Champion Newspapers Limited
For a better society

Ohanaeze to Sanwo-Olu: Suspend ongoing demolition of buildings in Lagos

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

.Urges Nigerians to shun wrong profiling, threat to Igbo lives, property

.’All leaders should emulate investment behaviour of Ndigbo’

.Tells property owners to obey relevant laws, regulations

.Don’t aggravate people’s hardship, Peter Obi tells Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu

.Igbos ‘ll never leave Lagos or Abuja to anywhere –Intersociety

100
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has appealed to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to kindly suspend all the demolition of buildings until all the facts are cleared.

The body also advised  Igbo people and every Nigerian everywhere in the country to ensure that they comply with all legislations and local regulations to avoid demolition of their properties in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria.

Chief Engr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide” made the appeal  while addressing a  world press conference on Thursday 30th November 2023 At Nicon Luxury Hotel Abuja

He said that the Government of Lagos State should intervene and ensure that justice is done. According to him ‘’ If anybody fails to obey the laws of the Land, the Igbo leadership will never support misconduct from any Igboman anywhere they live.

‘’I Don’t Have Any Doubt That There May Be Some Instances Where Igbo and perhaps other people whose property was demolished in Lagos did not fully comply with the laws of Lagos State. If any developer with impunity and without proper approval proceeds to develop a property anywhere in the world, he is taking a risk and his property stands the risk of being demolished. On the other hand if the properly is properly purchased, approvals from appropriate authority given before development, the individual deserves a happy and peaceful enjoyment of his assets.

‘’If any Government demolishes the property built with approval of appropriate government department, such government by law must pay appropriate compensation for all the damages incurred to the owner of the building. I will make attempt to see the Governor of Lagos State in the next few days. He stated

Here is the full speech bellow:

In spite of many setbacks suffered by the Igbos, We have risen from the dust of hatred and frustration, to reinvest. Today all these experiences are confined to the archives of history. But the ugly signs of hatred for Igbos have started rearing its head in some parts of the country. I as a leader of Igbo’s most humbly appeal to all Nigerians in the thirty-six States and Federal Capital Territory Abuja to rise to the support of Igbos against this ugly experience of wrong profiling and threat to Igbo lives and property.

We wish to state categorically clear that Igbo’s are not all Angels, among Igbo there are the good and the bad. There are also the good and the bad among the other tribes in Nigeria and indeed the world over. The law is there to appropriately address the issue of good and bad people.

 

Long before the Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorate by Lord Lugard in 1914, Igbos had lived in Lagos. They had lived very peacefully and established a good relationship with the indigenes. They established businesses and made investments in Lagos. These Igbos had been recalled by the Almighty God but their good works still remains. Lagos at the time it became the Capital of Nigeria, needed Foreign and Local investments. Igbos took up that challenge and invested in Lagos. They built both commercial and residential homes. They lived as law abiding citizens. Any Property they owned was properly bought from the owners according to the laws of Lagos State and Nigeria. I must say that Igbo carried out the same investments to other parts of the Country North, East and West. And wherever they invested, they prospered and they reinvested their profit to the development of the area. I must say that Igbos have lived very peacefully in Lagos over the years.

 

In 1966, there was an unfortunate Coup de-tat against the Federal Government. Igbos as a people were completely ignorant of the Coup. To the contrary, that government of 1960 and 1963 had been the best to Igbos since the Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. This Coup and its after effect culminated into civil war which made Igboland a theater of war. Thousands of Igbo lives were lost and properties worth billions of naira belonging to Igbos were destroyed. After the war, Igbos suffered a very severe blow when the Rivers State Government made a law seizing all Igbo properties in Rivers State at the time claiming that they were abandoned properties. This experience was very painful to Igbos because Igbos regarded PortHarcort as Ikwerre Land and Ikwerres are regarded as their Kit and Kin. Igbos remembered with nostalgia when there was dispute over the ownership of PortHarcort. The Igbo Union at the time threw their weight behind our kit and kin the Ikwerres. A judgement on the matter by the West African Court of Appeal (WACA) in Gold Coast now Ghana, declared that the Ikwerres are the legitimate owners of PortHarcort. Igbo’s rejoiced that PortHarcout which the Igbo’s called Igwe Ocha belongs to their kit and kin the Ikwerres.

