Otu Oka Iwu, the apex law society for lawyers of Igbo extraction has charged the Department of State Security Services, DSS to immediately release the “Eze Igbo”of Ajao Estate, Chief Frederick Nwajagu who is being detained for threatening to invite the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, to Lagos, to protect lives and properties of Ndigbo, in the face of continued Igbophobic attacks since the security agencies have done nothing to arrest the situation or rein in the perpetrators.
The statement was signed by Joy Nzube- Uzoeghelu, Esq, the society’s president.
It reads in full:
“It is noteworthy that Nigeria held its General Elections on February 25, 2023 and March 18, 2023 to elect members of the Executive and legislative houses.
We note that the presidential election in particular was keenly contested especially between the three leading political parties.
Consistent with the reports of many accredited observers, and coupled with the logistical challenges witnessed during the election, the non-transmission of the results to the IREV portal by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was a major setback not only for the General Elections but for the wide-ranging improvements made to our electoral system since 1999.
While the logistical challenges were generally improved upon by INEC during the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Elections which held on March 18, 2023, the nation was again thrown into shock and disbelief given the massive level of electoral violence that engulfed the election.
We condemn in very strong terms the high level of violence, thuggery, ballot snatching, voter intimidation, and ethnic profiling which characterized the elections especially in Lagos State. Even more worrisome is the fact that many state and non-state actors as well as our usually revered traditional institutions were actively involved in this malfeasance.
We note that those charged with managing election security failed woefully in discharging their mandate to the citizens, thereby exposing them to harm and agony. That police operatives were practically on holidays while thugs roamed the streets assaulting and maiming citizens is deeply worrisome and unacceptable. This is moreso when the police hierarchy failed and neglected to rein in promoters of ethnic baiting in the run-up to the elections.
It is noteworthy that these seemingly targeted attacks have not abated even after the elections. This is evident in reports of alleged arson attacks on some markets in Lagos State. These acts continue to aggravate the citizens and potentially threaten law and order, especially when the victims feel unprotected by both the State and Federal Government. We therefore call on the Directorate of State Services (DSS) to release Chief Fredrick Nwajagu, the Eze Igbo of Ajao Estate, Lagos State or immediately charge him to court as set out in the Nigerian Constitution.
Conversely, we commend the Army for its limited interventions which stemmed the orgy of electoral violence and malfeasance.
We commend the electorate for keeping faith with the electoral and democratic process as well as the aggrieved candidates for eschewing violence and putting their faith in the judiciary. We call on the judiciary to reciprocate the confidence reposed in it by doing justice to all citizens without fear or favour.
While Nigeria must continue on the road towards rancour-free and credible elections through intensive electoral reforms, we urge INEC to investigate seemingly widespread attempts to compromise its officials and the electoral process especially as it relates to electronic transmission of results during the General Elections.
In particular, we demand the immediate prosecution of all those involved in electoral violence by the Nigerian Police Force and INEC. We shall closely monitor this process to ensure that the impunity that has persisted over electoral violence in Nigeria does not recur.
Founded decades ago, Otu Oka Iwu is the apex law society for lawyers of Igbo extraction.
JOY NZUBE-UZOEGHELU, ESQ.