Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

 

ON ABURI WE STAND | Part 2.

FINAL ABURI COMMUNIQUE.

The Supreme Military Council of Nigeria resumed its meeting in Ghana on the 5th of January and continued and concluded discussion of the remaining subjects on the Agenda. The Council reached agreement on all the items.

Photo: The Military Gov. of Eastern Region of Nigeria, Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu | 1967.

On the powers and functions of the Federal Military Government, the Council reaffirmed its belief in the workability of the existing institutions subject to necessary safeguards.

Other matters on which agreements were reached included the following:

  • Re-organization, administration and control of the Army.
  • Appointments and promotions to the senior ranks in the Armed Forces, the Police, Diplomatic and Consular Services as well as appointments to super-scale posts in the Federal Civil Service and the equivalent posts in the Federal Statutory Corporations. On the question of displaced persons, the Supreme Military Council agreed to set up a committee to look into the problems of rehabilitation and recovery of property. In this connection, the Military Governor of the East assured the Council that the order that non-Easterners should leave the Eastern Region would be reviewed with a view to its being lifted as soon as practicable. Agreement was also reached that the staff and employees of governments and statutory corporations who have had to leave their posts as a result of recent disturbances in the country should continue to be paid their full salaries up to the end of March 31, 1967, provided they have not found alternative employment.

The Council agreed that the Ad Hoc Committee on the constitutional future of the country should be resumed as soon as practicable and that the unanimous recommendations of the committee in September 1966, will be considered by the Supreme Military Council at a later meeting.

The Council unanimously agreed that future meetings of the Council should be held in Nigeria at a venue to be announced later.

The entire members of the Supreme Military Council express profound regret for the bloodshed, which has engulfed the country in the past year and avow to do all in their power to ensure there is no recurrence of the unhappy situation.

The members of the Supreme Military Council place on record their profound appreciation and gratitude for the constructive initiative and assistance rendered by the Chairman of the National Liberation Council, the Government and people of Ghana. Statement by the Supreme Council on the Reorganization of the Army, and the Approval of Senior Appointments, and its Declaration on the use of force.

  1. The Supreme Military Council now meeting in Ghana has agreed on the following reorganization of the Army:
  • The Army is to be governed by the Supreme Military Council the Chairman of which will be known as Commander-in-Chief and Head of the Federal Military Government.
  • There will be a Military Headquarters on which the Regions will be equally represented and which will be headed by a Chief of Staff.
  • In each Region there shall be an Area Command under the charge of an Area Commander and corresponding with the existing Regions.
  • All matters of policy, including appointments and promotions of persons in executive posts in the Armed Forces and Police shall be dealt with by the Supreme Military Council.
  • During the period of the Military Government, Military Governors will have control over their Area Commands in matters of internal security.The following appointments must be approved by the Supreme Military Council:
  • Diplomatic and Consular posts.
  • Senior posts in the Armed Forces and the Police.
  • Super-scale Federal Civil Service and Federal Corporation posts.
  • Any decision affecting the whole country must be determined by the Supreme Military Council.

Where a meeting is not possible such a matter must be referred to Military Governors for comment and concurrence.

  1. We the members of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria meeting at Accra on 4th day of January, 1967, hereby solemnly and unequivocally: DECLARE that we renounce the use of force as a means of settling the present crisis in Nigeria, and hold ourselves in honor bound by this declaration. REAFFIRM our faith in discussions and negotiation as the only peaceful way of resolving the Nigerian crisis. AGREE to exchange information on the quantity of arms and ammunition in each unit of the Army in each Region, and also on the quantity of new arms and ammunition in stock.

(Signatures of the nine leaders)

PRESS RELEASE | ON THE ABURI ACCORD | BY THE MILITARY GOVERNMENT OF EASTERN NIGERIA

THE MEETING OF THE SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL | AT ABURI ACCRA GHANA | 4-5 JANUARY 1967 | PRINTED BY THE GOVERNMENT PRINTER | ENUGU

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

ON 17 JANUARY, 1966, the former civilian Federal Government of Nigeria handed over power to the Armed Forces. Major-General J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi as the General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army assumed the headship of the Federal Military Government and established the Supreme Military Council. Subsequently, on 24 May, 1966, he promulgated the Decree No. 34 putting into effect the decisions of the Supreme Military Council to establish a centralized administration for the country. Six days later widespread violence and riots broke out in Northern Nigeria. Thousands of Easterners were massacred.

