of this group, which is to restructure Nigeria for a true federal system where justice and equity will reign.
“We, therefore, wish to refute any position being ascribed to Ndigbo even if such position is being adduced by an Igbo that is not within the realm of the struggle to free Nigeria as encapsulated in the terms of agreement of these ethnic nationalities.”
The organisation urged the Yoruba and other Nigerians to disregard any outburst from anybody as coming from Ndigbo that is not captured in the terms of agreement of the ethnic nationalities.
According to him, “For the obvious reason of having most of their businesses scattered all over the country, particularly in Lagos, knocks out the thinking of an Igbo setting out to destroy another person’s economy. Only a fool living in a glass house uses stone to settle scores.
“Already, as it had always been during every crisis in Nigeria, Igbo businesses are a target as happened last Tuesday in Abuja when car depots, belonging to Igbos was set ablaze by hoodlums.”