5 Historical Riots/Wars In Nigeria That Almost Destroyed the Country

Various factors have stirred up conflicts among ethnic, religious and political groups in Nigeria. Religious, political and ethnic nationalism have led to riots and conflicts about control of power, state collapse, unequal allocation of resources, economic decline and ethnoreligious clashes in Nigeria.


Some of these clashes could well have been avoided while some, on the other hand, were inevitable. Whichever way, these riots will forever remain dents to the beautiful history of Nigeria.

highlifextra brings you the top 5 historical riots/wars in Nigeria that almost destroy the country. It is worthy of note that these riots or wars happened after the amalgamation of northern and southern protectorates in 1914.

5. Adubi War of 1918

Adubi War of 1918 | Historical riots/wars in Nigeria
The Adubi war, also known as the Egba Uprising broke out in 1918, between June and August, as a result of the taxation system introduced by the British colonial government in Abeokuta, the present capital of Ogun State, Nigeria.

highlifextra gathered that more than thirty thousand (30,000) Egba people went to war against the colonial officials in Abeokuta, destroying many railway and telegraph lines in the southern part of the territory.

The Adubi war was mainly caused by the introduction of the direct taxation system on the Egba people as well as the cancellation of Abeokuta’s independence in the year 1918. Read about Adubi war in full details here.

4. Aba Women’s Riot of 1929

Aba Women's Riots of 1929 | Historical Riots/Wars in Nigeria
The riots or war led by women in the provinces of Calabar and Owerri in southeastern Nigeria in November and December of 1929 is known as the “Aba Women’s Riots of 1929” in British colonial history and “Women’s War” in Igbo history.

The roots of the riots evolved from January 1, 1914, when the first Nigerian colonial governor, Lord Lugard, instituted the system of indirect rule in Southern Nigeria. Under this system, British administrators ruled locally through “warrant chiefs,” essentially Igbo individuals appointed by the governor.

Within a few years, the appointed warrant chiefs became increasingly oppressive. Colonial administrators added to the local sense of grievance when they announced plans to impose special taxes on the Igbo market women.

The Aba women’s riots prompted colonial authorities to drop their plans to impose a tax on the market women and to curb the power of the warrant chiefs. Read about the Aba women’s riot in full details here.

3. Operation Wetie: Western Region Riots of 1962

Operation Wetie
The third on our list of historical riots/wars in Nigeria is Operation wetie. This was the name given to the series of riots that characterized both the political and civilian scene of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria in the 1960s. Operation wetie, in the context of the crises, means to douse or wet politicians, their properties and supporters with petrol and set them ablaze.

The bloody riots started with intra-party disagreements between the leader of the Action Group, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and his deputy, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola. It all began when Chief Obafemi Awolowo gave up his post as the Premier of Western Region to seek power as the Prime Minister but lost and settled as the leader of opposition in the federal parliament.

Though the premiership mantle was handed over to Akintola, Awolowo still retained his post as the leader of the Action Group. However, Samuel Akintola did not reckon with Awolowo’s decision to remain the leader of the party and this brought about division of interest and loyalty in the Action Group. A faction of the Action Group pledged loyalty to Awolowo while another supported Samuel Akintola.

This caused serious uproar and unrest in the Western Region which later resulted in chains of violence. Several people were killed and properties worth millions were destroyed in days. Shortly after, a state of emergency was declared throughout the Western Region.

This became the first time in the history of Nigeria that a state of emergency would be employed to curb violence. Political opponents and their families were set ablaze and their properties too. Read about Operation Wetie in full details here.

2. Kano Riot of 1953

Nigerian Ciil War | Historical riots/wars in Nigeria
Another one in this list of historical riots/wars in Nigeria is the Kano riot of 1953. In March 1953, a member of Action Group (AG) in the House of Representatives, Chief Anthony Enahoro, moved a motion requesting that Nigeria should be granted self-government in 1956.

The leader of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), Sir Ahmadu Bello, moved a counter-motion. He proposed an amendment that self-government should be granted “as soon as practicable”. This led to disagreements over the motion and equally resulted in a strained relationship between the Northern and Southern leaders.

highlifextra gathered that the meeting of the House was adjourned and members of NPC were booed and called all sorts of names before they left Lagos for the North. A retaliatory move was made by Northern leaders in Kano to avenge humiliation they faced in Lagos after the self-government motion adjournment on March 31, 1953.

It was while Akintola and his group were in Kano that a riot broke out which is later known in history as the 1953 Kano riot or Kano riot of 1953. Several people lost their lives in the riot and scores were wounded. Read about the Kano riot of 1953 in full details here.

