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• British govt vows to punish election riggers, others
• NCC unveils 622 as toll-free hotline for presidential election
• Let election outcome reflect wishes of voters, NLC tells INEC
• Go out to vote, shun vandalism, stop burning banks, group charges electorate
• Best way to achieve Biafra is through voting, Igbo elders tell agitators
• I will give Nigeria hope, work hard for them, Tinubu says

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said a total of 146,913 domestic and international observers will be deployed for the 2023 general elections. The Commission, therefore, warned observers against interfering in the elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the Commission’s briefing for observers in Abuja, yesterday. According to the INEC boss, the number of observers is the largest in the country’s history.

He said the Commission accredited 196 national and domestic organisations that deployed 144,800 observers and 33 international organisations that deployed 2,113 observers.

Yakubu, however, urged the observers to abide by the laws of Nigeria while discharging their duties on election day.

He said: “I wish to remind observers that there is a code of conduct for election observation. You are by definition observers. Do not interfere with the process or show partisanship.

“In addition, international observers must be guided by the fact that the election is conducted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose sovereignty must be respected. I urge you all to keep to the rules.”

Yakubu also noted that the observations and recommendations from election observers over the years have helped to improve the country’s electoral process.

Speaking at the programme, the Regional Director, Africa, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Clara Cole, said election observations provide improvements for election, pleading with both national and domestic observers to abide by the rules of INEC.

AHEAD of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly election, the United Kingdom has promised to deal with any individual, politician or not, who may want to use violence or engage in practises that may jeopardise the future of Nigeria’s democratic process.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, made this known, yesterday, during an interview with Arise TV.

According to Laing, the British government has decided to toe the American government’s line, which promised earlier this month during a visit to INEC headquarters to impose a visa ban on an individual or group of individuals, who plan or get involved in violent activities that may jeopardise the Nigerian electioneering process.

“So, our policy is very similar to the Americans; and we are watching very closely even if we have evidence to suggest that an individual isn’t necessarily a politician by the way. Such an individual or group of individuals doesn’t have to be politicians but could be somebody from the security side; it could be an individual citizen who is not directly a politician.

“As long as the person is inciting violence or directly participating in violence, the British government, through the High Commission in Nigeria, can prevent such an individual from travelling to the UK.”

She added: “We also have a new tool in our armoury that is human rights-related — sanctions can be placed on that individual. You will see later today a statement on the election from our Development Minister and African Minister, Andrew Mitchel, and there will be a clear statement on this which will be coming out soon.”

IN view of the importance attached to the presidential election, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has dedicated its Consumer Toll-Free Number 622, to serve as 2023 Presidential Election Incident Hotline to enable voters and members of the public across Nigeria to report any issues that may affect them, or others, during the election on Saturday.

This was announced last night by Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who said the step is to support INEC in its commitment towards the conduct of hitch-free elections in Nigeria.

The Toll-Free Number 622 is the second-level complaints centre through which consumers of telecommunications services are allowed to make calls directly to the Commission, to resolve issues concerning their telecommunications services which the service providers are unable to do.

“However, in consideration of the critical nature of this election and to alleviate emergent issues that may arise at the voting centres, or any parts of Nigeria thereof, the Commission has considered it expedient to dedicate the Toll-Free Number 622 to accommodate all types of complaints on election day.

“This is with a view to resolving such issues by contacting and conveying such to relevant agencies, authorities, or organisations for timely resolution.

“The 622 Election Incident Monitoring Centre will be manned by top Management officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission. The hotline will be open to the public from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Members of the public are, therefore, invited to take advantage of the Election Incident Monitoring Centre Hotline, 622,” he said.

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised INEC to ensure that the forthcoming elections reflect the wishes of voters. President of NLC, Joseph Ajaero, said this in a statement, yesterday, following meeting of the congress’ National Administrative Council (NAC).

He advised Nigerians to participate actively in the elections and also ensure they safeguard their votes.

“NAC warns that the disruption of the electoral process by parties, politicians or their aides or privies or by whoever, will not be acceptable to it or the generality of Nigerians who have invested their time and resources.

“NAC calls on security agencies to guarantee the safety of voters, observers, INEC officials and all those associated with conducting free, fair and credible elections across the country. NAC similarly urges INEC to ensure that the electoral processes are not only transparent and fair but reflect the wishes of voters.”

