Those behind the Biafran lines are seen by all visitors including the international relief agencies in their hundreds of refugee camps. Those hiding in the bush as well as those who fled behind the Biafran lines are obviously running away from Nigerian troops.
In Western Nigeria, in Yorubaland, there has always been the outcry at various times for the "repatriation" of Biafrans. In 1953, again, Northern Nigerians with a "universally unexpected degree of violence", attacked and massacred Biafrans living in Kano. This time the British were constrained by the nature and degree of the holocaust to order an inquiry. The official Report, compiled by a British administrative officer, produced incontestable evidence of intention, deliberation and organisation on the part of the Northern Nigerian authorities.
There was evidence that leading functionaries of the Northern Nigerian Native Administration (N.A.) - an agency which the British themselves described as "an integral part of the machinery of government" - were deeply involved in the planning of the massacres of 1953. According to the Report, two days before the massacre began on Thursday, 14th May 1953, Mallam (afterwards Alhaji) Inua Wade, then Secretary of the Northern Peoples' Congress (N.P.C.) and later Federal Minister of Works, convened a meeting of the N.A. sectional heads at the Works Depot in Kano during which he made "a very ill-advised and provocative speech." Inua Wada said, inter alia:
"We have organised about 1,000 men ready in the City to meet force with force ... the Northern Peoples' Congress has declared a strike in all Native Administration Offices for Saturday, 16.5.53 ... we shall post sufficient number of men at the entrance of every office and business place ... we are prepared to face anything that comes out of this business ... " In the outcome, so claimed the official estimate, 52 persons were killed and 245 wounded, most of the casualties being Biafrans. But the Report itself admits that "there is still a possibility that more were killed than have been recorded in view of conflicting statements by ambulance and lorry drivers" (who carted off the dead bodies to their mass graves).
In point of fact it was widely known at the time that over 200 Biafrans had been killed and over 500 wounded. The occasion of this pogrom was that a Yoruba leader had made a speech in Kano attacking the Northern Government - Biafrans on the whole were not supporters of the politician in question. The Report however perceived the depth of the hatred and bitterness which Northern Nigerians nursed against Biafrans and concluded on a prophetic note of warning: "No amount of provocation, short-term or long-term, can in any way justify their behaviour ... The seeds of the trouble which broke out in Kano on May 16 (1953)have their counterparts still in the ground. It could happen again, and only a realisation and acceptance of the under-lying causes can remove the danger of recurrence". An acceptance of the fact of there having been genocide.
Indeed the Sardauna Brigade was a Para-military organisation built trained and maintained as his private army by the then Premier of Northern Nigeria Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. The Prototype of the Sardauna Brigade was Hitler's "Brown Shirts". It was to be the main instrument for destroying Biafrans in Northern Nigeria. Meanwhile, in order to minimise the bitterness generated by the Census Crises, Biafrans dropped the controversy.
But the leaders of Northern Nigeria would not let the matter lie. In March 1964, during debates in the Northern House of Assembly, the prevailing bitterness against Biafrans was publicly proclaimed and their physical elimination officially hinted. Here are a few excerpts from the speeches made during those debates:"MALLAM BASHARI UMARU: "I would like (you), as the Minister of Land and Survey, to revoke forthwith all Certificates of Occupancy from the hands of the Ibos resident in the region (Applause) ... "
"MR. MEGIDA LAWANT: "In fact it is quite a long time that we in our part of this Region have known the Ibos and I do not think that at the moment there is any Ibo man owning a roof in Igbirra Division ... I am appealing to the Minister to make life more difficult for them ... "
"ALHAJI YUSUFU BAYERO: "Mr. Chairman, I would like to appeal to the Minister of Establishments and Training if he will appeal to the Minister of Local Government about some employees who are Ibos and are working under some Native Authorities here ... I cannot see why they should be in our Region. We are all sure that they are the poorest people in the country".
"ALHAJI USMAN LIMAN (Sarkin Musawa): "What brought the Ibos into this Region? They were here since the Colonial Days. Had it not been for the Colonial Rule there would hardly have been any Ibo in this Region. Now that there is no Colonial Rule the Ibos should go back to their Region. There should be no hesitation about this matter. Mr. Chairman, North is for Northerners, East for Easterners, West for Westerners and The Federation is for all. (Applause)."
To all these demands for drastic action against Biafrans responsible Northern Nigerian Ministers accordingly replied: "ALHAJI SIR AHMADU BELLO, K.B.E., Sardauna of Sokoto (The Premier):"It is my most earnest desire that every post in the Region, however small it is, to be filled by a Northerner. (Applause)."
"ALHAJI MUSTAFA ISMAILA ZANNA DUJUNA (Minister of Establishments and Training): "Mr. Chairman, Sir, since 1955 this Government had laid down a policy. First NORTHERNERS, second EXPATRIATES and third, NON-NORTHERNERS. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I have noted very carefully all the speeches made by all the Members in the Honourable House and I am ready to put up to my Government their views and I hope my Government will give them consideration ... I think these two things are the major things I have to answer now. One is on scholarship and the other is on how to do away with the Ibos."
"ALHAJI IBRAHIM MUSA GASHASH, O.B.E. (Minister of Land and Survey): "Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not like to take up much of the time of this House in making explanations, but I would like to assure Members that having heard their demands about Ibos holding land in Northern Nigeria my Ministry will do all it can to see that the demands of Members are met. How to do this, when to do it, all this should not be disclosed. In the course, you will all see what will happen. (Applause)."
Thereupon Alhaji Mustafa Dujuma, Alhaji Musa Gashash and other Northern Nigerian Leaders proceeded to plot "how to do away with" Biafrans, and the world was soon to see what would happen. Under the influence of these leaders Northern Nigerian N.A.'s abruptly terminated the appointments of Biafrans in their services, prematurely determined their contracts, suddenly withdrew their Certificates of Occupancy of residential plots and business premises, actually expelled some Biafrans from Northern Nigeria, and ruthlessly subjected others to verbal and even physical attacks and threats of total annihilation and expropriation of property.Shortly, too, the N.P.C., the party in power in Northern Nigeria, published a highly scurrilous booklet entitled "SALAMA: Facts must be Faced". This document launched a vicious and devastating attack on Biafrans. Indeed it was contrived to inflame the feelings of the Northern Nigerian masses to such an extent that, on the flimsiest pretext and as soon as the signal was given, the masses would pounce upon Biafrans and massacre them. It did happen. Simultaneously, in Western Nigeria, a booklet entitled UPCAISM was published by the Government. In it were displayed photographs of stores and shops run by Biafran traders in Lagos; and Western Nigerians were invited to accept the inflammatory lie that these Biafran "strangers" had expropriated Western Nigerian land and the fruits thereof. The Government of Western Nigeria, like their counterpart in Northern Nigeria, organisedand conducted a campaign of hate against Biafrans. The character of Biafrans was remorselessly assassinated. As in Northern Nigeria, Biafrans were callously dislodged from their merited positions in Western Nigeria and in Federal agencies and institutions. Even business firms were urged to remove Biafrans from, or to refuse to appoint them to, positions in their various establishments.
In the light of all this it is obvious that the factors usually suggested to explain away the Nigerian genocide of 1966 namely, the Revolution of January 15, and the Unification Decree of May 24, 1966 - are, to use the words of Lord Stonham "vicious pretexts" merely put forward to justify "evil motives". ...
Culled from: The Genocide Papers, by:
Political Action Committee
Ekwe Nche Organization
P. O. Box 408250
Chicago, IL 60640 , U.S.A.