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Besieged by the Police By Okey Ndibe.


Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe

President Goodluck Jonathan is notorious for moving at slower than the speed of a snail when called upon to address issues that rather demand alacrity. Yet, Nigerians are besieged by a terrible plague that Mr. Jonathan can—and should—address immediately. It’s the plague of the “privatized,” lawless police.

Last week, a friend telephoned me from Lagos. Alarmed by his dispirited tone, I feared that something grave had happened. He acknowledged that he was downcast. “It’s about the way that the police are now used,” he explained. “Anybody with some money or political contact can buy himself a few police officers. They then use these officers to harass people everywhere, including in traffic.”

He described how commuters in Lagos trapped in the city’s hellish gridlock are constantly beset by the blare of police sirens. “These sirens go off so frequently, and you are expected to make way for the police-led convoy. Mobile police men hang out of the doors of the blaring vehicles, brandishing guns and koboko (horsewhips). If you don’t get out of their way fast enough, they can smash your car’s windshield or beat you up. Here’s the most annoying thing: more than 90 percent of the time, they’re not escorting any government official. They’re clearing the traffic for some private individual with money or connections.”

I was quite familiar with that nightmare scene. During my last visit to Nigeria, I spent time in Lagos, Calabar, Awka, and Enugu—and I saw that ugly scene play out numerous times in each city. I came away with the impression that police officers, whose orientation ought to be the combating of crime, had been deployed to serve as mai-guard (private security guards) for the country’s well-heeled—including those who had accumulated their huge nests in illicit ways.

Indeed, one saw two classes of police officers in Nigeria. One class—those on private deployment whose job is to harass the rest of us on behalf of their wealthy “owners”—struck me as clean and well dressed, their boots shiny, a sheen to their skins. The other class—who stood in the sun worrying motorists for bribes of N20 or more per car—appeared scruffy, their uniforms dirty or torn, their boots dusty or spattered with mud when they did not wear flip flops.

This misapplication of police power compounds the atmosphere of lawlessness in a country where might frequently usurps the place of what’s right. Each police officer in Nigeria is paid from the collective resources of all Nigerians. It is bad enough that the Nigerian police are scandal-prone, that they hardly know the first thing about solving serious crimes, that their training equips them to view Nigerians, not with any sense of civil regard, but as legitimate sport for all manner of violent impulses. To now “privatize” police officers, especially the dreaded ones called mopol (for mobile police), to lend these police officers to do the bidding of private citizens who happen to have mortgaged their senses for a haul of cash—to do this is to worsen Nigeria’s state of anarchy.

Mr. Jonathan ought to order the police to immediately stop the practice of deploying police officers on private duties. There’s a precedent for such a directive. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was no great custodian of law and order, saw fit to instruct the police to pull officers who were seconded to non-government officials. President Jonathan should tread the same path.

Like the country’s National Electric Power Authority (NEPA)—re-baptized the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)—the Nigerian police have an awful image. Billed as an electric power company, NEPA spent years earning a reputation for plunging Nigerians into darkness. Years before the government officially changed NEPA’s name, Nigerians had creatively refashioned the acronym, making linguistic games out of it. When in a generous mood, they rendered it as “Never Expect Power Always.” In moments of forlorn exasperation, they called NEPA “Never Expect Power At all.”

Nigerians’ most benign epithet for the police remains “Wetin you carry?” It grew out of the lazy question that police officers pose to hapless motorists they stop at ubiquitous police road blocks all over the country. These road blocks are ostensible crime-fighting devices, but any Nigerian kindergartner knows that they are, in reality, bribe-collection points.

In fact, Nigerians know that their police are allergic to fighting crime. Quite often, the police seem enamored of criminals. There are accounts of criminals who menaced their innocent victims with guns supplied by the police. Many Nigerians would say that, frequently, they can’t tell the police apart from criminals: both are so deeply, so inextricably embedded.

Nigerians know or tell some version of a joke that’s the product of despairing experiences. The kernel of the joke goes like this. A horde of armed robbers descends on a neighborhood, shooting sporadically into the air whilst going from apartment to apartment to haul away cash and valuables. A distressed victim makes a frantic telephone call to a nearby police station, breathlessly describes the harrowing event, and asks that police officers be sent to combat the robbers.

“Is that right?” says the police officer at the other end, his tone calm and manner unhurried. The officer sucks his teeth, as if he’d just worked through a heavy meal of spicy goat meat escorted by two large bottles of Guinness. “We fit come now now, only say vehicle no dey. If you can fit to bring car, we go follow you there quick quick!”

In some countries, the point is made that the police are the citizens’ best friends. Suggest that to Nigerians, and you’d provoke guffaws. The Nigerian police are nobody’s friends. Some Nigerians would say their police are friends only of criminals. The Nigerian police offer little or no help to law abiding citizens. Some Nigerians would contend that ruthless criminals receive plenty of help from the police.

There’s—to cite one example—the case of Lotachukwu (Lota) Ezeudu, a 19-year-old accountancy student at the University of Nigeria who has never been seen since he was kidnapped on September 26, 2009. The main suspects in his abduction include Sam Chukwu, a divisional police officer (DPO), and Desmond Chinwuba, a sacked police officer who was standing trial in an earlier armed robbery. Both men have been on the run for several years. Some believe that Mr. Chukwu was the mastermind, that he ran a criminal ring whose nefarious menu included assassinations, armed robbery, and kidnapping. Among those in custody are Ernest Okeke, fired alongside Mr. Chinwuba, and Nnaemeka Chukwu, the DPO’s son.

Rogue officers like the fugitive Sam Chukwu further taint the already unflattering image of Nigeria’s police. They are one reason some took to calling the country’s law enforcement agency the Nigerian Police Farce.

Nigeria’s police are trapped in a crisis that demands long-term remedies, addressing in a fundamental way how police officers are trained, equipped and paid. For now, however, President Jonathan has a duty to spare Nigerians from some of the excesses of the police. He should order that no police officer should be seen working “private” shifts for Nigeria’s deep pockets.


Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe



Only In Unity Do We Stand A Chance – Karo Orovboni.

By Karo Orovboni

As most Nigerians are religious or should I say portray to be religious, I will start by taking two quotes, one from the Bible, and the other from the Quran.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” – Matthew 12:25

“Do not be like the ones who became divided and disputed, despite clear proofs that were given to them. For these have incurred a terrible retribution” – Quran 3:105

Nigeria has become an extremely polarised nation, to the extent that the white on the national flag, which signifies unity, is crying for a colour change. Almost every national discussion you hear will most certainly have a sectional undertone. Political officers are chosen based on what part of the country they are from or to satisfy some political interests and not necessarily for their leadership capabilities or the intellectual skill set they possess. It is now endemic in Nigeria that a person who steals from the public purse is not a thief if he or she is from the same ethnic region; they are termed “my brother” or “my sister”. This in itself is shocking!

Almost every Nigerian you speak to is dissatisfied with the state of the nation; people are angry and blame each other for the deterioration of the nation. The northerners will tell you it is the southerners, the southerners will tell you the northerners have ruled Nigeria for too long. Some have even conceived that the amalgamation of 1914 was a terrible mistake; that we would have been better of if there was no amalgamation. But before we start pointing accusing fingers and blaming the problems on the other ethnic region, I have some advice. Why not look inwards and ask your regional or ethnic leaders that are in political positions or have held political positions in the past some salient questions like:

What have you done with the allocations given to you from the treasury?

Can you point to the projects you have executed with utmost transparency and accountability?

Where are the policies you initiated that have benefitted the average Nigerian and alleviated the level of poverty?

Can you in all sincerity tell us that you have not soiled your hands in the public purse?

This list of questions is in no way exhaustive but you can begin to form an idea of the kind of questions you need to ask them.

The secession of Nigeria is far from the solution, in fact, it will indeed worsen the problems. If Nigeria splits into many parts, the prevalent problems of today will still remain. If we don’t learn how to live in unity as Nigeria, we will never be able to live in unity even if Nigeria splits into fifty parts. There are only two sets of people in Nigeria – the good and the evil, and they both exist in every geopolitical zone of the country. The ethnic and religious division is nothing but a deceitful seed sown by greedy politicians that has now grown into a mighty forest that has since been nurtured by the same group. The divide and conquer rule is not a myth, it works, and it will continue to as long as you allow yourselves to be divided along ethnic and religious lines. The more the ethnic division continue, the more the greedy politicians increase in political and financial power – the division suits their purpose.