MEANWHILE, a group comprising thought leaders and intellectuals in the Western part of Nigeria, the Southwest Development Stakeholders’ Forum (SWDSF), yesterday, urged Nigerians, especially people of the region, to shun violence and stop burning of banks, but go out on election days to vote their conscience.

Chairman of the Forum, Dr. Adedayo Alao, made the call during presentation of the report and documentary of presidential parleys held for presidential candidates in Ibadan.

The presentation was an insight into the thinking and pledges of five presidential candidates who participated in its presidential parleys from January 17 to February 4.

Alao disclosed that seven candidates were invited but five featured. Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwanso; Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Kola Abiola; Africa Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore and Adewole Adebayo of Social Democratic Party (SDP) featured at the parley, while Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) who had been billed for the programme could not attend due to security challenges.

According to the Forum chairman, efforts to bring Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the parley were not successful.

ALSO, eminent Nigerians from the Southeast under the auspices of the Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF) have said those calling for sit-at-home or boycott of the general elections in the region are enemies of Igbo.

The Forum, comprising former Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), Chief Simeon Okeke; former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, among others, insisted that elections must hold in the region and called on Igbo to come out en masse to vote for Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Obi.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Okeke maintained that since Independence in 1960, this is the best chance of the Southeast to produce Nigeria’s president, and advised those agitating for Biafra that the best way to achieve it is through their votes.

“The peace you achieve with bullets from the gun is the peace of a graveyard. Your vote does a better job than the bullet from the barrel of the gun,” he advised.

Okeke warned that if Southeast is denied the opportunity to vote, “you perpetuate your problems and your detractors will mock and lord it over you until the next election (in four years) when you will have another chance to change your situation, using your vote to vote in your choice candidates.”

HOWEVER, Northern youths, under the auspices of Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA) has called on the Federal Government to immediately postpone the conduct of the elections, following the biting fuel and naira scarcity across the country and the hardship the situation has brought to Nigerians.

According to the Arewa group, both crises facing Nigerians may lead to the disenfranchisement of potential voters during the polls.

The Speaker, AYA, Mohammed Salihu Danlami, in a statement in Kaduna, said, “all known solutions proffered by the President Buhari-led Committee on Fuel Scarcity and recommendations by the National Council of State, National Assembly, and Nigeria Governors’ Forum on how to ease the suffering of the masses have defied answers.

“It has become imperative for the Arewa Youth Assembly to call for the immediate suspension of the elections to enable Nigerians, especially menial workers from our region who are littered all over the country in search of greener pastures to return to where they registered to vote.

We are worried that even those in the city, whose polling units are far away from their homes can’t transport themselves to cast their votes.”

It was a homecoming for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, at the party’s campaign grand finale rally in Lagos State.

President Muhammadu Buhari who was present at the rally lifted Tinubu’s hand, proclaiming him the next president of the country, God willing.

The rally was attended by an unprecedented crowd, which had besieged the Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere venue of the rally from as early as 8:00a.m., while another large number lined the streets from the Presidential wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, where the aircraft carrying President Buhari’s and Tinubu landed, till they arrived in Surulere in a long convoy of vehicles.

Addressing the rally, Tinubu, facing the president, said: “As you worked hard for me, I will work hard for Nigeria. All the plans set out in our Action Plan for Renewed Hope for Nigerians will be pursued rigorously.”

He thanked President Buhari for standing firm for democracy, accountability, transparency and fairness.

He said: “The president asked all of us interested to go and contest the primaries of our party. After I was picked overwhelmingly by the delegates, he didn’t ask them to change the results because of my tribe or religion or because I’m not from Daura like him, he accepted me and celebrated with me, telling me ‘you are almost there now’.”

Tinubu also said when it was time for the choice of a running mate, the President turned down his offer to choose for him, telling him “you know better, you are very experienced and you know the kind of person who will assist you to run the country, so pick that person.”

Tinubu added: “Thank you Mr. President, you gave me the courage, the confidence and the will to pick right. The APC candidate said he chose as his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima who he described as a most knowledgeable and independent-minded person.

