Influence From Kaduna
We have dealt with the evidence which showed that Kaduna inspite of its being the capital territory had its share of killings and looting. Under this head we propose to discuss certain forces at Kaduna whose influence was felt throughout Northern Nigeria.
Military Governor of Northern Nigeria (Lt. Col. Hassan Kastina)
He is the son of the Emir of Kastina. There was evidence which linked the tours of the Military Governor of Northern Nigeria in May 1966 with the disturbances that took place in the areas he visited. There was some strange coincidence between his visits and the disturbances in some towns. For instance, he was in Kano on the 27th May and on the 29th there was trouble in Kano. He visited Kastina on the 28th and in the early hours of the 29th disturbances emanating from his father’s palace started in Kastina. By all indications the May disturbances in Kastina emirate were the worst in the region. But this is not all. There was some direct evidence against him.
The 131st witness testifying on events in Kano in May 1966 had this to say:
On 27th May, 1966, I was riding along the airport road. I saw a police car, some other cars and many vans, running down to the airport. In one of the cars I saw Lt. Col Hassan Usman Kastina, Military Governor for Northern Provinces. When these people passed, there were some people following them on cycles.
I had not gone far from the airport road when two of those cyclists met me, crossed their cycles in front of mine and forced me to stop. One of them asked me “Yaya” I did not know what was happening, so I politely replied “Aboki na, menene yaya?” (My friend, what does yaya mean). He then held my dress and in a very angry tone asked “Wa yayi Abokinka?” (Who is your friend?). At that stage, one of those who were watching us from the airport road came nearer and told the one who was holding my dress these words in Hausa: “Mallam Sani, leave him, have you forgotten what they told us? Not until Governor leaves”.
It will be recalled that the disturbances in Maiduguri were caused by imported thugs. There was considerable evidence that the Shehu of Bornu was opposed to violence in his Emirate. Again the 36th witness, Bassey Ephraim Ironbar it will be recalled, testified that in his view the importation of assassins in Maiduguri was through the instrumentality of the Northern Government for the reasons he gave. There is strong confirmation of this point in the evidence of the 11th witness Michael Ike. Testifying to the events that took place in Maiduguri he said:
It is significant to note that in the noon of the 30th September, the Waziri of Bornu (this position is analogous to that of Premier and is next to the Shehu) expressing sorrow for what happened said that we knew that they (Local Authority and the Shehu) never wished to have blood shed in their domain but they could not prevent the tragic incidents of the previous two days because the arrangement was made at and authorised by Kaduna.
The Military Governor was known to be a frequent visitor to the notorious Nassara Club in Kano.
Finally it is inconceivable that as the man responsible for maintenance of law and order in his region he could not have been aware of what was going on in his region. He had his intelligence reports. We have the evidence of a very Senior Police Officer of Eastern Nigeria Origin (233rd witness John Ohaeri) who testified that the Police had early information and intelligence of what was happening and the intelligence reports were forwarded to the appropriate authorities. This witness was a Chief Superintendent of Police in charge of the Northern area of the Railway Police which covers an area starting from Offa on the Western boundary to Ngurgu and Kaura Namoda and Igumale on the Eastern boundary. It covers almost the whole of Northern Nigeria. His jurisdiction was however confined to Railway Stations and installations. He was based at Zaria where he was from 1964 to early September 1966. He saw the May and July disturbances in the North. For his performances during the May riots he received the following commendation from the Commissioner of Police in charge Railway Police:
I am pleased to inform you that the Commissioner of Police, Northern Group of Provinces had found just cause for commenting most favourably on the part you played during the recent disturbances in Northern Nigeria. Relevant extract of his report is quoted hereunder for your information:
I have to express appreciation for the excellent performance of Mr. Oheary CSP Railway Police Northern District and the whole of the Railway Police personnel in the North during the recent disturbances.
But for the efforts of Mr. Oheary there would have been great confusion in the Railway in towns like Gusau, Zaria and Kaduna where numerous refugees assembled scrambling for accommodation on trains in a confused rush.
Mr. Oheary acted with calmness which resulted in nothing but praise for the Nigeria Police and upheld the high tradition of the Force by being neutral to all parties involved and thereby contributed in no small way in dealing with a very difficult situation in which other persons not possessing the qualities of Mr. Oheary would have faltered.
The same goes for all the men under him who responded very loyally to the example set by their Commander.
