The Witness Opinion
When the #EndSARS protests started some few weeks ago over police brutality, many people said it was the right thing to do; after all wherever there is genuine democracy, the choice to demonstrate peacefully becomes the fundamental right of the citizens. It is also enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution (Section 40 of the Constitution) and other enactments provide for this.
Therefore, when some youths went to the streets to protest the ugly and devastating activities of the now disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) some weeks back, many Nigerians and those in the Diaspora welcomed it with open hands. However, as some well meaning Nigerians were pleading that the protests should be done in a peaceful way, devoid of violence so that the government would have a convivial atmosphere to look into their demands, the organizers added other requests to the list.
Conversely, following the government’s dillydallying on SARS’ proscription, the demonstrators refused to leave the streets, insisting that they’ll only do so if their demands were copiously and rounded met. They requested the government to take a comprehensive overview on all their demands including the proscription SARS.
Ironically, as noble as the protest appears, it is obvious that it has been hijacked by hoodlums, tribal bigots, separatists and unpatriotic elements. Sadly, in some parts of the core north and southwest, some certain elements, hiding under the guise of ethnic movement have begun accusing the people in the southeast of sponsoring the protests in Abuja and Lagos.
The Igbos, they said led the Yorubas to damage, set ablaze and totally destroy some properties of some prominent Yoruba people in Yorubaland. The most vexing of this trash is a video clip by one Adeyinka, supposedly a grandson of late Gen Adebayo Adeyinka now circulating in the social media. In the video, the young man insinuated a number of allegations against the Ndigbo and even gave them 48 hours to leave Yoruba land or be annihilated.
What a demented way of devilishly labeling a well intention protest to force the government to change gear for good governance! Igbos, it is known are in all parts of the country, doing their businesses without interfering in the daily governance of their host state. They have investments all over the country more than what they have in Igboland. Without a doubt, these investments run into billions of dollars.
Now, how would a sane person destroy his investments? Igbo axiom has it that ebe onyebi ka onawachi? (You build and develop the place of abode). Certainly, this is sacrosanct on all Igbos because they abide by this maxim to the hilt. Therefore, the tales/gossips spreading in the social media that Igbos masterminded the shift of the demonstrations from peaceful to violence must be seen and treated as hate speech, while those spreading it should also be seen as enemies of Nigeria by all Nigerians.
Though, some of the unguided state utterances of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) leave much to the deserved; his utterances shouldn’t be used as a yardstick to measure Igbos’ patriotism in the Nigerian project. Igbos have individually and collectively paid their dues in the Nigerian project and therefore shouldn’t be branded as anti Nigeria. What they demand is better treatment and good governance and that’s what the protesters are asking for. We all know that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu sometimes flies off the handle!
The Witness Magazine welcomes wholeheartedly the statement by Ndigbo in Lagos to the effect that no Igbo man or woman was involved in the looting and destruction of properties of anyone; Yoruba or any national. Ndigbo in Lagos, Abuja or elsewhere are genuinely occupied with their trades; therefore, they should not be linked with violent protests.
The Witness therefore reinforces the stance of in Ndigbo Lagos that “Ndigbo Lagos associates itself with the demands of the ENDSARS protests across the nation of Nigeria. It is regrettable that miscreants hijacked the genuine protests resulting in destruction of lives and properties and looting of shops in several cities in Nigeria, especially in Lagos.
“It is equally regrettable and condemnable that inappropriate use of force was applied against the genuine protesting youths on October 20th, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate Lagos with the unfortunate results of fatalities and gunshot injuries. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace. We equally condemn the attacks of hoodlums on the Palace of Oba of Lagos, taking away his staff of office and leaving behind them flames of fire on the Palace. This amounts to mindless desecration of the exalted throne of the Oba and the traditions of the land.
“Further to the above developments, Ndigbo Lagos notes with displeasure, a malicious, spurious and mischievous publication by AOKOYA gaining traction in the social media, insinuating that some Igbos may have been responsible for the unfortunate collateral damage in Lagos by hoodlums under the guise of ENDSARS Protests. They alleged that the destruction was a fallout of envy and desire of enemies of Yorubas to destroy the industrial and other advantages Yoruba land has over them.
“Ndigbo Lagos makes haste to state that the above perception is founded on falsehood and grossly misleading. While not joining issues with AOKOYA, Ndigbo Lagos cautions that such misinformation can drive a wedge between the Igbos and Yorubas, notwithstanding the historic mutual relationship between the two ethnic nationalities, especially those living in Lagos. AOKOYA appeared to be insensitive to the dangers of insecurity such unthoughtful publications could trigger off.
“Ndigbo Lagos is not unmindful of the fact that ENDSARS Protests with their demands for good governance, justice, fairness and restructuring of Nigeria to a true federal nation is being resisted by the beneficiaries of the convoluted Nigeria as presently configured. The common adversaries of change will fight back by employing all sorts of divide and rule tactics to break the ranks of all nationalities pushing for change in Nigeria. Yorubas, Igbos and several other nationalities that are pushing for true federalism should not allow divide and rule among themselves through fanning of ethnic sentiments. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
“Ndigbo Lagos draws the attention of AOKOYA to the fact that only a foolish man who lives in glass house throws stones. How could Igbos who have much stake in the peace and security of Lagos on account of their investments and long-standing relations risk participating in destruction of properties in Lagos? This is both unthinkable and unintelligible.
“Ndigbo Lagos assumes that the publication of AOKOYA may have been in response to the recent voice message of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu on the unfortunate destructions by hoodlums in the ENDSARS Protests in Lagos. We also listened to the unfortunate voice message, which was provocative, and reminiscence of terrorism and we distance ourselves from the unwarranted vituperation in the voice message. Ndigbo Lagos recognizes Mazi Nnamdi Kanu as our son, but he did not and does not speak for Igbos on any issue. Nnamdi Kanu’s mispeak should therefore not be visited on Igbos as much as Yoruba nationality should not be held accountable for the rantings of their sons who sometimes fly off the handle.
“Ndigbo Lagos commiserates comforts the Governor of Lagos State over all the losses and urges him to continue to stay focused in his efforts to provide dividends of democracy and especially security to all under his jurisdiction in this trying times. We urge all Igbos in Lagos not to be involved in any form of illegalities, but to mind their businesses and immediately report any suspected criminal plans to security agencies and to Ndigbo Lagos through its phone numbers. Long live Nigeria. Long live Lagos State”.
This statement by Ndigbo Lagos is apt and appropriate and The Witness supports it and hopes that men and women of goodwill across the nation and even beyond will regard the unwarranted tales by some disgruntled elements in the southwest as trash meant for the trashcan.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.