Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has condemned the ethnic profiling and threats to Igbo people before, during and after the concluded 2023 elections in Lagos. The elder statesman, who spoke on Saturday in Awka during the marking of one year in office of Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo of Anambra State, warned against Igbo-phobia and urged all Nigerians to live in peace and harmony.

Similarly, the apex-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has decried the unprovoked attacks on Igbo people resident in Lagos before, during and after the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly polls and the March 18 Governorship and State Assembly elections. The unwarranted attacks, according to the National Publicity Secretary of the organisation, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, constituted barefaced brutality, repression, and existential threat to the Igbo.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo also deplored the ethnic slurs credited to Bayo Onanuga, a spokesperson of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, and Musiliu Akinsanya, the Chairman of Lagos State Parks Management Committee, also known as MC Oluomo and other ethnic irredentists. The group stated: “in the run-up to the February 25, 2023, presidential election, Ndigbo in Lagos were subjected to inhuman treatments by the so-called ‘owners’ of Lagos for which reason many of our people were brazenly attacked, oppressed, repressed, and disenfranchised for no other reason than insisting on their civic rights to vote for candidates of their choice.”

However, the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has equally denounced the infractions, ethnic slurs and violence which trailed the 2023 elections and urged that the healing process should begin now that elections were over. Although Tinubu’s intervention was belated, he should lead the healing process by calling his aides and ardent supporters to order. Other Nigerians have described the anti-Igbo comments and threats in Lagos as unwarranted and uncalled for.

We loathe the rise in ethnic profiling in Lagos State following the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly polls. If the trend is not stopped, it is going to jeopardise our democracy and the future of the country. The attack on the Igbo in Lagos is an attack on Nigeria’s sovereignty and continued co-existence. Regrettably, the growing ethnic profiling has further exposed our differences and questioned our diversity and oneness.

Before the polls, the Igbo living in Eti-Osa area of Lagos State were allegedly summoned by the local chief of the community and threatened to vote the All Progressives Congress (APC) or face the consequences. At Ije-Ododo axis of Ojo Local Government Area, similar threats were issued to the Igbo. In Oshodi, MC Oluomo threatened any Igbo that would attempt voting another party other than the APC. Consequently, markets and business premises owned by the Igbo were destroyed in some parts of the state by suspected thugs.

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After the March 18 governorship election, Onanuga warned the Igbo to stop interfering in Lagos politics.  He said: “Let 2023 be the last time of Igbo interference in Lagos politics. Let there be no repeat in 2027. Lagos is like Anambra, Imo or any Nigerian state. It is not No Man’s Land, not Federal Capital Territory. It is Yoruba land. Mind your business.” He even boasted that he had no apology for ethnic slurs on the Igbo.

Ethnic profiling is wrong and antithetical to harmonious co-existence in a diverse country as Nigeria. The Rwandan genocide of 1994, which led to the death of almost a million Tutsi and others, is a pointer to the danger of ethnic profiling. No doubt, incendiary comments and ethnic hatred contributed so much to the political crisis of 1966 and the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970, which claimed over 3 million lives.

Therefore, politicians should restrain their aides and supporters from making inflammable rhetoric capable of plunging the country into another avoidable crisis. Hate speeches and ethnic outbursts can lead to ethnic tensions and wars. Apart from being divisive, they are not in congruence with the laws of the land which uphold the right of every Nigerian to vote and be voted for. Politicians and their supporters should be mindful of their inimical utterances. The unfortunate incident in Lagos is highly condemnable. Targeting a particular group for profiling is reprehensible and unacceptable.

Sadly, the purveyors of the extreme views and threats have not been arrested or questioned by security agents. It is not late yet for the police and other relevant security agencies to arrest and question those who threatened other Nigerians and disenfranchised them during the 2023 elections in Lagos and others states. For the healing process to begin in earnest, there must be justice.

Those who threatened other Nigerians and burnt their markets must be brought to justice. Nigeria’s future is imperiled without justice and equity and fairness for all the citizens.