Please express my personal appreciation to Mr. Oheary and his men.
I am to add that the CPCT is very pleased to have received such a creditable report and wishes to extend his personal congratulations and appreciation of your fine performance in dealing with a most difficult situation.
Copies of this letter have been included in your personal confidential file and forwarded to the I.G.P for information. Well done.
(Sgd.) G. Duckett
for: COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, C/T.”
The organisation and duties of the Northern Railway Police were given by this witness in his own words as follows:
Northern Area of the Railway Police was divided into two Districts, viz: Northern District and North-Eastern District for administrative convenience, and each District was commanded by an Assistant Superintendent of Police and they were responsible to me for the efficient administration of their Districts.
The Northern District Headquarters was in Zaria as mine and the North-Eastern District HQ. was in Jos.
There were 23 outstations in Northern Area and each station was either commanded by an Inspector or an NCO of the rank of Corporal or Sergeant. Each station officer was responsible to his District Officer.
The Commander of the Railway Police throughout the Federation was an Assistant Commissioner of Police based in Lagos (Ebute Metta) and the Commissioner of Police Federal Territory of Lagos was then in overall control of the Railway Police and not the Regional Commissioners. Since October 1966, the Commissioner, Force Headquarters, Lagos, has taken the overall command of Railway Police.
As a matter of practice, reports of all classes from the Area or Districts were forwarded to Lagos for necessary action.
Railway Police duties being very difficult owing to the complex nature of things, and the influence of Trade Unions over the Railway Management, it was decided to post an intelligent constable in each station to collect intelligence reports on trade unions, State security, tribal and political organisations. Such report which was classified as secret was usually addressed to C. S. P., Northern Area, Zaria, and copied to A. C. P., Railways Ebute Metta. The District Officers were not copied. Constables who perform such duties had special training in Lagos.
From these reports, the Area Commander was able to know before anything happens:-
(a) Trade Union activities in each station;
(b) Political activities;
(c) Subversive activities;
(d) Tribal activities and
(e) Security of the State.
I have given these backgrounds with a view to making a non-Railway Police Officer to know our sources of information in a scattered area, and perhaps this will explain why some useful information on security come from the Railway Police throughout the Federation.
He sent regular reports on the activities of Emirs, ex-politicians and Provincial Secretaries holding secret meetings and setting up a net work for fomenting disturbances. Provincial Secretaries, be it noted, are Administrative Officers in charge of province and are directly under the Government at Kaduna. On the role of the Provincial Secretaries the following questions were asked the witness:-
Q. 8603: “The Provincial Secretary in Zaria, what role did he play?” “He was a very important man in those meetings.”
Q. 8604: “Would you say it involved the Provincial Secretary?” “Yes, it did. Each province was organising its own”
Q. 8605: “You had reported that each Provincial Secretary was organising disturbances in his own area” “Yes.”
Q. 8606: “Do you think the Provincial Secretaries were organising this on their own or on instructions”? “I do not think they were organising this on their own”.
Q. 8607: “Under whose instructions”? “It must be from Kaduna. information was that the Military Governor of the North was pressured by politicians to carry out this plan”.
Q. 8608: “Do you think that if the Military Governor of the North, with his regional administration were opposed to this plan, they would have succeeded”? ’’They could not have done anything”.
Q. 8613: “And you used to pass this information to Lagos”? “Yes, sir, mostly by hand, because we did not want this to be tampered with on the way”.
Q. 8614: “Are your messengers reliable?” “They were my trusted officers from the East. And the officer in Lagos used to tell me that he had received my report. The Commissioner in charge of Security was a Northerner and his Assistant was also Northerner. So we were at a loss what to do”.
Q. 8615: “And the difficulty you had was that the Commissioner in charge of Security was a Northerner?” “Yes, the man in charge was a Northerner”.
Q. 8616: “Since when did Yesufu become the Security Chief? “It was last year. He relieved Mr. Fagbola”.
Q. 8617: “You say the man in charge of Security Police in Lagos was a Northerner; could he be a Fulani?” “I think he is a relation of Ahmadu Bello”.
Q. 8618: “You say his second in command….?” “Adejo is his second in command.”
Q. 8620: “According to you, the Commissioner in charge of security police always
relays back to you!” “The Assistant Commissioner in charge of Railway would tell me “I have seen the Commissioner and Inspector-General of Police and he says you should investigate and confirm this”.