He said Shettima had shown determination and grit to perform and be different, describing him as a dependable, reliable and courageous man.
Tinubu promised to do all in his power to continue where Buhari would stop, and consolidate his achievements.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu thanked the people of the state for turning out in large numbers to receive President Buhari and Tinubu and to also attend the rally.

He said with the massive turnout, they had shown their love for the ‘City Boy,’ asking them to go further on Saturday, February 25, 2023, to vote Asíwájú for president.

Those who addressed the rally also include: APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Director-General of the Tinubu-Shettima Campaign and Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong and the wife of the APC candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu. Also present at the rally were Senate President Ahmed Lawan, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, Vice Presidential Candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, and Governors Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Mohammed Inuwa (Gombe), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Babagana Zulum (Borno). Others were former governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun) as well as former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole, National Woman Leader, Beta Edu, Youth and Sports Minister, Chief Sunday Dare and Adamawa APC Governorship Candidate, Hajiya Binani.

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 veteran journalist, Liadi Tella

In this Interview with EMMANUEL OJO, veteran journalist, Liadi Tella, shares the experience of his years of practice and other contemporary issues

You celebrated your 75th birthday on March 3. How do you feel attaining that age despite the below-average life expectancy in this part of the world?

Well, I’m grateful to Almighty Allah that made it possible for me to reach this stage. I’m in good health and sound mind; I just concluded my third book and I’m writing the fourth one. So, for the fact that I am this agile, I need to show gratitude to Almighty God, and I’m very pleased that Allah has been very kind to me. I’m so healthy; I still stand and I still drive myself occasionally. I have a driver and I also exercise a little. I hope I can live a little bit longer.

On your birthday, you got commendations from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); and the president-elect, Bola Tinubu. How best can you describe the way you felt?

I feel highly honoured and I pray that the Almighty God will bless the outgoing President and the incoming president. I thank God that he made me a journalist. If he didn’t make me a journalist, how would I have got such recognition from the outgoing President and incoming president? So, I thank God.

How did you venture into journalism? Was it coincidental or intentional?

When I started my journalism career in 1978, I didn’t know I would go that far. I started with Daily Times and by 1982, I was News Editor of The PUNCH before I joined Concord, where I spent one and half years on the foreign desk. God has been very kind to me.

I started unconsciously practising journalism at the Baptist High School, Iwo. I started the club, which was called Adete Press Club. We had a large board where we pasted articles, where people went to read in the morning, afternoon and in the evening, commenting on events around us in Western Nigeria and in Nigeria as a whole, and to answer questions on what we learnt in the class. So, with it, I eventually came up with a magazine called Adete Periscope. Adete Periscope was a student magazine launched by the principal of my school.

My class teacher then, Mr Oladunni, wrote in his testimonial, ‘A potential journalist.’ I went to him and said I couldn’t be a journalist because journalists of that era usually weren’t dressing well and weren’t wearing good shoes. So, I couldn’t fathom it. I said it was not going to be possible but he said, ‘That is what I see in you; you are the founder of Adete Press Club and the founder of Periscope magazine; is that not journalism?’ That was an apt statement from a psychological-oriented teacher. So, when I went for my degree course at the University of Benin, where I read Political Science, believing that I would be an administrator for politicians, in the class Augustus Adebayo, former SGF of the old Western Region, taught us Public Administration and told us in the class that administrators must be seen and not heard, they must be on tar and not on top. I said what kind of thing was that. I said I didn’t want to become a civil servant.

Having practised journalism for about five decades, how will you describe the experience?

Well, let me say that everything surrounds destiny but you have to walk into your destiny. When I was doing the NYSC service with Daily Times, I began to write articles for Times International. I wrote analysis for them since I read Political Science. I wrote great analysis for Times International and commentaries for Sunday Times. Within three months, the management invited me and others to choose between working in the administrative Department and going for Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at the expense of the company. So, I chose to go for Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism at the then Institute of Journalism, Iganmu. That was where I became a trained journalist. Three months before the end of the NYSC programme, I was employed by Daily Times as a senior reporter. All graduate reporters were senior reporters.

I cannot be grateful to God enough. Four years as a reporter and news editor of The PUNCH. Again, PUNCH was the most radical newspaper in the 80s; respected and feared. You dare not give a PUNCH reporter a ‘brown envelope’, you dare not. We were very hard.