I have said it previously that the problem of Nigeria is not the Northerners or Southerners, it isn’t the Christians or Muslims, but the major problem is corruption in high places. This is the common evil that we need to wade at all cost. A poor man from Calabar is of no better than a poor man from Sokoto. The same denominator, poverty, joins them.

I will like us to ask ourselves some questions. Of what benefit is it to you personally if the president is from your region but you have just lost a close family member because you could not afford to pay for sound health care, or when pregnant women in your region have a slim chance of surviving child birth due to bad health care service that is in its own coma? Of what use is it to you personally if the governor is from your village but yet the probability of it snowing in Nigeria is higher than you finding a job after graduation? What benefit is it to you if the local government chairman goes to your church or mosque but yet the road to your house is still impassable?

As the body is of many parts, so is Nigeria of many ethnicities, languages, and dialects. God that made the human body didn’t make a body of the same part but of different parts. There are many parts of the body but they all work together. The eye cannot say to the mouth that I do not have need of you, neither can the feet say to the hand let us depart in peace. The nose cannot perform the functions of the stomach, neither can the ear do the functions of the mouth, each member has its own important part to play in the body. The tender tongue in the midst of 32 soldiers (teeth) cannot do without each other, even though they fight at times (teeth bites the tongue), they still live together and cannot be separated.

Nigeria is a diverse country; we should draw strength from our diversity and not division. We should understand that we have different religions, ethnicities, and culture; we should learn to respect each other, live with our differences and treat everyone fairly. Every Nigerian should be able to live the way he wants in conformity with his culture, ethnic preference, and religion.

The future of Nigeria is indeed bright and it needs the brightest of brains from the north, south, east and west to joins hands to move this nation forward. We should see people for who they are or what they can contribute to the emergence of a better Nigeria and not for the geographical location they represent. If we follow the holy books we claim to believe in, we realise that we stand a better chance if we unite to advance this great nation.

Karo Orovboni

You can engage Karo on twitter @K_Orovboni


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters 

Aviation Minister Oduah: I won’t allow abandoned projects.


Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, has assured that the ongoing remodelling of airports will be completed in record time

without any abandoned project under her watch.

Oduah spoke after a two-day tour of eight airports at the weekend.

The minister inspected the remodelling of Yola, Sokoto, Ilorin, Abuja, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Enugu airports.

Oduah, who decried the abandoned project syndrome in Nigeria, said the present administration was committed to timely completion of projects it started in late 2011 under the Airport Remodelling Project Initiative.

She said: “When we came on board in 2011 and drew up our master plan and implementation road map, which had as its core components the Airport Remodelling Project, we were charged by Mr President to ensure that we complete every project we embark on.

“We assured Mr President that we would see every project to its logical conclusion and we are committed to that. We are fortunate to have his full support and the support of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“The result of that level of support is what you are seeing today. Not only have we completed, inaugurated and put to use a lot of the remodelled airports, work on the remaining ones is at 95 per cent completion. So, under my watch, no project we have begun will be abandoned.”

The minister said the Yola Airport was critical to the successful implementation of the transformation programme in the Aviation sector.

She said it was among the designated perishable cargo centres, adding that its cargo terminal would be completed in the second quarter of this year.

Source: Radio Biafra.

3 killed, 18 houses burnt in C’ River community over village head scuffle.

C River community

From JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
Three persons have been reportedly killed and 18 houses burnt over the struggle for the village headship of Ofodua-Adun community in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State.Besides, over 30 persons were said to have sustained injuries with their property destroyed just as farm lands and crops worth hundreds of thousands of naira were destroyed.Daily Sun checks revealed that the two communities of Iva Egbe and Iva Egba of Ofodua Adun had been locked in a succession battle in the last three decades leading to alleged incessant attacks on Iva Egbe by Iva Egba natives.While the Iva Egbe paternal royal family among the other four traditional families claimed to be vested with the exclusive right to produce the village head, the Iva Egba and three communities of Iva Enang, Iva Obeten and Iva Awonokwe , were insisting on rotation of the Ofodua traditional political organization.This development had pitched the warring communities against each other as well as sowing seed of discord and disharmony between the hitherto two communities.It was learnt that the battle over who would take over the traditional stool got to a climax penultimate month when the Iva Egba, Iva Enang, Iva Obeten and Iva Awonokwe communities allegedly invaded the farm lands of the Iva Egbe family members, destroyed their crops and attacked the people physically.

The invaders later moved from the farm land to the village and attacked Egbe family members killing three in the process and pulled down over 18 houses just as over 30 persons were wounded.In a petition addressed to the state police commissioner and made available to Daily Sun, Iva Egbe traditional leaders decried the incessant attacks on their families because they had refused to let go their traditional inheritance.In the petition dated December 6, 2013 and signed by Ovarr Ignatius Egba, Felix Abeng and Patrick Abeng Egbe, the community said the latest attack was an ethnic cleansing sort of and wanted government to intervene in the crisis.Speaking on the crisis, one of the youth leaders, Sunday Attan, said: “We have suffered in the last three years in the hands of our brothers from Iva Egba because of village head. Look at me now; I have lost everything I laboured for years to build. What are we struggling for and for how much?”When Daily Sun visited the state police command at Diamond Hill, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Hogan Bassey, was not around for comment, but an officer in his office, said: “It is true that Ofodua community in Obubra local government has reported to us and the command is still investigating.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Father, Uncle Of Cross River Deputy Governor Kidnapped:


The Nigerian police has confirmed the abduction of Etubom Essien Cobham, the father of the deputy governor of Cross River state,

Mr Efiok Cobham, by gunmen at his country home in Creek Town.

The Public Relations Officer of the Cross River State Police Command, Mr Hogan Bassey, confirmed the development while speaking with newsmen in Calabar. He said: “For security reasons, I cannot tell you what we are doing to rescue him.

“The Commissioner of Police, Mr Kola Sodipo, and senior officers of the command have gone to Creek Town to see the building and the damage done.”

Eye-witnesses said the gunmen abducted the old man at about 2 a.m. on Friday in his residence at Creek Town in the Odukpani Local Government Area of the state.

Sources said that the deputy governor’s uncle, whose name was not immediately ascertained, was also abducted by the gunmen.

According to the sources in Creek Town, there was so much shooting while the operation lasted.

On the number of persons abducted across the state, Bassey said: “For now we are talking of the father. In due course we will give you details.”

On the incident at the residence of the Director-General of the State Security Service (NAN), Mr Ita Ekpenyong, he said the kidnappers could not gain access to Ekpenyong’s place.

Some reports said the kidnapers had initially burst into the residence of the brother of the SSS Director-General, but only succeeded in vandalising the building as the brother, identified as Chief Asuquo Aka, was not at home

The attackers were said to have been repelled upon getting to the home of the SSS DG himself.

Sources disclosed that the heavily armed abductors, accompanied by an Alsatian dog, came in through the Calabar creeks with two speed boats.

The incident, according to eye-witnesses, lasted for hours and took the community by surprise as the kidnappers fired gun shots indiscriminately to scare away any form of resistance before executing their act.

The attackers who were said to have entered Creek Town via the Bakassi Peninsula, came in two flying boats: “They broke the wall of the deputy governor’s father’s house to gain access to the building”, said
one source.


Father, Uncle Of Cross River Deputy Governor Kidnapped.


Efiok Cobham, deputy governor of Cross River state
By PM News, Lagos

The Nigerian police has confirmed the abduction of Etubom Essien Cobham, the father of the deputy governor of Cross River state, Mr Efiok Cobham, by gunmen at his country home in Creek Town.

The Public Relations Officer of the Cross River State Police Command, Mr Hogan Bassey, confirmed the development while speaking with newsmen in Calabar.

He said: “For security reasons, I cannot tell you what we are doing to rescue him.

“The Commissioner of Police, Mr Kola Sodipo, and senior officers of the command have gone to Creek Town to see the building and the damage done.”

Eye-witnesses said the gunmen abducted the old man at about 2 a.m. on Friday in his residence at Creek Town in the Odukpani Local Government Area of the state.

Sources said that the deputy governor’s uncle, whose name was not immediately ascertained, was also abducted by the gunmen.

According to the sources in Creek Town, there was so much shooting while the operation lasted.

On the number of persons abducted across the state, Bassey said: “For now we are talking of the father. In due course we will give you details.”

On the incident at the residence of the Director-General of the State Security Service (NAN), Mr Ita Ekpenyong, he said the kidnappers could not gain access to Ekpenyong’s place.

Some reports said the kidnapers had initially burst into the residence of the brother of the SSS Director-General, but only succeeded in vandalising the building as the brother, identified as Chief Asuquo Aka, was not at home

The attackers were said to have been repelled upon getting to the home of the SSS DG himself.

