OPINION: Vindication after Half a Century: Katsina Emirate’s Stance on Protection of Igbos and the 1966 Pogrom Question – By Dr. Abubakar Abdulkadir
The recent ultimatum issued by the youth wing of the Arewa forum based in Kaduna asking all Igbos living in the North to leave the region, has re-ignited half a century old claim of Pogrom which was purportedly said to have been orchestrated by some northern elements, particularly the military officers from the region who were alleged to have incited the targeting of Igbos in retaliation of the January 15th 1966 coup – a systematic murder operation against Northern politicians and statesmen.
In a statement issued by IPOB, Igbos were urged to return to their respective places of origin in order to avoid a repetition of what it called the 1966 genocide. Claims of pogrom and genocide against Igbos in Northern Nigeria in 1966, permeate the discourse in Eastern Nigeria since the mid-1960s. The academia, the media, and a host of other important social apparatus in Igbo land have all crafted a sympathetic story line that suggests a systematic massacre of Igbos at the wake of 15th January 1966 coup carried out by Igbo officers and which exterminated the revered sons and elder statesmen of the North.
The Igbo intelligentsia singles out Katsina emirate for false and vicious attacks which are all baseless concerning the civil disturbances of May 1966. In a bizarre attempt to discredit Katsina emirate, Prof. Agwu (an Igbo professor), purported that then Lt. Col. Hassan Usman Katsina, the military Governor of Northern Nigeria, visited his father (sir Usman Nagogo) at his palace on the 28th May, 1966, and in the early hours of the 29th, disturbances emanate from Katsina emirate!
Thereby suggesting a high level connivance to exterminate Igbos in Katsina! Such claims are absurd, and they are intended to denigrate Katsina emirate. And the “Igbos” have no reason to blacken Katsina emirate save the fact that late Maj. Gen. Hassan Usman Katsina (Rtd) was its illustrious son who was hated by the “Igbos” because of his role in quashing the potency of 15th January 1966 murder operation carried out by mainly Igbo military officers against Northern elder statesmen. This piece therefore, is a rejoinder to professor Agwu’s vicious attack on Katsina emirate, where in his most celebrated work: “The law of armed conflict and African wars”, he disparaged Katsina emirate for what he alleged to be a pogrom against Igbos in Katsina, orchestrated by the emirate in solidarity with its son; Lt. col. Hassan katsina! Such claims are ridiculous, and are also lacking in substance, as he fails to substantiate his claims with justifiable evidences.
As professor of international relations and diplomacy, Agwu should have known that establishing cases of genocide or pogrom by relying on road side works such as; Obumselu’s “massacre of Ndi-Igbos in 1966”- the lone source upon which he lays the whole claim of the Katsina pogrom on, is an academic dishonesty. The so called G.C.M. Onyiuke tribunal of inquiry report cited by Obumselu, is a secondary source to Agwu. By citing Obumselu instead of the tribunal report its self, Agwu has indeed demonstrated his predilection towards Igbo prejudices over objectivity.
Relying on subjective claims such as Agwu’s, Igbos in Nigeria and the diaspora are now actively disparaging the north, claiming that there may be yet another pogrom against Igbos at the heel of the northern youths ultimatum – an ultimatum that does not reflect the views of northern elders. Besides, Katsina emirate was the only emirate throughout the north to have come out openly to reiterate its resolve to protect Igbos residing in the state in response to the ultimatum issued by the Arewa youths based in Kaduna. According to reports, the emir of Katsina Alh (Dr) Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, CFR, says he is ready to sacrifice his last blood to ensure the safety of lives and property of the Igbos in Katsina.
This off course is a clear vindication of the emirate against all attacks directed against it by some prejudiced Ndi-Igbos. Authentic historical records have also shown that sequel to the May 1966 disturbances which started from Kano on the 28th May, 1966, the Katsina emirate under the emirship of late Sir Usman Nagogo waded in to ensure the safety of Igbos in Katsina in the event of a spill over of the crisis into his emirate. Hence Katsina emirate was known for its unwavering desire to protect all minority non-indigene groups residing in the state, particularly the Igbos.
Twice, the emirate moved to protect the Igbos; first on May 1966, and now June 2017. Half a century after his grandfather moved to protect Igbos residing in Katsina emirate, his highness (Dr) Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, CFR, also moves to protect them. Hail the Ameer for this uncommon gesture. Igbos, won’t you reciprocate by retracting your prejudices against Katsina emirate?
By: Abubakar Abdulkadir, PhD.
Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina.