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Tuesday, 20 September 2016




By Ogochukwu Nnanna
For family writers.

There is no doubt that the aim of the pogrom of 1966 was to drive the Biafrans out of the North and perhaps even out of Nigeria.  In both, it was remarkably successful.  In the wake of it all, Biafrans, otherwise known as Easterners returned home in droves, convinced once and for all that Nigeria can never offer them the guarantee of security of lives and properties which are habitually the inalienable rights of citizens in their own country.
The facts spoke for themselves and were witnessed by too many independent minds to be disputed.
Mrs. Schwarz, who can hardly be accused of sensationalism, refers to them as ‘a pogrom of genocidal proportions ‘against Biafrans.  Neither was the pogrom directed solely against the Ibos. The word ‘IBO’ is a single generic term in the North. The Hausa word is ‘Nyamiri’, which is used to describe all Easterners or Biafrans, be you from IBO, ISOKO, IBIBIO, IZON, IGBANKE, ISHEKIRI , EFIK etc.  If any violence breaks out, especially in the North, when once they see you as Nyamiri, they will kill you instantly, thus not only the Ibos suffered, though they were undoubtedly the majority. Efiks, Ibibios, and Ijaws were also singled out for butchery.

As the Biafrans who were lucky to escape the pogrom returned home and narrates their experiences, a wave of rage swept across Biafra land, mingled also with despair and disillusion. There is hardly a village or town, family or compound in the region that did not take into its fold one of the refugees and listen to their stories. Thousands of the refugees were maimed for life by what they had gone through either mentally or physically. Almost everybody went bankrupt, because Biafrans traditionally invests their money either in businesses or in properties and few could bring away more than a small suitcase when they fled. Houses, businesses, prospective earnings and salaries, savings and furniture, cars and concessions –for many people, the sum total of a lifetime savings and investments, all had to be left behind in order to save themselves from the ongoing pogrom. Not only were they rendered refugees in their own land , they were without any viable means of support when they arrived back in Biafra land.

 Naturally, there were massive reactions. There were few Northerners in the East, and Colonel Ojukwu’s reaction to safeguard them was fast; but as the death toll of Biafrans rises in the North and the news started to surface of what is going on, it became clear that the safety of Northerners in the East can no longer be guaranteed.
The military Governor, Col. Ojukwu ordered that the Northerners be escorted back home, and should have police protection all the way. His ability to command his own people contrasted with the impotence of Gowon and Katsina. The overwhelming majority of Northerners left the Biafra land unharmed.
As regards the casualties, very much a question in dispute ever since, Mrs. Legum hit the nail on the head when he observed that ‘Only the Biafrans know the whole terrible story ‘, having been the victims of the pogrom. Faced with the obvious disinclination of the Federal Government to conduct an inquiry, the East ordered its own. It was conducted by Mrs. Gabriel Onyiuke, the former Nigerian attorney General, who has also fled from Nigeria. It took a long time to complete, with Biafran victims killed in the pogrom amounting to more than 30,000.

  In early September of 1966, a number of Northern troops from Ibadan ,capital of the West, had raided Benin city in the Midwest and snatched from a number of officers in detention for their part in the January coup. The Northerners among the detainees were released in the North ,while the Easterners were murdered. Gowon had promised immediately that those responsible would be punished but this went by the board, as it added to many of his unfulfilled promises in tackling the ethnic cleansing of Biafrans.
There was increasing pressure that the Regional Military Governors should meet to sort the problems out, a view strongly shared by Colonel Ojukwu, but since there is nowhere within Nigeria he felt he could go in terms of personal safety, it was agreed to hold the meeting in Aburi, Ghana, under the auspices of General Ankrah. It was there, in ex-President Nkrumah’s Luxurious country seat in the hills above Accra that the Supreme Military council of Nigeria met on 4th and 5th January 1967.And it was there that the Aburi Accord was made which Gowon later thwarted.

  Had the Aburi Accord been adhered to, the genocidal war could have been averted.

 It was Gowon who first declared war and took arms against Biafrans. As the massacre of the Biafrans continued, the cry to pull out from Nigeria grows louder till today.
"On Aburi we stand" became the slogan in the East; and Ojukwu refused to attend further meetings.

All these made Ojukwu to declare the independence of Biafra on May 30, 1967, and within a few months of the declaration of independence, a remarkable array of forces has been arranged to crush the new country just as they are doing today. Gowon launched the federal Army behind the slogan ‘’TO KEEP NIGERIA ONE’’.

 Phrases like ‘one Nigeria’’, to preserve the territorial integrity of Nigeria’ and ‘’Crush the revolt’’ were soon bundled out. Seeing that war was imminent, both sides launched preparations, the Biafrans to defend themselves, the Nigerians to bring about a quick finish to what they regarded as a childishly easy task. The first shells were fired over Biafra’s Northern border at dawn on July 6, 1967, as a full scale war exploded.

In all these, I want to let Buhari and Nigerians to know that the war of 1967/70 is just a child’s play compared to what is to come if they failed to allow Biafrans to go this time around. In fact Somalia will be a paradise compared to what will come upon Nigeria if they try that rubbish again.

Edited by Paul Ihechi Alagba
For Family Writers

1 comment

  1. I must commend your write up...but check again...the number of biafran casualties were in excess of a million. That was why we used for genocide and Britain wouldn't hear our case till date. Saying it was simply an act of war and all was collated damages.


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