Q. 8621: “You supplied them with details?” “I did. I ordered my Assistant
Superintendent in charge of Gusau, Mr. Okolo to carry out a detailed investigation into the Constable’s report. He went and came back to report what the police constable there had reported earlier. That was before the September killing. We were told that the Northerners had not completed their plan. The Headquarters said I should confirm. Mr. Okolo went to the man in charge of this station and confirmed their report”.
Q. 8622: “You were insisting that they were still organising for another massacre after July?” “Yes, Sir.”
Q. 8623: “Why did you pick Gusau?” “Everything originated from Gusau because it is near Sokoto and every meeting must be held that side. We had a very intelligent constable. He is a Yoruba man”.
Q. 8624: “So it was your report that Gusau was one of the important centres for these secret meetings and planning?” “Yes, Sir.”
Q. 8625: “The police constable who gave the original report was a Yoruba Man?” “Yes, Sir”.
Q. 8626: “And you say that although his report was confirmed by the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr. Okolo, yet they were not satisfied” “They were not satisfied. They wanted me to bring somebody who would come and say “I want to do so”. It was then that I told them I was not going to stay a day longer in the North”.
Lastly, as will be seen in the chapter dealing with the spread of the pogrom the main agencies for spreading the atrocities to the non- Hausa speaking areas were the army, police and imported thugs, it is most unlikely that the disposition of these forces of coersion of the State and the mass transfer of entire units from one town to another in Northern Nigeria could take place without the knowledge and concurrence of the Military Governor of the North. For instance, in Vom near Jos when the soldiers stationed in that area began to beat up Easterners on the Staff of the Federal Veterinary Research Station Vom, the then Acting Director of the Station, Emmanuel Ezebuiro (20th Witness) took the matter up with the Provincial Secretary in charge of the province with a view to his bringing it to the notice of the Authorities, the Provincial Secretary said that the army personnel did not come under his control and “they (the army) had specific instructions from Kaduna and Lagos for specific assignments.” The witness then asked for police protection and the Provincial Police Officer said “that it would serve no useful purpose because the army unit in Jos comes directly under Kaduna control and he could not prevent them doing what they intended to do.
The allegation that the controlling centre of the extermination project was the Northern Government headed by Lt. Col Hassan Katsina is further strenghtened by the evidence of the 189th witness Mr. Kenneth Okeke. Mr. Okeke who was a Superintendent of Prisons then in charge of Jos Federal Prisons made a statement part of which reads: “I sought interview with the Provincial Secretary in Jos (Mallam J. Abdulkadiri) and he assured me of my safety. This assurance was given in the morning of the very evening when I was in fact kidnapped by Northern soldiers.
At mid-night on the 22nd September, 1966, I was knocked out of bed by the troops who were shouting my name and threatened to blow down my house if I did not let them in. Before this, three Warders who were watching my house were no where to be seen. They were all of Northern origin. I came to the door in my wrappers and without my slippers, I saw by the security lights that all the windows and doors of my house had been occupied by these soldiers. They were 15 in all. They were all armed with automatic weapons. As I found that it was useless to refuse to open the door, I did open it and was immediately followed upon by three of the soldiers who pointed the weapons directly to my chest. I lifted my two hands above my head in complete surrender and the officer in charge of the operations asked me to say my name. I told him and he brought a folio bearing the Northern Government coat-of-arms and checked from it. The folio was marked ‘Operation Jos-Ibos to be eliminated before the D’Day.’ Meanwhile all the 15 soldiers had entered my house and while I was being interrogated by their O/C and two other soldiers, they were busy looting all my movable personal effects window blinds, etc. and even the bedsheets on which I was sleeping before they woke me up. Removing of my effects took the greater part of an hour. All these were transferred info one of the army vehicles in which the soldiers came to my house. I am enclosing a list of my effects removed by these soldiers and their value and so I do not need to mention them here again.
The soldiers told me that they had instructions to kill me and that I had only a few minutes more to go. They added that they could not do me the honour of being killed in my house because I was well regarded in some circle in the town. They said that the sun had set for the East and that all Ibos are doomed and that their operation was to remove the most important ones before the real operation day.
Escape from such a Government dragnet is no easy matter and the full memorandum of the witness makes interesting reading especially as it ultimately took another Government agency to preserve his life.
