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Proclamation Of The State Of Biafra-1967 - Politics - Nairaland

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Proclamation Of The State Of Biafra-1967 by OldBiafran: 11:51pm On Mar 17, 2013
IT IS RIGHT and just that we of this generation of Eastern Nigerians, should record for the benefit of posterity, some of the reasons for the momentous decision we have taken at this crucial time in the history of our people.The Military Government of Eastern Nigeria has, in a series of publications, traced the evils and injustices of the Nigerian political association through the decades, stating also the case and standpoint of Eastern Nigeria in the recent crisis.Throughout the period of Nigeria’s precarious, existence as a single political entity Eastern Nigerians have always believed in funda¬mental human rights and principles as they are accepted and enjoyed in civilized communities. Impelled by their belief in these rights arid principles and in their common citizenship with other Nigerians after Amalgamation, Eastern Nigerians employed their ideas and skills, their resourcefulness and dynamism in the development of areas of Nigeria outside the East. Eastern Nigerians opened up avenues of trade and industry throughout the country; overlooked the neglect of their homeland in the disposition of national institutions, projects and utilities; made available their own natural resources to the rest of the country; and confidently invested in the general economic and social development of Nigeria. Politically Eastern Nigerians advocated a strong, united Nigeria; for ONE COUNTRY, ONE CONSTITUTION, ONE DESTINY. Eastern Nigerians were in the vanguard of the struggle for national independence and made sacrifices and concessions for the cause of national unity. . They conceded the inauguration of a Federal instead of a Unitary system of Government in Nigeria.


Leaders of Northern Nigeria have told us several times that what our former colonial masters made into “NIGERIA" consisted of an agglomeration of peoples, distinct in ‘every way except in the colour of their skins, and organized as a unit for their own commercial interests” and administrative convenience.. The name “Nigeria”. was regarded by many as a mere “geographical expression”. In course of time, the peoples of the other parts of Southern Nigeria found that they possessed many things in common with those of Eastern Nigeria, and while the colonial master made adjustments to accommodate these common ties between the Southern inhabitants, the peoples of the North insisted on maintaining their separateness.


On October 1, 1960, independence was granted to the peoples of Nigeria in a form of “federation”, based on artificially made units. The Nigerian Constitution installed the North in, perpetual dominance over Nigeria The Federation was predicated on the perpetual rule by One unit over the others. The Constitution itself contained provisions which negatived the fundamental human freedoms which it purported to guarantee for the citizens. Thus were sown, by design or by default, the seeds of factionalism and hate, of struggle for power at the Centre, and of the worst types of political chicanery and abuse of power. .One of two situations was bound to result from that arrangement either perpetual domination of the rest of the country by the North, not by consent, but by force and fraud, or a dissolution of the federating bond. National independence was followed by successive crises each leading to near disintegration of the country. Some of the major events which are directly attributable to the defective and inadequate Constitution may here be mentioned.

In 1962, an emergency was imposed on Western Nigeria Jurists agree that the imposition was unconstitutional; it was a ruse to remove certain elements in Western Nigeria known to have taken a firm stand against the misuse of political, power. A puppet of the North was manoeuvred into power in Western Nigeria.

Also in 1962, and again in 1963, Nigerians tried for the first time to count themselves. What should ordinarily be a statistical and dull exercise was, because of the nature of the Constitution, turned into a fierce political struggle. The official figures established by these censuses have been discredited.Federal elections followed in December, 1964—elections which have been described as the most farcical in our history. Candidates were either kidnapped, killed or forced to withdraw from the elections. Results announced were in direct opposition to the actual facts. The Southern parties had boycotted the election, and the deadlock which followed brought the country near to dissolution. The situation was patched up; the conflagration was brought under control, but its embers lay smouldering.


ON October 11, 1965, elections were held to the Western House of Assembly. The puppet Government of that Region existed, not by the will of the people of Western Nigeria, but because of the combined power of the Federal Government and the Northern Nigeria Govern¬ment which installed it. The electorate of Western Nigeria was not permitted to declare its will in the elections. Fraud, foul play and murder were committed with impunity. The smouldering embers of the recent past erupted with unquenchable virulence. The irate electorate showed its resentment in its own way. Complete disorder followed. Yet, the Federal Government dominated by the North fiddled with the issue and even refused to recognize what the whole world had known, namely, that Nigeria was on the brink of disaster.

Only the Armed Forces remained politically uncommitted and non-partisan. Some of their officers and men revolted against the injustices which were perpetrated before their very eyes and attempted to overthrow .The. Federal Government and Regional Governments. In desperation; the Ministers of the Federal Government handed over power to the Armed Forces under the Supreme command of Major-General J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi.
Re: Proclamation Of The State Of Biafra-1967 by OldBiafran: 12:01am On Mar 18, 2013
The Military administration under Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi made the first real attempt to unite the country and its peoples. The Northerners saw in his efforts the possibility of losing their control of the affairs of the country. So while its leaders paid lip service to unity, they laid plans for making sure that it could never be achieved. Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi was, of course, an Easterner, but the majority of the individuals at the head of affairs were not. At no time under the civilian rule did Eastern Nigerians hold a dominating position in the government of the Federation.


On May 24, 1966, the Military Government issued a. decree designed to provide a more unified administration in keeping with the military command. The people of Northern Nigeria protested against the decree and on May 29,1966, thousands of Easterners residing in the North, were massacred by Northern civilians They looted their property The Supreme Military Council set up a tribunal to look into the causes of these unprovoked acts at murder and pillage and determine what compensations might be paid to the victims. The Northern Emirs declared their intention to pull Northern Nigeria out of the Federation rather than face the tribunal .But the Supreme Military Council justly decided that the tribunal must do its duty.