Sources disclosed that the heavily armed abductors, accompanied by an Alsatian dog, came in through the Calabar creeks with two speed boats.

The incident, according to eye-witnesses, lasted for hours and took the community by surprise as the kidnappers fired gun shots indiscriminately to scare away any form of resistance before executing their act.

The attackers who were said to have entered Creek Town via the Bakassi Peninsula, came in two flying boats: “They broke the wall of the deputy governor’s father’s house to gain access to the building”, said
one source.


The Pincer strategy used to defeat Biafra.


The Pincer strategies

My suggested strategy was, first for the Sector HQ to move forward to Ohoba nearer the beleaguered 16 Bde immediately, then to start what I called Operations Pincer 1, 2 or 3, one of which will not only relieve 16 Bde of pressure but end the war at the same time. the war front, and he was completely frustrated like most of us. However, we had to realize that Uli Ihiala was the most important part of Biafra at that time.

So, I invited Akinrinade to my Uyo HQ to discuss the “Pincer Strategy” after which Akinrinade and I went to discuss with Ayo Ariyo in Calabar; but Ariyo was no more interested. He led us into Port Harcourt during the 30-day advance, he held Port Harcourt until Adekunle returned finally to the war front, and he was completely frustrated like most of us.

We were not sure of what was inside the house; maybe it was even bugged. So, we came outside to discuss and to study the map. However, Ayo Ariyo listened to the plans, the strategy and the tactics of Operations Pincer 1, 2 and 3, he made some corrections and adjustments to the plans, and reminded me that all these had been discussed before we left Calabar a year ago, since April 1968, and only needed some adjustments, as the situation had changed. He was right, and he also told us that he had trained another 200 recruits that could be made available; I also had about 250 and Akinrinade another 250 recruits who were trained locally. Our three sectors were solid and had not seen or experienced any Biafran counter-attack since they were routed in our sectors at Aba, Ikot Ekpene and Calabar. We intensified training in all respects; from drivers training to medical, first aid, weapons training, snipers training, artillery and mortar training.

We sent long range patrols, and had plotted all known Biafran troop positions, defences, their re-supply routes, including obstacles en-route Uli Ihiala which was the “Centre Of Gravity” of Biafra’s war effort at that time. Only Sector 1 had problems which were of their own making; it was just a blunder. Any new reinforcements sent to 1 Sector merely fizzled away into Ohoba/Owerri road, just to die or be wounded. The hospitals were filled up at Port Harcourt with Owerri front casualties. The situation needed a new plan and strategy, not conventional warfare, which was just frontal, brutal and got so many dead, especially in a situation where we could have defeated the Biafrans mentally before they were defeated physically.

Further to Obasanjo’s reorganization, Major S.S Tomoye who was my deputy in Sector 3, was moved to Akinrinade’s 17Bde in Aba. Prior to his redeployment, Tomoye was deputy and Brigade Major at 13 Bde in Uyo. He also knew about Ops Pincer 1, 2 and 3. As a matter of fact, he helped draw all the maps and organize the training related to the final battle for the capture of Biafra’s centre of gravity at Uli Ihiala. We were no longer in the riverine war theatre, so tactics needed to change as we expected heavy casualties, which necessitated more training for the Medical Evacuation Team on how to evacuate casualties under heavy fire. I was transferred to Enugu while Major George Innih was transferred to take over my 13 Bde in Uyo. The plan looked good even if he made it seem as though this latter change was designed to replace the “enemy” that commanded 13 Bde.

It was okay by me as long as the entire Brigade knew about ops Pincer 1,2 and 3, and the troops that fought so hard and well from Calabar to Port Harcourt did not just die like chicken in the hand of an inexperienced commander; but the casualties kept coming in an alarming rate.

However, Obasanjo’s aim in reorganizing the Division as he did was to ensure that as GSO1 Akinrinade would still be able to control his old 17 Bde under the new command of Major Tomoye as well as the 13 Bde. But there was a snag. Of all the Pincer options, the one Obasanjo had preference for was Operation Pincer 1 which was the bloodiest, and the one rejected by the Army HQ as well as 3MCDO under Adekunle. And to canvass support for his choice, he went to 1 Division himself to brief Col. Bisalla on Pincer 1. Bisalla was not in Enugu at the time, so he spoke with Lt. Col. Danjuma who received him warmly but could not take a decision on the issue. Obasanjo also got in touch with 2 Division on the same subject.

However, when Bisalla returned to base in Enugu and looked at the bloody implication of Operation Pincer 1 he rejected the plan. That was how God saved Nigeria and Biafra from what would have been a senseless massacre that would have forever blighted the conduct of the civil war, and the image of Nigeria. To give a picture of the enormity of the possible consequences of Op. Pincer 1, you just have to think of a people trapped and surrounded by 1 and 2 Divisions, of the Nigeria Army, and the 3MCDO; all of them advancing simultaneously with tank, artillery and air support bombardment. Could Nigeria have been able to justify the aftermath? But that was Obasanjo’s preference, which practically every body in the command structure of the entire Nigerian army rejected. Since he had to settle for Pincer 2, innocent refugees, women and children, including the aged and disabled trapped in what was left of Biafra were thus saved from the horror of the devastation that would have been their fate if Obasanjo had had his way.

My modest estimate is that if Operation Pincer 1 had been executed there would have been a total of only slightly over a million Ibos left in Nigeria today. And there would have been no way we could absolve ourselves from heavy responsibility of what could truly have been genocide. In the final analysis, Obasanjo and Bisalla met at a meeting in Lagos where Bisalla had to explain why he could not accept to go along with Operation Pincer 1. In restrospect, he showed same brutal force in Odi, Bayelsa State in November 20, 1999 when he was civilian president.

Gen Hassan Usman Katsina, who became the Chief of Staff (Army) in May 1968, was briefed on Operations Pincer 1, 2 and 3 during his visit to 3MCDO in July 1968 after the capture of Port Harcourt. That was when 3MCDO started going astray with Adekunle’s operation OAU. In particular, after the fall of Owerri and Aba, the disastrous effort to take Umuahia in early October 1968 (secretly approved by Gowon and SHQ) rather than focus on Uli as approved by AHQ, brought things to a head. According to his memoirs, in mid-October 1968 the GSO1 at the AHQ, Col. Oluleye visited 3MCDO HQ in Port Harcourt and subsequently raised the possibility of creating a 4MCDO from the 3MCDO as an option to sending Adekunle on leave or replacing him altogether. But Gowon was not convinced yet. I was told about Oluleye’s visit; I did not know about it.

Col. Obasanjo was finally convinced that OP Pincer 2 was the way to go at last. It was not the only way to do it, as there were other methods of achieving the same result, but definitely not the initial way we had gone about it.

When I saw his confused look which suggested doubt, disbelief, and a lack of comprehension, I explained again, using the same map. All the 3MCDO problems were in Sector 1. Let us stop the blame game and get on with it. I further explained, by going into details as follows using the same map :-

*The remaining 16 Bde should be beefed up to strength, to defend their present position to disallow further Biafran advance across their defence line.

*19 Bde commanded by Maj Aliyu, should also be beefed up to strength to take up defensive positions where they were.

*15 Bde that was still at Omoku, should also be brought up to strength, and, with an extra Battalion, should advance to Uli Ihiala, passing through Ebocha,Mbebe, to Izombe, Mgbidi, with Oguta to the left. The extra Battalion would be left to defend Izombe, to avoid troops at Oguta from interfering with the advance of the main body of 15 Bde advancing to Mgbidi. They would bypass Owerri to the right, as we did not need Owerri. Otamiri River would be on the Battalion’s left flank.

*Then, 12, 14, and 17 Bdes under the command of Akinrinade, should advance from their present Sector HQ at Aba, to Inyiogugu, with Owerri to the left, aiming for Orlu. I also explained that 3MCDO never fought in the towns. We always bypassed them, surprising Biafran troops that expected us to fight inside the towns and villages, on the streets, including perhaps house-to-house fighting, which we avoided by all means. Based on the projections, I predicted that Akinrinade would take Uli-Ihiala in exactly seven days of crossing the start line at “H” hour.(5). We were lucky, I continued, that 1 Division had captured Okigwe in Oct. 1968, followed by Umuahia in April 1969, (which was two months before this briefing). Col. Obasanjo himself arrived in May 1969 three weeks after Umuahia was captured. 13 Bde, which was in my sector was already the largest of all the Brigades, and was well beefed up, ready to go. 13 Bde, therefore, would link up with 1 Division at Umuahia, and thence, advance along both sides of the river to RV right of Akinrinade at Urualla to take Nnewi (Ojukwu’s home town), behind Uli-Ihiala.

