IN SHORT: As Nigeria's economic capital takes stock of its March 2023 election for governor, claims have been made online that the state has banned a traditional Igbo title. It hasn't.
Ahead of the Lagos state governorship election on 18 March 2023, there were fears about how ethnic profiling, threats and attacks on Igbos in the state would affect voter turnout.
And on 1 April, a post on Facebook claimed that the Lagos state government had banned “Eze Ndigbo titles”.
It read: “Lagos State Government Has Put A Ban On All Eze Nd'Igbo Titles Henceforth, Warn All LG CHAIRMEN To Be On Alert ''.
LG is short for Local Government, one of the units of administration in the country.
The same claim appeared on Facebook here, here, here, here and here.
What does this mean and is it true?
Ethnic affiliations highlighted in election season
The Igbo community is one of the largest in Nigeria, alongside the Hausa and the Yoruba. The Igbo and Yoruba are the predominant groups in Lagos state.
The Labour Party candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, was targeted because of his Igbo heritage. This was despite him being of mixed Igbo and Yoruba descent.
Labour caused an upset in Nigeria’s presidential election on 25 February 2023, when its candidate Peter Obi won more votes in the state than president-elect Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC).
But the APC turned the tables on Labour in the state in March when its candidate, the incumbent governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, defeated Rhodes-Vivour.
Rhodes-Vivour has claimed that the election was marred by voter intimidation and rigging, and said that he would challenge the result in court.
It is in this context that Eze Ndigbo of Ajao estate, Fredrick Nwajagu, reacted to the targeting of Igbos by threatening to invite the separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra or Ipob, to secure Igbo properties in the state. This led to his arrest on 1 April.
The title “Eze Ndigbo”, or “Igbo king”, is given to an Igbo man chosen by his community members to lead them. Ndigbo is a plural term for the Igbos. Some community leaders say the title doesn’t imply royalty as it is given outside what was traditionally Igbo land.
‘Nothing like that’
But has Lagos banned the title “Eze Ndigbo”?
“No nothing like that,” Gboyega Akosile, the state’s chief press secretary, told Africa Check.
The mainstream media also reported that the state had denied banning the title.
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