PVC: Lagos to investigate alleged discrimination of non-indigenes
GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has promised to investigate claims that some Lagos residents were refused Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVC) because they are non-indigenes.
Fashola said though he would not dismiss the claims but available fact does not lend itself to substantiate those allegations.
It would be recalled that thousands of non-indigenes, last week, marched to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Yaba to protest alleged marginalisation in the distribution of PVC in Lagos.
The protesters, who are members of the South-South and South-East groups in Lagos, said some local council, with large population of non-indigenes, were deliberately being disallowed from getting their PVCs.
Some of the placards read: “No PVC, No Peace, No Election,” “INEC, Release Our PVCs Please,” “Jega, Where is our PVC?” “Non-indigenes Refuse To Be Disenfranchised,” among many others.
One of the youth leaders from Alimosho at the protest had alleged that because the All Progressives Congress (APC) knows that non-indigenes have sympathy for a particular candidate other than their candidate that is why they are orchestrating the marginalization to deny many of them their PVCs.
Responding to their concerns, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos, Mr. Akin Orebiyi, apologized to the group for the troubles and hassles they have faced in getting their PVCs but said the delay is not deliberate.
The governor, in an interactive session with reporters, said it was obvious that not everybody had received PVC, but it would be difficult to say that one ethnic group is worst hit by the development.
According to him, “I don’t think that the evidence that we see now supports discrimination claims. I always say that whatever the problem is, I would like to identify it instead of colouring it by tribe, by religion or by language.
‘“I haven’t collected my card’ is ‘I haven’t collected my card.’ We have never done anything by ethnicity here and everyone must understand that,” he said.
The matter was also brought to the fore at another forum where Fashola hosted Igbo leaders in the state and Igbo traders from Odun-Ade Building Materials Dealers’ Association, all of who had come on a solidarity visit.
Fashola reiterated that the state government had never been interested in or acted in any way to indicate ethnic or religious discrimination in its policies.
The governor expressed dismay that some people had chosen to whip up ethnic sentiments to create division among Lagos residents with the false allegation that non-indigenes were not being given the PVCs, adding that the allegation was not only false but also dangerous to the growth of democracy in the country.
His words: “So any objective member of the society will now see that the allegation is one in the many series of lies being peddled by our opponents. But they are very dangerous lies because we have not done anything in this state on the basis of indigeneship.”
President of the Odun-Ade Building Materials Dealers Association, Modestus Umenzekwe, had earlier extolled the virtues of Fashola as a highly detribalized Nigerian, who had severally touched Ndigbos in Lagos in the last eight years.
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