*18 Bde, another brigade in Sector 3, would hold its position at Itu and be prepared to enter Arochukwu, should the Biafran troops in Arochukwu move against Pincer troops of 13 Bde. A battalion each was still standing by at Obubra, Ugep, and at Ikot Okpora, under the command of Lt Col Ignatius Obeya, who was the Commander of 18 Bde, should the Biafrans move against Calabar instead.

*The worst scenario was if Biafran troops in Arochukwu moved towards Calabar, which was our own Centre of Gravity. In that case, the battalion at Ikot Okpora would engage them before they cross the river at Ikot Okpora. The role of 18 Bde would not change, they would enter Arochukwu behind the Biafrans. Either way, a dilemma would be created for Biafran troops at Arochukwu if they ever moved. Their best bet was to do nothing. Col. Obasanjo then took a good look at the map and the plan again, while Col. (Fr.) Pedro Martins laughed, and said that he was impressed. When in 2009, Mr. Kayode Williams and I went to see Fr. Martins at his Victoria Island residence in Lagos for his 90th birthday belated greetings, he remembered everything in detail as related to the Operation Pincer 2 briefing in Port Harcourt. It was incredible.

But Col Obasanjo preferred Op Pincer 1, despite all advice against it.

He then went about contacting the other two Divisions. Fortunately, the Pincer 1 idea was turned down by both Col. Bisalla of 1 Division and Col. Jalo of 2 Division. Col Bisalla’s point was very valid; he said there would be too much blood and that the aim of the war was not to exterminate the Ibo people or permanently change their culture by us occupying Iboland. I was impressed. I took the picture of their meeting. It was then that he had a rethink on Op Pincer 2. It was at this time that Col Obasanjo suddenly transferred me to I Division at Enugu.

The final battle (Final execution of Op Pincer 2)

I will explain here how Op Pincer 2 was finally executed when the officers were tired of line straightening operations which yielded no positive results except more casualties. Since all the units were already in position, and battle ready, the final battle started. As early as 0600 hours on 22 December 1969, 17 Bde under Maj SS Tomoye fired the first shot. He advanced to the right flank in order to be able to link up with 1 Division troops already at Umuahia since April 1969. This was what was expected of 13 Bde, but he did not move because he was not part of the line straightening operation; but since Akinrinade had decided to advance without 13 Bde, he did not bother.

The gap between Owerri and Umuahia was important because the Biafran troops that were dislodged by 1 Division at Umuahia had not settled down to defend their new locations. The Biafran troops also did not expect the move between the gaps. They were expecting that the old conventional, mundane tactics of hitting one’s head in a frontal attack as in Ohoba and thence to Owerri was what would happen. They, therefore, tied down most of their troops defending Owerri, for a show down with 3MCDO. So, they dug-in at Owerri, and in depth. It was expected to be the Mother of all battles at Owerri.

16 Bde commanded by Maj Utuk, who was still itching to take revenge on Owerri was not allowed to advance, while 19 Bde commanded by Maj. Aliyu was in defensive position to tie down Biafran troops at Owerri. With devastating 122 mm Artillery bombardment, directed at Owerri and Ohoba, the Biafran troops had no more doubt that 3MCDO was coming again, and they were ready for the mother of all battles.

Then 15 Bde commanded by Maj Iluyomade, who liked to salute like Hitler, moved into the gap between Oguta and Owerri to the left from Omoku, capturing Izombe, with Orashi River to his left which later flows right to his front.

That again further confirmed that 3MCDO would try to go back to Oguta. Therefore, Biafran attention was directed at Oguta and Owerri axes, while 14 Bde commanded by Maj Ola Oni to the left, and 12 Bde commanded by Isemede in the center advanced through the gap between Owerri to the left, and Umuahia to the right.

At this time, 13 Bde commanded by Maj George Innih had moved right from Ikot Ekpene towards Itu to what Obasanjo called passing through operation to capture Arochukwu. George Innih’s route is marked in red on the map. That distance alone is about 100 miles on a very bad road. To use the phrase used by Obasanjo in his book, he was to swing left towards Umuahia. That distance is another 100 miles from Arochukwu, and another 100 miles or more to Uli Ihiala, the Divisional objective.

When Akinrinade did not see him for four days, they continued the advance without him and his 13 Bde. On my birthday, 24th December 1969, Akinrinade and Tomoye linked up with 1 Division at Umuahia. They greeted me for my birthday and told me that it was my birthday present. That was cool, but I was biting my finger, wishing I was on the advance with them. We were running a commentary like a soccer match. On Christmas day 25th December 1969, I sent a message to the COSA in Lagos to say that Obasanjo went to Arochukwu and so did the 13 Bde with about 3,000 men going the wrong way. COSA then sent a signal message to Obasanjo to concentrate on Uli-Ihiala and nowhere else. Obasanjo then wrote in his book that he wondered how COSA knew about his move to Arochukwu. By the time he got the message, Akinrinade had ended the war by capturing Uli Ihiala. At this time, with Inyiogugu to their left, 12,14,and 17 Bdes under Akinrinade’s command (The Coordinator) then had 1 Division at Umuahia look after their right flank, which made the advance faster without having to wait anymore for 13 Bde. Akinrinade did not have air support, because the Count Von Rosen inquiry was still going on in Port Harcourt.

y the 5th of January 1969,14 Bde was at Amaraka, 12 Bde was at Umuna, while Tomoye’s 17 Bde passed through to take Umuzoma, and Urualla. From the right flank, the “Dream Team” was threatening Orlu from two flanks, having crossed Imo River, and were to enter Uli Ihiala by night fall.

By Thursday of 8th January 1969, Tomoye described the situation that they were not firing anymore, as there were too many refugees and too many Biafran troops just dropping their weapons and running, while some managed to enter their vehicles and drive fast away from the war front. They told all those that raised their hands up in surrender to just go home. They did not capture any POW. Casualties were light on both sides. Artillery could not be used beyond Owerri because of the enveloping troops from 12, 14 and 17 Bdes that were already behind enemy lines. By morning of Friday 9th January, 1970, Tomoye radioed to say that he thought the war was over as the Biafran troops were not fighting anymore. Beware of stray bullets, I shouted, and I asked after Maj. Innih. Tomoye had heard that his troops were at Owerri. I trusted that Akinrinade would not allow troops to enter the towns, which is why he warned Edet Utuk to remain in defence, and not enter Owerri. With his annoyance over what happened during the seven month siege, Utuk, might have the tendency to kill for revenge.

Very early in the morning of Tuesday 13th January 1970, a Biafran officer called Achuzia, with white handkerchief, crawled towards 17 Bde position, and was captured and taken to Lt. Col Akinrinade. He introduced himself as Col Achuzia, and that he was sent by Gen. Effiong and all the officers of Biafran Army to surrender to the commander of the Federal troops, and to invite the Commander to come and meet the Biafran officers somewhere few yards away, where they had gathered to surrender. The town was called Amichi, and that they were all waiting at a house there.

At first Akinrinade did not want to go but later he agreed and Maj Tomoye accompanied him. Before they left, they left orders with their troops that if in two hours they were not back, or nothing heard from them, the entire place must be leveled to the ground.

So, they left with Achuzia who we had wanted to kill in Port Harcourt if we got him, for killing Chief Halley Day, the owner of The Silver Valley Hotel at Port Harcourt. When we were young officers, before the war, we used to travel to Port Harcourt to stay at the Silver Valley Hotel because we were friends of Chief Halley Day’s children. Akinrinade of course then remembered that we should not kill anyone that looked at us in the face.

Akinrinade then told him that we were looking for him and that the meeting that they were going to should be worth it. Achuzia took Akinrinade and Tomoye to a house nearby, where they met Achuzia’s European wife, and Achuzia broke kola nuts with the usual Ibo traditional welcoming ceremony. Well, so far so good, after which they then went to meet all Biafran officers seated and waiting to surrender to the two officers- Akinrinade and Tomoye. Akinrinade met all of them including some of our classmates like Gbulie and others. It was then that Akinrinade sent word to Obasanjo that Biafran troops had surrendered to him and his men if he would like to come and see. I was still on the RS301 Operation Radio with some officers, listening to our commentary-like discussions with Tomoye’s radio operator.

It was then that Obasanjo, the GOC of 3 MCDO started looking for his officers. It took him four hours to drive from PH to Amichi.