  1. On 29 July, 1966, a group of Northern Nigerian Army personnel kidnapped and, as was later revealed, murdered Major-General J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi, the Supreme Commander and Head of the Federal Military Government. At the same time they attempted to annihilate all Eastern Nigerian Army Officers and men at Ibadan, Abeokuta and Ikeja in Western Nigeria and at Kaduna, Zaria and Kano in Northern Nigeria. Nearly 200 officers and men of Eastern Nigeria origin were slaughtered. Those who escaped but later returned to their posts following assurances of safety were also murdered. The pogrom was soon extended to Eastern Nigerian civilians resident in Northern Nigeria, Lagos and the West; and by September, 1966, the killings and molestations carried out by the combined forces of Northern Nigerian soldiers and civilians had assumed such large proportions that Easterners everywhere outside the East sought protection within their home Region.
  2. All these massacres, which claimed the lives of over 30,000 Easterners, jolted the conscience and aroused the indignation of the world. They were also fraught with tragic consequences for the country. The bond of comradeship which had previously held the Nigerian Army together completely severed. Mutual fear, suspicion and hatred have prevailed to such an extent that Army Officers and men Eastern Nigeria origin cannot now co-exist with those of Northern Nigeria origin. The massive movement of population which has resulted from these tragic events has also posed serious economic and social problems.

4.The fleeing Easterners had abandoned their homes, businesses for and employments and swelled the population of Eastern Nigeria by then nearly two million. As they returned a potentially explosive situation arose in the East and in consequence the Government of Eastern Nigeria was obliged to ask non-Easterners residing in the East to leave to the Region in the interest of their own safety. The flight of Easterners has also radically altered the machinery and structure of the Federal Government, for Easterners have been forcibly excluded from participating in the Federal Government, Federal Statutory Corporations and the other Federal Organizations outside the Eastern Region.

5.The disintegration of the Army and the mass movement of population, coupled with the necessary measures taken to prevent further friction, conflict and killing, have intensified Regional loyalties and made it impossible today for any one person to command the loyalty of all sections of the country.

  1. 6. It has been the view of the Government and people of the East that a solution can and must be found quickly to the country’s present problems and in doing so full cognizance must be taken of the stark realities of the present in order to avoid future conflict and bloodshed. The East has accordingly co-operated with the rest of the country in efforts to find a realistic solution. But progress in this direction has been frustrated by incessant exhibition of bad faith on the part of the Military Leaders in Lagos and the North. A few examples will serve to illustrate this.
  2. The disappearance of the Supreme Commander on 29 July, 1966, demanded that the next senior Military Officer should temporarily assume command of the Army and the headship of the Federal Military Government until the Supreme Military Council should determine the leadership of the Army and the country. But on 1 August, 1966,

Lt.-Col.Yakubu Gowon, Chief of Staff, Army Headquarters, announced that he had assumed the Offices of Supreme Commander and Head of the Federal Military Government, although there were at least half-a- dozen Military Officers who were senior to him. The Military Government of Eastern Nigeria found it impossible to recognize this seizure of power; nevertheless it was prepared to co-operate with Lt.-Col. Gowon in order to prevent further bloodshed.

