Q. 5.803: “Your pant?” “No, all of them had gone.”
Q. 5804: “So you had nothing on?” “Nothing, only sleeveless singlet. So as the woman was crying, her husband asked me what happened to me. I told him that I was burnt by some people and that I wanted his help. He told me to go to the road until I got a vehicle to take me. I told him that I had been doing this but none of them heeded. He said I should go out. So I went out. When I got to the gate, I could not go further. I decided to enter the bush there and stay and to die there even, but he came out and saw me lying down near his gate. He ordered me to get out. I told him to help me. He said no. Then I remembered that there was a mission hospital somewhere on the road. I asked him whether the hospital was on the road. He said, yes. I asked him how far it was from that place. He said two miles, that even the European doctor working there might see me on the road and pick me. So I continued to go. This made me somewhat hopeful and I started to go again, despite the burns on my head. So I started to go on until I trekked about four miles but could not get the hospital, which he said was about two miles. So I met a group of Hausas on the road and asked them how far the hospital was from that place. One of them told me that at the rate that I was walking, I would do the journey in two days. But one man saw how disappointed I was and asked the woman who told me that why she did not tell me that it was very close. I continued until in the night when it started to rain. I got to a place where i saw a light and thought it would be the place. There I saw one lorry which had somersaulted and the two people who were there were Northerners. One of them got up, looked at me and asked me whether I was ‘Inyamiri’. I said I was. He asked me where this thing happened to me. I told him. He said he would take me to their village head and that he would give me shelter, clothing and the following day, he would get me transport to go to my town, (agreed. When we got there, the village head came out with his light, looked at me all over and said, ‘no’ that this one has got pealed off and that he should take me to a place where there are lorries belonging to Ibo people that there are Ibo people there and that other persons who came with him watched me and went away. The following day, I got up, poured water on my face, drank and continued to trek. All that time, this my leg was bent because until about 12 o’clock I could not go any longer I saw a bridge and went there to drink water. I saw that the hill there was very steep, I managed to go down, drank and poured water on my face, but the whole place was very dark and the place was fearful and I was afraid that if I slept there, I would roll into the water. So I decided not to hasten my death, rather let it come from God. I wrote my name there, in case I should die there, so that anybody who would see it might know the name of the dead man. But later, I struggled to go out, but could not. So I started to move up with my bottom until I got to the road. I walked about a mile and was in sight of another bridge. Suddenly I saw a land rover and two soldiers in it. They went a few yards and stopped. They started to drive away some children and sent them to go and call the doctor in charge of the hospital, they would come and kill me. I decided to go and stay that if they kill me there, I would not mind, so far as somebody would know that I had died. After driving the children, the soldiers came and asked me what happened to me. I told them what happened. They asked me what I wanted. I told them that I was going to the hospital. They told me to enter the vehicle and that they would take me to Kaduna hospital. They helped me to enter the vehicle, because I could not do so unaided. After a few minutes, I saw a European. He came and stopped the vehicle and asked the soldiers whether they saw one Ibo man whom he heard was coming to his hospital. They said they were having him in their vehicle and that they were taking him to Kaduna hospital. The man went back. So they took me to Kaduna hospital. I was admitted in Wara6 on the 5th. I was burnt on the 30th September and on the 5th of October I was taken to this hospital. The doctor and the nurses were kind to me. One of them said even that I resembled somebody he know at Kano that I helped him to get a licence and that he came on transfer from Kano to Kaduna. They were giving me treatment. I was there and one Red Cross woman – a European – started to visit us in the evening. She was bringing milk and other things, it was she that I told to write to my brother that I was at the Kaduna hospital. She promised to take me to my home town. But on the day that she came to take me, I was very weak because I was given purgative medicine and I was passing out some blood. In addition somebody gave me injection in the morning and another in the afternoon. I became very weak and could not get up from my bed. So the woman came and saw that I could not travel and she took another Ibo man from Enugu-Agidi. One Hausa patient there said “This man has no luck, the other man is a lucky person. Surely this man will be killed here.” So in the mid-night, the person that was lying next to my bed who was not talking to me at all, came and removed the screen with which I was covered. As he was removing it, I looked up and saw him and asked him what he was looking for, whether it was what they said in the afternoon that he came to do. He said no, that he was looking to know whether I had gone asleep. I said if I had gone asleep, what would you do. And then I called the nurse and reported to him.”
Q. 5807: “Please don’t mind my interrupting you. Did I hear you say that they gave you purgative in the morning and in the afternoon” “No, they gave me purgative in the night and it started to work in the afternoon.”
