THERE can be no justification for the threats that His Royal Majesty Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, issues against Igbos days ago. The Oba told some Igbo leaders, who paid him a courtesy visit, that if Igbos did not vote for his preferred candidate, he would throw Igbos into the lagoon. He swore, by the Almighty, that he would carry out the threat seven days after the election unless he was not his father’s child.
Incredulity first greeted the statements that were the Oba’s reactions to the results of the closely contested presidential and National Assembly elections in Lagos. He was possibly incensed that non-indigenes won three House of Representatives seats in Lagos State. Thereafter, outright condemnations followed, yet some doubted that the revered traditional ruler would have taken such partisan stance on a matter that bothered on people’s right to make their choices.
Some refused to associate the Oba of Lagos with those statements, instead claiming that they could be part of the propaganda that has attended the election. What is obvious is that the Oba made the threats, which were laced with questions about if Ndigbo would have allowed others to win elections in the South Eastern towns of Aba and Onitsha.
Feeble attempts have been made to deny the threats, particularly after condemnations of the Oba mounted. Some Ndigbo groups have asked for withdrawal of the threats and apologies to Ndigbo. Others have threatened legal actions against the Oba who they accused of taking hate speech to an entirely new dangerous level. A “clarification” reportedly issued from the Oba’s palace said the Oba
was speaking in parables and never mentioned throwing Ndigbo into the lagoon. Audio links that have gone viral and television footage of the event, confirmed that the Oba made the threats. Whether he spoke in proverbs or parables did not conceal the pointed threat to Ndigbo.
Some of the reasons that have kept people surprised are that the Oba of Lagos, like all traditional rulers, is not expected to be partisan, at least not so openly, as to threaten others who may share different political views from his. The Oba is a lawyer and retired from the Nigeria Police as a Deputy Inspector General, just two notches from being the Inspector General of Police. Would such an illustrious police officer not realise the implications of threatening a group with massacre because their views differ from his? Was he unaware that nobody would accept his conduct that is below expectations from the throne? Ndigbo would not be the only ones at risk unless the threats are withdrawn with similar exuberance as the Oba issued them.
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