Gombe is an emirate in Bauchi Province. It has a Fulani Emir. The 93rd witness Paul Chukwunwike Emejulu gives a vivid description of life in Gombe:
The natives of Gombe are pagans, Terrawa. They live in adjoining villages to Gombe. The Emir of Gombe a Fulani by name Alhaji Abubakar and all the district heads are all Fulanis and all employees of the N.A. are Fulanis. The natives resented the Fulani domination since they, the natives, could not get employment. The natives farm groundnuts and cotton. In Gombe, there are 12,000 -15,000 people mostly strangers in separate quarters – Sabon Gari were mostly Ibos, Jakadeferi mostly Yorubas, Bulari mostly Ibos; in the Chikin Geri were Hausas and Fulanis.
I consider myself a successful business man. My last stocktaking in December, 1965 was £10,812:0:6d when I was insured. I was in addition to being a chemist shop proprietor, engaged in produce buying. The Hausa produce agents did not trust their fellow Hausas with money to go into the bush to buy produce. Invariably, the Hausa produce buyers would spend the money and not minding going to jail. The Hausas, therefore, used Easterners to go into the bush for them. I was used as a guarantor for Ibo buyers by Alhaji Yakubu Gombe and Mallam Arabi. In one season, I would handle about £170,000 worth of produce for the two men.
The 49th witness V.O. Ekwealor has this to say on the role of the Emir of Gombe in the May riots:
I started living in the North in 1947, first in Kaduna, then in Kano and lastly arrived at Gombe, Bauchi Province, in 1957 where I lived until last year. While in Gombe I was a motor mechanic and transport owner. I have a wife and three children as well as my deceased brother’s wife and three children.
About the 25th of May, 1966, I got a secret information that there would be a demonstration against Ibos in Gombe. So I informed all Ibos in town about it and we decided that no Ibo person should go to the market until we could see what they were about. For about three days nothing happened but on the 28th of May, there was a minor demonstration during which the house of one Mr. Obi of Gombe Transport Trade Company was stoned. His pregnant wife was also stoned on the stomach. I and Mr. Obi went to the District Officer’s house to lodge a complaint and he followed us to the scene of the incident but afterwards did nothing else.
On the 1st of June, the Emir of Gombe was collected by plane for a meeting in Kaduna. On his return he held a meeting of the councillors on the 3rd June, which was attended by Waziri Jallo the Ex-Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Mohammed Kumo, Mallam Hanza, Isiaku Gombnor and the village heads. After this meeting, at about 5.30 – 6 p.m of the same day, as a person living in the centre of the town opposite the famous Jubilee Bar, Gombe, I heard a noise from the Victory Bar. People were shouting. So I ran out of my workshop. I then saw people with bows and arrows, matchets and guns shooting at the same time.
I ran into my house but immediately one Mr. Lazarus started knocking on my door and shouting for me to open for him. Suddenly there was shooting on my windows and doors from the outside and I heard one Madam Isa Gwani commanding the mob and telling them to go into the house; I also heard him asking to be given a sword.
Another thing I experienced in the afternoon of this day of violence was that N.A. Lorries were transporting many people from the interior into the town, mainly hunters.
On the next morning, I ran to the railway station and some other Ibos ran into the Police Station. Those who ran into the Police Station were asked by the Policemen to go and collect their property from the town. While they were collecting their property in their houses the Policemen went and called the Killers and they were all killed. Then the Policemen joined the looters to loot their property..
While we were at the railway station, the Emir came with the Provincial Secretary, the councillors and the Provincial Police Officer. The Provincial Police Officer started to address us by saying that during the political days Gombe was a very quiet town but that it had happened that one of these days Gombe had had to use violence to maintain peace. He asked us to endure the situation which, he said, was the first in the history of Gombe. He said that the trouble started when a record was being played in Victoria Bar and that the record was singing ‘Ewu na-ebe akwa.’ He said that the manager was asked to stop the record but did not, and there was then fighting. We asked him whether this very record was being played in all the houses of Ibo people at same time in all the other towns like Katsina and Sokoto where there were similar disturbances? He could not give any answer to these questions.