Q. 5808: “Was it on doctor’s prescription – No, I was feeling some trouble in my belly. I could not ease myself, so I told them that I would like purgative. Even the nurse in charge said no, that it would be on doctor’s instructions. But I was not at ease at all. When in the night another nurse came, I told him about it and he was that nurse who gave me the purgative.”
Q. 5.809: “And from there then they took you to Enugu?” “No”. When I told the nurse that this man came and opened my screen, the nurse – a Yoruba girl – came and enquired what he wanted. He told her some stories but the girl did not believe him. She ordered all of us to lie down on the bed and that she would like nobody to get up again.
“When it was morning the nurse in charge came. I reported to him and told him that I would like to go because these people are trying to kill me. He said, all these people are patients. None of them could raise a pin let alone raising a tool, that I should not mind them, they would not kill me. I said no that I wanted to go. He dismissed the matter and went away. After an hour, the Red Cross woman came again with cloth, removed the hospital gown from me, put on me the cloth she had. The nurse came and asked her what she was doing. She said that she would take me away. The nurse said ‘all right, you are a lucky man.’ He gave me three shillings that remained from the money which one former friend who was transferred from Kano and who was sympathising with me on seeing my condition, gave to the nurse for my care. It was the balance of the 5 shillings – this man gave me. So this woman took me to a motor. They took me to the Red Cross headquarters at Kaduna. We were waiting for the plane which did not come on that day. So the lady took me home to her husband’s place. There I slept. She was very kind to me. Throughout that night she did not sleep. She was always coming to ask me how I was doing. In the morning, she prepared ovaltine, bread and sandwiches for me and brought her children to come and greet me. After, she said that she would go to Lagos and that she would arrange for a Reverend Mother to look after me. So one Reverend Mother Gregory came and took me to the Red Cross headquarters again, but the plane did not come. One night they moved me to Refugee Centre where many Ibo people were. So we all waited for the plane. The following morning I was taken to the hospital again for injection.
Even the doctor wanted to detain me but the person who took me to the hospital refused. So they gave me injection and I went back. On the fourth day after that, there was a plane in the morning. That Rev. Mother Gregory accompanied me, gave me this cloth which I am wearing now, and took me to the plane that was going to Enugu, handed me over to some Red Cross people and went back. I arrived here on the 2nd October. I was admitted in Enugu Hospital.”
Q. 5810: “What about the telegram you were talking about?” “It was sent by my wife.”
Q. 5811: “Did your wife recognise you when she saw you?” “Well, in fact, I was the person who called my name and it was through the information I gave that they knew it was me. They did not recognise me.
Q. 5812: “This is one of the worst experiences. Yes horrible experience. Thank you very much, indeed. Have you started work?” “Yes, I was employed in the Sub- Treasury, Awka.”
Q. 5813: “All right, I wish you luck. “Thank you very much, Sir.”
Marcel Okekenta’s story may sound like fiction but the ineffaceable marks left by burns on his head and face will bear perpetual testimony to its reality. His wife did not recognise him, but she had to reconcile herself to the “new look” of her husband imposed by circumstances. Mr. Okekenta is alive to tell this story. The same cannot be said of his 36 co-passengers excepting perhaps the one who claimed he was a Yoruba.
P. I. Okwawa the 125th witness was shot from the back. The bullet grazed his occiput and he fell down and lost consciousness for some time. Had that bullet gone a little deeper his brains would have been blown up and that would be the end of it. On the other hand, had the wound been a shade slighter than it was, he would not have lost consciousness immediately and the soldiers would have had to empty more bullets into him to finish him off like the other corpses heaped on him at the time he recovered consciousness. Here is part of what Mr. Okwawa had to say with regard to the severity of the attacks and injuries in Kano on 1st October, 1966:-
One soldier ordered us outside and asked me where I came from. When I told him I was a Mid-Westerner he told me I was lying because he knew where I came from. What I heard was ‘about turn, quick march’. I heard a shot behind me and I fell down and passed out. How long I was there before I came round I could not tell. But when I became conscious, a heap of dead men was on me, some still breathing, but others stone dead. It took me some time to extricate myself from the dead bodies heaped upon me. I crept over other dead bodies as I tried to hide because soldiers were still shooting people down in their hiding places at the airport. Presently, I found myself in a big kitchen, the whole length and breadth of which was littered with dead bodies. Two Hausa stewards in the kitchen refused me entry until I had paid £5, and within seconds of my entry about five armed Northern soldiers entered the kitchen shouting ‘are there any more of Okpara’s brothers left to be shot. I was again saved because! lay among the dead and pretended to be dead also. When I could no longer hold out, I got up and walked to the table where one of the stewards was sitting. I shouted ‘please take me to the soldiers; I can no longer stand this strain!
