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Declassified Files From British Government Expose Gen. Gowon Lies About Biafran-Nigerian War (Part1)

By Ike A. Offor (Editor)
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Gen. Yakubu Jack Gowon as military officer and civilian

While the British interests being paramount to them were very clearly revealed in the declassified files, it very well revealed some daunting facts about the lies told by Gen. Yakubu Gowon about trying hard to stop starvation in the Biafran region, when he actually imposed blockade on Biafra and used starvation as means of war. How could the same man claim to have done enough to stop the ugly pictures of starving children?
 The declassified files from the British government made available to The Republican News exposed every lies and details of every steps taken by Federal Military Government  led by Gen. Yakubu Gowon to punish, stifle efforts by Biafrans to have access to food and medical care and aids.
Due to the size of the documents, The Republican News will serialize them on weekly basis until it exhausts these facts. The lies about the civil war and the consequences of the evil actions taken to kill millions of Biafrans must be dealt with whilst the perpetrators of these evil acts are still alive.
‘Our direct interests are trade and investment, including an important stake by Shell/BP in the eastern Region. There are nearly 20,000 British nationals in Nigeria, for whose welfare we are of course specially [sic] concerned’, the Foreign Office noted a few days before the outbreak of the war. Shell/BP’s investments amounted to around £200 million, with other British investment in Nigeria accounting for a further £90 million. It was then partly owned by the British government, and the largest producer of oil which provided most of Nigeria’s export earnings. Most of this oil was in the eastern region.
It is succinctly clear that the British government cared not about the Nigerian side or worse still the Biafrans, but the sole aim and paramount interest was the economic advantage they commanded in  Nigeria. So, they cared less if the entire country is engulfed in flames provided it does not consume their economic interest. This was further explained by the British Commonwealth Minister, George Thomas.
Commonwealth Minister George Thomas wrote in August 1967 that: ‘The sole immediate British interest in Nigeria is that the Nigerian economy should be brought back to a condition in which our substantial trade and investment in the country can be further developed, and particularly so we can regain access to important oil installations’.
Thomas further outlined the primary reason why Britain was so keen to preserve Nigerian unity, noting that ‘our only direct interest in the maintenance of the federation is that Nigeria has been developed as an economic unit and any disruption of this would have adverse effects on trade and development’. If Nigeria were to break up, he added: ‘We cannot expect that economic cooperation between the component parts of what was Nigeria, particularly between the East and the West, will necessarily enable development and trade to proceed at the same level as they would have done in a unified Nigeria; nor can we now count on the Shell/BP oil concession being regained on the same terms as in the past if the East and the mid-West assume full control of their own economies’.
Ojukwu initially tried to get Shell/BP to pay royalties to the Biafran government rather than the FMG. The oil companies, after giving the Biafrans a small token payment, eventually refused and Ojukwu responded by sequestering Shell’s property and installations, forbidding Shell to do any further business and ordering all its staff out. They ‘have much to lose if the FMG do not achieve the expected victory’, George Thomas noted in August 1967.
But the explicit clues that exposes Gen. Yakubu Jack Gowon’s claim that he did everything he could to avoid the mass starvation and deaths of Biafrans, mainly children and women who were not involved in the war, were laid to bare.
We could recollect few weeks ago that Senator Godswill Akpabio debunked that claim by Gen. Yakubu Gowon for doing his best to avoid the mass starvation of Biafrans. How could he, Gowon claim to have done his best to avoid the starvation of the Biafrans when he imposed total blockade on the Biafra?
A key British aim throughout the war was to secure the lifting of the blockade which Gowon imposed on the east and which stopped oil exports.
In the run-up to Gowon’s declaration of war, Britain had made it clear to the FMG that it completely supported Nigerian unity. George Thomas had told the Nigerian High Commissioner in London at the end of April 1967, for example, that ‘the Federal government had our sympathy and our full support’ but said that he hoped the use of force against the east could be avoided.
On 28 May Gowon, having just declared a state of emergency, explicitly told Britain’s Defence attaché that the FMG was likely to ‘mount an invasion from the north’. Gowon asked whether Britain would provide fighter cover for the attack and naval support to reinforce the blockade of Eastern ports; the Defence Attaché replied that both were out of the question.
By the time Gowon ordered military action in early July, therefore, Britain had refused Nigerian requests to be militarily involved and had urged Gowon to seek a ‘peaceful’ solution. However, the Wilson government had also assured Gowon of British support for Nigerian unity at a time when military preparations were taking place. And Britain had also made no signs that it might cut off, or reduce, arms supplies if a military campaign were launched.
The new High Commissioner in Lagos, Sir David Hunt, wrote in a memo to London on 12 June that the “only way… of preserving unity [sic] of Nigeria is to remove Ojukwu by force”. He said that Ojukwu was committed to remaining the ruler of an independent state and that British interests lay in firmly supporting the FMG.
Before going to war, Gowon began what was to become a two and half-year long shopping list of arms that the FMG wanted from Britain. On 1 July he asked Britain for jet fighter/bomber aircraft, six fast boats and 24 anti-aircraft guns. ‘We want to help the Federal Government in any way we can’, British officials noted. However, Britain rejected supplying the aircraft, fearing that they would publicly demonstrate direct British intervention in the war and, at this stage, also rejected supplying the boats. London did, however, agree to supply the anti-aircraft guns and to provide training courses to use them.
The Deputy High Commissioner in Enugu, Biafra’s main city, noted that the supply of these anti-aircraft guns and their ammunition would be seen as British backing for the FMG and also that they were not entirely defensive weapons anyway since ‘they could also take on an offensive role if mounted in an invasion fleet’. Nevertheless, the government’s news department was instructed to stress the ‘defensive nature of these weapons’ when pressed but generally to avoid publicity on their export from Britain.
The Commissioner Hunt said that ‘it would be better to use civil aircraft’ to deliver these guns and secured agreement from the Nigerians that ‘there would be no publicity’ in supplying then. Faced with Gowon’s complaints about Britain not supplying more arms, Wilson also agreed in mid July to supply the Federal Military Government (FMG) with fast patrol boats. This was done in the knowledge that they would help the FMG maintain the blockade against Biafra.
Source: Declassified British Memo

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