Was Genocide Committed Against the Igbo Nation of South Eastern Nigeria during the Civil War? The Law of Genocide on Trial

 

By D.F. Atidoga, PhD (ABU), BL, PGDE, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Dean of Law, Kogi State University, Nigeria and Abubakar, Ishaq, PhD (ABU), BL, PGDE, Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.

 

Abstract

 

The Nigerian nation has – over the years – been a victim of grave conflicts. These numerous conflicts span through the pre-colonial period, colonial era and post-colonial era. These different eras were predominantly characterized by conflicts of a peculiar nature and particular to each era. While the pre-colonial era was characterized by wars of conquest amongst indigenous tribes, the colonial era witnessed an insurgence of conflicts of resistance to colonial domination – spurred by nationalism and proto-nationalism. The post-colonial era ushered in a new dimension of conflict, informed by the quest for the grip of political power; bringing to force the pursuit of sectional interests. These interests brewed the 1966 Military Coup which climaxed at the Kano pogrom and ultimately at the Nigerian Civil War, which is the primary concern of this paper. Some scholars, commentators and even some persons of the Igbo extraction consider the civil war crisis as genocide against the Igbo nation of south eastern Nigeria. The paper examines the nature of the Nigerian civil war crises with the search light of the crime of genocide, with a view to determining whether it constitutes genocide against the Igbo people. The paper found amongst other findings, that the nature of the Nigeria civil war hostilities may not constitute genocide in its strict legal meaning, but that pockets of war crimes may have been committed.

 

Introduction

 

The heterogeneous nature of Nigerian society and the dynamics of its collectivity in the face of overwhelming mistrust, sectionalism, regionalism, tribalism and nepotism amongst other disuniting forces, has no doubt over the years created a flourishing ground for emergence of multi-dimensional conflicts, ranging from political, ethnical, social and religious crises.[1] These crises may be because of the nature of the emergence of the Nigerian state. It was argued that the Nigerian state emerged from series of predatory activities of the Europeans, which commenced with exploration of resources, then to  slave trade, the Berlin Conference of 1884 and colonialism.[2] In Nigeria, before the advent of colonialism, strong trade and social links had been established between communities; in some instances, the communities were engaged in bitter battles of supremacy such as the battle of conquest by the Jihadist led by Uthman Dan Fodio,[3] Queen Amina’s expansionist wars,[4] the Igala-Jukun[5] battle of supremacy, and the Igala-Benin war[6] It must therefore be stated that some of the factors of conflict in Nigeria today pre-date European incursion, while European incursion introduced new factors of conflict.[7]

 

The nature of the conflict – in the geographical entity later called Nigeria – at the time of European incursion, included the struggle against cultured diffusion and a fierce resistance to the new ways and new values guided by the white imperialists. Predominantly, these crises were more of a resistance nature, fueled by perceived nationalism and/or proto-colonialism. Prominent amongst these crises of resistance were the Esan resistance in Benin Kingdom,[8] the aggressive resistance to European incursion by King Jaja,[9] Aba women riot,[10] which was a high-level protest on colonial policy, and the proto-nationalistic resistance against colonial domination by Nana of Itsekiri.[11]

 

At the exit of the white man, upon attainment of self-governance, Nigeria was plunged into pocket of crises, spurred by regional and sectional interest; all in pursuit of grip of power. These crises included census crises[12], electoral crises,[13] 1966 military coup d’état,[14] which culminated into high level disenchantment, disaffection and mistrust amongst the Nigeria Federating Regions.[15] These resulted to a somewhat hide and seek game, that climaxed at the Kano pogrom and ultimately at the Nigerian civil war.

 

The Nigerian civil war was a war of secession pursuant to the declaration of an Independent State of Biafra by the Igbo people of South Eastern Nigeria, which was fiercely resisted by the Nigeria Federal Government, led by then Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon.[16] The thirty month civil war was and still remains the most calamitous crises situation in the history of Nigeria with consistent hostilities between the periods of 1967-1970.[17] Some scholars[18] and public commentators[19] described the nature of the Nigerian civil war crises as genocide against the Igbo people of South-Eastern Nigeria.  It is premised on the foregoing that this paper seeks to explore and resolve the question as to “whether the hostilities of the Nigeria civil war constitute the perpetration of genocide against the Igbo people in the context of the elements of the crime”. This is with a view to ending the seemingly endless debate as to whether genocide had been perpetrated by the Nigerian government or not.

 

Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970)

 

Background to the Nigerian Civil War

 

The Nigerian civil war like a bomb shell, rocked the emerging Nigerian state from 1967 to 1970; leaving its bloody stains on the heart of the embryonic Nigerian polity, a dreadful stain that still trails the socio-political existence of Nigeria as a collectivity. The thirty month civil war was preceded by a configuration of pre-independent and post-independent crises.[20] It was rightly observed that the origin of the Nigerian civil war could be in a complexity of factors which include the military coups d’etat of January 15, and July 29, 1966.[21] Other remote causes include general unrest in the country, such as the regional election crisis in Western Nigeria, in 1965; the Tiv riot of 1964; the federal election dispute of 1964; the massacre of the Igbos in Northern Nigeria from May to September 1966;[22] the structural imbalance inherent in the Nigerian state; and most importantly the perceived asymmetrical distribution of power among the various ethnic and geo-political groups.[23]

 

Between August and September 1966, the unrest in Northern Nigeria reached its peak, claiming the lives of between ten thousand and thirty thousand Easterners mostly of Igbo extraction and about one million of them fleed from the North to the East.[24] As the civil disturbance continued with the military and political leaders unable to reach an agreement, it was generally agreed that a new constitutional formula, which hoped to give effect to the changes that had occurred, was urgently needed.[25] A Constitutional Conference of ad hoc nature was convened in mid September 1966, to find the way out of the lingering crises.[26] The said ad hoc Constitutional Conference failed because of distrust and bitterness. After failed attempts to meet in Nigeria, the two sides met at Aburi in Ghana under the Chairmanship of General Ankrah, the Chairman of Ghana National Liberation Council. At Aburi, disagreement also erupted between the Federal Military Government and Eastern Region Military Government over the proposal to introduce a greater measure of decentralization by increasing the powers of the region vis-à-vis those of the Federal Government. These created a lot of tension as the military leaders from both sides gave conflicting interpretation of the Aburi accord.[27]

 

On May 26, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu summoned an emergency meeting of the Eastern Nigeria Consultative Assembly to review the situation at hand. The following day, Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon, in a nation-wide broadcast, announced the creation of twelve states, dividing the Eastern region into three states. The Eastern Nigeria Consultative Assembly, already in session in Enugu, responded same night by passing a resolution empowering Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu to proclaim the region as Independent Republic of Biafra; Colonel Ojukwu on May 30, 1967 did so. Consequently, Colonel Gowon announced that Colonel Ojukwu had been dismissed from the Nigerian Army, and sacked as Military Governor of Eastern region.[28] Hostilities then broke out between Federal Troops and Biafran Forces on July 6, 1967.[29]

 

The implication of Ojukwu’s declaration is an effective excise of the Eastern region from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thus, it was the frantic effort of the Federal Government of Nigeria to stop the secession bid of the Eastern region and the passionate desire of Ojukwu to ensure the survival of Biafra that erupted the civil war.[30] The Nigerian civil war is unique in the context of the nation’s history, because it portrays the most vivid expression of a country turning against itself.[31] The Nigerian civil war can be analyzed within the context of genocide as debates on its genocidal trait and otherwise still lingers and trails Nigerian history, crystallizing into disenchantments in the present.[32]

 

 

The Question of Genocide

 

The crime of genocide can be committed in times of peace and in times of war.[33] However, to understand the occurrence of genocide in the context of civil wars, it is vital to fully appreciate the nature of events in the civil war in question. In civil wars, there exists an armed conflict between two or more organized parties,[34] one of them being the government. What they all have in common is that in the hostilities each party will explore and maximize its advantages and possibilities to defeat its rival party.[35] Consequent upon these dynamics of continuing hostilities in armed conflict, the defenseless civilian population is caught in the web of being utilized by the warring parties to either gain territorial control or reduce loyalty to rival party. These war antics and dynamics naturally flow into human atrocities of varying degrees. Where the intention of the party at advantage is to end the life and existence of a group of the population or to seriously damage its legacy towards the greater aim of winning the civil war, in such situation, the possibilities of genocide is highly probable.[36]

