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EDITORIAL

Averting Ethnic Clash In Lagos

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Lagos Traffic

There is the possibility of an ethnic clash between Yoruba community and people of Igbo extraction in Lagos owing to perceived difference in political opinion.

There is, therefore, an urgent need to nip it in the bud  before it snowballs into another national calamity.

These two sets of people and other ethnic groups have cohabited peacefully and harmoniously over time in the state.

Since the February 23 presidential/National Assembly elections held across the country, tension has been building in Igbo-dominated communities of Okota, Amuwo Odofin, Apapa -Ajegunle, all in Lagos.

Igbo are traditionally supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Three of the five Igbo-dominated states in the South East  geopolitical zone are governed by the PDP.

This is perhaps why people from the zone support the party, not only in Lagos but in every part of the county they find themselves.

Their preference for the party no doubt pitted them against some elements within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State.

The refusal  of the Igbo to cooperate politically with these people resulted in attacks on their shops on Lagos Island and Osodi.

They were attacked by hoodlums armed with dangerous weapons like cutlasses, broken bottles, wood and knives at Oluwole, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tinubu, Bamgbose and Alli streets.

Some Igbo traders who were just opening their shops for business were beaten and told to close their shops.

Armed hoodlums were seen parading the streets, shouting: “Igbo should go back to their states to do business. This is Lagos.”

“We campaigned for them to vote for Buhari, but they refused and voted for Atiku. They cannot come here to do business again. They must follow us to vote whoever we ask them to vote for. This is just a sample for them. If they ever vote for PDP again, that will be their end.”

These threats made the Igbo traders quickly close their shops and stand nearby to witness what was going to happen. The hoodlums attacked their shops and destroyed goods worth millions of naira and even beat up some Igbo traders for daring to vote for Atiku.

Yoruba men in the areas were seen challenging the hoodlums not to cause a problem because the Igbo have the right to vote for the candidates of their choice, but the APC leaders and the state government have been quiet on this sinister development.

Some APC chieftains and a notable traditional ruler in the state have rather warned and advised the Igbo in the state to toe a particular political line and always vote for and support their preferred party.

As a newspaper we condemn this act. It is lawless and a breach of their fundamental human rights.  They have the right to live anywhere and vote for whom they choose to vote for.

The federal government and, indeed, all security agencies should ensure that no Nigerian is molested for exercising his franchise in accordance with the laws of the land.

It is rather worrisome that  Nigeria can degenerate to this the level of anarchy where ethnic groups are not only singled out for intimidation but thugs could burn ballot boxes and the entire votes cast in broad daylight without any immediate arrests.

This newspaper recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the military to shoot on sight all ballot boxes snatchers but, unfortunately, no security agent immediately intervened while the sanctity of the ballot box was being desecrated in the open.

That verbal and physical attacks have continued to trail the elections provide real cause for worry.

If not checked, non-Yoruba tax payers whose taxes and levies form part of the money the would-be political officeholders are meant to appropriate would end up disenfranchised and forced never to have a say on who make the appropriations on their behalf.

Yoruba people are hospitable and the activities of selfish politicians and their irrational thugs must not be allowed to paint a different picture of the race.

Regrettably, the political elite have continued to deepen divisions within and among ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, using ethnicity and religion as their tools.

This is why the federal government and all security agencies must be alive to their responsibilities and give special protection to the life and property of non-Yoruba residents in Lagos State and other South West states.

We urge all citizens across the country, particularly in the South West, to be resolute and refuse to be deterred by a few unscrupulous elements and go about their businesses peacefully.

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