The term “Ga’a-Niger” was taken from the IBO dialect and “Ga’a” in Ibo means “GO-TO”. “Niger” as a word was the short form of Royal Niger Company which later changed its name to United African Company (UAC). It was a British trading company that existed right from the colonial days situated by the shore of River Sombrero at Briggs compound in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area (Rivers state).
Eventually, when the Biafran army held siege of Abonnema and the aborigines were to be evacuated to “AGADA” waterside, the evacuees were asked to Go-to-Niger, the point of evacuation. That was how Ga’a-Niger was coined.
The city of Abonnema was under siege for more than six months within which period the innocent citizens were dehumanized and atrociously executed on their fatherland.
During the out break of the civil war, because of the existing political differences among the indigenes of Abonnema as a result of the truncated first Republic, the bitterness in them was carried into war.
So when eventually the Biafran army finally laid siege of the place, individuals who fell in favor of the Biafran forces used the ill-fated opportunity to victimize those of them whom they perceived to be their political opponents and antagonists.
This condemnable act led to killing of their brothers and sisters. It was a terrible scene to watch our own people tagged saboteurs, flogged and beaten to death, and their properties vandalized.
People in the face of this hostility were dehumanized with houses looted and razed down to ashes. The atmosphere was so tense that brothers never stood to discuss on the streets else you are tagged saboteurs, these Biafrans had our children as agents who parade the town to scout around for information on who comes in and goes out; and to report such people for arrest and onward execution publicly.
An organized pogrom was instituted to strangulate our people economically, and in addition curfew was imposed on the people. Abonnema was like the German concentration camp and anyone caught escaping were arraigned at the water front and shot dead,
It was a situation that cries to heaven for condemnation.
The whole episode of the event was like the day St. Paul wrote to Timothy, the day when men became lovers of self without affection, and hell was let loosed and men became covetous, taking pride in unleashing terror upon the people.
All that existed then was masochism, sadism and brutality. In fact it was a genocide committed against the people of Nyemoni, and for those who had the audacity and dexterity to speak against the malevolent act and injustices meted against their people were stripped naked and tied to stay under the intense heat of the sun till they dosed off.
There was weeping, mourning and gnashing of teeth virtually in every household in Abonnema that called for the emergence of a messiah that never came until the enemies had done their worst.
The atmosphere of reminiscence became that of nostalgia, fraternal relationship became repugnant. The stench of blood and evil smeared everywhere.
Men and women were beaten to anesthesia, young men and boys were conscripted to carry arms for what they do not have idea of. It was the supreme price our people paid for a crime they did not commit to retain this land of liberty and love–Nyemoni-covet your own as the name implies.
The actions were nothing other than anathema. These anarchists were mostly of the IBO origin; the temples of the reasoning of our people were blown sky-high and our structure devastated.
People were found combating hunger from death while children were left and abandoned by their parents without anyone to care for them until they slept off in the hands of Morpheus son of Hypnos. At the height of this protracted internecine experience which even the devil and his agents would want to loose sight of, people were still found looting properties. Truly, our young girls were sexually molested and violated.
War I say is not a language for any rational being as nothing good can be derived from it knowing its associated agony. Although it is a fact that a times we make war that we may love in peace, yet it is an aberration of peace and progress.
As the onslaught continued in the city there was a gruesome air-raid at the market square that left behind dozens of our people dead in one air strike. I think until date a cenotaph is built in memory of these victims at the town square. The effect of this bombardment until date is registered on the concrete walls of St. Paul’s Nyemoni cathedral Abonnema.
The climax of these inhumane atrocities finally metamorphosed into evacuation of the aborigines from the point of Niger Trading company premises via AGADA where the indigenes were to continue another exodus to a land strange to them in Ibo land. That is how the word “Ga’a-Niger” emanated. It was a point of evacuation of the good people of Abonnema to the Ibo land. The eyes that witnessed this ugly event of annihilation would never in history pardon the Biafran forces, no matter the Biafra of a dram died a natural death.
Men and women, children and their parents lamented profusely as they carried whatever they could lay on hands on as they were forced out of their fatherland. It was at the height of these unpardonable atrocities, when all hopes were lost that the God of force, God-Omni-Potent divinely intervened. Suddenly the Federal troop emerged via the swamp through the creek called “ALICE OKOLO” with higher and greater fire arms or power which kept the whole of Biafran troops in Abonnema in complete disarray.
It was exactly 12:00 noon in the month of June 21, 1968 when the federal troop liberated Abonnema from these insurgents who contrived the killing and sufferings of the people, and there was ovation and shout of “ONE NIGERIA” everywhere and songs like: “Ojukwu wanted to separate Nigeria, but Gowon said Nigeria must be one, we are fighting together with Gowon to make Nigeria One.” There were shouts of “Apes obey-yeah.”
The Biafran insurgents hearing the fire power knew that the fatal moment was around and so they took to their heels into the creek not knowing how connected these creeks were, unfortunately as strangers who neither knew how to swim nor where to escape to their axis were encircled by the Federal troops into whose hands they fell and were vengefully massacred and slaughtered. For few who escaped into the mangrove got drowned when the river over flowed its bank. And others after several days of starvation came out from their hiding places and submitted themselves for a commensurate punishment.
Now when the Federal troop had fully gained control of Abonnema, those of them who survived the Biafran onslaught decided to avenge for all the inhumane treatment they suffered by going house to house to point out those saboteurs who contrived the dehumanization of the people. And they all arraigned and publicly executed and slaughtered before the face of their people which served as a deterrent to other prospective plotters.
This was a true experience of the civil crisis that affected Abonnema which claimed millions of human skulls in three years of arms conflict. Others may have a more gruesome encounter but in earnest I think no greater encounter could be experienced than what is here unequivocally handed down in this epistle of importance.
This is to re-emphasize the adage that says: “He that writes a letter to the devil expects an invitation disaster.”
So my brothers and sisters, let us not do anything that could lead to another war, having carefully perused through this statement of facts; for no price will be too great to avoid this ugly and unwarranted act of criminal agitation and rebellion.