The caution followed intelligence reports suggesting desperate attempts to discredit Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate (LP), Mr. Peter Obi.
In a statement signed by National Coordinator, Prof. Olusegun Ajibola, and National Secretary, Dr. Iyabode Adisa, the group wondered why the misdeed of one Chinasa Michael, alleged to have masterminded the burning of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) terminal at Oyingbo, Lagos State, should be a basis for judging Igbo.
Arguing that Chinasa could not have carried out the deed alone, the group asked why some politicians championing a campaign of calumny against Igbo have not put pressure on law enforcement agencies to arrest Chinasa’s accomplices.
CCYE said: “We have watched with keen interest subtle attempts to de-market Mr. Peter Obi through the deliberate profiling of Igbo people in some parts of the country.
“On no account should the criminal tendency of a person be used to benchmark millions of others from the same geographical entity, all in a desperate bid to weaken the chances of a candidate in the 2023 presidential election.”
The elders, who clarified that they are non-partisan and non-aligned, said their concern is a fair and peaceful electoral process, as well as election of a new set of leaders, who recognise the enormity of challenges confronting Nigeria and have shown the demonstrable capacity to fix the same.
The statement reads in part: “As responsible and enlightened elders of thought in Yoruba land, we are duty-bound to always stand for justice, truth and equity.
“We are constrained to respond to some negative narratives on social and traditional media against the Igbo people and the presidential candidate of Labour Party by some desperate politicians, who are having sleepless nights over his growing popularity across the board.
“Even though we are Yoruba elders, we need to speak out in the interest of unity and fair play. The recent media propaganda by agents of a certain presidential candidate and others against Igbo people and Peter Obi, in particular, where they tried to desperately link the criminal attitude of a Lagos deviant, Michael Chinasa, who was recently remanded by a Lagos court over the burning of some BRT buses, is unacceptable, mischievous and calculated to blackmail the Igbo nation.
“It is the wickedness of the highest degree to link the action of one single individual, who acted in connivance with others from other tribes in committing the criminal act, to judge the character of Igbo people or paint Igbo as aggressive people who don’t like the progress of Yoruba.
“This is propaganda taken too far and must be stopped in the interest of unity. There are criminals in all tribes in the world. How come some people are frantically trying to criminalise the Igbo at all costs?
“Who is afraid of Peter Obi? There’s no way Chinasa alone could have burnt 30 BRT buses! Who are his collaborators? Why are the social media handlers of these desperate politicians silent about his other co-accused who are also standing trial or are still at large for a similar offence?
“Why are they silent about the others who were set free over the same offence? It’s our submission that criminality should be separated from tribe since every tribe and religion have criminals among them.
“These desperate politicians are also going as far as branding anyone supporting Peter Obi as an IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) member just to assassinate his character and popularity.
Peter Obi is like an idea whose time has come, and no amount of campaign of calumny can change the mind of those that have already made decision to vote him as the next president of Nigeria.”
Lifted from AfricanChina Presscentre