 

Maria Balen Gonzalez rightly observed that in genocide, “…it is possible to identify two components on the dynamic of violence: The perpetrator of the violence and the group towards which the violence is directed.”[37] This perpetrator can be any organised party in the civil war. It must however be stated that the government has held this position in majority of cases of genocide during civil wars.[38] This is principally because the government enjoys the advantage of access to state structures, powers and apparatus for carrying on violence towards a selected group. As Valentino rightly argued, often, if government feels threatened by a group, genocide might be the tool to reinforce its position in power.[39] However, it must be emphatically stated that, for the atrocities of a perpetrator in civil war to amount to genocide, such atrocities must be carried out with the motive to end the life and existence of a group or to damage and extinct the legacies of such a group as a collectivity.[40] The victim groups are more often minority group identified by its national, ethnical, religious and racial identity.[41]

 

In the context of Nigerian civil war, it is very imperative to state that the finding of genocide or otherwise can only suffice after a thorough assessment of the nature of the conflict, and the resultant atrocities in relation to whether the Federal government of Nigeria had the requisite special genocidal intent (Dolus Specialis) to bring about the resultant prohibited act – genocide. The conflict must further be considered in relation to some basic elements of the crime of genocide as stipulated by relevant instruments.[42]

 

Nature of the War

 

The hostilities during the Nigerian civil war took place predominantly in the Eastern region, that is, the area that was proclaimed by Ojukwu as Republic of Biafra.[43] Armed conflict commenced between the Federal troops and the Biafran soldiers upon the said proclamation of State of Biafra on 30th May, 1966 almost immediately. In July, 1966 the Federal troops attempted to exert control over the Eastern region after a determined and successful defense which did not yield much fruit. However, the Biafran troops moved across the River Niger into the Mid-West a month later. Aided by Igbo Officers and soldiers in that area, the Biafran troops installed a government under a Mid-Western Igbo officer, Major Albert Okonkwo. Upon this event, the Mid-West then proclaimed its own independence as a separate state from Nigeria and Biafra. This signaled an imminent danger of disintegration of Nigeria into shreds.[44]

 

However, the advance of Igbos panicked the resistance of the Yoruba dominated Western region, especially after radio Biafra promised that the West will also be liberated. At this point, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had to go to the Federal Government with other Yoruba political leaders to pledge their support for the oneness of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.[45] By this act, the Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani people along with other minorities were apparently held together by Anti-Igbo sentiment and common pursuit of the war.[46]

 

As stated earlier, the Biafran troops in a surprise maneuver, not contemplated by the Nigerian Federal troops took over the Mid-West region. Ojukwu explailned his plans, thus:

 

“Our motive was not territorial ambition or the desire of conquest. We went into the Mid-West (later declared the Republic of Benin) purely in an effort to seize the serpent by the head; every other activity in that Republic was subordinated to that single aim. We were going to Lagos to seize the Villain Gowon, and we took necessary military precautions.”[47]

 

Notwithstanding the euphoric verbal heroic espoused by Ojukwu, John de St. Jorre, a reporter for The Observer, gave a far more subdued picture of Biafran Army readiness and organization.[48] He sarcastically stated:

 

“The Biafrans “stormed” through the Mid-West not in the usual massive impediment of modern warfare but in a bizarre collection of private cars, “mammy” wagons, cattle and vegetable trucks. The command vehicle was a Peugeot 404 estate car. The whole operation was not carried out by an “army” or even a “brigade”…but by at most 1,000 men, the majority poorly trained and armed, and many wearing civilian cloths because they had not been issued with uniforms.”[49]

 

After the Biafran invasion, Gowon re-organised his strategy preparatory to launching and offensive attack on Mid-West (“the Republic of Benin”). The Nigerian Federal troops successfully pushed back the Biafrans and arrived at “the Republic of Benin” in September, 1967. The retreating Biafran forces, according to several accounts, allegedly beat up several Mid-Westerners who they believed had served as saboteurs.[50] Nigerian radio reports had claimed that the Biafrans shot many innocent civilians as they fled the advancing Federal forces.[51]

 

(a)     Asaba Pogrom

After the capture of Benin from Biafran forces, the Federal troop advanced towards the River Niger, arriving at Asaba in early October, 1967.[52] There are multiple versions of what transpired when the Federal troops arrived at Asaba. The fears of the people of the town before their arrival were realized. In few days, up to one thousand inhabitants of Asaba died because of the satanic cruelty of the Federal troops; the majority in a single and systematic pogrom of men and boys on October 7, 1967.[53]

 

In the evening of October 6, 1967 leaders of Asaba ordered town criers to summon everyone to assemble to welcome the Federal troops and offer a pledge of loyalty to “one Nigeria”.[54] The people were asked to wear akwa ocha, their traditional ceremonial white clothing that signifies peace. To appease the Federal troops, the people were matching, singing, drumming and chanting “one Nigeria”. The expectation of the people of Asaba was quickly dashed when the matchers were immediately flanked by Federal troops to prevent escape. Eye witnesses report that the soldiers selected males at random and executed them in full view of participant.[55] According to Peter Okonjo:

 

“Women who came with their sons were removing their skirts and gloves to disguise – so that their male children… are no longer men, but women. So when I saw this scenario going on and I felt something is wrong. If this women can disguise their children and my mother is not here, what do I do? And I looked at the whole place there is no where for escape.”[56]

 

After women had left the crowd, machine guns were revealed and mass shooting began at random. Ify Uraih, who was thirteen years old at that time, was at the disastrous welcoming parade with his father and three older brothers. Ify’s narration is as follows:

 

“Some people broke loose and tried to run away. My brother was holding me by the hand; he released me and pushed me further into the crowd…they shot my brother in the back, he fell down and I saw blood coming out of his body. And then the rest of us…just fell down on top of each other. And they continued shooting…Host count of time, I don’t know how long it took… After sometime there was silence. I stood up…my body was covered in blood, but I knew that I was safe. My father was lying not far away; his eyes were open but he was dead.”[57]

 

Between five hundred and eight hundred people seem likely to have died in addition to many who have died the previous day.[58] However, no precise number of casualties has been established in the Asaba massacre of the Nigerian Civil War.[59]In1981, the Asaba Development Council compiled a list of names of 373 confirmed dead, but acknowledged that many more were not included. Eye witness estimates range from 500 to more than 1,000.[60]

 

After the October 7, disaster worst killings stopped. However, Federal troops were said to remain in Asaba, waiting to cross the River Niger into Onitsha. Some remained in the houses of families whose men folk they have executed perpetrating individual violence, sexual assaults and rape.[61] Gertude Ogunkeye recounted how soldiers abducted a young woman for a week before they brought her back to her father, the father has this to say; “When she came back, she was a different girl…She couldn’t talk to any body, she was very weepy… You see we come from a culture where talk like rape is a taboo, you know, a girl says she is raped, getting married is an impossibility”.[62]

 

Just as mothers tried to disguise their sons from execution by dressing them in girls’ apparels on the October 7, 1967 pogrom, so did families try to protect their daughters by disguising them as old women.[63] Victoria Nwanze in her early teens in 1967, recalled: “I carried my younger brother at the back, and my grandmother gave me her dress… so that I would look like an old woman. The same thing with my sister and cousin”.[64] Martina Osaji also reported that her family protected her elder sister, who was then eighteen years old by dressing her in a grandmother like apparels to disguise her as an old woman.[65] According to Bird and Ottanalli, many other persons interviewed on the Asaba pogrom spoke of rape, abduction and forcible marriage.[66] By the second week of October 1967, the people of Asaba had all vanished and taken refuge in near by bush, smaller towns and others fled for safety into the strong hold of Biafra.[67] It must however be stated that, the October 1967 Asaba massacre is virtually absent from published records and contemporary Nigerian news reports made no reference to the killings, only very limited coverage was said to be provided by international press.[68]