  1. On 9 August, a meeting of representatives of the Military -Governors of the East, Mid-West, West, North and Lt.-Col. Gowon met and unanimously reached agreement on five issues which were vital for reducing the tension then existing in the country. The first demonstration of bad faith on the part of Lt.-Col. Gowon was his non-implementation of a number of these agreements which concerned him, particularly the one stipulating that soldiers should be repatriated to their Regions of origin and confined to barracks. Lt.-Col. Gowon had also agreed with the Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria that soldiers returning to the North from the East and vice versa should carry their arms and some quantity of ammunition for self-defence but that these arms and ammunition should be returned to their original armoury immediately the soldiers had reached their destination. Eastern soldiers returning from the North were not even given arms and ammunition for self-protection as stipulated. Furthermore, when Northern soldiers arrived at their destination they failed to return the arms and ammunition given to them in the East.
  2. Another agreement reached on 9 August, was that a conference of Regional delegations should be held to recommend in broad outline the future form of political association for Nigeria. The Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference duly met from 12 September to 3 October when it adjourned for three weeks. By the time it rose it had reached a measure of agreement on a number of issues. But while the Conference was still in session, Northern soldiers with the aid of civilians massacred thousands of Eastern Nigerians in the North and some even in Lagos, the venue of the Conference.
  3. As the date of resumption of the Ad Hoc ConstitutionalConference approached the question of the safety of Eastern delegates came to the fore. The Eastern Nigeria Military Government insisted on the immediate implementation of the agreement of 9 August whereby all military personnel were to be posted to barracks within their respective Regions of origin. The Eastern position was unanimously supported by the Leaders of Thought Conference of Western Nigeria. But the proposal was not acceptable to Lt.-Col. Gowon, and without further consultations with all the Military Governors he dismissed the Constitutional Conference on 30 November, 1966. At the same time he declared that he was appointing a “drafting committee” to draw up a constitution on lines which would be suitable to him, and threatened to mobilize enough forces to deal with anyone who opposed his will.
  4. The Military Government of Eastern Nigeria thought that Gowon events were taking a dangerous turn and that it was essential for the Supreme Military Council, which had not been convoked since 29 July, to meet. Since the situation in the country made it impossible for the Military Governor of the East to attend a meeting in any area occupied by Northern troops various suggestions of alternative venues were put forward by him. So anxious indeed was he to attend the meeting that he purchased an executive plane to facilitate his journey to any acceptable venue. For long, however, his suggestions were treated with levity by Lt.-Col. Gowon, but eventually it was unanimously agreed that the meeting should hold outside Nigeria.

THE ABURI MEETING

  1. The Supreme Military Council subsequently met at Aburi, Ghana, on 4 and 5 January, 1967. It had been recognized by the Military leaders that the meeting would:

(a) resolve the question of leadership within the army, restore the chain of command which had become badly disrupted, and examine the crisis of confidence amongst the officers and soldiers which had rendered it impossible for them intermingle;

(b) evolve ways and means of carrying on the responsibility of administering the country until a new constitution had been determined; and

(c) tackle realistically the problems of displaced persons. These considerations were reflected in the agenda which was agreed upon by members of the Supreme Military Council (see Appendix I Annexure A).

  1. 0n the first day of the meeting the Military Governor of the East put forward a resolution, which the meeting endorsed, calling -on the military leaders to renounce the use of force as a means of settling the Nigerian crisis. It was this resolution which was embodied in a communique issued by the Council at the end of the first day of the meeting (see Appendix I Annexure B).
  2. After deliberating anxiously and seriously on the reorganization, administration and control of the Army the meeting reached aft agreements on the following lines (see Appendix I for the Official Minutes of the Conference):

“(a) Army to be governed by the Supreme Military Council under a chairman to be known as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Federal Military Government.

“(b) Establishment of a Military Headquarters comprising equal representation from the Regions and headed by a Chief of Staff

“(c) Creation of Area Commands corresponding to existing Regions and under the charge of Area Commanders

“(d) Matters of policy, including appointments and promotions to top executive posts in the Armed Forces and the Police, to be dealt with by the Supreme Military Council

“(e) During the period of the Military Government, Military Governors will have control over Area Commands for internal security.

“(f) Creation of a Lagos Garrison including Ikeja Barracks”

  1. It was further agreed by the Supreme Military Council that a Military Committee comprising representatives of the Regions should meet within two weeks from the date of receiving instructions to prepare statistics which would show:

“(a) Present strength of Nigerian Army;

“(b) Deficiency in each sector of each unit;

“(c) The size appropriate for the country and each Area Command;

(d) Additional requirement for the country and each Area Command”

Pending the completion of the work of the Committee, it was agreed by the Council that further recruitment of soldiers throughout the country should cease.