When I was appointed a foreign editor at the Concord, within one and half years, I was sent back to the news room as the editor. I never thought I would have gone back to the newsroom because I was travelling all over the world and I was enjoying myself and writing good reports, which were based on my knowledge of political science. There were no conferences held that I was not invited. I was a member of the International Committee against Apartheid. At some point, I was in Russia, in India, in Spain and all over.

Being an editor in such an era when the military government was in force, how was the experience for you not to compromise on the truth and on matters of public interest?

As journalists then, we were very stubborn. We didn’t mind the military. We were always ready to go to detention. When going to the office, we had our tooth brush and other items with us. Should they (the military) come to arrest, we were ready to go. We balanced our reports and gave people the opportunity to recall their sides of the stories. If we call and the person declines, we call again and after the third time, if there is no response, we publish the story like that and report that all attempts to get through to the person proved abortive. You can’t sue me for treason.

At Concord, I had an encounter that had to do with the military. My reporter scooped a story about military posting. It was detailed. I called the public relations officer of the military and he did not respond. So, we used the story like that and slammed it on the cover. Many of them that were promoted and deployed had yet to get their letter of deployment. The military came for my reporter and arrested her because it was her by-line that was on the story. I told the editor that we had to rescue the reporter, and the training is that you must never disclose your source of information. So, I surrendered myself by going to Apapa, and I told the director that the reporter couldn’t have published a story on her own because I edited and published it and that if there was anyone that should have been arrested, it should have been me. So, I was put in detention and my reporter was released.

After two days of interrogation, they got nothing from me. The last person to interrogate me was my friend from school days, and he told me that I had not stopped my rascality and socialist movement. Then he released me, saying that I shouldn’t die in their detention. I didn’t really care because I felt that the act of the arrest itself would make me more popular in career as a journalist; so, I never minded.

Even in the days of (Major General Tunde) Idiagbon and those eras, things were very tough. In my column in The PUNCH in 1984, I wrote a six-serial titled, ‘The Kingdom of rat and rabbit’ and it was only The PUNCH that could publish such at that time. That was during the time of (Major General Muhammadu) Buhari and Idiagbon, telling them of how they treated Nigerians at the time. Luckily, I was not arrested.

In 1993, the election won by Chief MKO Abiola, who was your boss at the time in Concord, was annulled. What roles did you play at that time and did you have a personal relationship with him?

Apart from official duties as a journalist, I was Special Adviser to Abiola on Islamic Affairs and later turned Religious Affairs, because I was the one connecting the Catholic Church and other churches, seeking assistance and help for Abiola. I was the one that was sent to them with money. I was very close to him and I usually went to his house after the close of work. I would be there sometimes till midnight or past midnight before leaving. That story had been told in a book, one of my books, which will be out soon. So, I was very close to him and was his errand boy to so many people. I enjoyed it.

I saw the whole thing coming. In 1990, I wrote him a four-page letter that in making reparation for the Black race for over 200 years of slavery, the Americans would not look kindly at him. The European colonists who are owners of France and Britain would not look kindly at you to let them to pay reparation. If Germans under Hitler, who killed six million Jews, were meant to pay reparation from 1947 to 1990, why shouldn’t Africa be paid reparation for over 200 years of slavery and who were the beneficiaries of the slave trade? It was America and Europe. I knew they were going to conspire against him.

Secondly, he held a world conference on food sufficiency for the continent of Africa where he brought agric experts from all over the world in London and for two weeks, they were brainstorming on the Africa food plan. That was adopted by the OAU (Organisation of African Unity), now called AU (African Union) and later adopted by the United Nations. MKO Abiola used his personal and private resources to do these things. If he had become the president of Nigeria, you can imagine what he would have done. So, the West feared him, so, they conspired against him and killed him, using our local artists.

When the election was coming, it was the Yoruba people that dragged him into the presidential race; he (Abiola) never wanted to contest the presidency. At a time, he said he didn’t have money to go for or contest such an enterprise, that if he knew, he would have been saving for some 15 years earlier. The leaders of Yorubaland, about 16 of them, accompanied by Baba Gbadamosi came to visit MKO and in a single night, they raised N600m as donation.

What was your experience of the Abacha junta that shut down media houses?

