Posted by Onyembi, Emenike Vincent | 6 years ago | 2,535 times

In judicial terms, it is strongly believed that a jury system would also have been a better replacement for the village Ama-ala or Aladinma in court cases, rather then extraordinary judicial powers given to dubiously created artificial Warrant chiefs.
The Aba people apparently seething with anger over the lugardian-Palmer blunders of the warrant chiefs system, the same newly appointed warrant chiefs possibly directed by their British masters, began a provocative census of men, women and heads of domestic animals.

The already psychologically injured people quick;y misconstrued the intention behind the census. To the energetic Aba women especially, this meant that their husbands and adult sons, would be made to pay more taxes, and the women who hitherto had not been paying taxes, would now be made to pay into the coffers of the colonial government through the artificial Warrant Chiefs.

With the best of intentions, highest outpouring of patriotism, and in order to prevent this strange design to force them pay taxes, the good women of Aba met together, and unanimously resolved to demonstrate against this perceived intention.

Eye witness accounts, recall that a day after the strategy meeting, women from all over Aba and its environs, began to converge in their  thousands in front of today's Aba Town Hall areas, housing the British Colonial's Government Administrative office.

The ADO was informed, about the throng of women massing up in front of his office. There was palpable tension in the air. The administrative officer appeared confused, apparently without any plan or alternative pans about how to contain women on peaceful demonstration.

Being at his wits end, the white colonial official misinterpreted the demonstration . Insiders with that British administrator, alleged that the official perhaps thought that this mammoth crowd of women were all out to wage war and destabilize hi colonial administration.

Some commentators, argue that if this was the mind of that European administrator, then it was absolute, illogical blunder for the white administrator to think that harmless mothers, without weapons of any sort, could destroy the presence of British Government in Aba.

However, whatever was the poor administrator's interpretation, of the Aba women's peaceful and weaponless demonstration, he gave an instruction to the senior police officer present, that rifle fire be opened on the demonstrating Aba women.

This instruction, eye witnesses, points out, was promptly and tragically carried out. After the cracking sound of rifle fire had died down, about thirty one women lay down dead in the ground in cold blood. These eyewitnesses insist that more than two hundred other women were seriously wounded, and that most of them died later in their homes.

It has been reported that when the news of these tragic massacre reached the home of the colonial officials, in Britain, many people, especially in the London foreign office establishment vehemently lampooned the ignoble action.

As usual, His Majesty's Government, quickly established an Ad-hoc Commission of Inquiry in London, to investigate the Aba Women Massacre. At the end of months of Inquiry, the Commission blamed the Aba women for exercising their fundamental human rights, and creditably absolved the British Resident at Aba for not over-reacting, which the administration did.

For unknown to the British Government in London, this British official, ordered his own local investigation, even though he was being investigated. And at the end of that London investigation, in which he was absolved of any blame, he himself had through the collaborative efforts of the Warrant Chiefs ad their agents, detected the so called brains behind the Aba Women Riot.

 Without any due process, the agent of a democratic government, ordered the hanging of twenty-one people suspected to have aided and abetted, the panning and execution of the Women Riot.

They were accordingly, dragged to the big tree in front of the Union Bank PLC, which was cut down a few years back by the Union Bank official. The 21 people were hung in the neck, till they suffocated and died, and nobody till the end of the 20th century, mourned those men and women or remembered their contributions in nation building. This is sad! Ain't they worth remembering? 

Yet even in the 21st century, belated though it is, something ought to be done, if the democratically elected Chairman, who is representing that British colonial official, wishes to do something.

In 1930, still fuming with the injustice of the British Government, the people of Umunjuju burnt down the Native Court and the Court Clerk's house. According to E. C. Mejeh, a later-day Nigerian Divisional Officer (DO), who asserted that even in 1930, Aba people in particular and Ngwa people in general, could not understand why those they just signed a Treaty of Friendship with, and who sought their permission to settle in their land for trade and general commercial purposes, now turn round, and start to dictate how their affairs could be handled.

In 1931, there was a reported land dispute between the Warrant Chief Ogbonna Uruakpa's people, and the village of inhabitants of Ohabiam. This was an internal clash, between those who should have been plotting to throw the British back to the sea as it was done in Japan.

This severe clash led to the murder of Mr. Etoni, and the wounding of several others, who still harboured ill feeling against the warrant chief system, and the abuse being perpetrated by the so-called chiefs.

                    ...to be continued; keep in touch and watch out for part 3!

Readers Comments


No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.

You may also like...