Immediately they left us, there was a mob carrying petrol and coming to burn us alive. It was only the intervention of the Mobile Police, who had arrived earlier and in time that saved us. Later in the day the Mobile Policemen told us to make arrangements to evacuate all Ibos. I, in company of Mr. Azuku, went to Jos the following morning and secured 20 lorries with which we transport some Ibos in Gombe to Jos, and there they departed to their various homes.”
It must be pointed out that the Mobile Police was part of the contingent that was sent from the South and according to the evidence were all Southerners.
The evidence of this witness was corroborated by 108th Witness Z. O. Nwadiugwu and the 85th Witness Emmanuel Ugoji.
Gusau is a town in Sokoto Emirate under the Fulani District Head called Alhaji Suleman Serkin Kudu. The District Head is of course under the Sultan of Sokoto, the commander of the faithful (Sarkin Muslimi) which is his recognised title as the religious head of all the Moslems.
Let the 67th Witness Jacobs Okeke tell his story about Gusau and the involvement of the District Head and ex-politicians and the heads of the various departments of the Native Authority Administration:
I left Eastern Nigeria for Gusau in April 1951. Since then, I have been carrying on business. My registered business name is MESSRS. OKEKE & BROTHERS. We trade in motor parts and accessories and we are also transporters. I am a well-known person in the community. I was the Vice- President of the Ibo Union, Gusau Branch.
Before the disturbances of 29th May, there was somebody in the person of Mr. Audu Arugungu, an Agricultural Superintendent who lives about 20 yards from my house, who had on 25th of May about 8 cars were packed in his premises at about 8 p.m; even some of the cars were parked in my compound. I saw an unusual crowd of about 30 people outside his house. I went to Mallam Audu, as a neighbour and a friend, to know what was wrong. When I went there, they welcomed and shook hands with me. Mallam Audu told me that he had some strangers from Kaduna and he was giving them a reception, to which he had invited some important personalities in Gusau. In the crowd were: Alhaji Serkin Kudu (District Head of Gusau), Alhaji Sarkin Power Baba Dan Kantoma, Alhaji Igwuda, Audu Arugungu (the host), Alhaji Aliu (Native Court Judge), Alhaji Ato Wokiri Sabta (Ex-member of Parliament), Mallam Isa (N.A. Chief Police), Mohammed Sokoto (Ex-Commissioner, Niger Province), Alhaji Sarkin Yaki (King of War), Alhaji Umaru Sarkin Station (Officer in charge of Motor Parks), and so many others who were not from Gusau and who were introduced to me as people from Kaduna.”
I left them at 1.30 a.m., but they were still at the conference till about early morning hours. On 27th of May, 1966, I travelled to Sokoto, met the very same people that came to Mallam Audu and had lunch together with them at the Sokoto Catering Rest House. I asked them their mission there, and they said they came to see somebody at Sokoto and were leaving for Kaduna on the 28th. It was after the disturbances that I realised that those people were the people who organised the attack.
On the 29th May 1966, the day the disturbances started, I came out at about 5 p.m. and went to one of my stores to phone Mr. S. I. Chukwuka at Kano because we had information that some demonstrating students had damaged some properties at Kano, to ascertain the extent of the damage. When I got to the store, I saw some cars outside the house of Sarkin Kudu, the district head (Sarkin Kudu’s House was about 30 yards from my store). The house was formerly owned by Mr. C.D.C. Ufondu. I suspected something was going amiss. So, after I had finished phoning Kano, I waited to see the owners of those cars. They finally came out of the house about 7.30 a.m. Amongst them were:- Alhaji Suleman Sarkin Kudu (the District Head), Alhaji Audu Arugungu, Alhaji Sarkin Power, Alhaji Igwuda, Mohammed Sokoto (Ex-Commissioner), Alhaji Tola, Baba Dan Kantoma, Alhaji Tarimu Zaria, Madawaki Duka (N.A. Police Chief) and so many others I can always recognise any time I see them. They went down to town in a car procession. At about 8.30 a.m, I saw the same people with a large crowd of Hausas armed with sticks, clubs and daggers carrying placards on which were written ‘BA MU SO MULUKIN SOJA, BA MU SO NYAMIRI, AWALE AREWA’ (which means we do not want the Military Regime, we don’t want Ibos. Separate the North.”)
