Dr Akanu Ibiam gave up all the recognition and glory bestowed upon him by Britain and the Queen of England in this letter. He felt betrayed and disappointed that Britain would supervise and actively supply weapons to fight and commit genocide against another Christian Nation in Biafra. He pointed out that his country was fighting for survival rather than aggression. This letter was packed with history lessons and debunked false information about the war. His vision for the future of Biafra and plea to Great Britain contrasts that of Nnamdi Azikiwe, his compatriot.
Read excerpts from the letter of protest.
“...I did receive the insignia and certificate at the hands of His Excellency the then Governor of Nigeria, Sir John Macpherson, but I had the unique distinction and singular privilege of receiving the accolade from Your Majesty’s august person during your Majesty’s Royal and memorable visit to Nigeria in February, 1956. On the attainment and independence of Nigeria and sovereignty by Nigeria on October 1, 1960, Your Majesty was graciously pleased to appoint me as Governor of Eastern Nigeria within the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the recommendation of the Honourable Premier of Eastern Nigeria with the assent of his Excellency the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In August 1962, Your Majesty conferred on me the dignity of being a Knight Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (K.C.M.G.).
For these great honours and special recognitions, I am humbly grateful to Your Majesty and Your Majesty’s Britannic Government. They are a happy reflection of the importance of Africa and her people before God and man. Howbeit, I must renounce all of them at this time. I do so to register the strongest protest at my command against Your Majesty’s Government of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for supplying military equipment and arms to Nigeria which has waged a senseless and futile war of aggression against my country, the Republic of Biafra. My objection and protest are directed solely and entirely to the British Government because I believe that the staunch British friends of Africa, particularly the CHURCH, and informed British public opinion will deplore this unkindly act of the British Government to the Republic of Biafra. With the highest sense of responsibility, therefore, and bearing clearly in my own mind the moral issues which are at stake, and my own stand thereat, I return the insignia and paraphernalia of my title to Your Majesty’s Britannic Government through the British Deputy High Commissioner who is resident here in Enugu – the capital city of the Republic of Biafra.
During the months of May, July, August, and September, 1966, Northern Nigerian soldiers and civilians planned and committed the most atrocious crimes against Eastern Nigerians—now citizens of the Republic of Biafra. Sadistically, brutally and in cold blood, they murdered and slaughtered thousands of my brothers and sisters who were then living in Northern Nigeria and other parts of the former and defunct Federal Republic of Nigeria. They killed innocent children, helpless women, and defenseless men without any reason or rhyme. They entered churches and hospitals and slaughtered them in cold blood. And most unbelievably yet only too true, they massacred women in actual LABOUR and their unborn children. They plundered, looted, assaulted and raped women and burnt down the homes of Easterners and left them penniless.
The most painful and unsoldierly act of all was that these Northern Nigerian soldiers killed their superior officers, including and especially His Excellency the Military Governor of Western Nigeria, Lt. Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, and his guest and comrade, His Excellency, the Head of Supreme Military Council and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the former Federal Republic of Nigeria, Major-General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi, both of them of blessed memory. On July 29, 1966, they were kidnapped by Northern Nigerian soldiers and ruthlessly killed after torturing them. It must be stated here that the late Major-General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Eastern Nigerian at that time, went all out to build up ONE UNITED AND STRONG NIGERIA through a unitary Government Administration, but paradoxically and ironically, he met a cruel and untimely death for that very reason. It is very strange, therefore, that Nigeria should be futilely waging a war of aggression against Biafra in her impossible bid to force Biafra back into this very same union—One Nigeria from which she had been so purposely and systematically forced out.
Be that as it may, all kith and kin fled Northern Nigeria, Western Nigeria, and Lagos and returned to their homeland of Eastern Nigeria, the only place they knew they could have protection. In the process, Eastern Nigeria was left to look after and cater for at least two million refugees, and she has done and is doing so with commendable achievement. Eastern Nigeria did not retaliate in any way, for we do not kill strangers within our gates, and being humble and sensitive Christians, we refused to commit murder, contrary to the commandment of God, particularly as we believe that two wrongs can never make a right. Northern Nigerians in Eastern Nigeria were therefore collected together and escorted safely by train across the border to their own section of Nigeria.
In the succeeding months, the Hausa/Fulani controlled Lagos Government of Nigeria purposely, directly, and inexorably forced Eastern Nigeria out of the Federation, and our Military Governor with advice and consent of out Consultative Assembly had no other choice but to declare Eastern Nigeria a free, independent and sovereign state to be known as the Republic of Biafra. This happy and historical occasion took place on May 30. On July 6th, Nigeria attacked Biafra in her mad wish to force Biafra to return to the Nigeria federation. Having killed 30,000 of us in their land and seized our property worth millions of pound sterling, they have now come to kill more of us in our own homes and make the rest of us slaves to the Hausa/Fulani Feudalists and Moslems.
The people of Biafra are, therefore, fighting a war of LIBERATION AND SURVIVAL. We adamantly refuse to be colonized by the Hausa/Fulanis of Northern Nigeria or any other people in the world. Moreover it is an ardent desire of the Hausa/Fulani and Moslem Northern Nigeria to subjugate Biafra and kill Christianity in our country.
Your Majesty, the British officials in Nigeria are fully aware of all these. They know that we are injured and deeply grieved people and had been cruelly treated by our erstwhile fellow citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria. The British officials not only knew the crux of the matter, but they also encouraged Northern Nigeria to carry out and execute their nefarious plan against us. They are angry with Biafra because Biafra categorically refused to remain as part of the Nigeria federation and political unit only to be trampled upon, discriminated against and hated, ruthlessly exploited and denied her rights and privileges, and slaughtered whenever it suited the whims and caprices of the favoured people of Northern Nigeria. To add insult to injury, Your Majesty’s Britannic Government, instead of being neutral in our quarrels or finding ways and means to mediate and bring peace to the two countries, has now taken it upon herself to supply military aid to Nigeria to help them defeat and subjugate Biafra.
It is simply staggering for a Christian country like Britain to help a Moslem country militarily to crush another Christian country like Biafra. This is just too much for me, Your Gracious Majesty, this act of unfriendliness and treachery by the British Government towards the people of Republic of Biafra who, as Eastern Nigerians, had so much regard for Britain and British people.
In the circumstance, Your Majesty, I no longer wish to wear the garb of the British Knighthood. British fairplay, British justice, and the Englishman’s word of honour which Biafra loved so much and cherished have become meaningless to Biafrans in general and to me in particular. Christian Britain has shamelessly let down Christian Biafra.
I love the Republic of Biafra very dearly and pray that, by grace of God, she may remain and continue to grow and live and always act like a truly Christian country for all times.
I am, Your Majesty
Yours Most Respectfully,
Do we still have selfless leaders not driven by greed and power?
What are your thoughts on the letter? What new information did you learn? Do we still have leaders like Akanu Ibiam?
Ibiam, Akanu F. (1967) “Text of Protest Letter of Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam to her majesty – Queen Elizabeth II” being official Text No. OT.207 dated Tuesday Sept. 5, 1967, and dispatched through Mr. J. R. W. Parker, The British Deputy High Commissioner resident at Enugu in another Letter dated Aug. 21, 1967.

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