 

(b)     Calabar Massacre

The Federal troop without much resistance took over Calabar in early 1968. “In an action reminiscent of Nazi policy of eradicating Jews throughout Europe just twenty years earlier, the Nigerian forces decided to purge the city of its Igbo inhabitants.”[69] One thousand to two thousand Igbos were said to have been killed, most of whom were civilians.[70] It was equally reported that there were numerous other atrocities committed at the Calabar region by Nigerian Federal troops.[71] The Times of London also reported that, “the Nigerian forces opened fire and murdered fourteen nurses and patients in the wards”.[72] This incidence took place at Oji-River.[73] In Uyo and Okigwe numerous lives were said to have been lost to the Nigerian soldiers.[74] According to Achebe, after several weeks of sustained air, land and sea pounding; a period reportedly characterized by military atrocities: rape and looting, Port-Harcourt finally fell to the Nigerian Federal troops on May 12, 1968.[75] Other Igbo cities like Aba, Owerri, Abakelike and Afikpo also fell to the Nigerian forces after recording good number of civilian Igbo casualties.[76]

 

(c)     The Abagana Sector

The Biafran soldiers were certainly not spectators. The proclamation of the Eastern region of Nigeria as the Sovereign State of Biafra which brought about the existence of Biafra – “the land of the rising sun” – necessitated the establishment of a formidable army to vehemently fight the Nigerian “intruders”. The natural consequence of the proclamation of a Sovereign State is a sure emergence of an army which is a definite attribute of a recognised state. Biafra with its passionate quest for international recognition did have one. It had an army irrespective of its glaring inadequacies and logistic depravity. It had an army that courageously fought to save its embryonic life from the Nigerian “vandals”.[77]

 

In numerous instances during the Nigerian Civil War, the Biafran soldiers had victorious outings, over powering the Nigerian forces. One of such victories was at the Abagana sector of the Biafran military formation.[78] The Federal troop finally overcame the resistance of Biafran solders and broke through Onitsha on March 25, 1968. This was the second attempt after suffering great casualties at the hand of Biafran soldiers when they first attempted to do so. On March 31, 1968 Colonel Murtala Mohammed quickly deployed a convoy of ninety-six vehicles and four amoured cars to facilitate the plan of advancing and crushing the heart of Igbo land. On this plan of the Federal troops, Biafran intelligence was quick to respond, and Major Jonathan Uchendu capitalised on the intelligent report at his disposal to formulate a laudable counter-attack that sealed up the Abagana Road. Major Uchendu ordered his seven hundred men to lay ambush in the forest near Abagana waiting for the advancing large Nigerian troop, which was an amalgam of the first and second division of the Nigerian army. Major Uchendu’s strategy was excellently successful. His troop plundered the troop led by Colonel Murtala Mohammed within one and half hours.[79] The Nigerians suffered about five hundred casualties, while there was a very minimal loss of life on the Biafran side.[80] Nigerians who escaped were found wandering aimlessly in the bush. On this episode, the deceased Nigerian foremost literary icon Chinue Achebe related as follows:

 

“There were wide spread reports of atrocities perpetrated by angry Igbo villagers who captured this wandering solders. One particularly harrowing report claimed that a mob of villagers cut their capture into pieces. I was an eye witness to one such (sic) angry blood frenzy of retaliation after a particularly tall and lanky solder – clearly a machinery from Chad or Mali wandered into an ambush of young men with matchets. His life less body was found mutilated on the road side in a matter of seconds. “Gifts” of poisoned water filled calabashes were left in strategic places throughout the deserted villages to “welcome” the thirsty federal troops.”[81]

 

The aggression and stiff resistance put up by Biafran army was believed to be associated with the fresh supply of arms they got from Gabon[82] and France.[83] However, it was observed that throughout the period of war, the Igbo people were consistent in their charge that the Nigerians had a purposeful design to exterminate and extinct the Igbo people from the face of the earth. This genocidal calculation the Igbo’s argued, was premised on a holy jihad proclaimed by mostly Islamic extremists in the Nigerian army.[84] In response to the jihad postulation, Harold Wilson advanced a forceful argument to the effect that the issue of jihad by the Muslims against the Igbo race is watery because, according to him, only 1,000 of the 60,000 – 70,000 federal solders were Muslim Hausas from the North.[85]

 

A lot more journalistic and scholarly arguments had been advanced in favour of genocide. For instance, Dan Jacobs in his book The Brutality of Nations, uncovered a paragraph from an editorial in the Washington Post of July 2, 1969. It states; “One word describes the policy of the Nigerian military government towards secessionist Biafra: genocide. It is ugly and extreme but it is the only word which fits Nigerian’s decision to stop the international committee of the Red Cross, and other relief agencies from flying food to Biafra.”[86] Two Canadian Diplomats were said to have reported that genocide is in fact taking place against the Igbos in the civil war. One of them was said to state that, “anybody who says there is no evidence of genocide is either in the pay of Britain, or being a deliberate fool”, after his visit to the war torn Eastern region.[87] Lloyd Ganison of the New York Times was also said to have reported the harrowing account of genocidal activity on the side of the Nigerian troop.[88]

 

Still on the assertion that the Nigerian Civil War constitutes genocide against the Igbo people, an American historian was said to have observed as follows:

 

“The terrible tragedy of the people of Biafra has now assumed catastrophic dimension. Starvation is now claiming the lives of an estimated 6,000 Igbo tribesmen, most of them children. If adequate food is not delivered to the people in the immediate future hundreds of thousands of human beings will die of hunger.”[89]

 

Commenting on the civil war situation in Nigeria, American President Richard Nixon in his campaign speech on September 10, 1968, states:

 

“Until now efforts to relieve Biafran people have been thwarted by the desire of the central government of Nigeria to pursue total and unconditional victory… But genocide is what is taking place right now – and starvation is the grim reaper… The destruction of an entire people is an immoral objective of wars. It can never be justified; it can never be condoned.”[90]

 

Many more writers, journalists, scholars and commentators hold firmly to the assertion that the nature of the Nigerian Civil War amounts to genocide against the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. However, some veterans, commentators and pictorial situations and accounts tends to suggest otherwise.

 

In a recent study conducted on the Nigerian Civil War, one Dr. Augustine Macaulay Ayeni, a civil war veteran, who fought in 124 Battalion of the First Division of the Nigerian Army, observed as follows:

 

“During the war every soldier from the lowest recruit to the general was given a Code of Conduct of war. The rules were followed strictly. If a place is captured, the commander will ask the populace to come out and food eaten by solders will be used to feed those people…Those of the civilians sick will be taken to MRS[91] for treatment.”[92]

  

On the assertion that, the nature of engagement in the Nigerian Civil War constitutes genocide of the Igbo nation, Dr. Ayeni has this to say:

 

“Well, everybody has right to his opinion, but basically, from my practical experience and the meaning of genocide, I will not agree with such an assertion, because I saw one on one how soldiers in fact behaved during the war. Between Nigeria soldiers and even the civilians. There are some instances where Biafran solders and Nigeria solders interact, smoking and drinking together, sometimes… More so, as most of them were members of Nigerian army before…I will not agree with such a conclusion that it was genocide.”[93]

 

Commenting further on the Code of Conduct, which embodies the rules of engagement in combat; Dr. Ayeni, emphasized that the Code of Conduct which prohibits certain conducts in war was followed strictly. He stated that, any act of violation of the Code of Conduct is a deviant behaviour, which is met with strict punishment. He further stated that, he could remember instances where Nigerian soldiers who shot Biafran soldiers that surrendered were charged, tried, condemned and shot by firing squad.[94] On this issue Dr. Ayeni concluded thus; “if Nigerian army actually followed such steps, how can some body write and say it was genocide.”[95] He further stated that, when Nigeria soldiers are coming to an area, there is always an announcement to the people of that area, to remain inside lie down under their bed or a protective wall to avoid being harmed by wandering bullets.[96] Dr. Ayeni conclusively stated that the motive of the civil war is unification of the country, which he said brought about the much celebrated slogan; “keeping Nigeria one is a task that must be done.”[97]