They marched along the street beating up any Ibo man or woman they met on the road and elsewhere; damaged all petrol stations belonging to Ibos; damaged all hotels owned by Ibos, Churches, schools, some shops, African Continental Bank (belonging to an Easterner) and Nigeria Police Office; tore the Nigeria Flag into pieces. When they came to a point between Gusau town and Tudun Wada, by that time I was about 50 yards away from them, the District Head called them together and addressed them, and told them to divide themselves into two sections. One section to go to Tudun Wada, and the other to Sub-Treasury to destroy the Sub-Treasury, Post Office, Catholic Mission and many other things belonging to Ibos along the line.
The Tudun Wada section was led by Alhaji Bawa and Mallam Jato, P.W.D. Driver. (Alhaji Bawa used to be a customer of mine). As he came near me, he did not touch me, rather he pushed down one Mr. N.C. Ebeku who was standing with me on his motor cycle and this Mr. Ebeku was his tenant. When they were beating Mr. Ebeku, a lot of Ibo people came to the spot, so they thought we were going to attack them because Tudun Wada was mainly occupied by Ibos; they ran away to meet the other section at Post Office. During this demonstration, any Ibo man’s lorry, car, bicycle or motor cycle seen anywhere on the road was destroyed. In the Motor Park, Alhaji Sarkin Station and Mallam Idi Wokiri Station, were pointing out all the vehicles belonging to Ibos, for destruction. One of my own vehicles E.O. 6398 was destroyed.
Nobody was killed on that 29th. At about 11.am the town was quiet once more. I then went out in my car with Mr. S.C. Chukwudinma and Mr. Muoneke, to see the damage that had been done.
At about 3 O’clock, a delegation of some Ibos came to me to seek my opinion as one of their leaders. I then met Mr. R.C. Kamuche and S.C. Chukwudinma and we went to Mr. P.l. Efozia, the A.S.P. of motor traffic at Gusau. He said as an Ibo man he could not understand the trouble and that they even threatened to kill him for defending Ibos. He told me that he had requested for more policemen from Zaria because the N.A. Police here were members of the looting gang. At about 4.pm on the same day, Ibos in Gusau gathered together to decide what to do. We decided to ask Sarkin Kudu, the District Head, through A.S P. Efozia, to tell his people to desist from any further attack on Ibos; that since they said in their placards they do not want Ibos; they should give us time to pack up our thing and leave their Region for them. While we were discussing this issue, Mr. P.l. Efozia, the A.S.P., came in with some Railway policemen from Zaria who came to help him. They asked us why we had gathered there and we told them that we had suffered a lot in the hand of Hausas both during the elections and the census and now under the military Regime. The police requested us to go back to our respective houses and promised that they would protect us.
At about 6 O’clock of the same 29th, the district head of Tudun Wada sent his messenger to tell me that Sarkin Kudu, the District Head, wanted to see me with about six Ibo representatives at a meeting to be held in his house at 7 p.m. I called my people and told them about the meeting. They said we should not attend because they feared they might kill us.
It was that evening that we heard the death of Mr. S.M. Asomugha, an Nnewi man, who lived at Mafara, 60 miles from Gusau; he was said to have been killed by the Hausa Mob. Still on the same 29th of May, at about 10 p.m. Mr. P. C Kamuche and S.C. Chukwudinma came to my house with the news that the Senior Divisional Officer, (Mr. Minna, from Sokoto) phoned him to come with me and one other person to meet him at V. I. P. Rest House, Gusau. When we got there at 10.30 p.m. I saw Sarkin Kudu Sokoto (the son of Sultan of Sokoto), Sarkin Kudu Sokoto (the son of Sultan of Sokoto), Sarkin Kudu Gusau, Mallam Isa (N. A. Police Chiefs) and Dan Dagaladima Waziri.
