Chapter 13

Extent of Loss of Property and the Value of such Property

Dealing with our fourth term of reference namely to “ascertain the extent of loss of property and assess the value” we wish to state that for this purpose it would be practically impossible to take oral evidence from every person of Eastern Nigeria origin who was forced to flee Northern Nigeria in particular and other parts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in general during the mass disturbances and eventual massacre of persons of Eastern Nigeria origin in 1966. We have therefore devised a method of taking evidence of a cross section of those who were affected by those disturbances of May, 1966 and after, by means of a form which is designated Atrocities Form 4, referred to in brief as ATR. 4. These forms were circulated to the fifty Divisional Offices of the former Eastern Nigeria. The forms were designed to enable witnesses to state facts on oath before a Commissioner for Oaths to ensure that the witnesses were speaking the truth, it is by this system as well as by the reception of oral evidence on oath that we were able to arrive at our conclusions. It must be emphatically stated here that this system is only designed to ascertain losses of property sustained by a cross section only of the victims of those disturbances from which we may be able to make reasonable inferences later.

We had earlier referred to the impossibility of taking evidence from all refugees. We must assume however that the refugees in their frantic rush to escape death from places where they had lived for many years (in most cases for the greater part of their lives), and to all intents and purposes; they had treated as their homes must certainly have sustained some loss of their personal effects however small in actual economic value such property might be. And an accurate assessment of the value of such property would involve the taking of evidence from two million odd refugees who have since returned to Eastern Nigeria, an almost impossible task for a tribunal of this nature. Furthermore Eastern Nigerian householders found themselves in circumstances in. the Northern Nigeria massacres particularly of May, July and September, 1968 which made it impossible for them to dispose of their landed property.

One can easily imagine the case of a trader whose stock in trade are usually kept in a lock-up shop in the market. Then a mob of the type of sanguinary antagonists who have so often been described to us in evidence invades his home, as is usual, at night. The trader to save his life runs out of his back door into the nearby bush. We cannot see any possibility of such a trader ever returning to collect his personal effects much less his stock in trade from the market. His personal effects together with his stock in trade would be looted, destroyed or burnt by the mob. See the Kano market incident as described by Anueyiagu, the 10th witness and Mbanaso the 126th witness. He eventually returns home to Eastern Nigeria virtually naked and penniless.

There are also those who were killed in the pogrom and who were known in many cases to be quite substantial people. Many families were completely exterminated and a good number of individuals who had fled for safety into the bushes were killed in their hiding places unknown to others. These are not before the tribunal to give evidence, and there is no doubt that they constitute a substantial number bearing in mind the total number of people who lost their lives in the pogrom.

We therefore decided to take the evidence of a representative number of refugees: We had at our disposal the letters written to the Military Governor’s office and those to the Rehabilitation Commission by refugees before we were appointed. We also received several letters as a result of our appeal to the public. Out of these total of over 25,000 letters we selected a representative few based on the geographical location to ensure that as wide an area of the North as possible was covered, and invited these few to give evidence.

In order to ensure that the information supplied by those who we could not call to give evidence was authentic, we accepted only the evidence submitted on the form (ATR.4), see Appendix D - copy at end of this chapter.

Finally an approach was made to one of the Refugee Associations through its President Mr. F. B. E. Mbanaso for a compilation of the property holdings of its members in Northern Nigeria with a request that all claims be cross-checked among their membership to prevent inflated claims. The returns regarding loss of property which were submitted either through the medium of ATR.4 (3,965 returns) or through the Refugee Association (3,295) were carefully cross-checked and it was ascertained that no more than 5,000 householders responded to our call. We were not surprised at the overall returns. Firstly because we were anxious to commence taking evidence and allowed only one month for the forms to be completed, sworn and returned, we could not in any case have handled more than a few thousand forms. Secondly we were prepared to face the disinclination of refugees to fill forms.

They had filled forms at their Divisional Offices and at the offices of the Rehabilitation Commission in Enugu. This filling of forms in no way alleviated their suffering or provided any remedy for their wrongs, so that one may well appreciate their unwillingness to fill other forms which promised no relief for their misfortune. There is still another category in the Divisional areas who had moved into open towns to seek their livelihood. To the pushful Easterner there is no stagnation in life; and the fact that they had, in their flight, lost all their possessions should not imply that they should return to their villages and wait for manna to fall from Heaven before they can feed their families and pay school fees for their children. Their misfortune is the result of their mistaken belief that when in 1914 Lord Lugard brought about the amalgamation of what was then Northern Nigeria and the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria he thereby brought about a fusion of the people into one amalgam which they regarded as one Nigeria. From their mistake they have learnt a bitter lesson.