 

Another civil war veteran also interviewed in the said study is Idris Umar (MWO).[98] He joined the military in 1967. He was of the Second Division of the Nigeria Army.  He emphasized the strict adherence to the Code of Conduct by Nigerian soldiers during the civil war. He stated that the Code of Conduct enjoins soldiers not to kill until their own life is in danger. He further corroborated Dr. Ayeni’s statement when, he narrated that as a Company Sergeant – Major, he usually ask the civilians and captured Biafran solders to line up with his solders to take food.[99] MWO Umar, during the interview, consistently reiterated the fact that, the civil war was a fight between brothers, with the motive of bringing back home a straying brother.[100] In his words, he states: “We don’t want our brothers to go astray, that is why we fought back to see that we bring them back. They are trying to go astray, that is why we fought to bring them back.”[101]

 

Captain Ojotu (Retired.) also fought the civil war. He corroborated most of the statements by Dr. Ayeni and MWO Umar (Rtd.). He observed that the Nigerian civil war was fought with the sole aim of bringing the Igbos back and nothing more.[102] He equally admitted the existence of a Code of Conduct which enjoins all solders on the Nigerian side not to kill indiscriminately in the cause of war; that the Code of Conduct often serve as a reminder to the soldiers that the Igbos are not real enemies in its strict meaning.[103]

 

It was contended that even proponents of Biafra for the most part, acknowledged that, it is not the official policy of Nigerian government to commit genocide against the Igbos.[104] As stated earlier, they contended that some over-zealous local military commanders intended and indeed tried to wipe out as many Igbos as possible;[105] stating that some Muslim commanders regard the war as a holy war (Jihad) against the Igbo people. An international military observer group, on the other hand, reported that there was no evidence of intent on the part of Nigerian troops to wipe out the Igbo people.[106] At the time of the civil war, it was contended that, 30,000 Igbo people still lived in Lagos, and over 500,000 still stayed in the Mid-West, with some still holding senior posts in Federal Government.[107] Some British officials were said to have seen abandoned property committees and reconstruction and rehabilitation committees in many states, and that those committees were administering Igbo peoples’ houses and shops, that were abandoned in the hope that the Igbos will return.[108] The question that naturally flows from the foregoing is that, can such an act be found in a genocide heart that pursues a state policy of annihilation?

 

As stated earlier, the Biafrans were ready for what they consider as a war of liberation. They were not oppressed and helpless people at the mercy of the Federal troops. They fought fiercely; which caused the Federal troops unprecedented loss in human lives.[109] Ojukwu’s speech at the early stage of the war, firmly buttresses this assertion. Ojukwu states:

 

“In spite of initial handicaps, our brave and gallant forces on land, air and sea, have not only held their own but are giving the enemy exactly what they deserve. The initiative has now passed permanently into our hands. The daily toll on enemy lives has been heavy and sometime staggering. That the enemy has not called off aggression in the face of their heavy losses in human lives is another evidence of their utter disregard for those lives…We have destroyed the enemy in Bonny and liberated that ancient and historic island. The remnants of the enemy in the Enugu sector are being systematically destroyed. The same is true of Nkalagu sector. In the Ogoja sector our advances and successes have been steady and consistent. In the Calabar sector, the enemy is being starved to death…”.[110]

 

In a rather cool and firm manner, the initial speech of Gowon at the early stages of the civil war was devoid of egocentrism and extreme pride of gallantry, as Ojukwu’s speech. He only congratulated the solders and reiterated the need for them to consistently abide by the code of conduct and their oath as soldiers, clearly restating the objective of the war among other issues. He says:

 

“I congratulate you, members of the armed forces and the police, for the magnificent discipline which you have shown so far. You must continue to conduct yourselves strictly according to your code of conduct and oath as soldiers. The great cause for which we are fighting demands this of all of us. The objective of the current operations to crush the rebellion of Ojukwu and those whom he has blackmailed and misled…Our detractors have tried to confuse issues. Some of them have suggested that we are fighting a religious war – a war of “Federal Moslems” against “Christian rebels”. This is non-sense. The entire world should know by now that more than sixty percent of the officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces are Christians and not Moslems…Let the malicious propaganda amongst our detractors cease. Let the rebels stop pushing innocent Igbo youths and others in their thousands to a senseless untimely death. I and my Government guarantee the Ibos (sic) a future of absolute equality with all the other ethnic groups in this country…”[111]

 

From the afore-cited speeches of Ojukwu and Gowon at the initial stage of the civil war, it is instructive to note that Ojukwu’s statement was a forceful assertion and glorification of the gallantry and exploit of the Biafran soldiers against the Federal troops which he ceaselessly referred to as “enemy”, while the statement of Gowon restated the determination of the Federal Government to keep a united Nigeria, with a promise to keep the cherished place of the Igbos in Nigerian politics. Unlike Ojukwu, Gowon used the word “detractors” in referring to the Biafran soldiers and not enemies. It is humbly submitted that, the choice of the word “detractors” by Gowon instead of “enemies” may just be a pointer to the fact of the Nigerian government disposition on the war, which it sees as not fighting a real enemy but a straying brother. This mentality of the Federal Government might be the reason why all captured Igbos were found alive at Federal war camps at the end of the war while the perception of Nigerians by Biafran soldiers might have informed the destruction of all except three of the hundreds of Nigerian soldiers captured by Biafran.[112]

 

The foregoing, gives an overview of the nature of the crisis and engagements of the Nigerian civil war. The appreciation of this crisis in the light of the crime of genocide can only suffice after a consideration of the law of genocide.

 

The Law of Genocide

 

The legal prohibition of some forms of genocide such as wars of annihilation, developed ages before their codification in Genocide Convention of 1948 and the subsequent Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.[113] These aged long prohibitions were clothed in treaties and customary rules of international law.[114] Even though, as it were, the term genocide was unknown, certain form of acts, which could be described as genocide in present days, were violations of customary international law, which prohibits such heinous acts.[115]

 

However, the crime of genocide which has ravaged humanity for as long as human history was finally codified in an International Instrument called the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) 1948;[116] which became operational in 1951. The provision of this Convention was subsequently re-echoed in the same wordings in other instruments such as the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC);[117] Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)[118] and Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).[119] These are the extant laws regulating genocide in international law. It must however be stated that, the preemptory nature of the crime as a customary rule of international law may ignite the prosecution of such a crime even if a state is not signatory to the extant instruments.[120]

 

The law of genocide therefore provides:

 

“Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:

Killing members of the group;

Causing harm to members of the group;

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical

 Destruction in whole or in part;

Imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group; and

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”[121]

 

Resolving the Question of Genocide in the Nigerian Civil War

 

In resolving this highly debatable question which has over the years adored pages of literature from a strict legal perspective; we shall formulate two fundamental issues for determination, which we shall set out to determine based on our examination and assessment of the nature of the crises in the Nigerian Civil War.

 

Issue 1

 

Whether by the nature and character of military engagement between the parties, genocide would be said to have been perpetrated against the Igbo people.

 

Issue 2

 

Whether the evidence of the nature and circumstances of the civil war crises satisfies the requisite actus reus and mens rea of genocide.