The Senior Divisional Officer Mr. Minna, said that he and Sarkin Kudu were sent by Sultan of Sokoto because they heard there was trouble in Gusau and to inquire into the causes of the trouble. I replied him with the question, “were there not trouble in Sokoto and Mafara, where we learnt that some people were killed – for instance, S.M. Asomugha? What were the causes of the troubles there? I went on to tell them that Hausas have planned to kill all Ibos in the North and take their properties as they had earlier said before the Military Regime, but Mr. Minna advised me to forget the past and think of what should be done to stop a further outbreak of trouble. At 12 midnight, I told them that the night had been far-spent that we could not stay any longer. I suggested to them to give us an appointment for the following morning so that we might come with more of our people. They agreed and asked us to come on 30th May, 1966, at 9.30 a.m with eight representatives.
At 9.30 a.m on the 30th May, 1966, I went with our eight-men delegation – myself, Jacob Okeke, R.C. Kamuche, P.E. Anyaegbulam, S.C. Chukwudinma, H.C. Nwankwo, G.O. Anikpe, A.N. Okonkwo and B.O. Chikendu. When we entered the conference room, Mr. Minna said he needed only four persons inside while the rest should remain outside. This time only four of us entered into the conference room, name – Jacob Okeke, R.C. Kamuche, S.C. Chukwudinma and H.C. Nwankwo.
Mr. Minna said he was sent by the Sultan of Sokoto to see the representatives of Ibos and Hausas.
The Hausas were represented by Serkin Kudu Gusau, Dan Galadima Waziri, Alhaji Ato (Wokiri Sabta, i.e. Chief Sanitary Inspector), Mallam Isa (N. A. Police Chief). Mr. P. I. Efozia (A. S. P. in charge of Gusau) was there too.
Mr. Minna then appealed for peace between the two communities. He admitted that Ibos had been maltreated and their properties damaged. However, he pleaded that we should not pay wrong with wrong. He asked if we could give the names of those who destroyed our things and their ring leaders. I replied that I could. I actually gave him their names. When I mentioned the name of Sarkin Kudu, the District Head of Gusau, he queried me for calling his name and he inquired if I know his position at all. I replied with these words “You led the demonstration. I saw you and you saw me too.” Being shocked, he could not utter any word. After calling their names, I gave one copy to S. D. O. (Senior District Officer) and one to Mallam Isa, the N. A. Police Chief; Mr. Minna asked the N. A. Police Chief to arrest all connected with the matter. The N.A. Police Chief told Mr. Minna Senior District Officer, that they had arrested some people who took part and that they were forty-eight in number. We protested that those to be arrested should be those whose names were on the list (the ring leaders). We were promised that the Police would do their work.
At this stage, the District Officer officially announced that Mr. S.M. Asomugha was killed by Hausas at Mafara, that we should go and carry the corpse to Gusau for burial. We refused to do so for fear of further attack in the bushy area between there and Gusau. We then requested them to go with their Police and Hospital Ambulance to bring down the corpse to Gusau. They finally brought the corpse down to Gusau, we buried it.
After the burial, I sought permission from the Police to convene a meeting of all Ibos to appeal to them for peace, I was permitted. At the meeting, we decided that all of us should remain indoors, that we were to refrain from all kinds of business activity, that our children should not go to school and there was to be market attendance until conditions returned to normal. We put these decisions into effect from 30th May to 1st of June, on which date the information reached me through my Hausa Motor Conductor, Zaki Birinkebi, that arrangements had been made to kill all Ibos resident in Gusau during the night. I knew the news he gave me was accurate as the boy had stayed six years with me, and he had all the time been reliable.
I phoned Mr. P.l. Efozia, A.S.P. in charge of Gusau, about the information I received. He confirmed having heard such information too. He further told me that the soldiers would be leaving that evening for another troubled area as things seemed to be calm in Gusau after the incidents. On the strength of the information that we would be attacked in mid-night of 1st June, he urged me to go to the soldiers for protection. When I reported the information to the soldiers, they said it was ordinary rumour, that such thing was not going to happen. They complained of having stayed for three days at Gusau without food and said they would go back to Kaduna. I pleaded with them to stay for 2 or 3 days more, they agreed to stay provided food was provided for them. I supplied them with two bags of garri and some bottles of beer, and promised to bring more the following day. Because of the information I gave them the soldiers ordered that nobody should be seen outside after 7 p.m.