Mr. Gregory N. O. Eme witness No. 230 said I personally undertook to track down the murderous NPC thugs and report to the police. My contact with Messrs. Milton and Stafford brought the following point:-
- The Military Governor of the North (Mallam Hassan Katsina) addressed confidential instructions to all Emirs and Provincial Secretaries urging them to ensure the perpetration of the pogrom in their Emirates. This was to ensure uniformity. The Emir of llorin was warned of serious consequences that would follow his failure to carry out the massacre. But the Emir stood his ground and refused to soil his hands. The llorin -West merger agitation renewed by Mr. Olawoyin prevented Kaduna from faking action against the Emir.
- Some police officers of Northern origin succeeded in fixing up some seasoned N.P.C thugs from Kaduna as police constables. I saw two of them who were later detected and sent back to Kaduna under police escort. When an Easterner asked for police protection against civilian thugs, those police thugs were normally despatched to help the civilians in their looting and killing job.
Did the Military Governor of the North condemn these disturbances? He made a statement when the pogrom was at its height on early October 1966. This is what he was reported as saying in his address to a meeting of Northern leaders of thought:
“The events of recent weeks in this Region were indeed unprecedented both in their nature and in their form. It is a matter for deep regret that the orderly progress of the Region should be disturbed on so large a scale and in this way. As you all know during those disturbances, wanton destruction of life and property took place. Innocent people were killed and their property destroyed or looted. (New Nigerian, 19th October, 1966).
Who were these innocent people who were killed and whose property were destroyed or looted. Lt. Col. Gowon provided the answer in his broadcast to Northerners in early October 1966:
I received complaints daily that up till now Easterners living in the North are being killed and molested and their property looted… It appears that it is going beyond reason and is now at a point of recklessness and irresponsibility.
It is of course a moot point up to what stage the killing and molestation of Easterners would have been reasonable and responsible. It will be recalled that slaughter by Nigerian soldiers of Easterners at the Kano International Airport to the full gaze of international passengers and tourists did much damage to the credit of Nigeria overseas.
The New Nigerian is generally accepted as the official organ of the Northern Nigerian Government. Although the management is not strictly a department of the Northern Nigeria Government nevertheless its close connection with the Government cannot be denied. The role played by this Newspaper is told by Dr. Gordian Ezekwe (246th witness) a regular subscriber formerly a Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, Ahmadu Bellow University;
An account of the event before, during and after the May atrocities would be incomplete without drawing attention to the incitement which the ‘New Nigerian provided. Its ready publication of articles and opinions intended to undermine the Government and cause civil strife and military disarray was noticed by anyone who subscribed to the paper. But some may not have noticed the very subtle but devastating strategy which it put into operation on Monday May 23rd. In this issue it commenced publication of the story of Sultan Attahiru I, and of his campaign against the forces of Lugard in 1903. St had in fact launched the work of preparing Fulani minds for war.
We understand that the most influential members on the Editorial Staff were British and that a Mr. Sharpe was the most influential.
The Radio network, and especially the NBC (North) and BCN also played a prominent role in fanning the embers of hate and destruction in the North especially in spreading false rumours and alarm calculated to whip up the passions of the generality of Northerners. According to the evidence of the 70th witness (Joseph Egonu formerly of the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation Kaduna), in the Radio programme of the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (N.B.C) North and Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria (B.C.N.N.) banned records of speeches made by the Late Sarduana of Sokoto, the Late Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and some ex-Ministers of Northern Nigeria were re-played for two weeks on the North in May 1966. Furthermore, “I observed that some of the Northern workers in the N.B.C and B.C. N. N had started to design placards some of which read “Unity Government not acceptable to the North; “ARABA” (Session) etc. I observed that these placards were used on the 29th May in the demonstrations which followed…”
The N.B.C. (North) and the B.C. N. N in late September carried the news that the Northerners were killed ‘en masse’ in the East. We understand that this was given as the reason for the September/ October massacre in the North. The considerable evidence we received of the preparations for the September/October massacre makes this suggestion or reason most untenable. Besides, this witness gives the source of this information, as follows:
A friend of mine, a Northerner, who works in the N.B.C in the North told me that it was the Northern Government who gave both the N.B.C and the B. C. N. N the news items emanating from the Ministry of Information and instructed them to broadcast to the world that non-Easterners in the East had been massacred ‘en’masse’; that the instruction further directed that the news-items should be broadcast every hour for four days running in English, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Kanuri and Tiv languages… I have to say that the N.B.C (North) has no monitoring station, rather it is only the Americans who have a monitoring station at Kaduna and the North as a whole. I believe that the news items that non- Easterners had been killed en emasse in the East is a fabrication to incite Northerners against Easterners in the North.
