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Thursday 6 February 2020

I Wonder Why Genocidal Scholars Omit Biafra Genocide In Their Articles (Part 1)

I Wonder Why Genocidal Scholars Omit Biafra Genocide In Their Articles (Part 1)

Genocide is a term used to describe violence against members of a nation, ethnic, racial or religious group with the intent to destroy the entire group. The word came into general usage only after World War II when the full extent of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime against European Jews during that conflict, became known.

Notwithstanding the evidence of which incidents were meticulously planned which led to the implementation of the political project that exterminated the Igbo ethnic group in Northern Nigeria before the war and in other parts of Nigeria during the war, the genocide has been mischaracterized as a civil war. In which it can be called “an invisible genocide,” the Igbo genocide was masked by the attempts of both federal Nigeria and major Western nations especially 'Britain', to down play the evidence of the genocide perpetrated against the Igbo ethnic group as well as it's deeper roots in the pre-civil war period.

Despite ample information about the violations committed by the Nigerian security forces, the Nigerian military has continuously perpetrated evil against Biafra since 1945 till date. Authorities of the world had consistently failed to take meaningful action to stop them and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Sometimes, it would look as if the world through her Nigeria-British counterparts, are fuelling and instigating the Nigerian government because of their interest in Biafra oil.

Conditions in Biafra during the war created no illusion that there was a well-organized and systematic attempt to starve the Igbo to extinction. In September 1968, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that eight thousand to ten thousand (8000–10,000) people were starving to death each day as a result of the Biafran war of independence (New York Post). The New York Times also reported that a relief worker for the World Council of Churches stated that twenty five (25) persons would die each day if the war continued for another month (New York Times). The above reports were not an exaggeration of what befell the Igbo and others in the Biafra enclave as the situation continued to deteriorate.

Other reports painted a picture of unimaginable human suffering on a scale not previously experienced in Africa. Uzoigwe has painted a picture of appalling human suffering and degradation based on eye-witness accounts and official reports. His claim of genocidal intent against the Igbos by Northerners was supported by the accounts presented by Western journalists and the Eastern Nigerian Government. They were convinced that the Igbos faced genocide in the North between May and October of 1966.

What exactly are the intentions of the Nigerian government during the war if not to make sure Biafrans were terminated from the face of the earth? The United Nations uses the following definition to classify acts of genocide, viz: Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about it's physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Rudolph Rummel was professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii and wrote many seminal works on war and violence. He was the first to distinguish between different forms of state violence and invented the term gemocide. His definitions are listed below:

GENOCIDE: Among other things, the killing of people by a government because of their indelible group membership (race, ethnicity, religion, language).

POLITICIDE: the murder of any person or people by a government because of their politics or for political purposes.

MASS MURDER: The indiscriminate killing of persons or people by a government.

DEMOCIDE: The murder of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder.

Evidence of the first definition:

(“The demand for drastic action against the Igbos was accepted by the responsible Northern Nigerian Ministers and the 'Pre-Ahmadu Bello', Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region responded in these words: “It is my most earnest desire that every post in the region, however small it is, be filled by Northerners (Applause).” The Minister of Establishment and Training, Mustafa Ismaila Dujuna affirmed: 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 honorable 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 (Investigators Report, 10–11)).

The mass slaughter of the Igbos in the Mid-Western region towns remain the most visible evidence of what Emma Okocha called the “first black on black genocide” in all of Africa. Mass extermination of the Igbos took place in the towns of Benin and Asaba. In Asaba, federal troops ordered the killing of every male, including young boys. Witnesses noted that all the males of Biafran origin were told to gather in the marketplace to welcome the advancing federal troops. What resulted was that “all these people were razed to the ground by machine-gun fire” (The International Committee). It is estimated that seven hundred (700) people were killed on that day of “ceremonial welcome” (Okoch).

Indeed, according to different Investigator Reports, it was horrible. Some have this to say: “hostilities between Federal Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra that began in July 1967 served as a continuation of an intention to exterminate the Igbo people. The War was indeed a Nigerian variant of what the Nazi called the “final solution” of the Jewish problem” (The International Committee on the Investigation of Crimes of Genocide, 1968).

Since the late 1945s till date, millions of Igbo people have been massacred in different parts of Nigeria, especially in the Northern Region. The genocide against the Igbos, planned, and executed with the support of public officials and British Diplomats in many cases, reached it's climax in 1966. Even since the end of the Biafra-Nigeria war, the Igbo people remain objects of targeted slaughter in different parts of the country on daily basis and yet no one has been brought to book.  Their crimes, "would shame all the devils in hell", said Connolly.

Written by Obulose Chidiebere N.
Edited by Elemeghideonye Nnamdi Stephen

For Family Writers Press International

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