Somebody emerged from under the big table on hearing me. It was Mr. Lekettey, a Ghanaian who apparently was hiding from the savage soldiers. We decided to give ourselves up to the soldiers. He was my uncle and I his nephew. This strategy worked wonderfully, and when the soldiers heard us out, they shouted in unison, ‘Why have you been hiding? We don’t want to kill Ghanaians. They are our friends. Yorubas, Efiks – all are our friends. We are after Okpara’s brothers. We are going to finish them off. They took us upstairs where we saw more dead bodies, some of whom I recognised. Mr. Lekettey and myself gave them £10 for drink. They drank until 6.30 a.m. the following morning 2nd October. Those soldiers had some harsh things to say about Okpara and Ibos. Okpara was their arch enemy who must be destroyed. ‘Why did they kill our leaders while Okpara, Zik and Osadebey were left out?’ Mbadiwe was the only Ibo man who would be spared on their march to Eastern Region, because he was ‘our good man.’ ‘All other Igbos must be destroyed’. At 7 a.m that same Sunday morning, they asked Mr. Lekettey and myself to get ready because they were going to show us how ‘we have dealt with Okpara’s brothers and sisters.’ They took us to the Railway Station in an army landrover, and there we saw a sight which I would never live to see again to my dying day. Over 700 men, women and children had been mowed down. They had been killed while they were waiting for a train to take them to our Region. A few of the children were still creeping over their dead mothers, shouting ‘Mama I am hungry, I want to drink’, some were sucking at their dead mothers breasts. I left them to suck on!
It should be borne in mind that three days before this unprecedented massacre, it was announced over the Kano Redifusion Network that a passenger train would be leaving Kano for Eastern Region on 2nd of October, and that all those wishing to travel should report on 1st of October, at the Railway Station. Over 700 Ibos packed to the Railway Station.
This announcement was caused to be made by one Mr. T. George, the Senior Train Officer, who incidentally is a native of Idoma. He was educated at the Methodist College, Uzuakoli. He was a member of Nasara Club, and attended all the meetings where it was decided to kill all the Ibos in Kano. When all the Ibos had entered the Railway Station, he ordered that the gates should be locked.
They drove us to the Loco running shed, it was the same sad story of murder. All the Igbo workers who had reported for duty were killed. Next, we were taken round to Sabon Gari. It was the same massacre of Igbos in hotels where they had gone to relax because it was a public holiday. All the hotels were literally filled up with dead bodies. In Sabon Gari everywhere we went we saw dead and dying Igbos. No tinge of compuction ever touched the conscience of these soldiers who on the night of October 1st joined their civilian Northern brothers loot, pillage and kill our kith and kin. After we had seen enough, they took us back to the airport where they continued killing those who were suspected of being Ibos. A further £10 from us reassured us that we were not in any immediate danger, although one of the soldiers had doubted my identity in particular. He took me aside and asked in honesty if I was really a Ghanaian, I assured him I was, but I gave him £5 more into the bargain. I asked him to take me round to see more of Okpara’s dead brothers, because the sight intrigued me. My motive for asking this was far from being disinterested. On the contrary, I mainly wanted him to take me round to see if I could stumble upon the dead bodies of my wife, my brother and my boy whom I had not seen since we were separated. My fears were soon confirmed. I saw the dead bodies of my brother and my boy near where I was supposedly killed. I mastered my emotional reactions because he was watching me all the time. I went round the airport where there were heaps of dead bodies, but I could not see that of my wife. I saw other countless dead bodies I could well recognise. There were many men and women who had come to the airport to see friends off, but all were killed together with these friends. From the airport to Sabon Gari the road was littered with dead bodies. They were picked out one by one along the road as they were trying to escape from the airport, and shot in their cars, on bicycles, scooters and on foot.
Meanwhile when these soldiers had ‘walked through’ the money we had given to them, Mr. Lekettey and myself gave them further £20 to allow us remain at the airport since all the houses in Sabon Gari had been ‘sacked’.
