Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has denied referring to Nigerians of Yoruba extraction as political rascals.
Mr Iwuanyanwu was reported at the weekend to have termed the tribe predominant in the South-West geo-political zone as political rascals.
The Igbo socio-cultural association he heads refuted the remark when their South-West counterpart, Afenifere, requested clarification.
In a statement he personally signed on Monday and released to newsmen in Owerri, the Imo State capital, Mr Iwuanyanwu said the comments attributed to him were fake and misrepresented.
“My awareness has been drawn to fake news circulating on social media completely misrepresenting the statement I made at Awka, Anambra State, in connection to the killings, destructions of properties, and harassment of Igbo in Lagos during the recent elections,” he said.
“My statement was covered live by Arise Television, Channels, and many other electronic and print media houses.
“All Nigerians of goodwill who care should get the true transcript of my statement from any of these media houses.
“I want to make it abundantly clear that at no time did I make the statement credited to me by blackmail circulating on social media that Yoruba are political rascals as this was fraudulently manipulated.
“I want to warn all perpetrators of this fake news that it is a criminal offense to circulate fake news against a peace-loving Nigerian. For the avoidance of doubt, I am a senior citizen who has meritoriously served Nigeria.
“The seven Igbo-speaking states namely — Rivers, Delta, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Enugu States — have also honoured me with the traditional title of AHAEJIAGAMBA NDIGBO.
“I am indeed the first Igbo man to be so honoured. As a professional engineer, I have been honoured with numerous merit awards including the institution of an annual lecture series in my name by my colleagues in appreciation of my contributions to engineering, science society, and humanity.
“I am the Grand Patron of many youth organizations in the country. Most of my close friends who have influenced my business and professional life are from the Northern and Western parts of Nigeria.
“For instance, I am the Balogun Babaguwan of Ibadan land. I have also been honoured with chieftaincy titles by numerous Yoruba oba.
“I am no doubt an honorary citizen of Yoruba land. I have many personal friends and staff of my various companies including directors who are Yoruba.
“Most of them played major roles in shaping my economic destiny, therefore do not have any reason whatsoever to in the Yoruba tribe whom I regard with great respect.
“What I did at the ceremony was to admonish Igbo who felt threatened by various attacks in Lagos that they have no cause to worry because there are no problems between Igbo and Yoruba.
“I, therefore, told them to stay in Lagos and go about their normal businesses. I did however mention to them that the attackers are political rascals and their action does not reflect the good relationship between Yoruba and Igbo.
“Having said this, on a personal note, I must comment as follows: I felt very sad that a Nigerian should be denied his democratic right to vote for any candidate of his choice because of his tribe.
“What happened to Igbo in Lagos was in the press and Igbo are very grateful to those distinguished well-meaning Yoruba, who spoke against the killings, injuries and destruction of properties of Igbo in Lagos only because they voted the candidates of their choice,” he added.
The Ohanaeze chieftain also added that one of his daughters is married to a Yoruba man from Oyo state and they have been together for 20 years.