There is one aspect of property about which much emphasis was not laid in evidence before us; that is to say, the produce trade in Northern Nigeria. It is a notorious fact (see the evidence of Emejulu witness No. 93) that in the produce trade in Nigeria as a whole, traders, even the foreign companies have to give the farmers huge advances of money before the produce is ready for harvesting. No one can guess the value of such advances which are now lost to those Eastern Nigeria traders who had made them.

A remarkable feature is that the really wealthy among Eastern Nigerians who had property in Northern Nigeria in particular have not come forward to testify as to their losses. We assume that they have resigned themselves to their fate.

As mentioned earlier we deliberately decided to confine ourselves to a representative number of refugees in respect of property losses. Of the 5,000, many of whom are householders covered by the exercise, the total of losses was £9,023,518 or an average of £1,804 per householder. See the summaries at the end of this chapter.

The summaries show that a total of 2,607 houses and buildings valued at £4,158 652 have been lost by the 5,000 witnesses whose cases we dealt with. This works out to an average of £1,593 per building. A total of 586 vehicles valued at £435,851 have been lost. This number includes motor cars, motor lorries, motorcycles and even bicycles some of which were stolen from Railway wagons in transit to Eastern Nigeria while some were damaged and/or otherwise destroyed. (See the evidence of witness Nos. 9 and 10 and part of the evidence of the 9th witness Walter Chuka Alofoje, a student of Architecture at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, on route to Enugu by train reads as follows:

They gave three conditions which must be fulfilled before we would be allowed to leave. The first was that no less than £120 must be given to them in cash. To this end I contributed £5; the second was that all the motor bikes and motor scooters in the last two wagons must be off-loaded and third was that the soldiers be allowed to go into the train and take whatever they liked. The three conditions were fulfilled before we left Oturkpo station at 2 a.m or 2nd October, 1996.

The total losses include actual cash robbed from the servants, relations and business partners of traders who were caught by Northern Nigeria soldiers in most parts of Northern Nigeria. Under this heading the witnesses lost a total of £741,784. Most of the refugees were traders who made substantial investments outside Eastern Nigeria. Their stock in trade on the evidence before us amounts to the sum of £2,046,522. The personal effects of the witnesses, at least that part of it which the witnesses could remember, amount to £1,644,709.

We have decided not to interpolate the figure to cover all refugees. However the evidence of Mr. Mbanaso (126th witness) bears testimony that the losses sustained by Eastern Nigerians in Kano alone was astronomical. Part of his evidence reads as follows:

I have been able with the assistance of other colleagues from Kano to make fairly accurate estimates of losses sustained by Easterners in Kano.

(i)     Houses: There are about 2,315 houses in Sabon Gari (see annex 1). At least 2,000 are owned by Easterners. These houses range in price between £2,500 and £5,000. On the basis of an average of £4,000 each, houses owned by Easterners would be 2,000 x 4,000 = £8 million.

(ii)   Personal effects: There were about 100,000 Southerners in Kano on the basis of the last census of which 80,000 should be Easterners. On the principle of 1 householder in 10 persons there should be 8,000 householders. If an average value of £400 personal affects is used per householder, the total value would be £400x8,000 = £3.2 million (most of those who fled left the bulk of their property behind).

(iii)  Chemist Shops: There was 7 large chemist shops owned by Easterners with an average of £10,000 stock and equipment. Total values £70,000.00.

(iv)  Hotels: Attached as Annex II is the list of the hotels owned by Easterners in Kano and the value of buildings equipment and stock is £180,000.

(v)    Off License: There are at least 100 off licence shops with average stock of £500. Total £50,000.

(vi)  Provision shops: There are over 150 provision shops with stock of £500 average. Total £75,000.

(vii)                    There were over 10,000 Eastern traders holding stalls in Sabon Gari Market (I say this because the traders Association had a membership of 6,000 persons and this was only about half of the traders in Kano). The average stock holding of each would be about £3,000. Total £3,000 x 10,000 = £30,000,000. In addition there were traders in perishables and foodstuffs not holding stalls the value of whose stock cannot be assessed.

All the traders had debtors among the Hausas particu­larly those dealing with produce etc. most of these debts cannot be recovered.

