The Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria has condemned the threat handed down by the Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu, to the Igbos in Lagos State urging them to vote for the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, or else they will die in the lagoon.
While advising that the Monarch should withdraw his curse, the CCFN, an organ of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, said the Royal Father is “missing the point that Nigeria is a Republic and a Democracy and not a Monarchy.”
The Executive Secretary of CCFN, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, in a statement obtained by journalists on Monday in Abuja, condemned Akiolu’s comments which, it said, amounted to threat and intimidation.
The organization stated that although it understands the Monarch’s genuine fear of losing the city to strangers, Lagos has been one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Africa for decades adding that, “any citizen contributing to its economy and politics can be a bonafide resident.”
Below is the full text of the statement:
PRESS STATEMENT REACTING TO OBA AKIOLU’S CURSE ON THE IGBOS IN LAGOS
“At the national offices of Caritas Nigeria and Justice Development and Peace Commission, we are totally shocked to read about the threat handed down by Oba Akiolu to the Igbos in Lagos.
“While it is understandable that a Royal Father would want for his wishes to be carried out, we are deeply concerned that the royal father is missing the point that Nigeria is a republic and a democracy and not a monarchy.
“We understand the genuine fear of the great Oba of losing Lagos to strangers. But 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.
“As such, the upstages as happened in the last elections are to be expected. Nevertheless natives and non-native residents should feel free to negotiate and clarify expectations but not in the threatening and intimidating manner the revered Oba has lashed out.
“We have just a few interrogations: why single out a particular ethnic group for this curse? Does it mean a Yoruba or Hausa person living in Lagos who votes for Jimi Agbaje will go scotfree but any Igbo who votes for Agbaje will drown in the Lagoon?
“Does it mean that people should vote out of fear and not their consciences? Would such an election be free and fair, where people have to vote out of intimidation?
Does not the threat of the Oba Akiolu amount to voter intimidation?
We humbly call on the Oba himself to withdraw his curse and rather appeal to the people, for indeed such a threat may amount to playing God and God who is a merciful father will not allow his children to die so senselessly just because they were fulfilling the dictates of their conscience. The fact that APC is government at the centre is a strong factor to employ and appeal to people to vote APC rather than invoking ancestral powers for destruction. Why is it that in Africa we usually invoke our powers for destruction and not for building-up?”