1. Nigerian Civil War/ Biafran War

19th May 1968: Nigerian Federal Troops in command of Port Harcourt after routing Biafran troops, during the Biafran War.
Nigerian Federal Troops in command of Port Harcourt after routing Biafran troops, during the Biafran War. Getty Images

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, broke out between July 6, 1967, and January 15, 1970. This bloody war caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra.

Created as a colonial entity by the British, Nigeria was divided between a mainly Muslim north and a mainly Christian and animist south. Following independence in 1960, three provinces were formed along tribal lines, the Hausa and Fulani (north), Yoruba (south-west), and Igbo (south-east).

Tribal tensions increased after a military coup in 1966 which resulted in General Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo, taking power as Head-of-State. This was followed by a northerner-led counter coup a few months later. Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed and widespread reprisals were unleashed against the Igbo.

Nigerian Civil War
Fearing marginalization within the state, on May 30, 1967, the Igbo-majority province declared its independence as the Republic of Biafra. Initially, its forces pushed back the Nigerian army but after a year of fighting, a stalemate developed.

The Republic of Biafra lost its oil fields which were its main source of revenue and without the funds to import food, an estimated one million of Biafrans died as a result of severe malnutrition.

On January 11, 1970, Nigerian forces captured the provincial capital of Owerri, one of the last Biafran strongholds, and Ojukwu was forced to flee to the Ivory Coast. Four days later, Biafra surrendered to Nigeria. Read more about the Nigerian Civil War/Biafran War here.

Bonus: Kaduna Riots of 2000

Kaduna riots of 2000 | Historical Riots/Wars in Nigeria
The Kaduna riots of 2000 were religious riots between Christians and Muslims over the introduction of sharia law in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria. The riots which began on the 21st of February, 2000 claimed between 200 to 1000 lives.

Some of the protesting Christian youth smashed vehicle windshields and disrupted the flow of traffic in the Kaduna metropolis. In retaliation, many homes, banks, shops and businesses belonging mainly to Igbo traders from eastern Nigeria were looted and vandalized by Muslim rioters.

In Aba, trouble began when the bodies of Aba natives were shipped from Kaduna. Aba residents, furious over the deaths, attacked Muslim Hausa who live in the city and burned the mosque. Violence was also reported in the nearby towns of Owerri and Umuaha.

highlifextra gathered that President Olugusen Obasanjo appealed to both Christians and Muslims “to desist from violence” and the government sent elite troops to Aba. Kaduna state governor, Ahmad Maikarfi, imposed a dawn to dusk citywide curfew and the military and police were put on high alert.

Thanks for reading,

Gospel Igbo Music

Sis. Nneka Stephen ft. Nnamdi Ewenighi – My Testimony

Sis. Nneka Stephen ft. Nnamdi Ewenighi – My Testimony

Sis. Nneka Stephen ft. Nnamdi Ewenighi My Testimony Mp3 Download

Sister Nneka Stephen features Evangelist Nnamdi Ewenighi in this Igbo gospel praise worship music titled My Testimony (Part 1 & 2) for free downloads.

Download all old and latest new songs by Sis. Nneka Stephen ft. Nnamdi Ewenighi – My Testimony (Part 1 & 2) in audio mp3 format below:


DOWNLOAD MP3: Sis. Nneka Stephen ft. Nnamdi Ewenighi – My Testimony


DOWNLOAD MP3: Sis. Nneka Stephen ft. Nnamdi Ewenighi – My Testimony 

Gospel Music

MJ Great – From The Inside

MJ Great – From The Inside

Download MJ Great – From The Inside Mp3

John Henry, Popularly known as MJ-Great, A songwriter and the President/Founder of The Zion Minister’s (Music Crew), And a music minister set to preach the word of God through music and also to raise souls on fire through the help of God, From Edo state (Etsako East) LGA, Went to a federal college of education kontagora studied computer/Interscience,, I was born at undo state, grew up in kontagora Niger state, Presently leave at Airport road Lugbe Abuja Nigeria,

I am the songwriter of (From the inside), It’s not just a song but a heart-cry telling the spirit of God to rule over me, Not to allow me to praise and worship on my own, To do his will not my will.




The Real Story of Ishola Oyenusi – Nigeria’s Deadliest Armed Robber

Doctor Ishola Oyenusi tied to the stake
Doctor Ishola Oyenusi tied to the stake

Who Was Dr Ishola Oyenusi?

Ishola Oyenusi, popularly known as Doctor Oyenusi, was a notorious armed robber who terrorized the people of Lagos and other neighboring cities in the 1970s. Ishola Oyenusi and his gang of six were highly skilled in snatching cars, robbing banks, factories, stores, and killing people like chickens.