Summary of Losses in Kano

(a) Houses                                           ,,          ,,                      8,000,000
(b) Personal effects                             ,,          ,,                      3,200,000
(c) Chemist shops                               ,,          ,,                      70,000
(d) Hotels                                            ,,          ,,                      180,000
(e) Off Licence                                     ,,          ,,                      50,000
(f) Provision shop                               ,,          ,,                      75,000
(g) Stall Holders                                  ,,          ,,                      30,000,000

Total                                                   ,,          ,,                      £41,575,000

In conclusion, Eastern Nigerians lost property of astronomical value in Northern Nigeria. Admittedly the highest concentrations of Easterners were to be found in Kano. Substantial concentrations existed in Jos, Zaria, Kaduna, Gusau etc. in fact all the main towns in Northern Nigeria had a fair share of Easterners and these lived in better houses than their Northern neighbours. The value of the property cannot be ascertained by this tribunal with the material and time at our disposal. We advise that a separate commission be appointed with the sole assignment of investigating and ascertaining the value of property lost in Northern Nigeria and other parts of the Federation.       

Summary of Losses of 5,000 Respondents

Number of Houses                                                     2,607
Value of Houses                                                         £4,154,652
Number of Vehicles                                                    586
Value of Vehicles                                                        £435,851
Value of cash                                                              £741,784
Value of Stock-in-Trade                                              £2,046,522
Value of Personal Effects                                            £1,644,709

Total Value of Losses                                                  £9,023,518

*Based on return from 5,000 refugees

Breakdown of Losses of 5,000 Respondents

Number of Houses
Value of Houses
Number of Vehicles
Value of Vehicles
Value of Cash
Value of Stock-in-Trade
Value of personal effects
Total Values of Loses

Number of Houses
Value of Houses
Number of Vehicles
Value of Vehicles
Value of Cash
Value of Stock-in-Trade
Value of personal effects
Total Values of Loses

Number of Houses
Value of Houses
Number of Vehicles
Value of Vehicles
Value of Cash
Value of Stock-in-Trade
Value of personal effects
Total Values of Loses

Number of Houses
Value of Houses
Number of Vehicles
Value of Vehicles
Value of Cash
Value of Stock-in-Trade
Value of personal effects
Total Values of Loses

Commission of Inquiry (Atrocities) 1966
Questionnaire (Refugee Form)

1.         Name in full__________________________________________________________          
2.         Date of birth age______________________________________________________     
3. (a)    Native place____________________            (b) Division______________________________

(c)   Province______________________________________________________________           

4. (a)  Married/single/widowed_________________________________________________           
            If widowed, indicate below whether (i) before disturbance
                                                                        (ii) as result of disturbance

(b)       No of wives (if married man)______________________________________________
NAMES:             (i)_________________________________________________Yes/No

(c) Children:

If dead indicate whether as result of disturbances
(ii) ____________________________________________
(iii) ___________________________________________
(iv) ___________________________________________
(v) ____________________________________________
(vi) ___________________________________________
(vii) ___________________________________________
(viii) __________________________________________
(ix) ___________________________________________
(x) ____________________________________________


5.         Home address in Eastern Nigeria:__________________________________________

(a)        Street No. or P. O. Box___________________________________________________           
(b)       Town_______________________________ (c) Division________________________

(d)   Province______________________________________________________________           

6.         Present address in Eastern Nigeria if different from home address:

(a)        Street No. or P. O. Box___________________________________________________           
(b)       Town______________________________(c) Division__________________________

(d)   Province______________________________________________________________           
7.         Last place of residence outside Eastern Nigeria:

(a)        (a) Street No. or P. O. Box_________________________________________________
(b)       Town________________________________(c) Division_______________________

(d)       Province_______________________(e)  Religion_____________________________

8.         Did you suffer any personal injuries as a result of the disturbances before leaving your station for Eastern Nigeria. If so state:

(i)         Date and time of day__________________________________________________ 
(ii)        Where (e.g. your house or office or street)__________________________________    
(iii)       Details of injuries (including nature e.g. gun shot wound, matchet cut etc)_______      ____________________________________________________________________      ____________________________________________________________________      ____________________________________________________________________      ____________________________________________________________________           
(iv)       Describe your assailants (e.g. armed mob or person in uniform and type of uniform)

(v)    _____________________________________________________________________                       
(vi)       Were you treated, if so where_____________________________________________

(vii)  Who treated you__________________________________________________________

9.         Give details of any other person or persons attacked to your knowledge before you left your station for Eastern Nigeria.
Names (in full)
Place of attack
Was he killed if not, nature of injuries
Describe assailants
Home town of victim