Source: Radio Biafra.

In Zoological Republic of Nigeria generator fumes killed newly-wed couple in Calabar.

generator fumes

A newly married couple, who packed to their house soon after wedding have been reportedly killed by generator fumes in Ikot Omin on the outskirts of Calabar,

the Cross River State capital.

The couple, Bassey Effiong (27), his wife, Glory (21) and her younger sister, Emem (16), were said to have packed to the house yet to be completed by Bassey.

“When he got married, he decided to work on one of the rooms and moved in, while hoping to gradually complete the house,” Mike, a neighbour to the couple told Vanguard.

However, tragedy struck, Sunday night, when the couple turned on their generating set and placed it on the corridor close to the room, where they slept but fume from the generating set was said to have subsequently gained entry into the room in large quantity and suffocatded the couple along with Emem, the wife’s younger sister.

They were discovered dead several hours later by a naval officer, David Ekanem, Bassey’s uncle, who said he went there after he called Bassey’s mobile number several times without response and on getting there at 5 pm, Monday, he met the tragic sight.

“I knocked several times on the door but there was no answer, so I had to force the door open. It was then I saw my nephew and his wife along with the young girl lying dead,” the Naval officer said.

Spokesman of the Cross River State Police Command, Mr Hogan Bassey, said the matter was reported by the naval officer and the bodies evacuated to the Infectious Disease Hospital mortuary, Edgerly Road, Calabar.

Source: Radio Biafra.

JAF to FG: Stop Disinformation, Implement Agreements Now!

By Comrade Abiodun Aremu

Joint Action Front (JAF)
10, Afolabi Lesi Street, Anthony-Ilupeju, Lagos
08035068524, 08033347962, E-mail:,
Wednesday, August 28th 2013

Daily Trust & Channels Should Refrain From Being Used By The FG For Dis-information

Please Stop The Fabrication, Report Event As It Is!

1.    The attention of the Joint Action Front (JAF) has been drawn to dis-information and fabricated reports authored by the Calabar reporters of Daily Trust and Channels Television (Mr. Eyo Charles and Ms. Imani Odey) and the need to put the record straight.

2.    The malicious report from Daily Trust is reproduced below in  full:
“ASUU officials in street brawl with Socialist party

Published on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 05:00
Written by Eyo Charles, Calabar

Daily Trust

Leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Cross River state who were on public protest on the streets of Calabar yesterday engaged officials of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in a street brawl.
The SPN were also on similar mission of protest but both parties threw caution to the wind and engaged in a free-for-all fight right opposite Governor Liyel Imoke’s office in Calabar.

Daily Trust learnt that trouble started when each of the parties wanted to be the leader of the protest into the governor’s office.

When SPN leaders saw that ASUU officials, Non Academic Staff of Universities, National Union of Teachers, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities in collaboration with Joint Action Front (JAF) were having the upper hand, they ordered their boys to shove the ASUU officials aside and take over the protest.

This led to both groups dragging themselves about, punching and tearing each other banners and hurling inventives at each other.

It took the intervention of mobile policemen on patrol in the neighbourhood and those at the governor’s office to restore order.

An Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) who led the police team warned them against further disruption of public.

Speaking on behalf of the SPN leader Segun Sango, an official that refused to disclose his name, said they were not out to disrupt the mass protest by ASUU and JAF to save public education but to join forces with them as they too have been at the vanguard in condemning what he called ‘federal government’ recalcitrance.’Chairperson of JAF, Dr Dipo Fashina could not immediately comment on the street brawl by his men and those of SPN but an official of ASUU said SPN came from nowhere to hijack a well-intended protest which they had invested much resources to express their disgust over federal government’s disregard for public education”.


3.    There was no ASUU Banner or leaflets at the Protest March. The JAF’s Banner was the main Protest March banner and was complimented by the banners of Nigerian Students’ Rights Movement (NSRM) and Education Rights Campaign (ERC). The over 20,000 leaflets circulated throughout the Protest March was mainly authored by the JAF.

4.    JAF leadership represented by one of its principal officer – Comrade Abiodun Aremu, Secretary of JAF was clearly in the leadership of the Protest from the beginning when he declared it opened at the Freedom (Botanical Garden) Park at about 9.35am to his closing remarks at a at about 3pm. Comrade Aremu addressed the rallies at all the major points and his statements were communicated in Efik language to the people.

5.    Mr. Oku Ita spoke in Efik at the Calabar Watt market and at Etim Edem Central Park, with traders and transporters coming around for leaflets and declaring their support for the protest action.

6.    Comrade Inibehe Effiong, National President of the Nigerian Students Rights Movement, a final student of law in the University of Uyo spoke for the Nigerian students, while the Secretary of the Hausa-Fulani Community in Calabar spoke at Bobobiri area where there is a large concentration of Hausa-Fulani people and equally interpreted the message by the JAF Secretary and the NSRM president in Hausa language.

7.    The procession went from the Botanical Garden (Freedom) Park through the Watt Market Roundabout to Etim Edem Motor park to Old State Secretariat, through Governor’s Office, to IBB Way, Cross River Broadcasting Corporation and back to Mary Slessor road to the starting point at Freedom Park.


8.    The dis-information by Channels was to profile ASUU as the organisers of the Protest. And the report of the event of yesterday was not the first time Channels TV would deliberately misinformed the general public about the Joint Action Front.

9.    A similar report was done by Channels TV on the Lagos, August 13th kickoff of the JAF Protest Action to SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION’. In that instance, Channels credited the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) as the organisers of the protest.

10. It certainly should have been in the pursuits of the dis-information agenda that the Daily Trust and Channels TV correspondents, chose to interview a select of ASUU branch leaders in attendance in order to give the protest a colouration of an affair of ASUU, thereby playing to the script of the Federal Government, that is allegedly profiling ASUU as opposition, rather than address the germane issue of Government’s irresponsibility to implement collective agreements.


11. JAF is a pro-labour civil society coalition with irreproachable precedents of struggle on the side of the working people and the poor against exploitative and oppressive policies in its drive towards SYSTEM CHANGE for the socio-economic transformation of Nigeria.

12. No media in Nigeria should therefore pretend it does not know JAF. And for purposes of information, JAF is an affiliates’ organisation of socialist and non-socialist groups. It is therefore inconceivable that JAF leadership would involve itself in a brawl with any socialist platform.

13. Given our high regards for the media, whose objective reporting of JAF’s activities in the past and present are well documented, we will not take the dis-information by the two reporters on Daily Trust and Channels TV. However, we urge the managements of Daily Trust and Channels TV to address the issues we have raised with utmost diligence and save the profession of journalism from being ridiculed by those violating its basic ethics and practice.

Yours fraternally
Comrade Abiodun Aremu
JAF Secretary


Nigeria: The Six Year Revolution-June 12; Significance And Lessons For The Working Class*.

By Baba Aye

Introduction: Twenty years ago, what has been described as “the freest and fairest elections” in the history of Nigeria, held on June 12, eleven days after it was annulled and for six years, the country was never the same again.

Diverse views have been expressed by different interest groups on what “June 12” symbolizes. We shall put in perspective the events, class interests and developments within those six years of struggle, from the world view of the working class, drawing lessons for our struggles today and our historic goal of social change.

1986-1992: Prelude to a revolution
The 1985 palace coup which brought the General Babangida junta to power was welcomed by most Nigerians, due to the neo-fascist character of the Buhari-regime, which most Nigerians had expected a lot from after the corruption-ridden and visionless 4-years episode of the second republic. IBB, who once described himself as an evil genius, promised reforms, which would be home-grown, transform Nigeria and guarantee the well-being of the citizenry. He was a master of deceit. He made Nigerians to debate over the IMF conditionalities, which we rejected and he then brought SAP –a creation of the IMF & World Bank- claiming it was home-grown. His regime also set up a Political Bureau in 1986, which was shrouded in what the socialist President of the Nigeria Var Association at the time, Alao Aka-Bashorun described as a “hidden agenda”

In his 1986 budget speech, IBB claimed that: “Government parastatals have generally come to constitute an unnecessary burden on government resources”. Two years later he asserted: “Government has not deviated from its basic decision to commercialize or privatize certain government enterprises and parastatals”. 69 out of 96 identified state-owned – enterprises were to be privatized. Indeed, privatization was the pillar of SAP. The other three components of the IMF/WB- inspired programme were: devaluation of the naira, removal of subsidies (especially on petroleum products) and trade liberalization. The IBB junta thus achieved what the Shagari administration (based on recommendations of the Onosode Commission in 1982) and the Buhari’s regime(based on the Study Group on Statutory Corporations and State-Owned Companies report) could not do: initiate “the beginning of an era of unprecedented increase in the ownership and control of production, commercial and financial activities by private capitalists (both national and foreign), and the end of the state as a catalyst to economic development”. The reasons for this however go deeper than the devilishness of IBB. Neo-liberal globalization was beginning to take roots and SAP, was its foundation stone in over 30 African countries.

