MR. U. U. UKUT of Ikot Ekpene, says:
“I first went up North to Kaduna in 1957 and got the Posts and Telegraphs job this year. On 29th September, at about 3 p.m., I was returning from work when I beheld the horrible sight of a man drenched with petrol and burnt alive at the Ahmadu Bello Way. As I turned into Yoruba Road I saw an Easterner abandon his Honda motor cycle while he was hotly pursued by the mob. As the man was about to run into a Police Station I saw the policeman push him out. He was killed by the pursuing mob right in front of the Police Station. I ran towards my house but when I found it surrounded by the mob I took shelter in the house of a Yoruba neighbour.
“I hid there till the following morning when I managed to reach the Posts and Telegraphs office. I sheltered in the office for about four days and then the Posts and Telegraphs succeeded in getting us into a train bound for Enugu on 5th October. At Makurdi we were held up in the middle of Makurdi Bridge by armed soldiers. I did not come out and so did not know what transpired there.
“At Makurdi South we collected about £28 for the Yoruba engine driver because he had refused to drive us any further. At Oturkpo station (Northern Nigeria) some armed soldiers again stopped us and called out a band of Tiv people. These Tivs started to loot the wagons and damaged what they could not take away including two cars. The armed soldiers finally proceeded to attack passengers. They killed three girls from Kano who stepped out of the train, wounded several passengers and also killed one man, cutting away his head and dumping his headless body into the train.”
MR. PHILIP AJAYI, who hails from Ikot Ekpene and was a clerk at the Nigeria Airways, Kano, tells the following story:
“On 1st October, at about 6.30 p.m. I went to take something from my office at the Airport because I was not to be on duty till 10 p.m. that night. I returned to my house at about 6.50 p.m. I was in the house when a Northerner, a colleague of my wife at the U.T.C. Stores, called and informed us that there was some shooting at the Airport. My wife telephoned from a nearby lawyer’s house and obtained information that the Airport was littered with dead bodies.
“Since the 29th July Army mutiny, a unit of about ten soldiers has always been stationed at the Airport everyday but when I went there on 1st October, I noticed that there was a large number of soldiers instead of the usual ten men. When my wife got the news of the shootings at the Airport I decided not to go to work that night. After some time very many armed soldiers invaded the Sabon Gari. They went from house to house and shot everybody they saw.
“My wife is great with child, as you see, and as I could not leave her and she could not move about freely we knelt down and prayed and then waited for death. But miraculously the soldiers passed without entering our house. After the soldiers had finished the killing, armed bands of civilians moved in. They went from house to house taking away anything they liked but in addition to looting people’s property, the armed mob also killed off anybody who escaped the slaughter of the soldiers. This time my wife and I took shelter with some Yoruba neighbours. The Yoruba neighbours dressed my wife and me in Yoruba dresses and when the mob came they took us all as Yorubas.
“The Nigerian Airways provided a plane on Friday, 7th October and flew its staff to Lagos from where those of us from the East were flown to Enugu on the 8th.”
MR. ISAAC A OGBONNAYA of Arochukwu was catering clerk at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria: he narrates:
“On 8th September, Mr. I. E. Ubani, an Umuahia man, and clerk in the Ministry of Agriculture informed me and one Yoruba man that “operation No. 3 to finish the Easterners” would be carried out on 28th September. On 25th September one policeman at Nigeria Police post, Samaru, Zaria, also told me that it was premature for us to cry for the Easterners killed at Kaduna. He said this was because of the killings would be extended to Zaria before the end of the month. I did not attach much importance to these two warnings because of the repeated assurances given by Lt. Col. Gowon following the July incident that our lives and property were now safe. However, some of us workers took some of our property to the railway station to be carried to Enugu just in case. At mid-night of 28th September I heard a big and continuous noise at the Agriculture quarters about one-quarter of a mile away. I then woke up my inmates Mr. Asuquo Ogwa, Mr. Okon Edem Udo and Mr. Udo Okon.
“Observing that our lives were in danger we escaped into the nearby bush. Under cover of the bush we could see a mob break open the house of Mr. Ezima and his brother both of whom came from Umuahia (Eastern Nigeria) and drag their bodies out after killing them. Then at about 2 a.m. one of the roving mobs spotted us and gave chase. We all ran down to the river valley nearby where the grass was so thick that we escaped our chasers. There we parted and I hid myself inside a culvert.
“At 7 a.m. the following day, Thursday, I came out when I saw some policemen passing. I decided to go back to my house to see if I could get any of my things. On my way to my house one fellow worker, Mr. Stephen Onuoha, a native of Okigwi (Eastern Nigeria) saw me and started to hail at me. His calls attracted the attention of a group of Northerners working at a building site. They chased and caught him and beat him to death with hammers and sticks. When they killed him they carried away his portmanteau. Then they turned and chased me but being already far from them I was able to out-run them.
“As I ran towards the senior service quarters in the campus I met Mr. J. O. Arukwe of Arochukwu (Eastern Nigeria) and Mr. Philips of Asaba (Mid-Western Nigeria Ibo), both of them Executive Officers in the University. Both were driving in their cars to work. I stopped them and warned them that there were violent disturbances in the campus. They reversed their cars and drove back to their quarters. I ran up the house of a Yoruba lecturer and took shelter.
“As the lecturer lives near Mr. Arukwe and Mr. Philips I was able to see Mr. Arukwe join Mr. Philips in the latter’s house. I also later witnessed an attack on Mr. Philips’ house and I saw Mr. Arukwe dragged out dead from the house. Later I was informed by Professor Darling that Mr. Philips too was killed in the house.
“While I was in the Yoruba lecturer’s house, his wife telephoned the Assistant Registrar, Mr. Reedy, to come and take me to safety because my presence there was dangerous to both myself and their family. As I entered the car of Mr. Reedy the mob saw me and attacked the car with a hail of stones. The Assistant Registrar, however, managed to take me to the general office which served as a depot for escaped Easterners in the University. There I learnt from one Ibibio man that several Easterners were burnt to death when the mob set fire to the house where they were hiding in the ceiling.
“At about 2 p.m. that Thursday the Eastern Nigerians comprising under-graduates at the University, students of the Federal School of Aviation, Zaria, and workers were all conveyed in University buses to the prisons where we stayed till Friday; then we were conveyed in convoys to the railway station. There we discovered that the loads that we had considered railed to Enugu about a week earlier had all been stolen. We also saw many dead bodies being removed from the railway station.
“We left Zaria at 5 p.m. that Friday. We were help up at the middle of Makurdi bridge for about four hours by armed soldiers and we were allowed to go on only after paying a ransom of £120 in cash in addition to giving out all the property demanded by the soldiers. Again at Oturkpo we were held up for about three hours by armed soldiers and we paid £82 in cash in addition to their plundering such of our belongings as we left. The soldiers at Oturkpo were so happy that they fired some salvos in salute to us as our train moved away. During the rest of the journey to Enugu we were showered with missiles of stones as we passed some minor stations.”