On the 4th of October, the soldiers informed us that they could no longer guarantee our safety. At this time there were still isolated cases of shooting and beating up of people suspected of being Ibos. We went back to Sabon Gari, but the Yorubas we met refused to give me protection because they said they knew me. I tried one or two European friends I knew, but each of them swore they would rather die than give me protection since they were warned grievously not to give any Igbo man or woman any protection. There was no point going to a Church compound since almost all the people who ran into such compounds on 1st of October were handed over to the Hausa mob to be beaten up or shot by Hausa soldiers. I saw over 100 dead bodies on the Roman Catholic Church compound. I saw over 200 dead bodies in and outside St. Stephen’s Church. A few Ibo Union Grammar school girls had been raped by Hausa soldiers. There were quite a few of those girls who would not live to tell their tales of woe! I saw one Rosalin Metu, a class three girl. I saw the look on her face! She had gone beyond saving! These helpless girls had been abandoned to their fate to die in that cursed place.
My wife had similar gruelling experiences. She was questioned at the airport as soon as I had been removed and shot down. She confessed she did not know me. Because she could speak Efik well they allowed her to go, but some Igbo women were shot down together with their husbands and children. The Europeans at the Airport laughed and laughed! My wife presently found her way to Fagge where she found a Togolese family we knew before. She was in their house until I found her after 7 days of separation. I had carried a bullet wound in my head for eight days without treatment. I had had no food for seven days.
Mr. Anthony Ebiringa whose story has largely been reproduced in Chapter 8 is another example of the ferocity of the attacks.
Walter Eneanya, the 123rd witness was in a second-class coach with about 100 other people returning from Gusau to the East when they were attacked at Zaria by armed civilians on 29/9/66. Over 50 people with daggers and big sticks fell on them. When he was felled he was stabbed with a double edged sword between two ribs on his left side.
His attackers after proclaiming him dead by saying “Ya mutu,” left him and proceeded to deal with other victims.
He was later carried in an unconscious state to Zaria General Hospital in an ambulance with 14 corpses. Killing of victims in hospital beds at the hospital was the practice and so on 5/10/66 he was removed to the railway station from where he travelled by train to the East via Oshogbo.
The 119th witness. Sergeant Rapheal Ibekwe formerly of the Mobile Police Force Kaduna was similarly left for dead by his soldier assailants and here is part of what he had to say:-
We were carried 56 miles from Kaduna and the soldier in front told the driver to stop. They then came down and conferred behind the van. One asked of a bridge under which water passes the others replied that they didn’t know of any that side. After some time we were asked to come down and ordered to stand in line facing them abreast. One of them asked “Has anyone anything to say?” No one replied and he asked again. I then told him l had something to say. After he had asked why I had kept quiet at first I was permitted to speak. 1 asked what i had done. One of the soldiers asked me “Do you want to know what you have done? Do you remember January 15th” l replied that ever before January 15th I had been in the Police Force that I am neither a soldier nor a politician. He told me I was talking nonsense and that the point was that I am an Ibo man.
He asked Adamu Zaria A.S.P, what he had to say Adamu replied that he was born, educated and had since been working in the North and that his parents were in Zaria. They replied “nonsense! but you are an Igbo man.” Mr. Njjoku said that he had just been transferred from Ibadan to Kaduna not quite three months ago and he was not in Kaduna on the said date. They again said, “but you are an Ibo man.
One of the soldiers asked what had been happening since January 15th and whose fault it was? Adamu Zaria said it was the Government’s. ‘Who are the Government?’ asked another soldier. One of the soldiers then said: ‘don’t blame us: we are doing the work which we are delegated to do – to see if we are capable of leadership, and we have proved that we are. Another soldier said ‘don’t blame us, put the blame on your so-called President and Ironsi.’
Then one of them said ‘About turn, quick march.’ As we moved, they followed close behind us. They soon opened fire on us and we all fell down.
After several shots from automatic weapons, I heard Mr. Adamu Zaria and Mr. Njoku breathing in an usual way. I heard one of the soldiers say ‘let us go, don’t waste ammunition we have much to do with ammunition this night; there are fifteen Easterners in P.M.F. and we got only three; let’s go – they must have caught more by now.’ Another said ‘they are not dead yet’ and one of them replied, ‘don’t you know that life cannot go off like that? They must wriggle a bit before they die.’ The other said ‘Babu; bari mu karawa Adamu Kada yayi mana dabo iri no IRONSI’ (No, let us add more to Adamu lest he perform on us the miracles of IRONSI).