The expansion of primitive accumulation of capital through privatization, liberalization, commercialization, deregulation, contracts and the “settlement” culture, went with the deeper impoverishment and marginalization of the working people. Retrenchments, job rationalization, increasing cost of living and worsening working conditions, became the order of the day. This led to “coping strategies” on one hand, such as: an expanding informal sector, increase in prostitution, drug-peddling and robberies and “419”.On the other hand workers and their organizations responded with waves of strike actions in virtually every sector of the economy. There were also series of revolts by working people and students/youths in: 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 &1992.The most wide-spread and thorough-going of these, was the anti-SAP uprising which reached its climax on May 31st, 1989.

While the IBB regime’s economic policies were defined by SAP, its politics was characterized by an unending transition programme

In January 1986, the Professor Cookey –led Political Bureau was inaugurated by the Junta. Its terms of reference included the following: (a) review Nigeria’s political history, and identify the basic problems which have led to our failure in the past and suggest ways of resolving and coping with these problems; (b) identify a basic philosophy of government which will determine goals and serve as a guide to the activities of government; (c) collect relevant information and data for Government as well as identify other political problems that may arise from the debate; (d) gather, collate and evaluate the contributions of Nigerians to the search for a viable political future and provide guidelines for the attainment of consensus objectives. The report of the bureau was in three parts. Parts 1 dealt with “Nigeria’s Political Experience” as a background. Part II dwelt on the imperative for a new socio-political order in Nigeria. While Part III addressed practical issues bearing on conducting a transition programme that would lead to such a new social & political order in Nigeria. The report of the Bureau was very clear on the fact that the masses of Nigeria desired a socialist socio-economic & political order. Such an envisioned order as its report noted, would rest on: patriotism, self-reliance, accountability of public office holders, mass mobilization and participation and would eschew; money-politics, ethnicism, regionalism, corruption, electoral and census malpractices and religious bigotry.

Seemingly based on the Political Bureau’s report, a 45-member Constitution Drafting Committee was constituted in July 1987. It finished its assignment in nine months, after which a Constituent Assembly was instituted to consider its draft and come up with the 1989 constitution. The junta then asked Nigerians to form parties from which two would be picked to contest in the elections of the transition programme at all levels.

The trade union movement debated on the need for a workers’ party. The peak of this discussion was at a MAMSER– sponsored workshop held at Calabar, with the theme: Labour and Politics. While such progressive capitalists as Bola Ige amongst the guest speakers cautioned the workers to rather support a capitalist party, than form their own, revolutionary socialists such as Ola Oni, Nkana Nzimiro and the indomitable Eskor Toyo called for the working class to seize its destiny in its own hands by forming its own party and bidding for power. A week after the workshop, NLC reconvened at Calabar for its NEC meeting and set up a National Labour Political Commission. A major lesson for today is that the Commission included members from the then SESCAN (now TUC), the academia and renowned patriots. The Commission was chaired by Frank Oramolu, with SOZ Ejiofor as secretary. The Commission was to make contacts and mobilize public opinion for the formation of the party and midwife what was to become the Nigeria Labour Party.

This would be the first time in the history of the country, that the trade union movement as a whole would form a party. Earlier working class parties since the first republic had involved the socialist faction of the trade union movement with other groups in the labour movement (these included; SWAFP, LP, SWPP & SPWFY/SWP). It also was the first time ever that trade union leaders would shut the socialist left out of the national leadership of a working class party, all in the name of “politics of registration”. It could be argued that Akinlaja was correct when as an insider he asserted that: “with the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to also conclude that only a minority of the trade unionists had genuine interest in the ideal of a labour-owned party, the majority just wanted the spin-offs (of material benefits and positions) yielded by such venture”.

The IBB junta listed NLP as the fifth of the six parties on its score-card, amongst the thirteen that jostled for registration. None of the six was however registered. It rather disbanded all the parties and created the “six” & “half-a-dozen” twins of National Republican Party (“a little to the right”) and Social Democratic Party (“a little to the left”). Labour pitched its tent with the SDP. This was to be the party that provided a platform for Abiola’s presidential elections, after the cancellation of earlier primaries (that had produced Shehu Yar’Adua for SDP & Adamu Chiroma for NRC) and banning of “old breed” politicians from the electoral process of the transition programme. As the transition programme of the junta unfolded, certain developments that were to be critical in the revolution, developed in its womb. These were re-alignments in the socialist left and the emergence of the human rights/pro-democracy movement.

In 1986/87, the socialist left, re-grouped.  The orthodox left coalesced into the Socialist Congress of Nigeria (SCON) and the (working) People’s Liberation Movement ((W) PLM) –the W/PLM, merged with a number of other groups to form the Socialist Revolutionary Vanguard (SRV) a few years after. These were underground movements due to the conditions obtaining under military rule. The Trotskyite organizationally emerged a year later as, and with the newspaper; Labour Militant. During the May workshop in Calabar referred to earlier, these groups established the first All-Nigeria Socialist Alliance (ANSA), in1989. In1990, the May 31st Movement was also formed, at Ilorin as a pan-Africanist, Marxist current. Although the alliance, ANSA did not last, all these groups were to be very active in the June 12 revolution, especially through the pro-democratic movement.

The first “NGOs” in Nigeria were forged as rights movement against military autocracy. In October 1987, Civil Liberties Organization was born as the first of these groups. By 1989, the “Free Femi Aborishade” Committee metamorphosed into the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights. These groups began to flourish and increase in number. Constitutional Rights Project and Universal Defenders of Democracy split out of the CLO family and many more groups followed. Of great significance though was the approach brought to coalition-building, with the formation of the Campaign for Democracy (CD). CD demanded: an abdication of power by the military; the formation of a “popular-based interim government” to; convoke a Sovereign National Conference. It condemned the transition programme and barely four months to June 12, threatened to independently convoke the SNC. It was however to play a leading role on the side of June 12, in the first half of the revolution, after which, it lost all relevance and other coalitions (UAD & JACON) were formed to play the role it earlier played.

Six years of Revolution and Counter-revolution
Revolution and counter-revolution are like Siamese twins, joined at the hips by the waves of struggle for change by forces which represent progress in some form or the other and the pillars of reaction by the conservative forces representing the “law and order” of the status quo; till the balance of forces, won through bitter battles, tilts towards either, resulting in the death of the other. What were the forces in contention during the six years of June 12? Could it really be said to be a revolution? How and why did counter-revolution triumph? What lessons do we as working class activists have to learn from that struggle? These are some of the questions we will seek to address below.

1993-1994: Heady Days of Uprising
On Saturday June 12, 1993, 14,293,396 Nigerians peacefully cast their votes, in a bid to peacefully send the soldiers back to the barracks. Polls collated from the polling units indicated that the SDP had 8,341,309 votes (58.36%) while the NRC scored 5,952,087 (41.64%) votes. The SDP candidate was MKO Abiola, while that of the NRC was Bashir Tofa. Eleven days after, with an unsigned and undated statement circulated by Nduka Irabor (Chief Press Secretary to the Vice-President and ex-victim of Decree No 4!), the elections were annulled. The grounds for this had been prepared even before the elections, when the nefarious Arthur Nzeribe-led Association for a Better Nigeria had “secured” a judgment from Justice Bassey Ikpeme’s court at 9.30pm on June 10, to stop the elections. Justice Dahiru Saleh subsequently also declared the election a nullity. The FG thus claimed that “no responsible or responsive government will watch its judiciary built on sound and solid foundation to be tarnished by the insatiable political desire of a few” It also alleged the “offer and acceptance of money and other forms of inducement” against officials of NEC. The junta believed that it could get away with the annulment as it had with the earlier aborted bus-stops on the road of its transition. This however was one moving of the goalposts during a match, too many; all hell was let loose as the masses unleashed their pent-up anger against the military overlords.