 

On Issue 1

 

Zwaan, rightly observed that nearly all authors in the field of genocide studies are unanimous on the fact that genocide must be carefully distinguished from war and civil war.[122] War in modern sense usually entails a violent conflict between two or more sovereign states, primarily fought between their armed forces which may bring about many military casualties and many civilian casualties.[123] Military casualties and civilian victims of war are not considered as victims of genocidal crimes. The same is also true of civil war.[124] Z’waan contended that civil war may also lead to considerable number of casualties amongst the fighting forces of the parties involved and may even bring about many civilian deaths, either directly or indirectly or through atrocities related to military action, but again, the victims are usually not seen as victims of genocide.[125] Furthermore, it was posited that what distinguished genocidal situation in principle from situation of war and civil war is that during genocides one of the parties, that is the perpetrator group is armed and organised to use force which the other party, that is the victim group, is not armed or organised to use force. In genocidal situations, the means of violence and means of organisation are extremely unevenly distributed, and overwhelmingly concentrated on the side of the perpetrators.[126] Genocide is therefore not war nor civil war, it is a form of one-sided killing; where the victims are essentially defenseless and helpless against the powers of the persecutors, even when they do not pose any threat, they are targeted for persecution, forcible uprooting, deportation and potential and actual destruction.[127] However, even the Genocide Convention in Article I states that genocide could be committed in time of war or peace, the type of war envisaged is that of extreme defenselessness and where the means of violence are extremely unevenly distributed.[128]

 

This researcher agrees in totality with the foregoing postulations, which Zwaan rightly stated as the unanimous position of most scholars of genocide studies.[129] From the above stand point, a lot of questions come to mind, viz:

 

·       Were the Igbo people (Biafrans) essentially defenseless and helpless against the Nigerian Federal troops?

·       Were the Igbo people (Biafrans) unorganized and unarmed?

·       Was the means of violence extremely unevenly distributed and overwhelmingly concentrated on the side of the Nigeria Federal troops?

·       Is the Nigerian civil war situation an entirely one sided killing of the Igbos?

 

In answering these questions, it is instructive to note that Biafra had an army that fought fiercely, which according to Ojukwu in his eloquent speech at the early stages of the civil war commended the army for fighting on the sea, air and land which he stated has caused the enemies very high and sometime staggering death toll, at a lot of sectors of the Biafran military formation[130]. Further noteworthy is the systematic and highly technical ambush led by Major Jonathan Uchendu at Abagana sector, which saw to almost a total annihilation of a battalion of the Nigerian federal troop.[131]

 

It should also be remembered that the Biafran soldiers captured the Mid-Western region and made an offensive crackdown towards Ore with the passionate quest to “liberate” Lagos and capture “Jack” Gowon.[132] It was equally on record that some countries recognized the state of Biafra and supplied of weapons started coming into Biafra from such countries, with France as the flagship.[133] This was believed to have fortified Biafra and strengthened its resistance.

 

Based on the above, it is safe to state that the Biafrans had an organised army that fought gallantly during the civil war, which led to the death of numerous Nigerian soldiers. Therefore, the killings during the civil war can not be said to be one sided as the death on the part of the parties if considered in relation to the population will be enormous on the part of the Federal troop. Ojukwu himself had echoed this reality in his speech at the early stages of the war as earlier observed.[134]

 

 

 

 

On Issue 2

 

The law of genocide examined earlier stipulates series of acts (a) – (e) as constituting the physical element of the crime of genocide, otherwise referred to as the actus reus of the crime. These acts that constitutes the physical elements if done to a group protected by the law of genocide with the requisite mental element or mens rea, may amount to genocide. The groups sought to be protected are national, ethnical, racial and religious group. The mental element of the crime of genocide is the special intent (Dolus specialis) to destroy any of the stipulated group in whole or in part. While the physical element as stated earlier are those series of act (a) – (e) viz:

 

Killing members of the group;

Causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group;

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

Imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group; and

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another.[135]

 

The pertinent question and the basic issue sought to be determined at this point is whether the physical element of genocide enumerated above and the requisite mental element can find a place in the crisis of the Nigerian civil war to establish a claim of genocide against the Igbo people of South-eastern region of Nigeria.

 

Protected Group

 

It is without any doubt that the Igbo people as a collectivity could rightly fall within the groups protected by the Genocide Convention and other instruments on genocide. This is because the Igbo people could rightly be described as an ethnic group. Beyond ethnic group, they could even rightly be described in the context of Biafra as a national group, which is still a group that enjoys protection by the extant law of genocide[136]. Though the declaration of the state of Biafra might be seen by the Nigerian Government as illegal, a contravention of its Constitution and a crime against the state (treasonable felony), it must be stated that the doctrine of recognition of state in international law stipulates that the recognition of a state is an individual and independent act of the recognizing state.[137] Therefore, being recognised by some countries and having satisfied the basic requirement of statehood in international law,[138] the Republic of Biafra within the thirty months of its existence could be said to be a national group.[139] It is therefore very glaring that the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria fall within the group(s) envisaged by Article II of the Genocide Convention of 1948 and other already mentioned relevant provisions of other international instruments on genocide.[140]

 

Physical Element (actus reus)

 

As earlier stated, the physical elements of the crime of genocide are the different acts specifically stated in Genocide Convention[141] and other relevant instruments on genocide.[142] These acts (a) – (e) is what constitutes the actus reus of the crime of genocide. To amount to genocide, it is not the requirement that the series of acts (a) – (e) conjunctively occur. The occurrence of one of the acts disjunctively, with the requisite mental element may amount to genocide.

In relation to Nigeria civil war crises, it can conclusively be said that killing members of the Igbo ethnic group took place. This is certainly not contentious in civil wars; even though it has been established that the killings were on both sides of the warring parties, since the Federal troop too recorded high toll of death. It will equally be true of the Nigerian civil war to say that serious bodily or mental harm has been caused to members of the Igbo ethnic group during the crises situation of the civil war. What may be debatable is the series of acts (a) – (e), is (c) Deliberately inflicting on members of the Igbo group conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the Igbo group; and(e) Forcibly transferring children of the Igbo group to another.[143] These later acts are said to be highly debatable because there is no firm nor conclusive evidence of their existence against the Igbo people during the civil war. However, their non-existence or otherwise is not fatal to establishing the existence of the physical element of genocide, since the fact of killing members of the Igbo group alone could disjunctively establish the existence of the actus reus of genocide if it crystallizes from a blameworthy mind with the required intent.

 

Flowing from the foregoing analysis, it is very clear that acts constituting the actus reus or physical element of genocide existed against the Igbo people in the Nigerian civil war crises. The critical determinant question is whether these physical acts that brought about prohibited results were product of special intent pursuant to a genocidal policy of Nigerian Federal Government.

 

Mental Element (mens rea)

 

The mental element of the crime of genocide envisaged by the Genocide Convention of 1948 and other related international instruments is the “intent” to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.[144] In the absence of the required intent, whatever degree of atrocity constitutes an act, and however similar it might be to the act described in the convention and other relevant laws, the act will still not be genocide.[145] Consequently, all the acts stated as constituting the actus reus of genocide cannot ignite criminal responsibility for genocide, except such acts were accompanied with the requisite genocidal intent.[146]

 

The intent requirement is different from the usual intent or general intent requirement for crimes known as dolus. In genocide, special intent called dolus specialis is required. This type of intent is said to have the component of “knowledge” and “intent”.[147] Intent being of the mind is very difficult to ascertain, that is why the Akayesu Trial Chamber observed that, “intent is a mental factor which is difficult, even impossible to determine”,[148] and stating further that, short of confession of the accused, intent can only be inferred from number of presumption and circumstances.[149] It is equally important to establish the existence of a planned policy in pursuit of genocide, which may be indicative of genocidal intent. However, a Trial Chamber of Rwandan Tribunal rightly observed that, even though a specific plan to destroy does not constitute an element of genocide, it will seem that it is not possible to carryout genocide without a planned policy or organization.[150] Therefore the existence of such a plan policy will be a strong indicator of the presence of the special intent requirement necessary for the crime of genocide.[151]

 

In relation to Nigerian civil war, the crucial question is whether the Nigerian Federal Government led by Yakubu Gowon had special intent to pursue a genocidal policy against the Igbo people. In resolving this question, it is very important to review some vital indices of the crises already examined in this chapter while considering the nature of the war.

