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We need empathy not quit notice, Lagos tells residents

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Igbo and non-Yoruba residents of Lagos State, yesterday, got a groundswell of support, and promises of continuous harmonious co-habitation.

The solidarity messages were equally laden with tonnes of condemnation for war mongers, those whipping up ethnic sentiments, as well as those championing an “imminent tribal war” in the state, in the wake of last week’s mindless looting and destruction of public and private property by hoodlums.
 
Leader of a so-called Young Yoruba for Freedom, Adeyinka Grandson, who currently resides abroad, in a viral video urged all Igbo to leave Lagos in 48 hours or face dire consequences.
 
“We are giving you (Igbo) 48 hour ultimatum from Friday till Sunday October 25, to leave Yoruba land. From Monday, we will close all roads and stop all vehicles across Yoruba land, and all Igbo nationals would be dealt with accordingly,” Grandson alleged in the video.

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But leading the pack of those preaching national unity, and cautioning ethnic and religious jingoists against ruining the harmony that has existed in the state, is the state government, which has also denounced the viral video in strong terms.

Leaders of some Yoruba and Igbo socio-cultural groups, including Afenifere, Yoruba Ronu Forum, and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, unanimously decried the attempt to use the viral video and the carnage that trailed the #EndSARS protests as a basis to truncate the good relationship between the two ethnic nationalities.

The leaders, therefore, appealed to Ndigbo and their Yoruba brothers and sisters to continue to live together in peace and harmony, and not allow divisive elements to drive a wedge in between them, insisting that the solidarity that has been built over the years would ensure the good of the entire regions, and the country in general.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who denounced the video, urged Lagosians to disregard it, describing it as a tool of anarchists, whose plan is to create hatred and divisiveness for which Lagos is not known.

The governor was quoted as saying that inciting videos of this nature are not what the state needs now, following the loss of lives and destruction that fake news, misinformation and unfounded rumours have triggered in the state in the last couple of days.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement he signed said: “The government appeals to Lagosians to disregard the calls of ethnic and religious jingoists as well as agents of destruction who are on a mission to destroy our state by pitching us against one another for yet to be ascertained reasons.

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“This is a very critical moment for us as a people. It is, therefore, important that we stand together and remain circumspect because the brewery of falsehood is unrelenting in its mission.

“The sad incident of the past few days affected everyone who lives, trades, or works in Lagos, regardless of their tribe, culture, race and religion. This is a time for us to empathise with one another and not listen to purveyors of evil messages, especially on social media.

“The government will continue to protect lives and property. Fake news and inciting message merchants are hereby warned to stop their evil enterprise or face the legal consequences of their destructive actions. Our dear state will go through this with the resilience for which we are known and come out stronger,” he said.

IN the same vein, the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), yesterday, stressed that the Federal Government would go the extra mile to sustain the unity and integrity of the country.

Magashi, who stated this in Kano, while addressing stakeholders and leaders of ethic and religious groups on the prevailing protest in the state, insisted that the government would not allow the wave of unrest being orchestrated by sponsors of #EndSARS to plunge the country into anarchy.

General Magashi, who expressed the presidency’s regret over the unfortunate protests, said President Buhari has directed all ministers and members of the Federal Executive Council to prevail on their constituencies and ensure that peace returns.

He reminded them that the country is contending with enough economic and security challenges, noting that government would do everything possible to mitigate further destruction of life and prosperity in the country.

THE National leader of the Afenifere, Chief Ruben Fasoranti and President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, in a joint statement, yesterday, also deplored comments to incite indigenes of the regions against each other, stressing that they would resist such attempts.

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The statement titled ‘#EndSARS: Afenifere And Ohanaeze Say No To Willful Destruction’, stated: “The leaders of Afenifere and Ohanaeze jointly commiserate with all the families who lost dear ones in the Tuesday bloody encounter in Lekki, Lagos.

“The blood of these young ones will pursue their killers and those who ordered them to the gate of justice. One fallout of the Lekki gunshots was the looting and burning spree all over the city. We do not endorse arson as responsible organisations and we call for a stop of the orgies,” the groups stated.

They added: “We have also noted the divisive attempt to use the violence to put a wedge between Yoruba and Igbo, and destroy the new understanding we have built in the last three years.

“We reject this devilish attempt and ask the police to investigate and arraign suspected perpetrators responsible for the violence. The essence of law and order is for individual citizens to answer for their actions. It is where law enforcement is weak that you begin to cast ethnic slur when crimes are committed instead of holding the perpetrators.”

NOBEL laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, while reacting to the development in a statement titled, “Identity Thieves On The Rampage,” wrote: “Undoubtedly in order to promote the video clip of an ethnic revanchist calling on Igbo to leave Yoruba land, this same lunatic fringe has exhumed, and embarked on circulating an ancient fabrication – several years mouldering in the grave – once attributed to me and vigorously denounced.

“That statement impudently expounds, as my utterance, what the Hausa want, what the Yoruba want, and what the Igbo want. Such an attribution, let me once again reiterate, is the work of sick, cowardly minds that are ashamed, or lack the courage, as the saying goes, “to answer their fathers’ names. At least the current ethnic rabble-rouser has the courage of his convictions, not so the sick brigade of identity thieves,” Soyinka said.

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He continued: “Normally, one should totally ignore the social dregs. However, in the present atmosphere where fake news is so easily swallowed and acted upon without reflection, I feel once again obliged to denounce this recurrent obscenity. As for our brother and sister Igbo, I hope they have learnt to ignore the toxic bilge under which some Nigerian imbeciles seek to drown the nation.