The revolutionary upsurge of the masses started on July 5, though there had earlier been several spontaneous outbursts after the annulment. On that day, over one million Nigerians heeded the clarion call of Campaign for Democracy for a protest march to Abiola’s house. There are two important issues to point out with regards to this historical day, in the June 12 revolution. One, CD was expecting at most ten thousand people for the march (it had initially wanted to settle for a candlelight night!) The second crucial point to note is that MKO at first refused to address the masses -his personal assistants said: “baba is tired and sleeping, he would not like to be disturbed”- this was despite the fact that he was informed well ahead of time. It was much later that we would know why he was tired and sleeping; MKO had just gotten back from an overnight meeting with Babangida, trying to resolve their differences. Obviously, he did realize that what bound them together was much more than what seemed to be tearing them apart. This singular action also shows the disdain in which MKO and indeed all capitalists hold the working people, even when they say otherwise, so as to use working people, youths and the poor, as cannon fodder in their intra-class battles. Otedola, the Lagos state governor was to “surrender” the state to Abacha (then the Army boss) two days later, as the masses took over the streets, playing soccer on the highway, as “the festival of the oppressed” seized the youths with frenzy. On July 8, not less than 107 Nigerians were killed when the military rolled in the tanks.

What was the stand of organized labour at this critical hour in our nation’s history? NLC had given full support to the SDP bid. On June 10, the Labour Political Commission had issued a directive stating: “For the avoidance of doubt, the National Labour Political Commission restates that Labour ‘s support for the SDP is not in question and still stands . Therefore, all workers are expected to vote the party’s presidential candidate at the forthcoming presidential election”. The CWC met on June 28, but was divided on the extent of action organized labour was to take against the annulment. This led to Unilag students sacking the NLC secretariat at Yaba and the abduction of its Head of Information department, Malam Salisu Mohammed, when they could not get the President, Paschal Bafyau. Its NEC meeting of July 14 & 15 at Port Harcourt, asked the FGN to roll back its annulment and call on the Electoral Commission ‘s Chair Humphrey Nwosu, to announce the results. When in August the military junta announced that it would set-up an Interim National Government (with the active connivance of the leadership of the SDP) and increase the pump price of petrol from 70 kobo to 7 naira, NLC summoned another NEC meeting, this time at Enugu. Congress re-affirmed its earlier position, but with the rider that the junta could hand over to the Senate President on August 27, if it chose not to de-annul the elections, rather than hand over to an ING that had no place in the 1989 constitution.

The IBB junta remained adamant until as the fires of revolution it had unwittingly stoked consumed it: ignominiously “stepping aside” on August 26, amidst civil disobedience championed by CD. The Central Working Committee of Congress met on August 27. In its communiqué it noted that: “changes in the administration of the country have not led to a return to constitutionalism”. It further observed that the ING “comprising principal actors of the Transition Council” could hardly move the nation forward, based on the failure of the council to meet its set objectives of; “revamping the economy; improving the wellbeing of Nigerians and; successfully concluding the transition programme”. It thus directed Nigerians “to stay at home with effect from Saturday, 28th August 1993 until further notice” stating that “the action is on the twin issue of democracy…and the 971.43 percent increase in the price of petrol”.

The ING sent a presidential jet to pick 23 labour leaders for a negotiation on the strike, at Abuja. It had been resolved upon that the delegation led by the Mr Bafyau would report back to CWC in Lagos before a decision would be taken. This it did, but the views of most members of the delegation was upheld by the CWC- in- session and to the dismay of working people, youths and the poor who sought socio-political change and hung their fate on organized labour, the strike was called-off. The rationale was the beggarly-philosophy of collective bargaining that since one of the two demands presented (that on fuel price hike, which turned out to be a trick!) had been partially met; a compromise could be reached with the powers that be. Oil workers however refused to return to work. Thus while NLC had ordered for work-resumption, there were no vehicles (since there was no fuel in the petrol stations) to take workers to work. CD activists also continued agitation and mobilization in the neighborhoods. At this point in time, the working people began losing confidence in their traditional organizations, paving the way for the rise of pro-democratic groups to the fore of June 12, revolution.

Meanwhile, MKO who had earlier asserted that: “August 27, 1993, shall be the terminal date of military dictatorship in Nigeria. Nigerians through their democratic decision of June 12, 1993, expect me to assume the reins of government. I fully intend to keep that date with history”, had sneaked out of the country like a thief in the night for what would be a 53-day sojourn with the imperialist masters in London and the United State of North America, before his assumed “date with history”! The drama was however just unfolding.

As with every revolution, practice melted the dross of “theory”, struggles on the battlefield were spurred and spurred struggles on method and strategy. Alliances, tactical and strategic, progressive and profane, were made and were broken. One of such more profane alliances during the June 12 revolution was that between radical elements of pro-democracy and supposedly “progressive” bourgeois democrats in the SDP on one hand and Abacha on the other; paving the way to power for the later.

The officials of SDP (in partnership with its “a little to the right” sister; NRC), earlier sold their victory at the polls for a pot of porridge, when they took part in the negotiations for the ING which people like Olusegun Obasanjo facilitated. After Abiola returned from his sojourn on September 24 he headed for the Lagos High Court seeking an order that Decree 61 which created the ING was “null and void” and that based on DN 58 and “provisions of transition to civil rule (political programme) Act Cap 443 laws of Federation of Nigeria, 1990” he was the rightful person to “lawfully exercise executive powers of the Federation under the 1989 constitution”. At the same time he was busy having discussions with Abacha on the need for a coup by the General to bring him to power. Mind you, Abiola was not new to coups; he was reported to have given financial and political support to the earlier Buhari/Idiagbon & Babangida coups.

On November 10, despite all attempts at arm-twisting her, Justice Dolapo Akinsanya ruled that the ING was illegal. Immediately there was an upsurge of mass action. Lagos state higher institutions’ students moved to MKO Abiola crescent, but the June 12 custodian told them to go back to their schools and study for their exams. On November 17, Shonekan, head of the illegal ING was forced to resign at gun-point and thus did his “child of circumstance” regime come to an inglorious end in very curious circumstances. Its attempt at increasing petroleum products prices had stoked up fires of a General strike and mass action that made its exit very convenient. Abacha came to power with the full support of Abiola & co. Bola Ige pointed out that they drafted the maiden speech he was to read. From day one however, it was obvious to anyone who chose to see that Abacha was no June 12 man. In his eventual maiden speech, he proscribed the National and State Houses of Assembly & the two political parties. After describing his “Provisional Ruling Council” as a “child of necessity” he threatened to deal ruthlessly with anyone who dared it. Yet the June 12 apostles still flocked into his cabinet. “Progressive” bourgeois politicians such as Jerry Gana, Jakande, Babatope, Onagoruwa Ayu, Rimi & Kingibe who had been Abiola’s running mate graced the PRC like cursed ornaments.

The June 12 crowd woke up to the realization of Abacha’s gambit by the beginning of 1994 and formed the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which gave a May 31st deadline for the Assemblies to be reinstituted. A lot of myth has been woven about NADECO and its fighting for democracy in Nigeria. Most of its leaders “fought” from foreign lands, for fear of their lives while working people and socialist activists confronted the tanks and guns of the military, dying for a victory that NADECO would claim and share the spoils of. It was in this period that Democratic Alternative was formed on June 4, 1994, as a party in defiance of the government. It was to be modeled on the lines of development of the ANC. The National Conscience, formed in March also emerged as a party of defiance on October 1, when it became the National Conscience Party.

The remaining chapter of the heady days of 1993-94, could be tied to the tragi-comic Epetedo declaration when on June11, Abiola declared himself President over a phantom “Government of National Unity”, went into hiding to reappear eleven days later and go back to his house where within hours he was arrested and taken to prison where he eventually died four years and fifteen days later. This ignited a series of mass actions that were to mark the end of that first phase of the June 12, revolution. Students seized the Radio Station in Delta State, broadcasting revolutionary songs and their “seizure” of power. Oil workers of both NUPENG & PENGASSAN paralyzed the country with a 72-day strike & CD mobilized a series of “sit-at-home” civil disobedience actions. Abacha quelled the mass actions jackboots, guns, and tanks, arrested Kokori and Dabibi, the oil workers leaders & his Constitutional Conference farce continued its work. NLC, ASUU & NASU were also banned as the counter-revolution barred its fangs, crippling labour to pave way for its consolidation. The counter-revolution it seemed, had at last taken the initiative from the myriad forces of the revolution.