Then one said, ‘Karbi nawa, akwai alsahi’ meaning ‘take mine, there are ammunition.’ One of the soldiers later returned and once again discharged several shots on A.S.P. Adamu Zaria after which he ceased breathing the soldier then turned to Mr. Njoku and did likewise. Njoku, too, ceased breathing. He then turned towards me, but one of the other soldiers told him not to waste ammunition and that I was already dead. He seemed not to believe, so he kicked my left leg forward, and kicked it back again; I did not move. So one of the soldiers said ‘Ben gays maka ba? Sun mutu; so mu tafi’ (Did I not tell you they have died; let us go) and after gloating that they had finished the ‘bastards,’ they entered their landrover and drove away.
When they had gone, I crept into the bush and ran away leaving the A.S.P. Adamu Zaria and Mr. Njoku, Inspector of Police (already dead) on the spot.”
On the 29th of September, 1966 Mr. Daniel Ike, then at Maiduguri ran for his life to the N.A. Police station for protection. To his dismay and horror the N.A. Policeman on duty attacked him with a dagger and truncheon and his next recollection was when several hours later he recovered consciousness in the gutter among several corpses. Those who came to collect the corpses found him still breathing and so he started his journey to Oji River and Ihiala hospitals where he received treatment for his battered head, his cut and partially blinded right eye and his dislocated right arm.
Mr. Augustine Unegbu, the 40th witness, on four different occasions from 1st to 3rd October, 1966 escaped death by the skin of his teeth during the Kano holocaust. Part of his story reads:
In the morning of Saturday 1st October 1966 the first plane left with some of us. We had to wait till evening for another plane. Around 7p.m our loads were being taken to the tarmac for loading. We heard gunshots. We thought it was only a warning to the passengers to stop making noise at the airport. When we rushed from the pavilion to the gate, we saw some people being shot; some already lay dying on the ground. In fear, we rushed back and ran towards the other gate, near the airport car park. When we got there, some soldiers who were guarding that area asked us to go back to the pavilion. The reason they did not shoot us was that there were several Europeans in the car-park at the time. People ran helter-skelter around the airport. I was able to slip through the customs clearance area where there were no soldiers. Six of us ran through, went about a mile to the old terminal, and hid in a deep drain that had been dug there earlier on. About 1 – 2a.m., it started to rain heavily. There were still shooting in the airport; we also heard gunshots from the direction of Sabon Gari. The flood-waters passing through the drainage had got up to our knees so we climbed out, and hid in a nearby bush until the morning of Sunday the 2nd of October. There was a pathway through this bush by which villagers usually brought firewood on donkeys into Kano city (the Birni), so I told the others that these villagers might see us and report to the soldiers and suggested that we move away from there.
I was so worried about our position that I decided to check and, when I look out, I saw an army landrover coming to a stop and some soldiers coming out. I took to my heels, running in a zig-zag. Some shots were fired in my direction but no bullets hit me. The remaining five persons were all killed.
I ran towards the old Catering Rest house which is now used as a Secondary School, then through the Immigration Office and on to the airport road. I was unfortunate to meet Hausa civilians at the airport bridge. They stopped me and asked me where I came from; I said I was returning from work and I was not an Ibo. (Five of them carried sticks and one had a cutlass.) They did not believe me and started hitting me with sticks. The man with the cutlass asked them not to kill me yet and to find out whether I had any money on me. They took the sum of £80 from my pocket, my wrist watch and my shoes. He then asked them to wait for him at the end of the bridge while he finished me off. I put up my hand and parried his first stroke aimed at my head; four of my fingers were cut, two of which became detached. The second stroke hit the heel of my left palm.
Another set of Northern civilians were coming from behind and as he look up towards them, I gripped him – I held his matchet with my right hand and his body with my left arm. The other five came and hit me once again on the head. As I turned round, he slashed with the matchet at the back of my head. My neck was cut and I fell down. This happened about 8 a.m. They left me and went away.
I lay there until about 1 p.m. Some soldiers arrived in a landrover and stopped in the middle of the bridge. I heard the footsteps of two persons, so I stopped breathing. One of them kicked me and said: You! Nyamri! Dianyi!” He pushed me from one side to the other and I pretended to be dead. They carried me up and tossed me over the bridge; I landed at the edge of the water.
I was lying there until around 4 o’clock when some Hausa civilians who were passing by, saw me and observed that I still breathed. They said: ‘Ga wanna, ba ya mutu ba’, picked up stones and threw them at me. I was hurt on the head in several places.
