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Monday, 20 January 2020

50 Years After, Nigeria/Biafra War Is Not Yet Ended

50 Years After, Nigeria/Biafra War Is Not Yet Ended

Nigerian hostility comes in diverse forms and has witnessed several outbreaks which includes mass killing of Biafrans. This dates back to the British colonial era before the genocidal war was brought to Biafrans by Nigeria and her allies in 1967. Many gruesome and unprovoked massacres actually commenced in 1945 in Jos, Northern Nigeria, against Biafran residents. The then British administration failed to seriously stem the tide. Not even an inquiry was conducted to ascertain the cause(s) of the "gruesome episode". Similar incident took place in the city of Kano in the year 1953. This also happened under the nose of the British colonialists seven years before Nigeria got her political independence.

Hostilities between the Nigerian government and the Biafran Republic which began in July 1967, served as a continuation of an intended extermination of the Igbos. The war was indeed the Nigerian version of what the Nazi called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem". The Nigerian war never actually started in 1967 but rather, a continuation of an unended war. Many Biafrans are yet being victimized, persecuted, maimed and killed on Nigerian streets without any recourse.

By contrast, Charles Keil, an American ethnomusicologist who witnessed the 1966 gruesome massacre and who led the Committee to Keep Biafra Alive, at State University of New York, Buffalo, aptly described the events thus: "The pogroms I witnessed in Makurdi, Nigeria, (late September 1966), were foreshadowed by months of intensive anti-Igbo and anti-Eastern conversations among the Tiv, Idoma, Hausa and other Northern residents in Makurdi and fitting a pattern replicated in city after city, the massacres were led by the Nigerian army. Before, during and after the slaughter, Colonel Yakubu Gowon could be heard over the radio issuing "guarantees of safety" to all Easterners, all citizens of Nigeria, but the intent of the soldiers, the only power that counts in Nigeria now or then, was painfully clear.

 After counting the disemboweled bodies along the Makurdi road, I was escorted back to the city by the soldiers who apologized for the stench and explained politely that they were doing me and the world a great favour by eliminating the Igbos. "They eat dogs, they must die like dogs". "We find them, we kill them and they do us the same, no be so?" "They are born with greed in their hearts". "They are the only people spoiling Nigeria eversince, One-Nigeria without the Igbos!". "We make sure they will never worry us again". I am paraphrasing the kernels of conversations with dozens of soldiers conducted at nightclubs, roadblocks and in their barracks during the ten months between the pogroms and July 1967 when I left Nigeria. I met a few soldiers, mostly officers who were not convinced that the Igbos were innately evil, expendable, exterminatable but they were exceptions".

Professor Chinua Achebe of blessed memory, in his book titled "There Was A Country", said, ....a detailed plan for mass killing was implemented by the government, the army, the police, the very people who were there to protect life and property. Not a single person has been punished for these crimes. It was not just human nature, a case of somebody hating his neighbor and chopping off his head. It was something far more devastating because it was a premeditated plan that involved careful coordination, awaiting only the right spark.

"I have seen things in Biafra this week which no man should have to see. Sights to search the heart and sicken the conscience. I have seen children roasted alive, young girls torn in two by shrapnel, pregnant women eviscerated and old men blown to fragments. I have seen these things and I have seen their cause: high-flying Russian Ilyushin jets operated by federal government of Nigeria, dropping bombs on civilian centres throughout Biafra...."

These are some of the people's accounts and reactions on what they practically witnessed before, during and after the war. Such evils are yet being carried out today in different parts of Nigeria. The only difference between the war that took place in 1967 and what is happening today is that the Biafrans of old reacted, strongly opposed and fought back with locally/self-manufactured weapons while today, the war is being fought diplomatically, sophiscatedly and intelligently via social media platforms and on Radio Biafra.

Biafrans have biblically learnt the norms of turning the other cheek when slapped, just to usher in peace but Nigeria and British governments do not seem to recognize that. The war has continued raging since 1914 when the contraption called Nigeria was amalgamated without limits except something drastic plays in. Virtually on daily basis, there is at least a Biafran missing in Nigeria and till date. A lot have been gruesomely murdered without anybody being held accountable. But this cannot be allowed to continue.



Surely, a day of reckoning is coming and imminently too. Biafrans must be free!

Written by Obulose Chidiebere N.

Edited by Peter Oshagwu
For Family Writers Press International

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