Igbo supporters of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), are restricting access to the popular Alaba International Market in Lagos, with an arbitrary and widely-condemned condition that only confirmed LP voters be allowed to conduct trade.
The illegal action executed by a migrant group of Igbo traders from the eastern part of the country was documented in a video recording which has since gone viral and sparked criticism from other Nigerians who deemed the measure as extreme, tyrannical, and in violation of constitutional freedoms, including unhindered access to public spaces.
In the video, the Igbo traders shut the main gate to the market and only allowed entry to individuals who displayed their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and expressed readiness to elect Peter Obi in the presidential election slated for next month. Those who failed to do so were denied entry and forced to leave the market premises under the threat of violence.
This is Alaba international market. No PVC no enter. And if you're coming to buy, show your PVC or go elsewhere ??
Vid: Ezima pic.twitter.com/U3FXL2pQU2
— Deinmowei Frank Ezi (@DeinmoweiEzi) January 26, 2023
The incident has drawn comparisons with the actions of IPOB, the secessionist group responsible for disturbing acts of violence and sedition in the eastern part of the country, including violently-enforced ‘sit-at-home’ days during which members of the public are required to remain indoors.
It also comes amid growing evidence of a link between Peter Obi and IPOB, with leaders of the group admitting to have promoted the candidate’s presidential ambition with their sprawling online propagandist network typically used to incite hatred and violence against the country and members of other ethnic groups, particularly the Fulanis and Yorubas.
In some of its published propaganda, IPOB urged members to carry out targeted destruction of key public infrastructure in Lagos as part of a bid to ‘weaken the Yorubas’ and gain control of important economic assets.
Obi was said to have echoed similar divisive and dangerous propaganda in an interview where he recklessly accused the Yorubas of not backing his emergence over fears that he would facilitate the dominance and superiority of the Igbos, his ethnic kinsmen, through targeted government investments and ethnic favouritism.
The actions of his Igbo supporters in Alaba market, and indeed other areas where they are concentrated in Lagos having migrated from the east in search of economic opportunities, have raised fears of violent backlash, with other residents expressing frustration with the perceived high-handiness of the group who increasingly view Obi’s candidacy as a chance for them to assert themselves following years of purported marginalization.
The worst people are those that oppress others thinking it is for the greater good.
You are everything you criticized. All of you are the same https://t.co/zG4cODrjRG
— Stoned Mind (@its_Tobiloba) January 26, 2023
Traders denied entry on the frivolous grounds that they lacked a PVC or refused to commit to elect Obi have vowed to report the action to the Police, with others suing for a showdown if the illegal action persists.
Meanwhile, Obi continues to ignore calls to condemn the intolerant and violent actions of his supporters offline and online, as multiple studies identify his base as the likely source of violence in the general elections.