Letter: Biafra's tragedy, Britain's shame

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL LEAPMAN was the first British journalist to tell the truth about the appalling starvation of besieged Biafra in 1968 ("British interests, Nigerian tragedy", Section 2, 4 January). Others followed suit until just about the whole of Fleet Street condemned the British government's support of Lagos.

Under government pressure both Oxfam and the International Red Cross cut off all aid to Biafra in 1968. All BBC radio and TV reporting was stopped. There was an unholy implicit alliance with Moscow when the Russians provided the aircraft and trained the pilots of the Nigerian Air Force. Those pilots refused to fly at night and so left Biafra a nocturnal lifeline down which I flew into Uli, the Biafran airport, over the anti-aircraft guns provided by Harold Wilson and Michael Stewart. There is no more foul chapter in British history since 1945. A million died.

Nigeria is devoid of African authenticity. It was invented by Lord Lugard before the First World War as a military and communications device thought necessary because its huge multi- cultural territory was surrounded by potentially hostile French and German colonies. It is ungovernable. The only way to end its incredible corruption is to break it into viable parts. We still have to learn the lessons of the horrific Biafran experience.

Peter Cadogan

London NW6

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