10        (a) On what date or month did you leave your station for Eastern Nigeria___________

            (b) By what route did you travel____________________________________________
            (c) How many days did your journey take____________________________________

            (d)  Any experience of personal attack or molestation during your journey__________

            (e)  If so, then state
                        (i)         Date:
                        (ii)        Place:
                        (iii)       Nature and details of injuries or molestation:
(iv)       Describe assailants: (e.g. mob or person in uniform and if so, what type of uniform)________________________________________________

                        (v)        Did you receive any medical treatment, where and by whom_________

(f) Give details of any other person or persons attacked to your knowledge during your     
    journey to the East:

Names (in full)
Place of attack
Was he killed if not, nature of injuries
Describe assailants
Home town of victim










11.       What property did you leave behind:
            (This section may be filled by a widow or survivor in respect of dead persons)


Bungalow, one or two or two stories
Cement or mud blocks
Type of roof
No. of rooms
Year built
Location Town Street and No.
Legal title (freehold or lease – hold and number of years of leasehold


(a)        Vehicles
Make and Type
Registration Number
Date Purchased
Value when Purchased
Current Value

(a)        Others:
            (i) Cash: £        :           S:         d          How lost________________________________
            (ii) Stock in Trade (see last page)___________________________________________
            (iii) Personal effects (see last page)_________________________________________

12.       Destruction of Property or Looting

(a)        Was any of your property destroyed or looted to your knowledge, if so give details (for fuller details use late page)
                        Landed property:
                        Stock in trade:
                        Personal effects:

13.       Are there other details known to you but not covered above which will help the Tribunal in its task, e.g. preparations of planning for attack, persons taking part in the attack, locating of graves where the victims were buried, types of graves, steps taken if any by the authorities including Native Authority policemen during the disturbances in the areas affected to afford protection to the victims, etc..

Insert any other pertinent details below (see 11B (b)(ii) and (iii), 12)

I_______________________________________ certify that the answers to the above questionnaire are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.


The foregoing questions and answers have been duly read and interpreted to______________ into ______________________________________ language and he seems perfectly to have understood same before affixing his right thumb impression.


SWORN at ________________________ this _______________ day of _____________ 1967.

Commissioner for Oaths
(Swearing Fee)

GPE 143/167/50,000

Chapter 14


This report will not be completed without a record of certain mitigating aspects of the pogrom and without our restressing the continuing nature of the animosity of the Northerners towards all Easterners.

In respect of the former we have already indicated that some of the non-Hausa/Fulani rulers in the North, e.g the very old and blind Shehu of Bornu and the Rwang Pam of Jos were against the pogrom. There were able to keep out the Hausa Fulani from involving their areas of authority at least in May and July. Even in the September- October disturbance the district head of Nguru still stood out against the pogrom and staked his life on it. This was because of the basic historical fact that these areas were not controlled by the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. Eventually the objective of these were overwhelmed by the Northern Regional Government.

By deploying the forces of coercion of the state and by organising thuggery, the authorities in the North were able by September to spread the pogrom to every district in Northern Nigeria, from New Busa to Yola and from Zakibiam to Nguru.

There were a few Northerners and some foreign nationals who, in the wave of depravity which swept through the North, were able to give protection and help to Easterners. They should remain anonymous in this report in the interest of their own safety but some are mentioned in the body of the proceedings. They were a haven to people exposed to medieval barbarism.

Credit goes to some missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church and the S. I M. and particularly to members of the Red Cross who even at the risk of their lives assisted harassed Easterners with shelter, food and clothing. Some, principally nuns, went to the extent of writing to Easterners in their home long after they had fled their stations in the North. These missionaries narrated their harrowing experience in their letters to Easterners. One such letter was quoted in full in chapter 11, under Personal Injuries. In a second letter to the same refugee, extracts of what appear below, she asked a very pertinent question;


My Dear Williams,

This brings my best wishes for Xmas and New year. May the Infant King fill your souls with His peace and love now and always. I will include you and all my Ibo friends in all the prayers especially Holy Mass and Divine office.