Then on July 29, 1966, two months after the May murders and despoliation, and four days before the tribunal was due to commence its sitting, the real pogrom against Eastern Nigerians residing in the Federation began. Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host, Lt-Col. Francis Fajuyi,, were kidnapped at Ibadan and murdered.This time Northern soldiers acted in concert with Northern civilians. Defenceless men, women, and children were shot down or hacked to death; some were burnt, and some buried alive. Women and young girls were ravished with unprecedented bestiality; unborn children were torn out of the womb of their mothers.

Again on September 29, 1966, the pogrom was resumed Thirty thousand Eastern Nigerians are known to have been killed by North¬erners. They were killed in the North, in Western Nigeria, in Lagos; some Eastern soldiers detention at Benin were forcibly removed from prison by Northern soldiers and murdered.


At the time of the incident, millions of Eastern Nigerians resided outside the East and persons from other parts of the country lived in this Region . While Eastern Nigerians who assembled at Northern airports, railway stations and motor parks, were set upon by Northern soldiers and civilians armed with machine guns, rifles, daggers and poisoned arrows, the Army and Police in the East were specifically instructed to shoot at sight any Eastern Nigerian found molesting non-Easterners living in the Region. By early October, the sight of mutilated refugees, orphaned children, widowed mothers and decapitated corpses of Eastern Nigerians arriving at our airports and railway stations inflamed passions to such an extent that it was found necessary to ask all non-Easterners to leave the region in their own interest. Since the events of July, 1966, there has been a mass movement of population in this country. Nigerian society has undergone a funda¬mental change; it is no longer possible for Eastern Nigerians to live outside the Region without fear of loss of life or of property.

Two facts emerge from the events described above. The wide¬spread nature of the massacre and its periodicity—29th May, 29th July, and 29th September—show firstly, that they were premeditated and planned, and secondly, that Eastern Nigerians are no longer wanted as equal partners in the Federation of Nigeria. It must be recalled that this was the fourth in a series of massacres of Eastern Nigerians in the last two decades.

At the early stages of the crisis, the world was told that it was a conflict between the North and the East. That pretence collapsed when it became clear that Northern soldiers moved into Western Nigeria and Lagos as another step in Northern Nigeria’s bid to continue her so-called conquest to the sea. Belatedly, it was generally accepted that the fundamental issue was not a struggle between the East and the North, but one involving the very existence of Nigeria as one political entity. Throughout the Nigerian crises, some of the indegenious judges have been found quite unequal to their calling by reason of their involvement in partisan politics. People soon lost faith in them, and would not go to their courts for redress. In some measure, they were res¬ponsible for the collapse of the rule of law in certain parts of Nigeria. Providence has spared us in the East from this terrible calamity.

It is now, necessary to summarise the attempts of the Government and people of Eastern Nigeria to solve the crisis, and of the bad faith with which these attempts have been received. On August 9, 1966, representatives of the Military Governors meeting in Lagos made decisions for restoring peace and for clearing the way for constitutional talks notably the decision that troops be all repatriated to their region of origin. These decisions were not fully implemented. On September 12, the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference consisting of delegates representing all the Governments of the Federation met in Lagos, and for three weeks sought to discover a form of association best suited to Nigeria having regard to the prevailing circumstances and their causes, and future possibilities. This Conference was unilaterally dismissed by Lt.-Col. Gowon, the Head of the Lagos Government.It had become then impossible for the Supreme Military Council, the highest governing body in the Federation, to meet on Nigerian soil. As long as Northern troops were in Lagos and the West, no venue could be found acceptable to all the Military Governors for a meeting of the Supreme Military Council in Nigeria. It met at Aburi in Ghana on 4th and 5th January, 1967, on the basis of an agenda previously deter¬mined by the official of the Governments of the country and adopted by the Supreme Military Council. Decisions reached at the meeting were ignored by .Lt.-Col.. Gowon ,and .the North. In the interest of this Region and of the whole Country the East stood firmly by those decisions, and, warned that they would be applied to Eastern Nigeria if steps were not taken by the Lagos Government to apply them generally. The East rejected all measures which did not reflect the decisions at Aburi.

The Aburi accord was not implemented by the Lagos Government. All the meetings of Military Leaders held since Aburi were held without the East. All the decisions taken by Lagos were taken without comment and concurrence from the East.

[b]It became evident that each time Nigerians came close to a realistic solution to the current crisis by moving towards a loose form of associa¬tion or confederation, Lt-Col. Gowon unilaterally frustrated their efforts . When the representatives of the Military Governors decided on August 9 that troops be repatriated to their Regions of origin, and it appeared to him that this would, lead to confederation, he unilaterally refused to fully implement that decisjon. When in September the Ad HOC Constitutional Conferençe appeared near agreement an a loose Federation, he unilaterally dismissed them indefinitely. When in January 1967, the Military Leaders agreed at Aburi on what the Federal Permanent Secretaries correctly interpreted as confederation he unilaterally rejected the Agreement to Which he had, voluntarily subscribed. When in May, 1967, all the Southern Military Governors and the Leaders of Thought of their Regions spoke out in favour of Confederation, he dismissed the Supreme Military Council and pro¬claimed himself the dictator of Nigeria—an act which, to say the least, is treasonable. [/b]
Re: Proclamation Of The State Of Biafra-1967 by Nobody: 12:18am On Mar 18, 2013
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