The full story of the organised and brutal massacre – Pogrom – of Eastern Nigerians in Northern Nigeria and elsewhere will never be told in our life time. It is an impossible task to recapture in print or even in pictures the cruel fate and agencies of more than 7,000 ordinary men, women and children of Eastern Nigeria origin who were murdered in cold blood by Northern hordes in army uniform.
These gruesome murders and other acts of barbarism – the wanton destruction of lives and property – read like a story from the Dark Ages. But they have happened in this our twentieth century.
This booklet is merely designed to provide general information on the Pogrom. We are not asking for pity or sympathy. Indeed, we are braced to face and conquer the challenge of the future. We believe that the tomorrow we face or the battle for survival will not be won by bullets or by savagery but by brain power, modern skills and the determination to live and succeed. We also believe that out of the carnage and wrecks of the past will emerge a new breed of men and women; resolute, powerful and prosperous.
Lt. Col. C. Odumegwu Ojukwu
Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria.
VICTIMS OF NIGERIAN POGROMS TELL THEIR OWN STORY
The following are reports by a few of the victims of the September/October 1966 pogroms perpetrated by Northern Nigerians against Easterners. 30,000 people were killed during these pogroms, thousand badly mutilated, and 2 million fled back to the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
MR. J. P. ONANI, a native of Obubra, who had worked in Kano as a clerk for three and half years, says:
“On the 1st of October, at about 6.30 p.m., I was in my house, I heard shooting and so many people shouting in some parts of the streets. As I came out I learnt from a friend that the Nigerian Army and Police were shooting to frighten the Northern civilians but soon after the shooting spread all over the town. I took my family and we ran from our house into a gutter. As we were in the gutter they broke into the house and looted all my belongings. We managed to escape again from the gutter into the bush where we slept for three days because they now entered the gutter and started killing those who escaped from their houses. We saw so many dead bodies lying in the streets as we were running. At the Railway station over 200 people who ran from the town to hide and wait for the Eastern train were killed including Railway workers of Eastern origin.
“After three days when shooting was stopped I took my family along and begged the Manager of the Bank who employed me to allow me to stay with him for one day. He allowed me into his boys’ quarters. I then had information about the Red Cross Society and rushed to their office. We were conveyed in a Police van to the airport where we were flown from Kano to Ikeja in Lagos on Friday 7th October, and two days later we were flown to Enugu.”
MRS. CHARITY NWOSU, of Ibeku, Bende Division, wife of a trader at Jos, narrates:
“About 1 a.m. on Wednesday, 28th September, 1966, I was awakened by a violent stampede and shrill cries that rent the night. On an impulse I opened a window that over-looks my husband’s store. Just across the street I saw a lorry and a crowd of people in front of the store. I knew that all was not well and my mind went immediately to my husband who was sleeping in the store as usual for security reasons. Within seconds the store was forced open and looted and Victor (her husband) was hacked to death. What immediately followed I cannot tell because my mind went blank. That the gang did not descend on me and my children immediately was perhaps an act of God’s grace but I do remember when I regained my senses that I and my children were hiding under a bed in the room of one of the inmates of the house who was a native of the town. In the morning the rioters came back in search of us and when they did not find us in our room they looted our household property, destroying everything. We remained hidden under the bed for two days. On Friday, 30th September, our host lodged a report with the Nigerian Police who later came and conveyed us to the Jos Police Station.”