 

In spite of many setbacks suffered by the Igbos, We have risen from the dust of hatred and frustration, to reinvest. Today all these experiences are confined to the archives of history. But the ugly signs of hatred for Igbos have started rearing its head in some parts of the country. I as a leader of Igbo’s most humbly appeal to all Nigerians in the thirty-six States and Federal Capital Territory Abuja to rise to the support of Igbos against this ugly experience of wrong profiling and threat to Igbo lives and property.

We wish to state categorically clear that Igbo’s are not all Angels, among Igbo there are the good and the bad. There are also the good and the bad among the other tribes in Nigeria and indeed the world over. The law is there to appropriately address the issue of good and bad people.

 

I have kept a record of crimes such as drug peddling, corruption, ritual killing and murder, kidnapping etc. from my records, Igbos are not the highest perpetrators of these crimes. Many other tribes are more involved in these crimes than the Igbos. There are many instances of people from other tribes writing very nasty articles against the Igbo. I will distribute a letter written by a Nigerian (Name withheld), the writer is a Lagosian. He has even recommended that the Lagos State Government should close down all the markets in Lagos where Igbo traders are in majority including the following markets, 1. Alaba International Market 2. Ladipo Market 3. Trade Fair Market 4. Kantagua Market 5. Every Other Market Where There Is A Preponderance Or Overwhelming Majority Of Igbos

This writer wrote very unprintable things about Igbos. The good news to my dear Igbos is that this letter does not reflect the good relationship that existed between Igbos and Yorubas. Before 1914, Igbos and Yorubas have had a very good and excellent relationship. Our great leader Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe GCFR, worked with Herbert Macaulay as his leader. Indeed Zik took over from Herbart Macaulay  a Yoruba Man. Zik confessed to his very close associates that he found his Yoruba friends very faithful and loyal. His Yoruba friends are so many. I must mention Zik’s relationship with Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya. Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya was one of the closest friends to Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.

 

Zik always held Yoruba leader Chief Awolowo in very high esteem. He appreciated Awolowo’s intellect, patriotism and love for Yorubas and Nigerians. Naturally, as politicians in different parties, they disagree from time to time and came together also when the need arose. Chief Awolowo had great love for Igbos and he is very highly respected by Igbos. The writer of the article said that Igbos hated Awolowo that is not true. It is worthy of note that there is difference between political relationship and personal relationship. Many Igbos loved and held Awolowo in high esteem. He also loved the Igbo.

 

For example, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo contested the Presidency of Nigeria, he chose an Igbo man as his presidential running mate. From my personal experience, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was like a father to me when in 1990 and 1991, I planned to run for the Presidency of Nigeria, I visited him in his house in Apapa Lagos, he received me warmly and blessed me. I built a strong relationship with all his children, a relationship which still endures till today. Most of my closest friends are Yorubas. For example, Chief MKO Abiola was very close to me. Perhaps, I am one of his few friends who can talk about his ordeal. His son Kola and their family appreciated my relationship with their family. I have very close friends like Femi Coker, The former head of State Dr. Shonekan was a very good friend of mine. He indeed was the Chairman of my daughter’s wedding at Owerri Imo state in 1993. Every prominent Igbo Man has got this kind of relationship with the Yorubas. The good news to Igbos is that our fellow Nigerians of Yoruba descent are loyally and faithfully committed to our brotherhood. Therefore, as your leader, I am assuring you that there is no cause for alarm; you don’t have any reason to panic, please continue to leave in Lagos and other Western States. Continue to go about your normal businesses, there is no fear.

 

The President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR as Governor of Lagos State was very good to Igbos. Throughout his tenure as the Governor of Lagos State in Eight Years, There was no complain or report of any maltreatment of Igbos in Lagos. During his tenure I visited his home a number of times and he was very kind and patriotic fortunately Sen. Tinubu is now the president of Nigeria. We did not support him during the presidential election but that did not in any way undermine our trust of his capacity to lead the Country. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in his favour, His Excellency President Tinubu can be rest assured that Ohaneze Ndigbo will recognise, respect and be loyal to him as the president of Nigeria. What Igbo require is Peace, fairness justice and equity. We will demand what is our share, be given to us. We believe in one united Nigeria where people of different tribes, creed or ethnicity can move with pride and confidence and get what they rightly deserve without any hindrances.