  1. On the implementation of the agreement reached by representatives of the Military Leaders on 9 August, 1966, the Council reaffirmed the principle that Army personnel of Northern origin should return to the North from the West. In order to meet the security needs of the West it was agreed that a crash programme of recruitment and training was necessary but that the details should be examined after the Military Committee had finished its work
  2. It was in the course of discussing the reorganization of the Army that the crucial issue of the assumption by Lt.-Col. Gowon of the offices of Supreme Commander and Head of the Federal Military Government arose. The Governor of the East, in explaining why it was impossible for him to recognize Lt.-Col. Gowon as Supreme Commander, pointed out that the fate of Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi, the legitimate Supreme Commander, was yet unknown and so no one could succeed him; that in the absence of Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi whoever was the next senior officer in rank should manage the affairs of the country; and that the East was never party to any decision to appoint Lt.-Col. Gowon Supreme Commander. Subsequently, Lt.-Col. Gowon volunteered information regarding the murder of the Major-General and his host, Lt.-Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, on 29 July, 1966. The Supreme Military Council decided to accord the late military leaders the full honours due to them.
  3. The Supreme Military Council recognized that with the demise of Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi no other Military Leader could command the support of the entire Nigerian Army and that a new arrangement was necessary for an effective administration of the whole country. The Council also took cognizance of the fact that extreme centralization had been the bane of the Military Regime in the past and that it was essential to re-define the powers of the Federal Military Government vis-a-vis the Regional Military Governments in order to ensure public confidence and co-operation.
  4. When the Supreme Military Council resumed its deliberations at Aburi on 5 January, after members had spent the night at their various posts with their advisers, it proceeded to discuss the powers of the Federal Military Government vis-a-vis the Regional Governments. The upshot was that the Council re-affirmed its previous decisions on the reorganization of the Army and also took the following additional decisions:

“(ii) On appointments to certain posts

The following appointments must be approved by the Supreme Military Council:

(a) Diplomatic and Consular posts.

(b) Senior posts in the Armed Forces and the Police.

(c) Super-scale Federal Civil Service and Federal Corporation posts.

“(iii) On the functioning of the Supreme Military Council, any decisions affecting the whole country must be determined by the Supreme Military Council. Where a meeting is not possible such a matter must be referred to Military Governors for comment and concurrence.

“(iv) That all the Law Officers of the Federation should meet in Benin on the 14 January and list all the Decrees and provisions of Decrees concerned so that they may be repealed not later than 21 January, if possible.

“(v) That for at least the next six months, there should be purely a Military Government, having nothing to do whatsoever with politicians.”

  1. The next item discussed was the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference which Lt.-Col. Gowon had unilaterally dissolved on 30 November, 1966. The Council agreed that the Conference should resume sitting as soon as practicable to continue from where it left off, and that the question of implementing the unanimous recommendations of the Conference in September, 1966 should be considered at a later meeting of the Supreme Military Council.
  2. Finally, on the problem of displaced persons, the relevant section of the Official Minutes of the Council reads as follows:

“(a) on rehabilitation, that Finance Permanent Secretaries should resume their meeting within two weeks and submit recommendations and that each Region should send three representatives to the meeting;

“(b) on employment and recovery of property, that civil servants and Corporation staff (including daily paid employees) who have not been absorbed should continue to be paid their full salaries until 31 March, 1967 provided they have not got alternative employment, and that the Military Governors of the East, West and Mid-West should send representatives (Police Commissioners) to meet and discuss the problem of recovery of property left behind by displaced persons.”

  1. On his return from the Aburi meeting the Military Governor of the East held a press conference to reassure Easterners who had considerable apprehension about the meeting and its outcome. (For the full text of the Military Governor’s press statement see Appendix 2.) He emphasized at this conference that the Aburi meeting had been worthwhile and gave the assurance that provided the agreements reached were implemented, much progress would have been made towards relieving tension and banishing fear within the country.
To be continued 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

There Was A Time . Book Cover 01. 202x300 ON ABURI WE STANDCulled from: THERE WAS A TIME | Author: Nnamdi Ebo  |  Published by africagenda Publications  
ISBN: 978-978-50804-3-8  | 1st Edition 2013
Buy the book, THERE WAS A TIME |  Click  Bookshop
Nnamdi Ebo | [email protected]  
© 2015 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

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