I was not under any particular threat at that time because I was the deputy editor of the National Concord and the daily production of the paper took me away from the centrality of the actualisation of the June 12 struggle. I was only providing backup, networking, soliciting to media and protecting Kudirat (Abiola), who was upholding the mandate of her husband.

The day she was killed, we struggled to prevent her from going out because we had information that mad killers were after her but she was to meet the French ambassador. Sadly, I wrote the story of her assassination myself, where I laid out the story the way it happened.

You also ventured into politics at some point and contested the House of Representatives seat for the Iwo Federal Constituency but lost. What prompted you to venture into politics?

Well, as a journalist, I was connected to the movers and shakers of Nigeria, and whenever they were taking critical decisions, I also wanted something for my town, Iwo. But each time I wanted to intercept, they told me to also go into politics. So, I ventured into politics so that I could also attract federal projects to my constituency. It wasn’t really that I lost, but the Action Congress of Nigeria then rigged me out through my agent at the collation centre.

The BVAS was used in accreditation but could not transmit results in real time during the presidential and National Assembly elections as promised and that was used as a yardstick by many, including international observers, to say that the polls were not credible enough. What is your response to this?

I disagree with that because they (international observers) are agents of imperialism and they marked Nigerians down and wanted us to move towards their own kind of democracy and not our own kind of democracy. Hillary Clinton had an election in America, beat her opponent by almost two million votes and she was not declared president. Is that democracy?

What do you actually mean by ‘our kind of democracy’ and how does that differentiate from that practised in the United States?

Hillary Clinton, despite winning, was not declared winner. The white supremacies of America are the manipulators of the American election. They must be told the truth; they should leave Nigeria alone. America should leave Nigeria alone. They are the ones that killed Abiola. They had several plots, about six plots to stop Tinubu (Jagaban) from becoming the president of Nigeria. They did everything possible but God disgraced them.

Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, didn’t garner his votes from the South-East alone. Some Yoruba and youths voted for him. How will you react to this?

Let them come out with the facts and figures. Facts are sacred. Well, Obi gave a good account of himself. The role of the church is that they are far more responsible for the election than the role of the youth. The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Catholic and other churches went to the grassroots to make sure that Obi was treated as the preferred candidate. Religion was taken to the highest point than any other election in the history of Nigeria.

During the Nigerian Civil War when the Igbo crossed Benin to Akure, we, the Yoruba donated two trailers loaded with food items and animals to the Biafran Army in Western Nigeria. If we hated the Igbo, we wouldn’t have done that. The impression given to the young Igbo is that Yoruba are traitors, but we will treat that on another day. We were never traitors to the Igbo. The subject matter is that those who want to destroy Nigeria are at work and they are making sure that Nigeria does not industrialise and work to become the world power. I am saying it loud and clear, please quote me. If they like, they can come for me. I will die at the time appointed for me. This blackmail of election is a plot to destroy Nigeria and we must not play into their hands.

Are there changes that journalism has undergone over the years based on the kind of journalism you practised then and that which is being practised now?

It is a very grave disaster. This era we find ourselves is the era of ‘fend for yourself’ journalism. Many media houses are not paying salaries. They also don’t give letter of employment, don’t give condition of service or review salaries for 10 years and the Nigerian journalists will be fighting for the Nigeria Labour Congress, for government to review the salaries of workers.

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The Zamfara State Police Command has paraded 21 suspects for various criminal offences, including banditry, kidnapping, theft and vandalisation, among others.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the command, SP Mohammed Shehu, said 17 of the suspects took part in post-election violence that led to the vandalisation and looting of public and private properties, including All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign offices across the state capital.

Items recovered are two semi-silent generators belonging to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Gusau; two standing refrigerator; vandalised doors; windows, tables, chairs, electric wires and different calibres of electronics, couches, 40 pieces of women’s wrappers, burglar-proof for windows and pillar reinforcement rods.

It could be recalled that police detectives led by the Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, had earlier arrested 40 suspects, recovered some of the looted items and vandalised property worth millions of naira which were displayed, and later charged the suspects to court and thereafter, remanded them in prison.

The police command in Zamfara also arrested a “wanted” notorious bandit accused of terrorising the state and environs.

The suspect, a male aged 25, was arrested by police tactical operatives on patrol who acted on intelligence.