 

At this point I want to congratulate Igbos as very patriotic, loyal and faithful citizen of Nigerian. Nigeria in other to survive socially and economically requires foreign and local investments. I am proud to say my people the Igbo have made investments in all the nooks and cranny of the country. Where ever they go, they buy properties, build educational facilities. They transform barren lands to habitable lands. So in effect no ethnic group in Nigeria has made more investments in Nigeria than the Igbos. When a foreigner invests in Nigeria, He makes effort to repatriate his investment to his country, but the Igbo investor has his investment in Nigeria. The investment behaviour of Igbo is therefore a patriotic gesture which all leaders, Governors, Presidents should acknowledge. I encourage other ethnic group in Nigeria to do as Igbo are doing to invest in other regions outside their home of origin.

I have carried out investigation on what has happened in Lagos, and I appeal to the Government of Lagos State to intervene and ensure that justice is done. If any body fails to obey the laws of the Land, the Igbo leadership will never support misconduct from any Igboman anywhere they live. I DON’T HAVE ANY DOUBT THAT THERE MAY BE SOME INSTANCES WHERE Igbo and perhaps other people whose property was demolished in Lagos did not fully comply with the laws of Lagos State. If any developer with impunity and without proper approval proceeds to develop a property anywhere in the world, he is taking a risk and his property stands the risk of being demolished. On the other hand if the properly is properly purchased, approvals from appropriate authority given before development, the individual deserves a happy and peaceful enjoyment of his assets. If any Government demolishes the property built with approval of appropriate government department, such government by law must pay appropriate compensation for all the damages incurred to the owner of the building. I will make attempt to see the Governor of Lagos State in the next few days. I will therefore appeal that the Governor of Lagos State kindly suspends the demolition of buildings until all the facts are cleared.

 

I have also got reports of violation of building regulations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. Because of the investment characteristics of Igbo, private properties and investments in Abuja are substantially owned by Igbos. I will advice my people the Igbo to ensure that they comply with all legislations and local regulations to avoid demolition of their properties in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria.

 

It has been brought to my notice that many families have been thrown into serious difficulty due to the demolition in Lagos State. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo will establish an Ohanaeze Relief Agency to be controlled by top Igbo Leaders. Ohanaeze Ndigbo will through this Agency support Igbo citizens in distress; we will also support other Nigerians when the need arises in the spirit of brotherhood.

.Don’t aggravate people’s hardship, Peter Obi tells Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu

Similarly, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 election, Peter Obi, has berated the President Bola Tinubu-led federal government over the demolition of properties belonging to Nigerians in Lagos State amid the hardship in the country.

There have been reports of demolition exercises by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led Lagos State government allegedly targeting markets populated by Igbos and buildings owned by Igbos in the state.

Reacting to the demolition exercises in Lagos and other parts of the country, Obi who is a former governor of Anambra State said that it is irresponsible of the states and federal governments to carry out demolition exercises on the properties of poor Nigerians amid rising poverty in the country.

On his X (formerly Twitter), Obi on Thursday said, “It’s with complete despondency and unhappiness that I have followed the ongoing demolitions of properties across the country, especially knowing the extra hardship such acts have been heaping on hapless citizens who are already battling with multi-dimensional Poverty.”

According to him, “What a responsive government should be doing under the current harsh economic conditions in the country is to come up with measures aimed at alleviating the people’s hardships and to carry out measures that will take more people out of poverty.

“Even if there are some violations as the governments are claiming, this critical time is not auspicious for such an exercise knowing the hardship in the land and the consequences it will have on the poor who are struggling to make ends meet with their little resources.

“The poor in our midst who are putting their meager resources are going through very severe financial stress that should not be multiplied further. In some cases, the properties being demolished are the lifetime savings and retirement abodes of the aged and incapacitated.”

He added, “My appeal therefore is for the respective governments involved in this act to consider the hardship in the country and try to put a human face to their actions.

“While we should enforce sensible regulations, all actions of the government must show compassion.”