 

Dr Augustine Ayeni and Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Umar (Rtd) in a study conducted by NNTPC stated that all soldiers were given a code of conduct by the military authority which enjoins soldiers to abide by the code of conduct in their military operations during the civil war.[152] Dr. Ayeni emphatically stated that the code of conduct was followed strictly. He said the code of conduct prohibits all form of inhuman conduct in combat. On this, MWO Umar (Rtd.) said the code of conduct categorically stated that they should not kill until they are at the danger of being killed.[153] Still on the code of conduct, Dr. Ayeni observed that, the violation of the code of conduct, which prohibits inhumane treatment of civilians and prisoners of war, is treated as a punishable deviant behaviour. He re-called an incident where a Nigerian soldier shot and killed a harmless pregnant Igbo woman and the soldier was charged, court martial, found guilty and equally shot to death.[154]

 

General Gowon’s speech at the early stages of the civil war was not like the speech of Ojukwu which hailed the gallantry and exploit of the Biafran soldiers in destroying the enemies on the air, on the sea and on the land. Gowon in his speech consciously congratulated the Nigerian soldiers and the police and urge them to continue conducting themselves strictly in accordance to the code of conduct and their calling. The speech emphasized the objectives of the civil war as:

 

Preservation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria;

Ensuring the equality of all ethnic groups in Nigeria;

To strengthen the new administrative structure of Nigeria against the tendencies of domination;

To create internal condition of stability and freedom of movement of persons and goods necessary for the most rapid economic and social development of Nigeria; and

To win the respect of the outside world for ourselves and for the African and its ability to order its own affairs.[155]

Gowon in his speech also stated the conditions for lasting peace and cessation of military operations were; “First, the rebels must renounce secession… Second, the rebel regime must accept the present administrative structure of a Federal Union of Nigeria comprising of twelve states… Third, a body of men must come forward from the East Central state willing to work for national reconciliation, peace and reconstruction…”[156]

 

It is important to note that Gowon – in the speech under review – promised the Igbo people a future of absolute equality with all the other ethnic groups in Nigeria.[157] Equally worthy of note and emphasis is the fact that about one million Igbo people were living in Lagos and Mid-West during the civil war, and there was no evidence of their being targeted for annihilation.[158] It is equally instructive for the determination of the question of genocide in the Nigerian civil war to recall the fact that, at the end of the civil war all captured Igbo rebels in Federal troop war camps were found alive and released while at the Biafran camp hundreds of Federal soldiers caught were killed except three who have some Igbo affinity.[159] Gowon’s declaration of no victor no Vanquish,[160] and the subsequent policy of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction; and the assertion by British observers that some states had committees watching over the properties of Igbo people and managing the properties in expectation of their return, speaks volumes about the intention of Nigerian Federal Government.

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

In the face of all these indices of the crises, code of conduct, speeches and policy pronouncements; will the Federal Government of Nigeria be said to have pursued genocidal policy against the Igbo people of South Eastern Nigeria during the Nigerian civil war? It is apt to conclude that the Nigerian Federal Government did not pursue a genocidal policy against the Igbo people; neither did it possess the requisite mental element for the crime of genocide. Consequently, it is humbly posited that the Nigerian civil war crises situation between 1967 and 1970 may not suffice as genocide in the strict legal sense, but pockets of war crimes and crimes against humanity might have been committed.

 

 

References

 

Okoye, F. (2000) (ed.) Victims: Impact of Religious and Ethnic Conflicts on Women and Children in Northern Nigeria, Human Rights Monitor, Kaduna.

Aremu, J.O. (2011) “The Fulani Jihadist and its Implication for National Integration and Development in Nigeria”, African Research Review 5(5).

Osagie, J.I. (2014) “Colonial Conquest and Resistance: The Case of Esan People of Benin Province of Nigeria”, Canadian Social Science, 10(4).

Rotimi, K. and Ogen, O. (2008) “Jaja and Nana in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria: Proto-Nationalists or Emerging Capitalists” Journal of Pan African Studies 2(7).

Bartrop, P.R. (2012) A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary Genocide, Santa Barbara: ABC – CLIO.

Mwakikagili (2001) Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, Huntington Publishers.

Schlesinger, A.M. (1983) The Dynamics of World Power. A Documentary History of U.S. Foreign Policy 1945-1973, Chelsea House, New York.

Thomas, A.N. (2010) “Beyond the Platitude of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Nigeria: Revolutionary Pressure in Niger Delta” J. Sustain Develop. Africa 12(1).

Folade, A.J. (2011) “Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970: A Revolution?” African Journal of Political Science and International Relations, 5(3) p.12.

Lesse, H. and Dirk, M. (2014) “The Nigeria Biafra War: Postcolonial Conflict and the Question of Genocide” Journal of Genocide Research (16)2 – 3.

Gonzalez, M.B. (2012) “Genocide: Assessing its Determinant in Civil Wars”. A draft paper written to support the poster presentation of the workshop: Advancing the Scientific Study of Conflict and Co-operation: Alternative Perspectives from UK and Japan.

Ojukwu, C.O. (1969) Biafra: Selected Speeches and Journals of Events, Harper and Row, New York.

Achebe, C. (2012) There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, Penguin, London, p.12.

Bird, S.E. and Ottaneli, F. (2011) “The History and Legacy of the Asaba, Nigeria Massacres” African Studies Review, Vol. 54.

Appiah, K.A. and Gates, H.L. (2005) Africana 2nd edn., Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Nwadike, J. (2010) Soldiers Survival from the Jars of Death.

Faruk, U. (2011) The Victors and Vanquished of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970: Triumph of Truth and Valour over Greed and Amibition, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Limited, Zaria, p.186-187.

Mahoney, M.R. (2003) “The Zulu Kingdom as a Genocidal and Post – Genocidal Society 1810 to Present Day” Journal of Genocide Research, 5(5).

Anderson, R.J. (2055) “Redressing Colonial Genocide: The Hero’s Cause of Action against Germany”, California Law Review, Vol. 93.

Zwaan, T. (2003) “On the Etiology and Genesis of Genocide and Mass Crimes Targeting Specific Groups”, Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam/Roofal Netherland Academy of Arts and Science, Amsterdam.

Ojukwu, E.O. (1989) Because I am Involved, Spectrum Books Limited, Ibadan.

Ladan, M.T. (2008) Material and Cases in Public International Law, Ahmadu Bellow University Press, Zaria.

Alagande, A.M. (2008) “Prosecutor vs. Krstic Traversing the Contours of the mens rea of Genocide”, 1(2), A.B.U.J.P.I.L.

 

 

 



[1] Some of the crises includes; Kano Riot 1966, 1964 Federal Election Crisis, 1965 Western Region     

Electoral Crises, Jos Crisis 1999 to date, Census Crisis 1963 - 1965

[2] Okoye, F. (2000) (ed.) Victims: Impact of Religious and Ethnic Conflicts on Women and Children in Northern Nigeria, Human Right Monitor, Kaduna, p. 2.

[3] Aremu, J.O (2011) “The Fulani Jihadist and its Implication for National Integration and Development in

  Nigeria” African Research Review 5(5) serial 22, pp.1-12.

[4] Queen Amina of Zaria., “African Feminist Ancestors”, Africa Feminist Forum.   

   www.africanfeministforum.com/queen-amina-of-zaria-nigeria. (Accessed 25/03/2018. 12:22GMT.)

[5] Trip Down Memory Lane (2014) “Igala People: Ancient Nigerian Inhabitants of Niger-Benue   

   Confluence in Kogi State”. http://kwekwudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com/2014/03/igala-people-ancient-nigeria.html?=1(Accessed on 25/03/2018 14:11GMT) 

[6] World Languages and Cultural Documentation Project (2013) “Ejubejuailo – ATA’S Pectoral Mask”   

   Igalapedia. http://igalapedia.com/ejubejuailo-the-atas-pectoral/mask/

[7] Okoye, op. cit., n. 2, pp. 2-3

[8] Osagie, J.I., (2014)” Colonial Conquest and Resistance: The case of Esan People of Benin Province of 

  Nigeria”, Canadian Social  Science, vol. 10, no. 4

[9] Rotimi, K and Ogen, O.,(2008) “Jaja and Nana in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria: Proto-Nationalists

  or Emerging Capitalists” Journal of  Pan African Studies, vol. 2, no. 7., These writers recognized the

  fact that King Jaja of Opobo and Governor Nana of Itsekiri as pioneer nationalists in the struggle against

   imperialism. However, in another breath , the writers described Jaja and Nana as Nigeria’s first modern

   capitalists                                  

[10]November – December, 1929., This was a riot led by women in the province of Calabar and Owerri-

   Nigeria, it was a protest against high imposition of taxation by Colonial Government.

