Controversy yesterday trailed the purported death threat to Nd’Igbo by Lagos monarch, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, if they voted against the All Progressives Congress, APC governorship candidate, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, at the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections on Saturday.
The monarch had on Sunday purportedly told Ndi’Igbo in Lagos to vote for Ambode or be ready to die in the lagoon.
A furious Oba Akiolu allegedly said that he was not ready to beg the Igbos and that if they repeated what they did on March 28 when they cast their ballots for President Goodluck Jonathan, they would face dire consequences.
Igbo residents in Lagos are seen as strong supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje.
In the presidential election, which was won by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan made an impressive showing in the contest, scoring over 600,000 votes in Lagos, the stronghold of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
At the meeting with Ndi’Igbo leaders on Sunday, Oba Akiolu said: “On Saturday April 11, if anyone of you goes against Ambode who I picked, that is your end. If it doesn’t happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me.
“Jonathan is my son and I speak to him every day. By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future.
“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.
“I’m not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi (Agbaje) is my blood relation and I told him that he cannot be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere, don’t do it here.
“If you do what I want, Lagos will continue to be prosperous for you. If you go against my wish, you will perish in the water,” he said.
PDP condemns monarch’s threat
In a reaction to the monarch’s threat, the national leadership of the PDP, yesterday condemned the emerging height of political recklessness in Lagos and Ekiti states ahead of Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections and called on all Nigerians to stand up against such anti-democratic tendencies.
According to the party, “the senseless and unpatriotic impeachment move against Governor Ayo Fayose by out-going APC state legislators and the barbaric death threats on non-indigenes in Lagos by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu if they vote for the PDP candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, ascends to a height of unruliness that should not be accommodated.
“The PDP totally and unequivocally rejects the flimsy and unsubstantiated allegations concocted by the APC legislators against Governor Fayose. We state in very clear terms that we will stand with him and bear our full weight in defence of the mandate freely given to him by the people of Ekiti State.
“We invite all lovers of democracy and the international community to note the antics of APC and the deliberate plot to destabilise the polity even when it is yet to assume power.”
In the same vein, PDP said it is indeed most unfortunate that a royal father of the status of the Oba of Lagos should attempt to drag the revered traditional institution into partisan politics to the level of threatening innocent Nigerians with the view to prevent them from freely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.
“Our response to the Oba of Lagos is that he cannot play God and can never be God. God owns the universe and every part of it and can never share His glory with any human no matter how highly placed. We therefore call on all Nigerians in Lagos State; all Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and people of other tribes; all northerners and southerners; all Christians and Muslims to turn against this unpatriotic stance, by coming out en-masse to vote for the PDP candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje on Saturday,” the party said.
Oba Akiolu’s clarifies position
Meanwhile, Oba Akiolu has said that he is at peace with Nd’Igbo in Lagos because they have never betrayed him.
In a statement issued on his behalf yesterday by Chief Lateef Aderibigbe Ajose, the Opeluwa of Lagos, Oba Akiolu said that his attention was been drawn to a publication in a national newspaper that he threatened Igbo in Lagos not to dare vote against Ambode on Saturday.
According to him, all honorary Eze Ndi’Igbo in Lagos paid him a courtesy call where they praised him for his fatherly support and cooperation with them.
Ajose said the visitors assured the monarch of their continued good neighborliness with other tribes in Lagos and support everything that’ll further strengthen that harmony.
He said: “Oba Akiolu on his part acknowledged the enviable performance of Governor Raji Fashola and his contribution to the growth of investments in Lagos. He gave the assurance that he is not disturbed or angry with South-East and South- South votes for President Jonathan as perceived by the Eze Ndi’Igbo. The Oba thereafter called on the Igbo chiefs to show appreciation to Lagos State by supporting his candidate, Mr. Ambode for continuity of excellence as they had earlier promised. He assured them of his continued support and assistance where needed and the meeting ended with the traditional breaking of kolas, alligator pepper, and bitter kola and pouring of liberation on the ground.
“It was within this context that that the tradition of Lagos with regard to the lagoon came up. It was said that according to tradition, whoever works against the throne and the interest and peaceful co-existence of Lagos would end up in the lagoon. Oba Akiolu stated further that the Igbo people have not betrayed the throne. Lagos has also not betrayed the Igbo people. Lagos has done so much to make the Igbo comfortable and to prosper. For this, we expect reciprocal respect and understanding.
“The Oba of Lagos prays that the Lagoon and the throne will continue to bless and protect all those who reside and visit Lagos.
Oba Akiolu is the father of all irrespective of tribe, religion or political persuasion. In Lagos, we have an old traditional proverb that relates to the Lagoon. The Lagoon is unique to Lagos. The proverb stresses the need for unity and understanding when you do business in an environment and in this case when you live and do business in Lagos. Oba Akiolu prays for peace for the land of Lagos and prosperity for all its inhabitants,” Ajose said.
Monarch issued the threat – Ezes
Nigerian Pilot learnt that in his response, the Eze-Nd’Igbo of Amuwo-Oriade, Dr. Gordian Ojiako, promised Akiolu that the Igbo in the state would support Ambode.
“The mistake of last Saturday was caused by everybody, not only the Igbo. It is not only the Igbo who were responsible for the votes. But we have learnt our lesson. Saturday’s election is going to be a different thing and Ambode is going to win.
“Everybody knows that when you fail the first time, you cannot afford to fail again. We are going to tell our people that Ezes from the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas are here and that we have sworn with the Oba that we are going to make sure that Ambode wins next Saturday’s election,” he said.
But one of the Ezes who was at the meeting said that after Oba Akiolu ended his diatribe to the Igbo leaders, he walked out on them.
He said: “When he came down the stairs to meet with us, he was already vibrating with anger.”
Ojiako later confirmed the incident to Premium Times, adding that Oba Akiolu said worse things to them before storming out of the room.
“It will be wrong to challenge him inside his palace,” Ojiako said yesterday, adding that he was not yet ready to speak to journalists on the matter.
“We will go back and convene a meeting of Igbo stakeholders and respond to him appropriately,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ambode, has promised not to discriminate against any tribe if he is elected as the governor of the state.
Ambode stated this yesterday when he received 20 buses from a group, Nigeria Progressive Ambassadors, in Lagos, He said: “Every group in Lagos is safe in my hands as governor. I will not discriminate against any religious or ethnic group. It is our Lagos and we must build it together.
“In my acceptance speech after the primaries, I made this known that I will be a governor for all and Lagos is safe in my hands. I want to build on the foundation of unity, peace, progress and development laid by my predecessor.
“I am your best choice for a Lagos that must continue to thrive. And though tongue and tribe may differ, we stand in brotherhood in Lagos from the smallest ethnic groups to the major ones. We are all stakeholders.”