The Annang War Dead
By Ezekiel Ette, Ph.D.
No figures exist on the number of people killed during the Nigerian civil war that raged from 1967 to 1970, but the Annang suffered disproportionately in what is now Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. Those who served in the Eastern House of Assembly, the regional executives, the federal legislature and the federal executives left their posts to escape the killings led by the Hausas. Back in the east, as the war raged, these leaders became sitting targets for those who supported other political parties.
Since most of the Annang were supporters of the Igbo-led NCNC before the war, they were seen as enemies by members of the other parties and were systematically exterminated. Some Nigerian army officers colluded with the Annang enemies and went from house to house picking up these Annang leaders. Family members were told that the commanding officer needed them to answer some questions or help with projects. Taken from their homes, they were never heard from anymore some articles of clothing were sometimes found on the street and became a part of the evidence that they were murdered.
Today, the country has moved on, but for the families who lost their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and grandfathers there is no closure. Today we look at the Nigerian civil war as history but for those who grew up without a father or mother the scar is still fresh. The Annang war dead has not been given a befitting burial. They were murdered by those who wanted to grab and keep power. We need answers and we need closure. Many of these murderers are still walking free today; but no matter how long truth is suppressed it shall be revealed.
We, in the Annang Heritage Preservation Inc (AHPI), feel that we owe a debt to our war dead. We owe them not only a dignified burial but we stand obligated to tell their stories to our children and grand children so that we may avoid the mistakes that led to those senseless killings. As the Jews who survived the genocide and atrocities of the Nazis say, we must be vigilant so it does not happen again. For almost forty years the stories of these killings have not been told and we, the survivors, have been treated as a conquered people in the land of our birth. In memory of these heroes and as a fulfillment of our mission to preserve and record the Annang history, the Annang Heritage Preservation requests our subscribers to post pictures and stories of Annang individuals who were murdered during the Nigerian Civil War. Our aim is to keep their names alive and to present to a new generation a part of our history that has been forgotten. It is a noble goal to tell not only how these leaders died, but how they lived. Perhaps through this effort, we can inspire a new generation to take up the mantle of leadership that was prematurely stripped from the hands of our fallen leaders.