.Igbos ‘ll never leave Lagos or Abuja to anywhere –Intersociety

furthermore, the  International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) says that going by historical facts and realities on the ground as well as available local and international codified safeguards in various human rights and humanitarian enactments; it is an act of impossibility for the Igbo People living in Lagos or Abuja to be forced out and forcefully relocated back to the South-East.

In a statement on Thursday, the group stated that “As a matter of fact “asking the Igbo people to leave Lagos (Eko) through threats of violence against persons and properties is like asking the Yoruba People to return Lagos to Ancient Bini Empire”.

“That is to say that those threatening the Igbo people with violence against their persons and properties or sponsoring same against them so as to force them into fleeing the two areas and relocating back to the South-East must, first of all, return Eko (Bini War Camp) to the ancient Bini (Benin) Empire (Kingdom) and if found impossible to achieve; then forcing Igbos out of Lagos is totally and eternally an act of impossibility.”

It maintained that:  “Also, that under “United Nigeria” or “Nigeria in Pieces”, Igbo people will never be forced out of Lagos or Abuja. The above historical realities and present realities on the ground must be accepted by all and sundry including the hiring, the instigators, the attackers and the aiders and abettors.”

Intersociety had recently expressed deep concern over what it described as the “new exclusionist policy” adopted by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu led government of Lagos State; solely targeted at the ‘Igbo people of Lagos State’ and the ‘Igbo people in Lagos State’ and geared towards excluding them from the public affairs in the State including appointments into the Cabinet of the government of Lagos State.

The State government has also been accused of running “Igbo properties’ annexation and demolition policy”; in addition to the existing “Policies of Class Criminalization” by security agencies and “Ethnic Hatred” remotely sponsored by the National and Sub-National Government Establishments in the State. The group said: “Apart from our attention being drawn to the above few days ago by some detribalized media outfits, some National Assembly Members also approached us for our strong and informed voice on the issue.

 

Part of the statement by Intersocuety reads:

“There have been systematic violent attacks against Igbo persons and their properties across Lagos with same being reported or feared to be imminent in Abuja in recent months; a follow up to coordinated anti Igbo attacks during and after the 2023 Presidential and (Lagos) Governorship Elections during which the ‘Igbo People of Lagos State and the Igbo People in Lagos State’ were attacked for exercising their constitutional and inalienable rights to political participation including right to vote or be voted for.

“Igbo properties targeted for demolition or destruction or annexation had included market shops, residential buildings, plazas, etc. Organized mob or hoodlum’s attacks on moveable and immoveable properties belonging to Igbos in Lagos State have also intensified in recent months with spillover being reported or strongly suspected in Abuja or FCT now under Nyesom Wike as the FCT Minister.

 

Unimpeachable Historical Facts

“There are more than six ancient Igbo generations in Lagos State comprising “the Igbo People of Lagos State” and “the Igbo People in Lagos State”-collectively referred to as “the Igbos of Lagos”. Historical traces of “the Igbos of Lagos” had included “the Pre-Ogele/Pre-Ogiso Igbo People of Lago (spiritualists, nobles and merchants)”, “the Ogele/Ogiso era Igbo People of Lagos (spiritualists, nobles and merchants)” and the “Imperial/Kingdom Bini era Igbo People of Lagos (including Prince Ado era Igbo Priest-Kings and College of Cardinals represented by the Nri Priest-Kingship)”. There are also the “Pre-Colonial, Colonial and Post Colonial Igbo People of Lagos”.

“It is also an unimpeachable historical fact that there are five oldest Ethnic Nationality-settlers in Nigeria: Igbos who settled around 1450BC, the mainstream Igala (an offshoot of Igbo) who settled around 1,350BC, the Bini-Ominije who settled around 900BC and the Nok (progenitors of Berum in present Plateau State and indigenous others found in present Southern Kaduna) who settled between 500BC and 200BC.