1995-1996: Counter-revolution consolidates.
1994 was the real beginning of Abacha’s despotic rule on behalf of the counter-revolution. The honeymoon at the conception of this “child of necessity” for capitalist reaction to assert itself was over. Having clipped organized labour’s wings with the banning of Congress, the oil workers unions and unions in the restless education sector, there was no need for a soothsayer to show the pro-democracy movement that the “heady days of rebellion” were probably fading out. The more successful “sit-at-home” “strikes” which CD and its affiliates mobilized for, either coincided with, or were during workers’ strikes. The campuses, garrisons for the youthful foot soldiers of the revolution, were also shut. But all these were not enough for Abacha to consolidate the strangle-hold of reaction on the upsurge of struggle for change. There were two key features that were to be prominent as devilish tactics, for the rest of his regime that began taking shape in 1994. These were; the use of death squads and the use of filthy lucre i.e. hard cash.

Probably the first attempted assassination was on August 26, when six gunmen riddled Gani Fawehinmi’s chambers with bullets resulting in two of his security guards sustaining serious injuries. That same year, Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate fled the country. An attempt was made on his life the following year in Washington D.C by Abacha’s goons. Rewane and Kudirat were not lucky as Abacha waxed strong in ‘95/96. They were killed on October 2, 1995 & June 4, 1996 respectively.

Abacha’s regime infiltrated the students’ movement with money injecting it with a terrible cash-related disease which till today it has not yet gotten over. The split of NANS on July 22, 1996 was however as well aided, even if unwittingly, by the in-fighting between progressive forces in the Association.

The main fish for Abacha’s cash bait were anyway, outside the campus. They were to be found in the: “five leprous fingers of the same hand” –CNC, DPN, GDM, NCPN & UNCP- described as political parties, that were all to later endorse Abacha as their “consensus” presidential candidate; collectives of vagabonds who called themselves youths -NYO, NACYN & YEAA- and vowed that there would be “no work, no sleep, no school” until Abacha made explicit his esoteric disclosure of interest to “contest” made to the Washington Post and become Nigeria’s life president; various palaces of Emirs, Obas, Igwes and the whole lot of relics of feudal lordship who should cover their faces in shame since history has shown their “divine revelations” of Abacha’s “ordained” role as president of Nigeria  for many decades to come, to be a lie; studios of dozens of musicians who waxed albums and gyrated like there would be no tomorrow at the 2-million man rally  for Abacha, and; a host of other minions, carpetbaggers, braggarts and never-do-wells that sold their senses and balls for a piece of cake.

The main source of the monies thrown around was of course, the oil wealth of Nigeria. Between 1995 and 1998 Abacha’s petroleum Trust Fund rolled in over N320 billion while oil-producing communities were repressed and Saro-wiwa was judicially murdered in November, 1995. There were also contracts and sundry means of making money circulate if that was needed for Abacha to succeed himself. This included minting money!

The press suffered extensively during this period. Not only were several press houses shut down, imitation copies of the more radical newspapers and magazines were printed to confuse the masses. Several of the progressive magazines went underground and guerrilla journalism was invented in Nigeria by the likes of Tell and The News.  Several journalists were arrested and detained, while Bagauda Kaltho was tortured and murdered.

Such were just some of the ruthless and bestial ways in which the counter-revolution re-asserted itself, consolidating reaction on the blood, liberty and sensibilities of Nigerians. But all that was to change, through a re-awakening of struggle on one hand and the ingenious if murderous equation by elimination calculated in Washington and London.

1997-1998/99: A new balance of forces and the “resolution” formula
While the Nigeria Labour Congress remained banned, 1997 opened with workers agitations. The industrial unions wanted Congress unbanned and strikes swept through the shop floor, albeit on economic issues. Meanwhile the Abachaists were growing louder with their well-oiled calls for the dark-goggled god to finally take possession of Nigeria. All this was tonic for the pro-democratic movement to re-group and re-awaken their June 12 struggle. CD by now had become a caricature of what it used to be. Split in two and seemingly bereft of life and focus, a new body had to be formed to play its role in the last act of June 12, drama. On May 17, 1998, United Action for Democracy was formed at Ilaje-Bariga in Lagos. It led the opposition “5-million man rally” in Lagos against the Louis Farakhan-inspired “2-million man rally” for Abacha,    in    Abuja.

Congress of Progressive Youths also seized the gauntlet; on May Day it organized a riotous demonstration in Ibadan. The military administrator consequently held Bola Ige – a former governor of the state – as “a prisoner of war”!

The rise of ethnic nationalism took a sharp peak in this period as well. While O’odua Youth Movement had earlier been formed in September 1994 and the more “massified” O’odua People’s Congress the following August, their activities spiraled as desperation mingled with faith about the possible future of Nigeria. The Niger Delta began to boil as well. The Warri wars were simmering and the Pan-Niger Delta Resistance Movement (Chikoko Movement), was formed to centralize the struggles in the creeks. But the issue of nationalism in the Niger Delta was to assume a deeper role in Nigeria’s economy and polity, after the Kaima conference of December 11, 1998, where the Ijaw Youths Council was formed.

These were times when the heady days of the beginning of the revolution were being relieved. But this was to be just for a while. The growing unrest was affecting American and European business interests in Nigeria. Even the global economy as a whole was being threatened as ethnic militant groups’ activities in the waterways and creeks of the Niger Delta were crippling oil supplies. What was the solution they arrived at?

Kofi Annan and Emeka Anyaoku, then Secretaries  of the United Nations and Commonwealth respectively were amongst the last public figures to see and have tea with Abiola. Even a dullard does not need to think too hard to add up the equation of the Abiola + Abacha times minus, minus = Abdulsalam, formula.

In no time a fresh transition began and after a lot of horse-trading amongst the capitalist elites who were agreed on a “power shift” as part of the sub-head of the formula, Olusegun Aremu Matthew Obasanjo, an Egba man like Abiola and Shonekan emerged as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was sworn-in on May 29, 1999.

We have tried to put in perspective recent history that many bourgeois scholars and commentators have already being trying their best to distort. We were relatively extensive on the heady days of the revolution for two reasons. First, the actions and inactions of the different parties in any revolution as it bursts out are decisively important in shaping the subsequent balances of forces throughout its subsequent phases. Of course, this is not to say these solely determine what happen after. It also does not at all overlook the fact that; what persons, organizations and alliances do or do not do at this and subsequent stages is established on their world view, methods, values & strategy  before the revolution even unfolds.

Second, without a party and with its Congress banned in 19994, the working class as an organized political collective went into the recess of the stage, leaving the centerpiece for the pro-democratic movement (and later the ethnic militias/self determination groups), in the confrontation with Abacha’s reaction. This reality it could be argued was based on the vacillation in action of the trade union movement in a collective sense. It also confirms the view that such actions and inactions were rooted in earlier decisions right from 1989 when the NLP was disbanded in the most literal term of the word. The bourgeois PSP & PFN formed at the same time still went into SDP intact and till today exist somewhat in the soul of Afenifere and the PDM (though split with Atiku’s exit from PDP).

Today, Nigeria for the first time is having almost a decade of civil rule at a stretch. Revolutions are not just what we read in the book as having happened in 1776 America, 1789 & 1871 in France or in 1917 Russia. Revolution implies and brings about change. The June 12 political revolution limited itself to the change of political dictatorship in Nigeria from the hands of the military to that of their civilian class counterparts. A social revolution entails both political and socio-economic change. Workers can break the chains of their enslavement by the capitalist employers only through a Social revolution. Social revolutions don’t just come about. They involve struggle and a series of political revolutions through which the oppressed classes learn and build their power to be able to vanquish the power of the status quo which the ruling class holds.

A major lesson for us from the foregoing is the need to build workers power. We have to build Labour Party, arm it with socialist perspective and a revolutionary change–focused programme around which we can mobilize the mass of the citizenry.

The workers’ movement must establish institutional control over the party, through an all encompassing Nigeria Labour Political Commission and State Labour Political Committees, as resolved upon at the 9th NLC Delegate Conference in 2007.

Our generation has an historic mission far deeper and much greater than the mandate of June 12; we have to build structures of workers power that can seize the popular initiative, if a situation such as happened fifteen years ago were to arise again, in our lifetime.

But we cannot fulfill it without returning to the basics. Not to fulfill it, is to betray it.

* This article was originally published in the history section of the June 2008 issue of the Working People’s Vanguard, the now rested organ of the now defunct All-Nigeria Socialist Alliance. Apart from changing the opening phrase of “fifteen years ago”, to “twenty years ago”, it has been left intact. This explains the reference to Abubakar Atiku’s split with the PDP. He has since returned “home”.

More importantly, the perspective of this article has been developed in my book June 12, Revolution and Counter-revolution in Nigeria: 1993-1999. It will be issued on July 5, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the day the working masses decisively entered the political arena of the “June 12 Struggle”.


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