The leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos, Chief Bode George, has berated the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, for allegedly threatening Igbo people to vote for the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, or face death.
George said this at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday which was attended by a former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe; the PDP Chairman in the state, Tunji Shelle; and other party leaders.
George said it was unfortunate that Akiolu had openly taken sides with a political party. He urged the monarch to relinquish his crown and go into partisan politics if he could not remain neutral.
He said, “The Oba of Lagos is my friend but we belong to different political parties. I was shell-shocked when I heard the comments by my friend telling our Igbo brothers – because they decided who to vote for PDP – that he would curse them to run into the Lagos lagoon. By the grace of God that will never happen.
“He said he owns Lagos. There is a need to draw a line between who a kabiyesi is and who a governor is. The kabiyesi is a traditional ruler and father of all. If he wants to play politics like some of us, he should leave that throne, come out and meet us on the field.
“We should not denigrate that office and use it as a political platform to deride other parties.”
Also speaking, Ogunlewe said the PDP decided to give Igbo House of Representatives and House of Assembly tickets because the party had accepted them as Lagosians.
Ogunlewe said now that three non-indigenes have won seats in the National Assembly, Igbo in Lagos would have better representation. He, therefore, urged them not to be threatened by Akiolu and come out to vote for Jimi Agbaje on Saturday.
A PDP member, Mr. Oghene Egboh, who recently won the Amuwo Odofin federal constituency election, said many non-indigenes were being attacked by APC supporters because of their support for the PDP.
In a separate statement, the Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, described as unacceptable the alleged threat by Akiolu.
Fani-Kayode, in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, said many of President Goodluck Jonathan’s supporters in the North received similar threats before the March 28 election.
He, however, urged the APC to call its supporters to order as no party had a monopoly of violence.
He said, “The truth is that we were threatened with ethnic cleansing and religious carnage in the North had Gen. Muhammadu Buhari not won the presidential election on March 28 and had President Goodluck Jonathan not quickly conceded defeat.
“We let that go and kept the peace but now our traditional supporters are being threatened in Lagos and in many other states as we approach the April 11 governorship elections.
“Let it be clearly understood by all and sundry that any attempt to kill, maim or molest our supporters will be deemed unacceptable and will be met with defiance, contempt and a well-orchestrated and solid resistance.”
He called on the non-indigenes in Lagos to ignore the monarch and come out en masse to vote for Agbaje on Saturday.
Also, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria has called on Akiolu to withdraw the curse he allegedly placed on Igbo over Saturday’s governorship election in Lagos State.
The CCFN said the Lagos monarch’s utterances amounted to threat and intimidation.
It said that it understood Akiolu’s fear of losing the city to strangers but that Lagos has been one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Africa for decades “and any citizen contributing to its economy and politics can be a bonafide resident.”
The CCFN, an organ of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, in a statement by its Executive Secretary, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, condemned Akiolu’s comments, saying the monarch missed the point because “Nigeria is a republic and a democracy and not a monarchy.”
In his reaction, Akiolu denied saying Igbo who vote against Ambode, will die in the lagoon.
Akiolu, in a statement by one of his white cap chiefs, Lateef Aderibigbe Ajose, who is the Opeluwa of Lagos, said the words of the monarch were taken out of context.
The statement read, “My attention has been drawn to a publication in a national newspaper where Oba Riliwan Akiolu was alleged to have threatened Igbos in Lagos to make them vote for Ambode.
“Last Sunday, all honorary Eze Ndigbos in Lagos paid a courtesy call to Oba Akiolu. At the meeting the visitors praised the oba for his fatherly support for and cooperation with Igbo in Lagos. They assured him of their continued good neighbourliness with other tribes in Lagos and support everything that’ll further strengthen that harmony.
“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.”
The statement added that Akiolu said whoever works against the interest of Lagos would end up in the lagoon in line with tradition.
The statement added that the issue of ‘lagoon’ was expressed in proverbial terms.