Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned the apparent inaction of the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, the Director of Department of State Services (DSS) and the General Officer commanding the Army division in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital which has led to the escalation of Ethnically motivated attacks targeting Igbo traders in Lagos due to the resurgence of the Labour Party in Lagos State.
HURIWA is calling on the IGP, the Chief of Army Staff and the chief of Defence staff to order their men and officers in Lagos and elsewhere to protect all Nigerians from Ethnically motivated attacks to stop these attacks from spreading and to arrest and prosecute the attackers immediately.
HURIWA recalled that armed and clearly coordinated hoodlums and political thugs loyal to the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate had on Monday invaded some markets in Lagos, attacking traders in the process. Markets allegedly invaded include Ladipo auto parts market, Balogun and Ebute-Ero on the Lagos Island and Mainland. Those affected alleged that some of the thugs broke into shops and made away with goods.
HURIWA which condemns these persistent politically motivated attacks singling out the Igbo ethnic traders based in Lagos State since the February 25th Presidential and Legislative elections took place and the All Progressives Congress of the Prominent political godfather of Lagos State and APC’S Presidential candidate Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu did not win overwhelming majority of votes but lost the popular votes to the Labour Party’s Presidential candidate Mr.Peter Obi, armed political thugs have been allowed by these many government official armed security forces to operate freely unleashing bloody violence on mostly Igbo traders.
The Rights group said some traders were said to have sustained injuries while trying to flee from the area just as Mr.James Onwuaman, a trader at Balogun Market, Lagos Island alleged that he sustained injuries during the attack. According to him, they received threat messages on Sunday, warning them to stay away from the market. Another trader at the same market who identified himself simply as Benjamin said traders were watching how events of the day would unfold. “They can’t deny us access into our business places,” he said.
HURIWA recalled that there is apprehension in markets like Computer Village, in Ikeja and Alaba International and Trade fair markets – both in Ojo even as the Rights group condemns the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, for dismissing the obvious attacks targeting Igbos by erroneously stating that: “The traders agreed to close shop on Sunday and Monday. The thugs only came to enforce the agreement.”
HURIWA is miffed that the spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force has backed the attack of traders of Igbo nationality living and doing legitimate business in Lagos by asserting that armed thugs who attacked traders were simply enforcing the agreement by traders to shut their shops on Sunday and Monday.
HURIWA said: “This statement of the Lagos PRO in Lagos which borders on official irresponsibility from a law enforcement officer is provocative, unlawful and uncharitable. How can a police officer who should enforce the law now accepts that armed political thugs are enforcing an agreement to shut down shops? If we may ask, which law of Lagos State House of Assembly provides that shops should be shut today and Yesterday? This was the same way that the resident electoral commissioner addressed Igbo voters as immigrant voters and the hierarchy of the Independent National Electoral Commission rather than sanction him for such verbal indiscretion rather did nothing and now Igbo traders are being attacked because Peter Obi defeated Tinubu in Lagos as if Peter Obi got the votes of only Igbos when it is clear that Peter Obi has a multi ethnic and multi -religious support base in Lagos including hundreds of thousands of Yorubas.”