According to other witnesses the news item gave the figure of those Northerners alleged killed in the East as 9,000 (Nine thousand)!! Evidence from the police in the East stoutly denied this allegation. Deputy Superintendent of Police Mr. Amariri, of the Force Headquarters Enugu (witness No. 251) gave evidence on the events that took place in Eastern Nigeria during the relevant period. Part of his statement (Exhibit FOA496) reads:
Return of Eastern Refugees
Between August and October, 1966, more than one million refugees of Eastern Nigeria origin returned to the East from various parts of Northern Nigeria. Almost all of them were half naked, dispossessed of everything they had, and with varying degrees of serious injuries inflicted on them by Northerners. In some of the trains that arrived from the North, were found some beheaded bodies of Easterners and some of the living were maimed for life. As the influx of these class of wounded Eastern refugees continued and the atrocities and hostilities concentrated on Easterners in many parts of Northern Nigeria remained unabated, wide-spread indignation and resentment apparently mounted in public circles, against the continued habitation of Eastern Nigeria by non-Easterners, particularly Northerners. As precautionary measures aimed at averting mob recriminations and retaliation against the Northern community in Eastern Nigeria, the Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, Lt. Col C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, promptly appealed for calm and ordered the immediate repatriation of non-Easterners to their respective home regions, in the interest of their safety. The order was given to the police and Provincial Secretary on 2nd October, 1966.
During the period under review, there were increased reports of organised anti-Eastern Nigeria activities in various parts of Northern Nigeria by armed Northern soldiers who teamed up with the civilians in attacking Easterners and looting their property. These disquieting reports no doubt escalated the prevailing tension and also generated an atmosphere of fear and uneasiness, especially as the constitutional talks were at the time going on in Lagos for the determination of the form of association suitable for the country. The reported claim by the Northern Government that the late September massacre were caused by the alleged killings of Northerners in the East was false.
… at about 1100 hours on 24th September, 1966, a quarrel which developed into a fight occurred at Ogui Urban area, Enugu between some elements of Eastern and Northern Nigeria origin. During the encounter that ensued, one Musa Asare, a Northerner stabbed to death, two persons of Eastern Nigeria origin: Moses Agu and Eunice Nwodo aged 13 years. The quarrel started following the arrival at Enugu on the morning of 24th September, 1966, of about 1,000 refugees of Eastern origin, with varying degrees of bodily disfigurement, from many parts of Northern Nigeria and were seen half naked by their relations at Enugu. The refugees narrated pathetic stories of inhuman and atrocious acts meted out against them by both Tiv civilians and armed Northern soldiers. The news of the killing of two Easterners at Enugu by a Northerner, coupled with pathetic stories and the conditions of returning Eastern refugees, obviously sparked off spontaneous demonstration by teenage hooligans. As the boys were demonstrating along the road, some Northerners who were standing by jeered and boasted that all Easterners in the East would soon be eliminated. This angered the demonstrators who reacted immediately and started damaging windows and doors of houses occupied by Northerners in Enugu township. The demonstrators were quickly dispersed by police with tear gas and the situation was brought under control. About 200 Northerners sought for and were given police protection on the evening of 24th September at Enugu Central Police Station.
Repatriation of Northerners
The Military Government of Eastern Nigeria instructed Provincial Secretaries throughout the Region to liaise with Police Provincial Officers to ensure the safe repatriation of the Northerners to their home Region. The Nigeria Police provided transport facilities and Police escorts for the Northerners. Most of the Northerners were repatriated by plane provided by the Military Government. Some of them left by North bound trains. Those Northerners who chose to travel to the Mid-west Region were conveyed in lorries under police escorts to the Asaba end of the Niger bridge. Northerners were given the opportunity to remove their moveable belongings along with them unmolested. As regards their landed property, some of the Northerners were known to have sold their houses to willing Eastern purchasers. Disputes were rife after the exit of the Northerners, because some Easterners who paid for certain houses, later discovered to their dismay that some unscrupulous Northerners sold their houses to more than one person and collected money accordingly. Nonetheless there are still houses belonging to evacuated Northerners in some parts of the Region now Republic of Biafra.