After this announcement, everywhere was calm till about 10.30 p.m when I heard sounds of gunshots, flames of fire and general panicking everywhere in the town. We could not say precisely what was happening until some of my boys ran home from the stores in their sleeping pants and reported that there was mass-killing and looting in the town, that our stores had been looted and that they only managed to escape through the back door.
I passed on this information to every Easterner through the help of other Ibos by sounding the horn. We all came out in mass defence, we remained in the field between Tudu and Sabongari Gusau fighting with the looters. Some people were running out from the crowd, most of them with bullets in their bodies and completely naked. We remained in the field till 6 a.m when the soldiers came to us and said that all who wanted protection should go to their camp. We had the following as camps:
Nigeria Railway Station
The Airport and
Nigeria Police Traffic Office.
At about 10 a.m on the 2nd of June, 1966 the Serkin Kudu District Head of Gusau, came to our camp with some police men and soldiers and said he was sorry for what has happened to Ibos and that he warned his people to lay down their arms. He further advised us to return to our houses and stores and collect our remaining belongings and come back to camp. We consented to his advice not knowing that it was a planned conspiracy.
When we left for the town, the soldiers and police were nowhere to be seen and we were attacked again. At this time about 8 prominent Ibos were killed. They are Mr. Charles Okonkwo and his child he was taking to the hospital, Mr. Eric Okonkwo (known as Dogo Driver), Mr. Nwanna, Mr. Charles Anyanwu (a representative of Nidogas) and so many of them that I cannot remember their names just now. Many lorries and cars with which we went to the town were burnt down. It was only God who saved me. I escaped in my kit-car, but Charles Anyanwu with whom I was running was matchetted down from his Honda and he and his Honda were burnt.
We ran back to the camp and never went to our respective houses again till we left.
On Friday the 3rd of June, Mr. Jacob Okeke, Mr. R.C. Kamuche and I (as Igbo representatives), two Yoruba representatives, some soldiers and police, went to the Hospital for identification of the dead bodies there. I saw eighteen big decomposed bodies some of which I recognised by their faces, plus a small child of Mr. Charles Okonkwo who was also killed.
The Police record showed 46 bodies, but when I inquired, they told me some of the corpses had been removed. After indentifying the dead, we came back to the camps. With the sorrowful and shocking sight we had seen at the hospital, we immediately decided to leave the following day 4th June. However, as we had no fuel in our tanks, the possibility of going by motor transport was a bit remote until we consulted one Eastern soldier who led Mr. B.O. Chukwundu to the petrol pump where he obtained the fuel with which we travelled.
At about 6.30 p.m on that very 3rd, after we had prepared to leave the following morning, some soldiers and policemen came to the camp and announced that there should be a peace meeting of Ibos, Yorubas and Hausas with Senior District Officer, Mr. Minna at the V.I.P. Rest House. The Ibos were represented by Messrs. J.J. Okeke. R.C. Kamuche, A.N.Okonkwo. The Hausas were represented by Alhaji Suleman, Mohamed Sokoto, Alhaji Tola, Alhaji Serkin Power, Alhaji Tilum Zaria, Alhaji Telah Delaha, Alhaji Aliu (Native Court Judge), Ubadona Tudu Wada, Alhaji Ato, Alhaji Igwuda, Dan Galadima Waziri, Mallam Isa, Baba Dan Katoma and some others, whom I knew by face but whose names I did not know.
At that meeting, Serkin Kudu, Alhaji Suleman appealed to us to tell our people that there was no more trouble because that day was Friday, their ‘Big Day’. He also said that he announced in their Mosque that their anger was over and that they prayed to God for “forgiveness”. The Senior District Officer, Mr. Minna, also appealed for peace and asked us to stay. I replied with these words: “You cannot fool us again, all your appeals for peace were opposite. On the 1st of June you asked us to keep indoors, only to have all of us massacred. Again, on 2nd June, you deceived us by telling us that there was no more trouble and that we could go and collect our remaining belongings, but when we got there we were attacked again.