[11] Rotimi and Ogen, op. cit., n. 4.

[12] 1963 – 64, the 1962 census crisis was actually not the first census to become smeared in suspicion and

   controversy. Some other effort to level of distrust and revolt, this is because of mutual suspicion and

   accusation of regional bias. The 1952-1953 census was avoided by many Nigerians as it was suspected

   to be a plot to increase taxation. Nigeria become engulfed in high political controversy that majority of

   Nigerians are in the Northern Region, a basis that was used for allocation of legislators at the centre.

   See Diamond, L., at http://link.springs.com/chapter/10.007%2F978-1-349-08080-9-5 last visited

   07/01/2007 at 20:55 (GMT)

[13] 1964 Federal Election crisis and 1965 Western Region Electoral Crisis were the most prominent

[14] This coup was believed to be executed by Igbo elements in the military against the Northern Political

    Leader and top military officers who were killed. This was followed by a revenger counter coup by

    Northern elements in the Army.

[15] Nigerian at this time became suspicious of each other, thus identity politics and regional mindedness

    held sway, therefore weakening the collective aspiration of the embryonic state.

[16] Folade, infra., n.23, p. 122.

[17] Over 100,000 people killed – see: Bartrop, P. R(2012) A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporary

    Genocide, Santa Barbara:ABC – CLIO, p. 107. And over 3,000,000  people displaced – see:

    Mwakikagili (2001) Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, Huntington Publishers, p. 176

[18] Schlesinger, A.M (1983) The Dynamics of World Power. A Documentary History of U.S Foreign

    Policy, 1945 – 1973, Chelsea House, New York, p.41

[19] Speech of President Richard Nixon in his campaign on September 10, 1968, where he described what

    was happening in the Nigerian Civil War as Genocide perpetrated by starvation, concluding that the

    destruction of an entire people is an immoral objective of war which cannot be justified and condoned.

    cited in Schlesinger, Ibid

[20] Thomas, A.N. (2010) “Beyond the Platitude of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Nigeria: Revolutionary Pressure in Niger Delta” J. Sustain Develop. Africa. 12(1), pp. 56-57.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Cervenka, Z. (1972) A History of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970, Onibonje Press, Ibadan, cited in Folade, A.J. (2011) “Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970: A Revolution?” African Journal of Political Science and International Relations, Vol. 5(3) p. 120.

[23] Folade, ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Folade, p.121

[31] Ibid.

[32]  On the genocidal debate of the Nigerian civil war crisis situation- see: Douglas, A.(2014)’Ours is a

    War of Survival: Biafra, Nigeria and Arguments about Genocide, 1967 – 1970” Journal of Genocide

    Research(16)2 – 4, p. 205. See also: Lesse, H & Dirk, M.(2014)”The Nigeria Biafra War: Postcolonial

    Conflict and the Question of Genocide” Journal of Genocide Research(16)2 – 3, p.169

[33] Art. 1, Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC).

[34] For instance during the Liberian Civil War, there were three organized parties viz: The Government Faction led by Samuel Doe; The Charles Taylor fanction and the Prince Yome Johnson’s faction.

[35] Gonzalez, M.B. (2012) “Genocide: Assessing its determinant in Civil Wars”. A draft paper written to support the poster presentation of the workshop: Advancing the Scientific Study of Conflict and Co-operation: Alternative Perspective from UK and Japan at 2nd meeting Colchester UK, 20-22 March, 2012 p. 5.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Valentine, B., and Huth, I. (2004) “Draining the Sea: Mass Killing and Guerrilla Warfare”, cited in Gonzalez, ibid.

[39] Valentine, B. (2004) Mass Killing: The Final Solution, Cornel University Press, London, cited in Gonzalez, ibid.

[40] Art. II Genocide Convention, 1948

[41] Ibid.

[42] See for example: Art. II Genocide Convention of 1948; Art. 4, Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia; Art. 2, Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Art. 6 Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC).

[43] This means that, the civil war was fought on the Geographical enclave of Eastern Nigeria. The area that

    colonel Ojukwu declared as Republic of Biafra om 30 May, 1967

[44] See generally: O’Connell, J., “The Scope of Tragedy” African Report, February 1968, pp. 10-15.

[45] See: The untold story of the Biafran war (From American secret documentary part 2) 14 April, 2013.

    www.nigeriavillagesquare.com>Articles

[46] Memorandum from American Jewish Congress 15 East 84th St. New York, N.Y. 10028 T.R/9-

   4500/December 27.

[47] Ojukwu, C.O. (1969) Biafra: Selected Speeches and Journals of Events, Harper & Row, New York.

[48] Achebe, C. (2012) There was a country: A personal History of Biafra, Penguin, London, p. 128.

[49] De St. Jones, The Nigerian Civil War, cited in Achebe, ibid.

[50] Achebe, op.cit., n. 48, p.206

[51] See generally: Achebe, Ibid., pp. 132-133.

[52] Ibid., pp. 209 - 210

[53] Bird, S.E., and Ottaneli, F. (2011) “The History and Legacy of the Asaba, Nigeria Massacres” African Studies Review, Vol. 54, No. 3, p. 2.

[54]  Bird and Ottanalli, Ibid.,p.4.

[55] Testimonies of John Kanayo, Hudson Odittah and Anyibuofu Onya-Onianwah, Ohaneze Petition, 1969, cited in Bird and Ottanelli, ibid., p. 10.

[56] Personal interview of Peter Okonyo, December 14, 2009. In Bird and Ottanalli, ibid. p. 10.

[57] Personal interview of Ify Uraih, October 9, 2009. In Bird and Ottanalli, ibid. pp. 10-11.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Bird and Ottanalli, ibid., p. 11.

[61] Personal interview of Medua Uraih, December 13, 2009. In Bird and Ottanalli, ibid., p. 12.

[62] Personal interview of Gertrude Ogunkeye, December 11, 2009. In Bird and Ottanalli, ibid., p. 12.

[63] Personal interview of Victoria Nwanze, December 16, 2009. In Bird and Ottanalli, Ibid.

[64] Personal interview of Victoria Nwanze, December 16, 2009. In Bird and Ottanalli, ibid.

[65] Personal interview of Martina Osaji, October 4, 2011. In Bird and Ottanalli, ibid.

[66] Bird and Ottanalli, op. cit., n. 53, p. 25.

[67] Ibid., p. 12.

[68] Ibid., p. 13.

[69] Craig, D.T. (Rev.), writing in Presbyterian Record of December, 1967 (Scotland) cited in Achebe, op. cit., n. 48, p. 137.

[70] Friendly, A. Jnr., “Pressure Rising in Nigeria to end the Civil War as Military Standoff Continues” New York Times January 14, 1968. Cited in Achebe, ibid.

[71] Ibid.

[72] The Times of London, August 2, 1968.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Achebe, op. cit., n.48 p. 137.

[76] Ibid., pp. 137-140.

[77] Art. 1 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of State, made the existence of an army a

    requirement for statehood.

[78] See: Ojukwu’s heroic expouse in his speech at the early stage of the war; where he applauded the

    Biafran soldiers for destroying the enemies at Bonny, Enugu, Nkalagu, Abagana and Ogoja sectors of

    the Biafran military formation – see generally Faruk, U., Infra.,n.110, pp. 86 – 87.

[79] Rilwan, “ There was a country: Ogbunigwe, Abagana ambush, Achebe and Ifejuna”. The Nation    

   Nigeria. Thenationonlineng.net

[80] Ibid., p. 173.

