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Leaders urge peace, restraint in Lagos, others ahead of guber, legislative polls

By Eniola Daniel
15 March 2023   |   3:58 am
Leaders of ethnic groups, community-based organisations, civil society and artisan-led associations have sued for peace in the land, particularly Lagos, as governorship and Houses of Assembly elections hold this weekend.

Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

Leaders of ethnic groups, community-based organisations, civil society and artisan-led associations have sued for peace in the land, particularly Lagos, as governorship and Houses of Assembly elections hold this weekend.

Rising from a state of the nation press conference x-raying emerging threats of ethnic violence, facilitated by Journalists For Democratic Rights (JODER), the gathering urged restraint, peace and conflict prevention.

It acknowledged the fact that the debate on the gubernatorial election has been most intense in some parts of the country, including but not limited to Lagos, the Nigerian economic hub and the largest city state in Africa, knowing that the socio-developments in the country, from time immemorial, usually have far-reaching consequences on West Africa regional stability.

The meeting, in a communiqué signed the convener and Executive Director, Adewale Adeoye, and others, noted that in the past few weeks, tension has been stoked across the federation and many residents, including those in Lagos, are awed by the avalanche of discord over the governorship election, which has spilled over into ethnic and religious brawl.

Acknowledging that violence is an ill-wind that blows no one any good and a threat to stability and livelihood, the leaders observed that the anti-people policies of various governments have impoverished many Nigerians, almost turning them to scavengers in their own motherland, with dare consequences on social stability.

They held that deprivation, exploitation and exclusion have continued to worsen the economic and social conditions of many Nigerians coupled, in recent times, with the “subversive cash swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which disempowers Nigerians and diminishes their humanity.”

The forum said corruption, mismanagement and ineptitude of the ruling class continue to open up the seal, giving rise to violent expressions of economic, religious and ethnic nature.

Besides, they pointed out that land, resource management and allocation and exclusion of indigenous peoples remain a major source of friction across the federation, among other observed infractions.

The meeting failed to mention that deprivation of indigenous peoples from social, political and economic rights, denial of access to ancestral land, evacuation and all sorts of anti-people policies are real and continue to undermine their livelihoods and survival as a people.

It equally recognised the fact that every territory in Nigeria has her own culture, first nations and indigenous peoples.

The meeting stated: “We recoginse the infallible fact of history that in Lagos, the Awori, a sub-Yoruba ethnic group, having been acclaimed as the indigenous people of Lagos, recognising also that Lagos State territories like Epe, Ikorodu and Badagry have their own indigenous peoples that have lived in these territories since primordial times.

“We recognise the rights of peoples of diverse ethnic backgrounds, according to the dictates of the Nigerian constitution to live anywhere of their choice within Nigeria without disrespecting the dominant cultures.

“The Nigerian constitution is clear on the right of Nigerians to seek elective positions, according to the laws enshrined in the Constitution without hindrance leaving the choice to the electorate to decide out of their free, prior and informed consent.

“We are worried about the slide into hate and disdainful, provocative statements by political and social media actor, some of whose actions are fuelled by mischief, propaganda and conscious lies aimed at spurring ethnic violence and conflict across Nigeria

“The promoters of violence and extremism are few. We urge all ethnic groups not to equate the extremist opinions of fringe elements with the popular opinion of the peoples they claim to represent.”

The leaders, therefore appealed to all Nigerians, especially in Lagos, irrespective of faith, ethnicity and creed to sheath their sword and allow peace to reign.

They added: “We commit ourselves to preventing violence and conflict before and after the gubernatorial election, while any group or persons disturbed with the election outcome should seek redress in court.

“We hereby agree to embark on massive campaigns, through pamphleteering, advocacy visits, door-to-door engagements to stall any plot to cause disaffection, ethnic or religious strife between Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Ijaw, Urhobo, Ogoni, Andoni, and other ethnic groups in Lagos or elsewhere before, during the after the elections.”