1929 British massacre: Akwa Ibom to immortalise slain Ikot Abasi heroines

Posted by News Express | 20 March 2014 | 8,083 times

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The Akwa Ibom Government has unfolded plans to establish Girls Secondary School in Ikot Abasi to immortalise women who lost their lives in the 1929 Ikot Abasi Women Massacre by the British colonial masters.

Governor Godswill Akpabio stated this Tuesday at Ikot Abasi Council Hall during a town hall meeting/constituency briefing in Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency. He said names of the women who died would be engraved in front of the school as a reminder to the sad incident by the British oppressive rule.

Akpabio announced the plans following the submission of Madam Edith Etete, an educationist from the area, that six women from Ikot Abasi who opposed British oppressive rule and taxation of women in 1929 were publicly executed while about 2,000 were randomly shot and some were drowned.

Her words: “In December of the same year, there was a protest march that took place in front of the District Officer’s office here in Ikot Abasi. That was the bloodiest, the most heartless killing of women, unarmed women that just went to the DO to present their demand that their husbands should not be taxed, they should not be taxed and that democracy should prevail.”

According to her, “The District Officer (DO) ordered his soldiers to open gun on the women. Forty women were killed; a lot of them fell into the river and died and that was the greatest massacre of women on 16th December, 1929.

“The other one at Aba, no life was lost. We don’t know why what happened in Ikot Abasi is tagged ‘Aba Women Riot’. Since 1989, the women of Akwa Ibom State have been struggling to correct that wrong impression that what happened in Aba was different from what happened in Ikot Abasi.”

Responding, Akpabio expressed shock at such gruesome killing and queried why the people have not sought payment of reparation for such crime against humanity.

“We will establish a secondary school for girls as a memorial for those women who lost their lives in 1929 women massacre in Ikot Abasi. If we can have their records, we will have cenotaph with their names all listed in front of that secondary school so that they would never be forgotten because through their blood, they brought about this democracy we are enjoying today,” the governor said.

He recalled that the 1929 Ikot Abasi Women Massacre  and the 1929 Aba Women Riot led to the agitation for independence from the British Colonial rule, saying: “I heard about the Aba Riot, a riot that did not claim a single life. The riot that led to the emergence of nationalistic spirit in Nigeria was actually the one at Ikot Abasi, where so many women were massacred in cold blood.”

Continuing, Akpabio said: “The place of Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency in our nation cannot be ignored. Lord Lugard lived here in Ikot Abasi and it was here that he signed the amalgamation papers. In other words, Nigeria was midwifed, and birthed in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area. It was also here in Ikot Abasi that our women led the fight against injustice in what has come to be known as the Aba Women Riot.

“This land is the land of great people who have made great sacrifices for our great nation. We are not therefore surprised that you produced one of the greatest legal minds of our country in the late Justice Sir Udo Udoma, the first African Chief Justice of Uganda and a former Judge of the Nigerian Supreme Court. Today we urge you, as we strive to make Akwa Ibom a better place for our children, to let that sense and commitment to justice be a compass directing you to do what is right before God as well as stand the tests of righteousness.”

Akpabio who pledged to establish tourist sites in Ikot Abasi commended the people of the Federal Constituency for their labours of love for our state and our country, positing: “The time has come for you to make further sacrifices and restate your enviable credentials as just and fair-minded people who believe in justice and whose parents were reputable defenders of justice. As we seek to bequeath to our children a just and equitable society founded on the principles of justice, we count on your support, partnership and prayers. Together we can rewrite the Akwa Ibom story.”

In his contribution, Obong Obot Etukafia, an elder statesman from Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency, lauded Governor Akpabio for making Akwa Ibom a model state in Nigeria, advocating for the zoning of governorship in 2015 to Eket Senatorial District and Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency in particular. 

“Let the governor that you are going to choose come from Ibibio land and from Eket Senatorial District and let him be a typical Ibibio person,” Obong Etukafia advised.

•Photo shows Governor Akpabio.

Source: News Express

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