Was Ishola Oyenusi Really A Medical Doctor?

Dr Oyenusi, as he was called, was not a doctor by profession but adopted the title for the fun of it. The evidence lies in a confession he made few minutes before his execution.

He confessed that his parents were not capable of furthering his secondary school education and that was what forced him into robbery. So without having a secondary school education, Oyenusi by no way could have been a medical doctor.

Oyenusi’s Robbery Exploits

Oyenusi started off his robbery career by snatching a car (whose owner died in the process) just because his (Oyenusi) girlfriend needed some money. It was claimed by some sources that Oyenusi was romantic.

Ishola Oyenusi- Daily Times
He sold the car at the price of N400 and gave the money to his girlfriend. It was also said that Oyenusi was hot-tempered and quite arrogant. During his arrest, he thundered down on a police officer who was ushering him around. He said, “people like you don’t talk to me like that when I’m armed, I gun them down!”

Doctor Ishola Oyenusi came into the limelight after the Nigerian civil war ended in 1970. He robbed banks and people in both daylight and night, and he never let any of his victims live to see another day; he killed them all! This earned him the name “Doctor rob and kill“.

At the height of his horrific reign, Ishola Oyenusi bragged that “the bullet has no power“. He probably forgot that he who lives by the sword will surely die by the sword. Oyenusi was so infamous that he was regarded by some people as the “first celebrated armed robber in Nigeria“, and after him was Lawrence Anini, Babatunde Folorunsho (Baba oni lace), Shina Rambo, Buraimo Jimoh, and others.

Ishola Oyenusi’s Arrest

However, nothing lasts forever, and as the Yoruba adage says, every day belongs to the thief while a day belongs to the owner.

On the 27th of March, 1971, Oyenusi was nabbed by the police during one of his robbery operations in which he and his notorious gang killed a police constable named Mr. Nwi and stole $28,000 as at then. Cloud of shame hovered above Doctor Ishola Oyenusi as he was cast before the law and found guilty then sentenced to death by firing squad.

Oyenusi confessed that he was not to die alone because he did not commit the crimes alone.

He vomited the names of other members of the gang which included: Joseph Osamedike, Ambrose Nwokobia, Joel Amamieye, Philip Ogbolumain, Ademola Adegbitan, and Stephen Ndubuokwu.

Back then, public execution was the order of the day, so when Oyenusi was ushered to the popular Bar Beach in Lagos where he was to be executed, over 30,000 Nigerians were happily and excitedly waiting to see the man who had terrorized them get riddled by hot bullets.

It was said that some civil servants even brought a coffin to the execution ground to mock the once-mighty robber kingpin who was now nothing but a scapegoat whose breath would be exhausted in any moment.

Doctor Oyenusi execution
Ishola Oyenusi being led to the stake

Ishola Oyenusi’s Execution

Trucks carrying Oyenusi and his executors arrived at the execution ground around 10:am. Doctor Oyenusi, his gang members, and one other criminal got down slowly.

People jeered and booed them, especially Oyenusi who they had really trooped out to watch die. Oyenusi donned a dark long-sleeve shirt and had his hands tied behind him.

He was sweating profusely but managed to smile all the way to the stakes. He kept smiling, smiling, and smiling but could still not hide the agony and terror written boldly on his face.

Few minutes before he was shot, Oyenusi told journalists that he would not have ventured into armed robbery if his parents were capable of sending him to secondary school.

He also said, “I am dying for the offense I have committed“. Oyenusi and other criminals were fastened to the stakes. The soldiers lined in front of them and aimed their ever-ready guns. Some of the criminals yelled their last words of protest at the cameras. Then a loud voice let out the word “fire”! Oyenusi and other criminals’ bodies were sprayed with bullets.

That was the bitter end of Ishola Oyenusi who lived by the bullets and died by the bullets. The execution of Doctor Ishola Oyenusi sent the streets of Lagos deserted at night. Families locked themselves behind doors for the fear that some of Oyenusi’s boys might retaliate.

Ishola Oyenusi's execution
Doctor Ishola Oyenusi (circled) and his gang’s execution

This fear lasted long that even in 1977, the veteran movie director, Eddie Ugbomah, called for actors to play the role of Oyenusi in a movie he was about to produce titled “The Rise and Fall of Dr. Oyenusi”, but no actor was brave enough to step forward to play the role.

They all feared that Oyenusi’s boys might show them pepper. Eddie Ugbomah had no choice but to play the role of Oyenusi himself. In the movie, he revealed the secrets of top Nigerian officials and military men backing Oyenusi and his gang by providing them money and weapons.

