Nigerian professor wants prosecution of British colonialists

Map of Nigeria used to illustrate the story
Map of Nigeria used to illustrate the story

A Nigerian author, Amadi Asuogu, wants the British prosecuted for crimes they committed against Nigeria during colonialism.

Mr Asuogu, a professor of religious studies, said this during the launch of his book: “Un-united states of Nigeria” in Abuja on Saturday.

He did not say where the trial should take place.

Mr Asuogu, who said his book contains Nigeria’s history from pre-amalgamation period, accused the British of responsibility for Nigeria’s challenges and suggested that restructuring remains the major solution to the problems of Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s amalgamation was not to unite Nigeria, but to pay the British,” he said.

“They needed to pay themselves at the time. And the northern part of the country was having a budget deficit. In order to balance this budget deficit, they needed to take the resources from the south to balance the deficit in the north. In order to do that, they needed a legal framework which was the amalgamation

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“The British wanted the northern part of Nigeria to continue depending on them. They prevented the north from seeking education. They saw that in the south people were educated and there was a lot of nationalists so they enthroned the northerners during independence so that they will control Nigeria through the North. So restructuring is in order that there can be a balance of equation,” Mr Asuogu said.

Listing a number of economic and other crises experienced in Nigeria before independence, Mr Asuogu said the Nigerian government should institute legal action against its pre-colonial leaders.

“The Aba women riot of 1929 when people were slaughtered because they were protesting against taxation.

“You have the Enugu coal mine of 1947 when coal miners were murdered because they were protesting conditions of work. We have the Jos massacre where workers who were working in the tin mines were starved to death. We have the British doctrine of personification which was used to subdue villages-if you challenge them, they will kill you.

Those are the kind of things we are talking about. They cannot be allowed to stand,” Mr Asuogu said.

The author condemned Nigeria’s current electoral system, describing it as a fraud.

“Staggered elections–which is what we are currently practicing is fraudulent. For example on February 16, we have the presidential elections, whoever wins, that has a down ballot effect.

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“If we were to have all the elections on the same day: when I vote, I will not know who will be the president or the governor. Everybody has the same chance. But if you, first of all, decide who will be the president, then the other parties will suffer from the effect. So that is fraudulent,” Mr Asuogu said.

Also speaking at the event, a lawyer and civil rights advocate, Frank Tietie, described the book as an essential document for all Nigerians, especially students of politics.

“The book is about the most essential book for every Nigerian politician and students of history.

“No literature has been so clear on what the problems of Nigerian politics are. The book takes a look at the pre and post-amalgamation histories of Nigeria with a view to selflessly explain the need for restructuring.

“It shows how even in Nigeria’s amalgamation the real intention of our colonial masters was so that Nigeria will never unite,” Mr Tietie said.

According to a senior Nigerian lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, in his forward to the book, “the title of the book, the “un-united states of Nigeria” derives from the reality of the problem of unity before and after amalgamation, till the present day. The book realistically presents Nigeria as: “the Commonwealth Nations of Nigeria” (C. N. N). This book shows that there is a connection between British colonialism and the ugly happenings of today.”

The book launch was organised by a group, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Abuja.

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