“It is time, I believe, to also enter the following admonition: one cannot continue to monitor and respond to the concoctions of these addicts of falsehood, and their assiduous promoters who have yet to learn to wipe the filth off their tablets. The patrons of social platforms should develop the art of discrimination. Some attributions are simply so gross that, to grant them even a moment’s latitude of probability diminishes the civic intelligence of the recipient,” the laureate concluded.

THE President, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Mr. Akin Malaolu, appealed to Yoruba and Igbo in Lagos to disregard the threat by Grandson.

According to Malaolu, “It is not Igbo people that set property on fire during the mayhem, but hungry and angry Nigerians. We cannot use another crisis to solve an existing crisis.”

On the originator of the video, he asked: “How old was Grandson when Nigeria fought the 1967 Civil War? No reasonable Yoruba person should take him serious.”

WHILE appealing to Nigerian youths to embrace peace as the best means to drive home their demands for police reform, and other critical issues affecting the nation, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams, said Granson’s threat should not be taken seriously, especially coming from someone who resides abroad, and does not feel the heat of the struggle here.

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Adams in a statement, yesterday, extolled the rare determination and courage displayed by the youths, saying for having the courage to sustain #EndSARS protests for 13 days, the youths have also written their names in gold, especially for raising their voices against police brutality and standing up to fight against bad leadership.
 
He commiserated with families of those that died in the protests and the mayhem that followed, admonished the youths to give room for constructive dialogue, and also condemned the destruction of private and public properties, saying that some of the assets destroyed represent the bedrock of Yoruba political economy, and age long civilisation. “City Hall, Lagos Television and many others are legacies of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. We condemn in the strongest term, this reckless and coordinated attempt to destroy Yoruba economic birth right.”

YORUBA Ko’ya Foundation cautioned Grandson against allowing, “himself to be used for a script that we know. The script is to put the South West under fire and to make it unstable. The Igbo and the Yoruba have been co-existing for years.” 

According to the convener of group, Otunba Deji Osibogun: “We have inter-married. Even if you want to have a nation of your own, are you not going to have them as your neighbours? So, why do you want to fight your neighbours? If you want a Yoruba nation, because you want things to be better in that place, it doesn’t mean anybody that is not Yoruba should leave Yoruba land. It is out of place. It is not necessary. It is immature. It is not an issue for now.”

THE National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Oodua People’s Congress  (OPC) New Era, Comrade Sina Akinpelu, said: “The man speaking does not know what is saying, and we don’t know him as part of us in the South West. He never contributed anything to South West development except social media attacks.

“We won’t fight. Very soon, the Yoruba will liberate themselves with a referendum.  We are not ready to attack any individual or personality or nationality. We won’t attack anyone.  What he said is zero.”

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THE Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), through its Secretary-General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, urged all nationalities to ensure peace. 
Dr. Olajide said: “We advise that no youth should turn guns on one another now. What Nigeria needs now after the peaceful protest is a period of peace and to enable the government settle down properly and tackle the challenges confronting the Nigerian nation. So, we urge parents and elders from all parts of Nigeria to speak to their youth to ensure peace.”

FOR Yoruba One Voice (YOV), a diaspora group, there must be a through investigation to unravel issues behind the mayhem that followed last Tuesday’s alleged military attack on youths.
 
The group in a statement, signed by its director of communications, Mr. Zacheaus Somorin, said the destruction of monuments across Yorubaland without any form of resistance from security agencies, is an evidence that the amalgamation of 1914 between the South and the North has already expired.

He also said the killing of innocent youths was premeditated; callous, criminal and contravenes democratic engagements, stressing that the incident should be investigated and perpetrators brought to book. 

FOR the Centre For Truth And Liberty (CTL), the call for Igbo to vacate Lagos is diversionary, unfortunate, regrettable and untenable.

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In a statement jointly signed by its Executive Director, Olusesan Samaiye, and Director of Publicity, Francis Abayomi, CTL said even though no substantial attribution regarding the organisations and persons responsible for the “quit notice” was alluded to in the video, it is nonetheless unfortunate that a 48-hour quit notice would be considered as solution to the myriads of social afflictions in the country.

“The call is therefore largely insensitive and clearly ill-informed. It is reckless to ethnicise criminality, except there is substantial evidence and corroboration, which must be beyond emotions and infantilism.  

“We condemn this call and similar pronouncements that are capable of diverting attentions from the reality of bad governance and leadership failure, which, admittedly, are partly and inexorably attributable to the structural imbalances that continue to afflict Nigerian polity,” the statement read.

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A media-based civil rights group, Journalists For Democratic Right (JODER), while condemning the earlier video released by IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and the current one by Grandson said: “I do not think both sides represent the aspirations of the Igbo and Yoruba people. Beyond that, the government must rise above the occasion by reaching out to critical socio-political organisations, and taking practical steps to ensure that they speak with one voice in order not to put Yoruba and Igbo against one another.

The Executive Director of the body, Adeoye Adewale, told The Guardian that this is not the time for anyone to fan the ember of conflict, adding that there is need for both tribes to know that this is not the time to fight each other.”

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Fouad Oki, said Grandson was only acting a script to change the true narrative of what happened on Tuesday when soldiers opened fire on #EndSARS protesters.

According to him: “It will be wrong to accuse Igbo people of any wrongdoing in what transpired in the last 14 days. The fact is there is hunger in the land and youths are tired.”

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