I further asked him how we could stay when many of us had been rendered houseless, husbandless, childless, without food, without clothes and without property. I told them face to face that we must go back to the East. I then appealed to the police and soldiers to escort us on our way but they evaded the issue by saying that they were sent to quell the trouble and not to escort people to the South.
Despite their deceptive appeals that we should not go we left Gusau on the 4th June, 1966 and arrived on the 6th via Western Provinces.
During cross examination the witness gave further evidence as following:
Yes, one thing is certain, Hausa people are very respectful to their powerful district heads. They cannot do anything unless they were empowered to do so. I am sure that these things were organised by the headmen. The killings did not start until after the meeting which the Sultan of Sokoto attended in Kaduna. Things were quiet until they came back and the rumour spread that anybody could kill an Easterner and loot his property without being arrested.
Q. 3888: “There were no killing on the 29th and 30th May?” “Yes”.
Q. 3888: “It was from 2nd June that it started?” “No, from the time they (the Emirs) had returned and the Serkin Muslumi (Sultan Of Sokoto) held a public procession and people were made to understand that a decision was taken in Kaduna that if anybody killed an Easterner nobody should arrest him. It was then that they had the authority to kill and no N.A. Police arrested them but rather assisted them to kill and giving them their vans and other things to help them carryout the looting”.
Q. 3890: “Did you say that it was announced that if anybody killed he would not be arrested?” “Yes”.
Q. 3811: “It was announced in Gusau?” “Yes”
Q. 3892: “After the Emir’s Conference at Kaduna”? “Yes, it was the Serkin Kudu, the Sultan’s representative who called the meeting and told them this”.
Even a pastor has something to say about the personalities involved in the May riots in Gusau. He is the Rev. Ernest Obianwu (94th witness) of the Anglican persuasion. Let him speak:
I was the Vicar in charge of the Christ Anglican Church Parish Gusau in Sokoto Province. My Parish includes St. John Church Kaura Namoda, and St. Paul’s Church Shinkafe, all in Sokoto Province. On the 29th May, 1966, I was conducting service in the Ibo section of the Christ Church Gusau and whilst the singing of the Te Deum was in progress an angry mob armed with stones and cudgels besieged the church shouting “ARABA”. They threw stones at the glass windows and inside the church. Women screamed and the children who were in the church were all shouting for help.
In the crowd, I saw Alhaji Sarikin Power, Alhaji Iguda, Wakilin Auka, the former Provincial Commissioner for Zaria and some important members of the Gusau N.A. Office including the N.A. Treasurer. There were some students of the T.T.C. Maru. I ran back and went to hiding in Tudun Wada. I was in the Airport from 2nd June to 4th June, 1966 when I flew in a chartered plane to Kaduna from where I returned via Western Region. Whilst I was in the Airport, the Sarikin Kudu came there with the Officers of the Red Cross and on seeing me he said ‘Ashe Kananan’. “Are you still alive”, I replied “De Ikwo Allah Ran Kan Dede”. By the grace of God.
The same Sarikin Kudu was parading the town on the 29th May, receiving salute from his subjects. It was the same Sarikin Kudu in whose house the 1st meeting was held, and I understood he presided over the meeting at Birnin Ruwa N.A. School.
Kaduna has no Emir or District Head. It is the capital of Northern Nigeria and the seat of the Northern Nigeria Regional Government. The Military Governor lives there. The heads of all the departments of government have their offices in Kaduna. The police Headquarters is in Kaduna. One would have thought that of all places Kaduna would be the last place one would expect to see innocent citizens exposed to mob attack. The evidence shows that Kaduna was just as affected as any other important towns in the Hausa speaking area, in fact it was the top civil servants that led the attack.
52nd witness – Daniel Godo Princewill.
After the January coup, the head of my department Mr. N.V. Kirby (Territorial Controller, North,) called me up to take care of the personnel in the exchange and some other P & T Installations in Kaduna. A few hours later, out of sheer curiosity I went to the Sarduana’s house in Kaduna to check up on the news we had heard. I found water and blood dripping from upstairs and quite a number of Northerners were on the premises as well as within the building. I was amazed to find that all the Northerners there showed no signs of grief. In fact, some of them were in the Sarduana’s sitting room at that time, were having fun by parodying the official procedure, protocol and pomp they had observed during the Sarduana’s lifetime, for example, someone would pose as the Sarduana’s Secretary, would say “ranka dede and genuflect; then there would be riotous laughter. Others mimicked the way he talked and so on and so forth.