About 6.30p.m., I heard a lorry stop on the bridge. 8 heard some people saying, in Hausa, ‘why did they kill this and throw him into the river? It’s going to be difficult to bring him out. Let us go to the hospital and get an ambulance and a stretcher to pick him up.’ My mind told me that if I remained there overnight I would be killed. I therefore stood up. Some civilians were still around; they said ‘this one is still alive, he has not died. We will take him to the 5th Battalion headquarters to be shot.5 Some N.A. Policeman asked me to climb out. After coming half-way, I could not go further; they led me by the arms and dragged me up onto the road. Their lorry was filled with corpses, including those of some Nigeria Police men. They tossed me on top of these corpses. Luckily for me, they took me, not to the 5th Battalion, but with the corpses to the hospital. When we got there, the corpses and me were thrown out of the lorry. Somebody who I believe is from the Information Services of the North took photographs of the pile of corpses (including me). I was then taken to Ward D. They cut up my blood-soaked clothes with a pair of scissors, leaving my pants which were also blood-stained. I was given a bed, and my wounds were bandaged without any treatment.
I sent a message to a Sierra Leonian Nursing Sister whom I knew and who was married to a Yoruba man. She came, saw me and was greatly moved with pity. When she asked what she could do for me, I asked to be given some Ovaltine, milk and a handkerchief. She brought these things to me. Then I asked her to get the doctor who is either a Pakistani or an Indian to send me to the theatre for an operation.
Later on, two doctors arrived. They looked at me, said nothing and left. I telephoned the Sister again and asked to be given an injection to make me sleep. This was done and I fell deeply asleep.
I received no medicines and my wounds were not treated until the 4th of October when some white Red Cross women came to the hospital and asked whether I wanted to go back to the East. I said yes. I asked the Sister to send a message to Mr. Olu, a Yoruba, to bring me some clothes; Mr. Olu sent me a complete Yoruba dress (an ‘agbada’).
On the 5th we were taken to the airport, from where we flew to the East. I was treated in the general hospital by Dr. Onyeaso. My wounds had already gone putrid and smelt. However, Dr. Onyeaso assured me that he would do his best for me. He operated on me on the 8th of October. He made a good job of it and thanks to him and to God I am still living.”
The 43rd witness, Mr. Alfred M. Amachree with another Easterner, Sylvanus was hidden on the ceiling in the house of a Northern neighbour during the disturbances of 29th September 1966 in Maiduguri. All through the day three successive waves of killers and looters carried on their assignment in and around that house without discovering their hiding place.
Unfortunately when a fourth group came round after 7 p.m a Beri Beri petty trader urged them to make a more thorough search as she was convinced there were people hiding in the house.
It was then they started to break the ceiling, Mr. Amachree fell from it and the attackers fell on him with their clubs; one of the blows striking his scrotum left him unconscious. Believing him dead they left.
But his luck did not hold for long when he was recovering consciousness, one of the attackers still hovering around called the others back and this time dragged him out and went to work with spears and clubs until he was once again blacked out.
They still came back a third time, this time led by a man carrying a dagger to give the final thrust. Before he could do this an Inspector of Police arrived on the scene and learning his name was Amachree and he was from Rivers area, the Inspector rescued him from the attackers.
Mr. Simon Muoemenam, a hotelier and business man at Makurdi was visited by newly arrived soldiers accompanied by some looting civilians on 20th September 1966 at about 9p.m. After interrogation the people beat him up with clubs and jabbed him with arrows until he became unconscious. He was then thrown into the bank of the River Benue apparently believing that he was dead. It was in the bank of the river that he recovered consciousness in the early hours of 21/9/66, found himself completely naked and sneaked out to borrow a headtie from a woman trader to cover his nakedness. He learnt his house had been completely looted and he entrained the same day for Enugu. These and many others like them who were only left by their attackers because they were believed to be dead provide vivid illustration of the scope, extent and sadistic flare of the personal injuries. It is fitting to end this cursory survey of evidence relating to personal injuries by quoting the observations of an independent person. This is exhibit HN/235, a letter written to the 103rd witness, William Nwosu by an expatriate Reverend mother at Yola. It is an epitome of the intensity, barbarity and sadism of the attacks and a veritable index of the type of personal injuries that resulted.
