LAGOS, NIGERIA – The United Kingdom government has denounced the ethnic profiling and disenfranchisement of Igbos during the governorship election held in Lagos on March 18.
Ben Llewellyn-Jones, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, expressed his concerns about the inappropriate anti-Igbo messages chanted around polling units on election day, not only in Lagos but also in Enugu and Rivers states.
In an interview with Nigeria Info FM on Sunday, March 26, 2023, Mr Llewellyn-Jones highlighted the importance of diversity in Lagos, Nigeria’s cosmopolitan city, and the need for the inclusion of people from all ethnic backgrounds. He drew comparisons with London, where residents of diverse backgrounds are considered Londoners.
“People chanting anti-Igbo messages and walking on the streets by polling units on election day is totally unacceptable. Not just in Lagos, but also in Enugu and Rivers where we had our teams as well and many other places,” Ben Llewellyn-Jones, British deputy high commissioner to Nigeria, said.
“Why is it that people who pay taxes, who work, who provide teachers, who build businesses, who create jobs, who live in Lagos, who happen to be from a different ethnicity to some other people are not Lagosians? Of course, they are.
“The strength of Lagos is its diversity, and if Lagos can’t be that kind of cosmopolitan melting pot of culture and language and all the things it should be, then really how is Lagos going to succeed?
“If you live in London, you are a Londoner, a British-Pakistan is a Londoner. The British Prime Minister lives in London. My boss, the British foreign Secretary, is clearly British-Sierra Leone and lives in London, they are Londoners,” Mr Llewellyn-Jones added.
The UK and the United States have condemned the violence, and voter intimidation that marred the March 18 election across Nigeria, threatening sanctions against the political actors responsible for these actions.
In the days leading up to the election, ethnic tension escalated in Lagos, as operatives of the All Progressives Congress (APC) used ethnic-laced rhetoric to discourage opposition voters.
APC thugs roamed the streets, warning those who would not vote for their party to stay indoors.
Before the election, Musiliu ‘MC Oluomo, a notorious APC thug in Lagos, threatened Igbos who would not vote for the APC to stay indoors. However, the Nigerian Police dismissed his threat as a joke.