In the early hours of Wednesday, arsonists stormed the Akere spare parts market in the Apapa Ajegunle area of Lagos State, shot a security guard and two other persons before razing down the market’s facilities. Hours later, properties worth millions of Naira became ashes.
The market is said to be an Igbo dominated one. And the incident is coming on the heels of an alleged plot by the Igbos to uproot the Yorubas from Lagos due to their increasing political strength in the state, and just a few hours after Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State embarked on a campaign tour of major markets populated by people from the South-East, assuring them of their safety.
It was rumoured that the Igbos who like ants marched from the southeast were hell bent on colonizing Lagos and turning Yorubas into slaves, installing Igwes instead of Obas, and placing an ‘Obinna’ instead of ‘Abiodun’ at the helm, and consequently annexing the state to the would be Biafra.
How would this happen? No one knew for sure, but soon rumours would become facts and many Yorubas vowed not to let the supposed lofty dreams of the Igbos come to pass.
So Igbo traders in Ajegunle would wake up on Wednesday to see their livelihoods in flames. Word soon spread on social media that some thugs sponsored by the ruling party, targeted Igbos by burning down the popular market.
But how true are these claims?
Lagos is Not a No-man’s Land
Some days earlier, Peter Obi (Igbo) would smash the head of Bola Tinubu (Yoruba)—the godfather of Lagos politics—in the just concluded presidential election in lagos. Obi’s Victory in the state strengthened the belief that the Igbos really were a threat, and if left unhindered would succeed in their mission.
It was assumed that Igbos in their supposed millions voted Obi. Does that mean that no one from the Yoruba ethnic group supported the labour Party? Does this imply that Igbo foreigners are now more than the ‘real owners of Lagos’ in terms of population?
Protests broke out in the streets urging the Igbos to go back home and leave Lagos alone. Politicians whipping up ethnic tensions, urged the Yorubas in Lagos to reclaim their land from the clutches of the Igbos. And it didn’t help matters that Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the governorship candidate contesting under the platform of Obi’s Labour Party, is a Yoruba man married to an Igbo wife, and birthed by an Igbo woman.
His Yoruba heritage suddenly became questionable. One politician, Femi Fani-Kayode (FFK), hastily wrote in his article ‘Lagos Is Not A No Man’s Land’ that Rhodes-Vivour was in bed with the outlawed separatist group—Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)— to impose “an unashamedly Igbo agenda on the people of Lagos state including removing all our Yoruba traditional rulers and imposing Igbo ones.”
Surprisingly, FFK is married to an Igbo woman. This is a story for another day.
Days later Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, urged Kwarans living in Lagos to vote Sanwo-Olu and not Obi’s party in the gubernatorial election. “Let us call our children doing ‘Obistupid’ to retrace their steps. We are Kwarans, we are not bastards,” he said.
So who is responsible for the inferno?
Earlier reports say that the cause of the fire is not known.
Some reports argue that political thugs were sent to burn down Igbo businesses as a means of making them suffer for supporting the Labour Party in Lagos.
You're burning markets in Lagos in all an attempt to do the Igbos in. Fools, you're crippling Lagos informal economy and setting your people up for reprisal attacks elsewhere. Go to Sapele, you'll find century-old community of Yorubas. A road is even named Yoruba there.
— Dr Great Oracle (@AbdulMahmud01) March 8, 2023
Many Igbos on Twitter say that the Yorubas are hell bent on sending them back to their villages and are only jealous of their business prowess.
Few Yorubas argue that who is responsible doesn’t matter. But if the inferno would help get rid of the Igbos from Lagos then so be it.
There are some individuals from the southwest who say that the attack we’re not ethnic but politically motivated.
The government has called for calm and urged lagosians to echew ethnic related arguments.
No one has claimed responsibility for the alleged ethnic motivated attack. But one thing is for sure: unfounded and unverified rumours would keep fueling ethnic tensions, which would not mean well for a peace-loving state like lagos.