According to the police, the suspect was already on the wanted list of the police for banditry, kidnapping and other heinous crimes.

“In the course of investigation, the suspect confessed of series of attacks and kidnapping on different communities in Zamfara State where millions of Naira collected as ransom from the relations. The suspect who further confessed of bearing GPMG during their operations, mentioned some of his allied which the police detectives is working assiduously to arrest. Discreet Investigation is ongoing,” the police said.

The command also arrested two suspects in connection with possession of 22 rustled livestock.

The suspects, aged 31 and 55, were reportedly arrested when the police were on patrol. Acting on intelligence information, they said to have intercepted and arrested three Toyota buses loaded with suspected stolen cows, sheep and goat from Dansadau to Gusau.

On sighting the police, the suspects attempted to abandon the vehicles and exhibits to escape, but they were rounded up and arrested by the police operatives, the authorities said.

“Suspects are currently undergoing discreet Investigation that will lead to the arrest of their collaborators before being charged to court for prosecution,” the PPRO added.

The Commissioner of Police, Kolo Yusuf, while applauding the people of Zamfara State for their unalloyed support and partnership, tasked them to sustain the synergy with the police and other security agencies for effective service delivery.

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The Department of State Services has said the embattled self-acclaimed Eze Igbo of Ajao Estate, Lagos State, Chief Fredrick Nwajagu, will be transferred to Abuja from the Lagos holding facility.

A security source at the DSS Headquarters, Abuja, who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, disclosed this to Sunday PUNCH.

In an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday night, the source said, “He is in our custody in Lagos. We expect him to be taken to Abuja. He may not be alone.

“We have said before that there are people who are threatening the peace of the nation. The country will not allow anyone to plunge it into avoidable crisis.”

Sunday PUNCH reports that Nwajagu was arrested during a raid by a joint team of policemen and operatives of the DSS on Saturday.

A source within the Force, who preferred to be anonymous, told Sunday PUNCH that the Igbo leader had been arrested.

“A team of police and DSS went to his palace but he had already fled. He was later traced to a hotel in Ejigbo where he was arrested,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the state police spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the arrest, adding that the chief had been handed over to the DSS for further action over his inciting comments.

He said, “Yes, he (Fredrick) has been arrested and is currently in the custody of the DSS. They are in charge of anything associated with terrorism.”

In a now-viral video sighted by one of our correspondents, Nwajagu, speaking in a mixture of Igbo and English, had issued a threat to invite members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra to secure the property of Igbo people in the state.

He said, “We must have our security so that they will stop attacking us at midnight, in the morning and the afternoon.

“When they discover that we have our security, they will think twice before attacking us. I am not saying a single word to be hidden.”

He also charged the public to make his claims go viral.

Reacting, the leadership of the Lagos State chapter of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide said the comments made by Nwajagu did not represent the ideals of the Igbo people in Lagos.

The President of the socio-cultural group, Chief Solomon Ogbonna-Aguene, said the detained chief would be made to face the music alone, adding that he spoke out of his interest.

“He (Igbo leader) did not discuss his statement with any of us. The comments are his personal decisions and for his personal interests. Ohanaeze does not support such comment as its views.

“There are some comments that should not be heard from us as a socio-cultural organisation. We are supposed to be apolitical.

“We are not in support of what Chief Fredrick said. For him to mention that he is going to bring IPOB to Lagos is completely unnecessary. No Igbo person will support such arrangement. So, he is the one that will answer for himself. Let him go and face the music,” he said.

Ogbonna-Aguene explained that Igbo people had not found things easy with IPOB even in the South-East, stating that it was unfair for Nwajagu to threaten to invite the group to Lagos.

“Why then should he bring it up here in Lagos? If he wants to speak to IPOB, he should have met with them in his personal capacity, not as Eze Igbo. Who gave him the power to speak on Igbo interest,” Ogbonna-Aguene queried.

When contacted, the Chairman, Supreme Council of Ndi-Eze, Lagos State, Mr Omega Lawrence, said Nwajagu was not an Eze in Lagos.

“He is not a member of the Council of Eze. That is the truth. He is just our brother and his statements are unfortunate, but we cannot deny him. I condemn the statement in its entirety. We are not part of it,” Lawrence added.

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