 

Origins of Nigeria’s Oldest Priest-Kingships And Their Spiritual/Oracular Influences

“The unimpeachable clarity of the above is further evidenced by the origins of their ‘Priest-Kingships’ under the spiritual influence of Igbo’s Throne of Eze Nri. For instance, the Ominije People are an offshoot of the Bini Ethnic Nationality, founded by ‘Ogunnagbon’ who led his Ominije People to settle in a place now called “Agbor-Nta” in now Igbo Part of Delta State. In other words, the present ‘Agbor (Agbon)’ are the offshoot of Ominije-Ogunnagbon founded around 900BC. The Ominije People later established a Priest-Kingship throne in 701BC, called “the Ogele Dynasty” which produced ’14 Ogeles’ under the influence of Igbo Priest-Kingship-with their last ‘King’ as “Ogele XIV Okwakpor” who reigned until 1250AD. The Igbo spiritual priest-kingship influence later gripped the area leading to the enthronement of the first Igbo Priest-Kingship in Agbor in 1270AD (360 years before the establishment of the throne of Oba of Lagos in 1630AD with Bini Prince Ado as its first Oba).

“The first Igbo King (Dein) of Agbor was Eze Dibia Ebonka officially installed in 1270AD. Back home in Igbo Land, the throne of Eze Nri (Igbo’s Premier Priest-Kingship and Nigeria’s oldest Kingdom) was established around 1,230BC while that of the throne of Eze Ora Aguleri was established around 1087BC with Eze Anyiamigbo as the first Eze Ora of Aguleri.

“Fresh historical facts have also found that “there were many millennia or thousands of lost years of the history of Nri People which significantly distorted their historical facts including the recorded year of establishment of the throne of Nri Priest-Kingship” under Eze Nri Ifikwuanim. The mainstream Igala People; an offshoot of Igbo Ethnic Nationality, also had their (now called) “Atta of Igala Priest-Kingship” established around 900BC with recorded “26 Attahs of Igala” till date.

 

Igbo’s Nri Priest-Kingship As “Pre-Christian Papacy In Nigeria”

“The best way to describe the Eze Nri and his powerful spiritual influences in the Oracular Igbo Society and beyond including Benin Kingdom/Empire, Lagos (Eko), Igala Land, etc, was “the reigning of a pre Christian Pontiff” with his throne as “the pre Christian Papacy” and the Eze Nri-in-Council as “the Pre-Christian College of Cardinals”.

The above was exactly how the Oba of Benin Empire in 1498AD (Oba Ozolua n’ Ibaromi) described the then Eze Nri (Eze Nri Anyamata) whom he referred as “a spiritually powerful Prince Ogane, who lived in the east of the Benin Empire; without him you cannot be made a king”. This was during the visit of the Portuguese diplomats to the Oba of Benin Empire in 1498. The account was also recorded by the visitors in the Portuguese archives till date.

“The Eze Nri-in-Council, in turn, also referred the Benin Kingdom/Empire and its King as “Idu” and “Eze Ala Idu-na-Ika”. This was repeated 420 years later in 1910 by the British colonial agents during their encounter with the then Eze Nri Obalike. The Eze Nri Obalike had repeated before them what was said of the sacred Eze Nri throne in 1498 AD (420 years before) by Oba Ozulua n’ Ibaromi of the Benin Empire to the Portuguese diplomats who described the then Eze Nri Anyamata as “a spiritually powerful Prince Ogane who lived in the east of the Benin Empire; without him you cannot be made a king”. Then Priest-Kings of Nri were the sole custodians of the sacred scepter or spiritual and powerful staff of authority, issued to Obas of Bini, etc.

 

Constitutional Guarantees And Other Safeguards For ‘Igbo People Of Lagos State’

“By Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution, the provisions of the Constitution are supreme above any other law in force in Nigeria or any part thereof. By Section 6, the Judicial, Executive and Legislative powers of the country’s three Organs and Tiers of Government are vested in courts. By Section 4 (5), laws made by State Assemblies can never invalidate the laws made by the National Assembly and the laws made by the National Assembly can never invalidate the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.  “Constitutionally and sufficiently provided are the inalienable human rights to life and dignity of human person in Sections 33 and 34; rights to personal liberty in Section 35 and freedom of thought, conscience and religion in Section 38; right to freedom of expression in Section 39; right to freedom of movement and association in Section 40, right to freedom from discrimination in Section 42 and right to own and acquire moveable and immoveable properties anywhere in Nigeria in Section 43. In submission, Igbos in Lagos and Abuja are not moving an inch and must fight for and enjoy their inalienable human rights above using courts and other lawful means. A clear case in point was Ojukwu v Government of Lagos (1986).”

Comments are closed.