Some Hausa friends told me that the coup was a Godsend, but that its only fault was that nobody was killed in the East.
Then came Decree No. 34 for the unification of the public services, after its publication, Northern civil servants felt very insecure and openly complained about it. It was understood that Permanent Secretaries and other top government officials of Northern Origin masterminded these demonstrations. Then, on May 29 (Sunday), we heard rumours of violence in the town. We were already in the church (Faith Tabernacle, Kaduna) for evening service when we noticed that the whole environs of the church and the street outside it was filled with Hausas. At the end of service, we could not go out.
16th witness Julius Abisi.
I was transferred from Lagos to Kaduna and I arrived Kaduna February 1st, 1958. Since that date, I had been living in Kaduna until I returned by air on the 5th of October because of the unfortunate incidents in the North during the past years.
After the January coup, the relationship which existed between Easterners and Northerners took a different shape, till May when everything deteriorated.
Before this 28th, Northerners asked for permission from the police to demonstrate against the Military Regime. They wanted this demonstration to take effect on the 28th of May, but having been refused the permission, they staged the demonstration with violence on the 29th. They used this demonstration as an instrument to kill, loot and destroy properties of Easterners resident in Kaduna. They continued this “OPERATION EXTERMINATION” for full three days before the army intervened.
The same thing happened. A group of Hausa top civil servants held a meeting at Ahmadu Bello Stadium. This meeting started at or about 1 p.m on Saturday and lasted till about 4 p.m. It was from that meeting they spread to the town attacking every Easterner they met. Looting, arson, and killing of law-abiding Easterners featured predominantly. After the general attack, they started going from house to house hunting for Easterners to kill. As I understand and speak Hausa language very fluently, I had the opportunity to mix freely with every Northerner. What they were saying was “NOTHING LIKE EAST WILL REMAIN IN THE MAP OF NIGERIA”. From this time onwards, peace and tranquillity eluded Kaduna. Easterners started running from one corner of the bush to the other in search of safety. The situation remained like this till September 29th.
During this 29th, I witnessed the heaviest killings, corpses were being transported from the town to the hospital. The extent of the killing was so great that the ambulance could not cope with the evacuation of corpses so they had to employ P.W.D and P. & T tippers to help in clearing the corpses. The most sorrowful sight I have ever seen was that young men were sitting on top of the corpses dancing and singing merrily as they drove round the town. Earlier, on the 24th of September, my Chief Warder, Mr. Robinson Okoye was killed in his room and this was done not by the army nor the police but the Hausa Warder under him. These Hausa members of our staff organised themselves to attack we fellow Eastern Warders. They said “WE MUST HAVE ALL OF YOU WIPED OUT”. They even said this in public. Personally, these very vandals chased me in broad daylight; I only managed to escape because I was riding while they were trekking. After riding up to a mile and half from them, I dodged and entered the bush. The molestation directed to us by our Hausa members of staff had the support of the senior men because each time we went to them to lodge our complaints, they would merely say “go away”.
Our only saviour was the instruction from Lagos that all of us should come on mass transfer to the East. We eventually arrived East by Air on the 5th of October without any of our belongings.
118th witness – Benjamin Obianwu
On 29th May, at 8 p.m, I was attacked at Ahmadu Bello Road whilst returning from the church. My car was stoned and damaged. I baled out but received no police protection, rather I was mocked at. The windscreen of my car was broken, I had bodily cuts and bruises and shock.
We have dealt with Zaria and the forces at work there. Another important feature in the evidence of the 16th witness, Julius Abisi) a prison warder, was attack on Eastern prison warders by their Northern colleagues. This feature ran through the evidence of quite a number of witnesses. In Zaria General Hospital, Mr. Venn, an Easterner was killed by members of his staff. In Kano at the police barracks, policemen of Northern origin exposed their colleague Sgt. Major Okani to Northern Nigeria soldiers who killed him right in the Police Barracks.