[81] Ibid., p. 174.

[82] The New York Times, November 27, 1968; It was reported that the new arms reaching Biafra from what many believe are French sources have so stiffened Biafran persistence that there is little expectation of an early Federal victory – See generally Memorandum from American Jewish Congress, op. cit., n. 26.

[83] Ibid.

[84] Achebe, op. cit., n. 48, p. 219.

[85] Memorandum from American Jewish Congress, op. cit.,n.46

[86] Jacobs, D., The Brutality of Nations, cited in Achebe, op. cit., p. 230.

[87] Memorandum from American Jewish Congress, op. cit., n.46

[88] Ibid.

[89] Schlesinger, A.M. (1983) Dynamics of World Power: A Documentary History of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1945-1973, Chelsea House, New York, p. 41.

[90] Ibid.

[91] M.R.S. means Military Reception Station – It is a military clinic facility.

[92] Personal interview of Dr. Augustine Macaulay Ayeni, in a study on the Nigerian Civil War, conducted by Network for National Tolerance and Peaceful Co-existence (NNTPC) on 4th day of March, 2013.

[93] Ibid.

[94] Ibid.

[95] Ibid.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Ibid.

[98] M.W.O. means Master Warrant Officer.

[99] Personal interview of MWO Idris Umar (Retired) by the 1st author in a recent study conducted by Network for National Tolerance and Peaceful Co-existence (NNTPC) 4th day of March, 2013.

[100] Ibid.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Personal interview of Captain Ojotu (Retired.) by the 1st author conducted for NNTPC 5th March,

     2013.

[103] Ibid.

[104] Memorandum from American Jewish Congress, op. cit., n.46

[105] Ibid.

[106] New York Times, October 23, 1968.

[107] Memorandum from American Jewish Congress, op. cit.,n.46

[108] Ibid.

[109] Appiah, K. A and Gates, H.L(2005) Africana 2nd edn., Oxford, Oxford University Press, p.453. see

     also: Nwadike, J.(2010) Soldiers Survival from the Jaws of Death, p. 57

[110] Faruk, U. (2011) The Victors and Vanquished of the Nigerian Civil War 1967-1970: Triumph of Truth

     and Valour over Greed and Ambition, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Limited, Zaria, pp. 186-187.

[111] Ibid., pp. 188-189.

[112] A report by General Adeyinka Adebayo after the war, revealed the gory details of inhuman treatment

    of captured Nigerian troops (especially Northerners) in the hand of their Igbo captors. The report

    revealed that out of the captured hundreds of Northern troops and other non-Northern soldiers, only

    THREE (3) were found alive in all the detention camps ran by Igbos. The three were (1) Commissioner of Police Mr. Joseph Adeola an indigene of the Mid West, (2) Mr. Ibekwe – also Police Commissioner an Ika Igbo also from the Mid West, and (3) Another Mid Westerner. This is contrary to what is obtained in the Federal war camps after the war, where all captured Igbo war rebels were found alive and intact – See: Faruk, Ibid., p. 99

[113] Mahoney, M.R (2003) “ The Zulu Kingdom as a Genocidal and Post – Genocidal Society 1810 to

     Present Day” Journal of Genocide Research (5)5p.263

[114] Anderson, R.J. (2005) “Redressing Colonial Genocide: The Hero’s Cause of Action against Germany,

     California Law Review, Vol. 93, p. 1158. 

[115] Bluntchli, J.C., Das Marderne Volkorrecht Der Civilisiritin Staten (1878) 299-300 cited in Anderson,

     Ibid., p. 1169.

[116] Adopted by Resolution 260(III) A of the U.N. General Assembly on 9th December, 1948, which

     became operational on 12th January, 1951.

[117] Art. 6, Rome Statute of ICC.

[118] Art. 4(2) Statute of ICTY.

[119] Art. 2(2) Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

[120] Umozurike, U.O., “Human Rights and Democracy in the 21st Century – The African Challenges” in

     Ladan, M.T. (ed.) (1999) Law, Human Rights and the Administration of Justice in Nigeria (Zaria:

     A.B.U Press Limited, Zaria, p. 43. It was observed that, a state may not take part in treaty, but it may

     find that certain matters covered by the treaty are already part of customary rules of international law.

    A state that has not ratified or acceded to the Genocide Convention of 1948 will find no succor in

     committing genocide, because it is bound by the principle of the Convention which has become part of

     customary international law.

[121]  Art. II, Genocide Convention, 1948

[122]  Zwaan, infra., n. 125, para.11

[123]  Ibid., para.12

[124]  Zwaan, T. (2003) “On the Etiology and Genesis of Genocide and Mass Crimes Targeting Specific   

     Groups”, Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies University of Amsterdam/Roofal Netherland

     Academy of Arts and Science, Amsterdam, pp. 13-14, para. 14.

[125] Ibid., p. 14, para. 14.

[126] Ibid.

[127] Ibid.

[128] Ibid., p. 15

[129] Ibid., p. 19

[130]  Faruk, op.cit., n.110, p. 114

[131] Achebe, op.cit., n. 48, p.196

[132] Achebe, op. cit., n. 48, p. 132, Ojukwu himself confirmed this when he said: “…I appoint Colonel Banjo to lead Biafran forces west across the Niger to Lagos… See: Ojukwu, E.O. (1989) Because I am involved, Spectrum Books Limited, Ibadan, p. x.

[133] Ibid.

[134] Faruk, op.cit., n. 110, p. 186 - 187

[135] Art. II (a) – (e) Genocide Convention, see also Art. 6, Rome Statute of International Criminal Court

    (ICC), Art, 2(2) Statute of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR), Art. 4(2) Statute of

     International Criminal Tribunal for Fo mer Yugoslavia

[136] Art. II, Genocide Convention (Applied)

[137] Ladan, M.T. (2008) Material and Cases in Public International Law, Ahmadu Bello University Press,

     Zaria, p. 32.

[138] For the Requirement of Statehood under International Law, see Generally: Ladan, ibid. see precisely, Art. 1, Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States

[139] Haven satisfied the basic requirement of statehood, and also fallen within the scope of protected

     persons within the contemplation of the extant law of genocide.

[140] Op.cit., n.135

[141] Art. II, para. (a) – (e).

[142] Art. 6 Rome Statute of ICC; Art. 4(2) Statute of ICTY and Art. 2(2) Statute of ICTR.

[143] Further application of Art.II. of The Genocide Convention.

[144] See Art. II, Genocide Convention. This is impari materia with the provisions of Art. 6, Rome Statute

     of International Criminal Court(ICC), Art. 4(2) Statute of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal

     for Former Yugoslavia and Art. 2(2) Statute of ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

[145] Alagande, A.M. (2008) “Prosecutor vs. Krstic Transversing the contours of the mens rea of genocide”, Vol. 1, No. 2, A.B.U.J.P.I.L p. 93. See also: Prosecutor vs. Akayesu (case No. ICTR – 96-4-T), Judgment of 2nd September, 1998, para. 519.

[146] The intent requirement is a special form of intent (dolus specialis). This ensues where the perpetrator  

     committed the acts listed (a) – (e) in Art. II of Genocide Convention; with the underlying desire to

     destroy in whole or in part a targeted group.

[147] Art. 30 Rome Statute of ICC.

[148] Prosecutor vs. Akayesu, op. cit., n. 145, para. 523.

[149] Ibid.

[150] Ibid.

[151] Ibid.

[152]Personal interview, conducted by 1st author for Network for National Tolerance and Peaceful Co-existence (NNTPC), op. cit.

[153] Personal interview conducted by 1st author for Network for National Tolerance and Peaceful Co-existence (NNTPC), op. cit.

[154] Personal interview, Network for National Tolerance and Peaceful Co-existence (NNTPC), op. cit.

[155] Faruk, op. cit., n. 110, pp. 188-190.

[156] Ibid.

[157] Ibid.

[158] Memorandum from American Jewish Congress, op. cit.,46

[159] Faruk, op. cit. p. v.

[160] Ibid.