AUTHOR:                Chinonso Igwebuike Mbah
EDITOR:                  Ikenna Ozulumba Mbaegbu
RETWEET:             @umuchiukwu_writ 

On May 30th, 1966, the riots began again rather early. It was much fiercer than the previous day that the commanding officer with his men had to go round the town trying to disperse the mobs by firing in the air. At the places where he rescued people who were still alive he had arranged and had them sent to the military medical center for treatment. A story was told of a whole family that was locked up inside their house and set ablaze. There was also another horrifying incident that took place at the Kano railway station where a large crowd of Biafrans had gathered waiting to escape by train but were attacked by a mob and all were slaughtered, without anyone escaping the scene.

The commanding officer who had felt he had seen enough atrocities committed on Biafrans now decided to deploy two companies of armed soldiers all over the town with an instruction to deal ruthlessly with the rioters. His troops did a good job as they met little or no opposition from the mobs who appeared to be taken aback that troops were being used against them. It was then that a belated message came from the office of the governor authorizing him to deploy troops to quell the riots knowing fully well he had already done so. Shuwa finally added that he had received an information that similar riots were due to be held in katsina, and in order to prevent a repetition of what took place in Kano he on his own accord had dispatched a company of armed soldiers to the town.

When the riots started in Katsina, the Emir had offered protection to all the Biafrans who sought refuge in his palace. Most of them already were living happily inside the palace grounds as a precautionary measure. When information got to the governor of Katsina that Shuwa had deployed a troop to katsina to stop the riot, the governor was of the opinion that Shuwa’s action by sending troops to katsina was unnecessary, due to the fact that his father, the Emir had already taken appropriate action. Soon afterward Shuwa was ordered to withdraw all the troops sent to katsina back to kano within 24hours.

When this instruction was carried out the stage was set for another bloodbath. It was gathered that the expatriates’ staffs at Ahmadu Bello University were leading the rioters in Zaria. These gentlemen were even using their personal cars to move the rioters quickly from one part of the town to another. Their cars also had anti-Ironsi slogans pasted on them. As was the case in Kano many houses were burnt, while free-for-all looting was carried out. Many people were killed and some badly injured. The Army just like in the other places had stood by and watched as the pogrom went on. 

The rioters also stormed the Emir's palace where many Biafrans were seeking refuge and launched an attack on them. Many were massacred in the process despite all the efforts made by the Emir to stop them proved abortive. Thereafter the rioters moved from the palace into the town to hunt down those who had not sought refuge with the Emir. These tragedies would not have occurred had the troops earlier sent to katsina town by Shuwa not withdrawn. 

The Sokoto operation was swift. There in Sokoto while other towns were deeply involved in the riot, the Biafrans had gone to their church to pray to their God for the return of peace in the land. As they were all gathered to pray, the church was cordoned off, and having poured petrol over the church building, it was set ablaze and the multitude died while praying for peace. 

After seven terrifying days, the rioting had subsided in most major cities of the North apart from a few remote villages. Strange enough, the people of northern Nigeria could not agree on a common reason why the riot broke out. There were those who said they fought against Ironsi's federal government decree no 34(unification decree) which endangered the position of northern Nigerians as free citizens of Nigeria. Others said they rioted simply to avenge the death of their leaders in January coup. But a great majority simply wanted secession. According to them, they had no intention of being part of a federal Nigeria not ruled by Northerners. This explained why most of the placards carried by the rioters in all the towns bore the word "ARABA," the Hausa word for secession. 

My investigation showed that Shuwa’s efforts to control the riots made him unpopular with the local leaders and politicians. This is because they had between February and May 1966 sent many delegations to him, urging him to organize a counter-coup in retaliation for the January coup which he had refused. 

With the above killings of Biafrans from May 1966 till date, it shows that the Biafran people have nothing in common with the Northerners. In Nigeria today, the blood of Biafrans are being spilled every day either for political gain or religious reasons and we are hereby saying enough is enough! We need our absolute freedom to be free from this evil being performed upon us.


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