Thanks for your letter dated Nov. 16th and received on December 5th. I am so glad that my letter helped you at a time when sorrow and real grief were the lot of you and all the Ibo people, It still seems incredible that this should have happened, but we know it is all too true. There is still one bewildering aspect to the sad happenings, can you truthfully explain why the Ibos did not retaliate during the actual attack? I realize that in cases where one poor unarmed man was surrounded by a mob, he could not defend himself. No one could, but in Jos there were 2,300 Ibos on September 29th. They were attacked at 11 p.m. It is true, but they did not fight but fled making it easier for their enemies to kill them. Some even rushed up on the high rocks which surrounded Jos, but did not as much as hurl a stone at the mob who simply sent up one or two who brought the Ibos down and killed them. There must be an explanation William. No moral law can forbid a person to defend himself even if he has to kill his attackers in self- defence. Why didn’t the Ibos defend themselves? It is different in the East itself, when your wonderful Governor refrained from killing Northern people who were actually living there which he could have done and confiscated their property, but didn’t. This was surely an act of Christianity as magnificent and noble as Christianity itself, and truly worth of a great man. Whatever the answer to the first question I feel sure that all that fury and hare, will bring down a tremendous blessing on Ibo-land in particular and on Nigeria and the world in general.

(Sgd.) ? ? ?

Why did the Easterners not defend themselves? This was a question which occurred to us throughout the enquiry. Various answers emerged during the hearings.

Firstly the attack was planned and organised by the authorities - the Government, natural rulers, civil servants, native administrators etc. Police officers of Northern Nigeria origin and soldiers were all either privy to it or actively participated. Secondly all tribal organisations had been previously banned and as a result Easterners were not organised enough to plan their self defence. Thirdly, after the early attempts to liquidate Easterners in the May riots the authorities organised a systematic programme of disarming Easterners. They lost not only guns and catridges but also matchetes and all offensive weapons. Fourthly most of the attacks was done at nights by hordes of Northerners chanting blood curdling war cries. Finally these people were in most cases several hundreds of miles away from home and hoped to escape with their lives if they offered no resistance.

We do not of course ignore the fact that most were unnerved by the intensity of the onslaught or resigned to their fate.

Whatever may be the reasons we are left with the fact that only few cases of self-defence came to our notice. One of such cases was in Gombe where a youngman Paul Emejulu 93rd witness saved many Easterners by his courage.

In covering all Eastern Nigeria we have been able to take evidence both in Enugu and some provincial headquarters and it was abundantly clear that the slaughter in the North was indiscriminate in so far as the ethnic groups in Eastern Nigeria were concerned. Both from the witnesses whose names show their ethnic origin and from forms submitted to us, we found that those affected in the North were in proportion to their numbers resident in the North. Those Easterners who escaped in the guise of other ethnic groups masqueraded principally as non-Easterners viz Hausa, Yoruba or Ghanaian.

It is also dear to us that the animosity and hatred of the Northerners is a continuing one. The Easterner being apparently the most progressive identifiable group in the North were an easy choice for harassment and extermination whatever else may have been the cause of any particular uprising. It is dear to us that once the Northerners had set on the path of destroying the Easterners they pursued their objective with a devilish singleness of purpose. As quoted in other chapters, the report on the 1953 Kano riots warned that

the seeds of the trouble which broke out in Kano on May 16 (1953) have their counterparts still in the ground. It could happen again and only a realisation and acceptance of the underlying causes can remove the danger of recurrence.

We have seen that the seed lies buried in the cultural, social, religious and political differences between the ‘true’ Northerner (Hausa/Fulani) and the Easterner, the envy engendered in the minds of the Northerner for the lead in the modern way of life gained by the Easterner and the intellectual laziness preventing the Northerners from competing against odds. Whilst we have not been asked to make recommendations we feel bound to draw one conclusion. The question posed by the report on the Kano riot of 1953 was not answered and the pogrom of 1966 was the consequence. There were only two possible answers. From the Northerners' point of view, extermination of the Easterners and from the Easterners' point of view, withdrawal from the North, and by so doing withdrawing the point of friction.

The lesson learnt by Easterners from half a century of association with Northern Nigerians is that cultural admixture is only possible where there is a basic common denominator e.g. religion, social system, outlook on life etc. There was no point of contact whatever between the Northern Nigerian and the Eastern Nigerian. The separateness was perpetuated by the Colonial Administration for fifty years. We are compelled to conclude that it will take some time to repair the damage done by this tragic episode and for any cordial association to develop between the peoples of Northern Nigeria and Eastern Nigeria.

Dated this 1st Day of March, 1968.

G. G. ONYIUKE                                                                        CHAIRMAN

DR. M. A. B. OGAKWU                                                            MEMBER

E. EYO ITA                                                                               MEMBER

P. C. CHIGBO                                                                           SECRETARY

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