The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) is making bold to say 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. 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. Also, 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 few days ago expressed deep concern over 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 is also strongly accused of running “Igbo Properties’ annexation and demolition policy”; in addition to the existing “Policies of Class Criminalisation” by security agencies and “Ethnic Hatred” remotely sponsored by the National and Sub-National Government Establishments in the State. Apart from our attention being drawn to the above few days ago by some detribalised media outfits, some National Assembly Members also approached us for our strong and informed voice on the issue.
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. Organised 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).
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law
· Emeka Umeagbalasi (Criminologist-Researcher)
Head, International Contacts and Mobilisation