Here it goes:-
Oct. 2nd, 1966
My Dear William,
Thanks for your letter received last week. I understand what you have to say re the situation in the East and in view of the terrible happenings here these few days. You and all who remain in the East are truly wise. William, if ever l thanked God that you and all who are so dear to me were not here for the awful attack, I am thanking him unceasingly, and will continue to do so till the end of my life. We were in school when Gabriel the cook rushed over to tell me to run as they (mobs) were in the compound killing. I rushed the children out trying to get the little ones to the Convent; it was too late, the cries, yells and screams were terrifying, people were running in all directions armed with sticks. However, it was only the Northern parents who had seen the mob killing the Ibos in the town and knowing that it would rush to the Mission, managed to get here before them to collect their children. Though the shock of their frantic appearances sent ourselves and the children into a panic, still they were the cause of saving several Ibo lives. We got the car out and rushed car-load after car-load of children to the barracks. Teacher Vincent and Josephine were under the bed in father’s room. We got them out knowing we could not save them when the mob came, and in spite of Josephine’s request to go to Archibong’s we took them to the police. Lastly one reddish Ibo man, a small one, who works with Stephen lloma, was hiding under the Atlas in the father’s Chapel with a tall Ibo man called Francis, we pulled them out and covered them up with a cloth in the back of the car and sent Bro. Martin off with them to the barracks. By a miracle of Grace the car had only left the convent door when the fierce and angry mob surrounded the Mission. We could not have saved even one Ibo if he had been present. We rushed to the fathers who were trying to tell the crazy leaders that there were no Ibos in the Mission. They carried hammers, spanners, long knives and those two-blade swords, headpans and trays to put parts of the bodies of their victims in. In front of us they all sharpened their blades on the stone steps of the father’s house – Sister M. Colman screamed and collapsed; we shivered but managed to hold on to consciousness. To my supreme sorrow I knew many of the boys and men by sight, and had often spoken to them, some were labourers from the hospital, others the boys in the town, but there were some strangers from Katsina, also boys from Yola, Hausa tribe I think. I said to the one I recognised ‘Sanu’ and they replied quite friendly and said, we won’t kill you; only your Ibos we want – we assured them we had none but they did not believe us, but searched the Mission from top to bottom. They did not damage anything, then they spotted the H. S. car outside, but he had run to get his two children out of the school, but we had already sent them to the barracks. He was just able to run over the fields to the hospital as he would have met the mob on the mission road. We denied all knowledge of the car, and persuaded them not to burn it as it might belong to the police – they left it.
Eventually they left, but returned at 3 p.m. for more searching. We were in agony, as the boys kept us informed also the Doctor who had to be called to attend to Sr. M. Colman, as to the numbers of killings in the town. My heart broke when I was told that they killed John O’Dike in front of the Bank. Fortunately I heard this was not so, but not till the next day. However, they did kill one tall Ibo man in front of the bank. John O’Dike will tell you how he escaped. I think the Bank Manager got him to Yola in time. The fathers hid Peter Okoya and little Luke in their house both were so brave and resigned to die as they waited for the mob to come and kill them. There was no escape as the bodies of three or four Ibos were found brutally murdered in the forest here. However, even this morning three men who managed to spend two days in a huge tree came in to the mission this morning, the fathers sent them to the barracks. The fighting stopped last night and curfew is imposed from 7p.m to 7a.m – no one is allowed to travel either. We were hoping to escape through the Camerouns but we had to stay. I tried all that day to get runs by the P. O. but could not as Mr. Ndibe and Clement were there. They brutally killed that nice man from the Agricultural Office at Kafare, you may know him William. Thoneese O’Diwe’s father was killed, he has that boy who has fair hair and fair skin, looks like a coloured boy. They tried hard to kill Archibong because he has been keeping the Ibo teachers in his house. The Doctor pleaded for his life, so one gang listened to his pleading but not the second group. There were several groups highly organised. Then I heard the Dr. plead on the phone with Archibong to get out to the barracks or bush but he refused, saying that he would die with his family. He is a very brave man! Then the morning came and the Doctor rushed to the hospital, he did not go to bed that fateful night of the 29th, but stayed by the phone with the Ambulance and a policeman waiting. We were in his house as the mission was not safe. Archibong was brought over to Dr. ’s office and they both locked themselves in but the mob came again and forced and entrance. The Dr. was put outside, but the Catholic workers at the hospital – James the Tiv, Ferdin and another Catholic rushed to Archibong’s rescue with sticks and one man intercepted the blow from a huge knife that was aimed at Archibong’s head – the stick was out clean but not the man’s head. They got them off, but what a mess they made of him. The Doctor sent an escort with Archibong to Yola where many of the Ibos were. I don’t know what happened to the family but their belongings were burnt. All that row of houses where you used to live were pulled to pieces and the things buried outside.
Francis, Lucy’s father was almost the first to be killed and his body was thrown into the river as he ran to the water as they attacked him. Poor Francis, he was a good friend of mine. The Chief Clerk in the Provincial Office was surrounded as he sat at his desk he turned to the other staff workers and said with great courage ‘Gentlemen this is goodbye to the world for me! He was beaten to death and had his throat cut, but it was quick, thank God. The transport driver for Niger Co. a Mr. Mbulla (?Spelling) was killed on the 29th. His little daughter who is in Class I walked into the mission yesterday morning – we could not find out where she spent the night but one of the boys said that a Hausa woman had taken care of her. The mother and other children are in the East. We gave the poor little child food and took her to the barracks. They are S. U.M. I think. She does not know that her father was killed and we could not be so cruel as to tell her. She is only about 9. The bodies of the poor Ibos were piled up on the street in this dreadful town. The Christian Dr. pleaded that they be not desecrated after death, so he had ten bodies brought to the morgue by 5 p.m. on 29th but already no fewer than 18 Ibos had been killed. Three bodies were recovered from the water, one that of a young Ibo policeman, then Francis and another Ibo man from a Government Office whose car they burned at the bank of the river, and he they stoned to death as he tried to get into water. I don’t know his name. In the P.E. Office, they rushed in on top of the Ibo Clerk there, the P.E. jumped out of the window and shouted for help; it was no use. The man was killed instantly. I don’t know his name, but this is exactly how he died. Under the Doctor’s escort, the two of us Fr. Gough and myself went to the hospital morgue to pay our last respects to our dead friends and to do what was possible spiritually. Fr. gave general absolution and blessed the bodies with holy water. I assisted and we then recited the prayers in a whisper. The mob were at large and it was risky to be seen near even a dead Ibo. Also, there was a Moslem attendant who was making a list of the bodies for the report (hospital). We had to be careful. Never have I been so dose to the Ibos as I gazed on their mangled bodies with blood still flowing from them. They were partly dressed and their faces though bruised by the beatings looked so peaceful and happy. Amongst these ten I only recognised Francis Mbasso, though his leg and back were burned, his face was quite normal and so peaceful, both boys were killed early on the day of the 29th and the Bar looted. Tell Mr. Mbasso that Ignatius was talking to me only two days before his death and that I was happy to assist at the last act he needed in this sad life. We tried to get a funeral service arranged, but the thing was too dangerous. However, Dr. had two enormous graves dug in the Christian burial ground and the bodies were reverently buried by the P. W.D. All the seven priests here have said daily Requiem Masses for the souls of the dead. May they enjoy eternal rest and peace. Fr. Gough assures me that all these Ibos were in the state of grace and their horrible though quick death will save them from purgatory. Ibo land should rejoice that she has so many innocent and pure souls in heaven this day. I am begging these holy souls to pray for Nigeria’s peace and for the progress of the Church.
Only on suffering does the Church prosper! Innocent blood is never spilled in vain; my heart is torn to shred and though I live, I have died a thousand deaths. All through the day and night of the 29th I pictured Peter Okoye waiting calmly for the mob to kill, he and Luke, then all the other whom I feared would be killed in the prison where they were being protected. You know how treacherous the Warders can be. Mr. Omi, the head of the prison escaped death by seconds, his office was surrounded a few minutes after he left it. Something urged him to get out. They were furious to miss him. So they looted everything in his house. The two little children are in the bush hiding. Many Ibos are still in the bush and another one has just come in; he dressed as a Moslem. I did not see him or I should have given him some food. They won’t let me go to the Yola Prison to take food and comfort the Ibos, so I am feeling very frustrated and sad. Please tell them this if they see you. The Lamido got 40 of them out of plane yesterday; may God bless him for this, though he did give his consent for the killings here. Maiduguri has also had its attack, how many killings we do not know; Jos too. I have been told that all Northern soldiers are going to Enugu to kill all the Ibos there – Can you guess how this news nearly drives me insane? There are of course so many stories being circulated that it is hard to know where to believe.
Fr. Gough has just come back from the prison at Yola, all the Ibos are alive and being treated well. Mr. Ndibe, our three teachers, John Odike and others. Of course those missing have been killed, but the exact number I do not know, I have seen ten bodies as I told you but only recognised Francis Mbasso, R.I.P.
I must finish this far from pleasant letter William – my love to Theresa and see my friends. Take care of yourselves and please pray for us. ”
Yours very sincerely in J. C.
Chibuike John Nebeokike
For: Radio Biafra Media