As expected, Eddie Ugbomah was threatened, and later, his store was looted. He was told in a letter to stop shooting the movie and everything would be returned to him. But Eddie Ugbomah proved not to be a coward by eventually releasing the movie in 1977.

In recent times, a Nollywood actor, Odunlade Adekola, also released a movie (Oyenusi) detailing the life of Ishola Oyenusi, the most notorious Nigerian armed robber.

The name Ishola Oyenusi will forever be remembered in the history of crime in Nigeria.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Osifodunrin, Paul Ayodele; Dec. 2007; Armed Robbery and Murder in Lagos, 1960-2000; Violent Crimes in Lagos, 1861–2000: Nature, Responses, and Impact (Thesis). The University of Lagos.
  2. Omipidan. Teslim Opemipo. Notorious Armed Robbers in Nigeria. highlifextra. /tag/notorious-robbers-in-nigeria/

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The Youngest Grandmother in the World is a 17-Year-old Nigerian

Mum Zi - Youngest Grandmother in the World
Mum-Zi was a member of Chief Akkiri’s harem in Akwa Akpa (now Calabar), who would later be the father of her daughter. Pic credit: Twitter

Who Was Mum-Zi – The Youngest Grandmother in the World?

Mum-Zi was just eight years and four months old when she gave birth to a baby girl in 1884.

From Nigeria, on an island called Akwa Akpa, now known as the city of Calabar, Mum-Zi’s daughter followed her mother’s footsteps, becoming a mother at the age of eight years and eight months thus making Mum-zi the youngest Grandmother in the world.


Over the years, it has not been uncommon to find young parents out there but what is perhaps unusual is to find young teens – as young as 17 – as grandparents.

In recent times, most people at that age are looking to complete their education or to graduate from high school. The thought of even becoming a parent is rare, thus, having grandchildren is often out of place.

But this was not the situation for Mum-Zi and her daughter, as well as, other young girls in the 19th Century.

According to Lyall Archibald’s 1936 book, The Future of Taboo in These Islands, Mum-Zi was a member of Chief Akkiri’s harem in Akwa Akpa (now Calabar), who would later be the father of her daughter.

Since the 16th Century, Calabar had been a busy international seaport, shipping out goods such as palm oil.

Historical accounts state that during the Atlantic slave trade, it became a major port in the transportation of African slaves, with most slave ships being owned by Bristol and Liverpool.

Some missionaries would later record the challenges of poor water supplies, malaria, and the presence of some tribes who were sometimes not too welcoming to evangelists and other slave traders.

What was common, however, was the fact that chiefs kept a harem of wives and slaves.

The harem is basically a female backyard or household largely reserved for princes and lords of this world.

This private space has traditionally served the purposes of maintaining the modesty, privilege, and protection of women.

In most parts of Africa and elsewhere, a harem, in terms of royal harems of the past, may house a man’s wives and concubines, as well as, their children, unmarried daughters, female domestic workers, and other unmarried female relatives.

Mum-Zi was one of the many women and girls who lived in a harem belonging to Chief Akkiri. After giving birth at 8 years and four months, with the chief being the father, her daughter would also become a mother exactly eight years later. She was reportedly impregnated by the same chief who happens to be her father.

She gave birth at an age slightly older than that of her mother’s, as she was 8 years plus 8 months. Nevertheless, this remains one of the shocking moments in history.

Ever since the 1700s, a number of cases have been highlighted to show how girls and women across the world suffer just because of their gender.

Among these forms of gender-based violence is child marriage, which denies children the right to be children and take away from them the opportunities for education and a better life. It also exposes them to risk of violence at the hands of their usually older and powerful husbands.

A recent report by Girls Not Brides revealed that globally, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children and 17 per cent of them, or 125 million, live in Africa.

It added that about 39 per cent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18 and all African countries face the challenge of child marriage.

According to the report, Niger has the highest number of child brides, with three out of four girls married before they are 18.

The Central African Republic follows. There, the legal minimum age for marriage is 18, however, girls can get married at 13 years if it is approved by a court and/or if the girl is pregnant.

In some cases, earlier marriage is allowed if a parent consents to it. At third place is Chad, which has a rate of 67 per cent.

Some of the drivers for child marriage in these countries are poverty, upholding social and religious traditions, as well as, conflict, which forces many parents to consent to child marriage as a way of protecting their girls from violence and sexual assault.

Thanks for reading,

Culled from Face2Face Africa

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Story of Bode Thomas, the Nigerian Lawyer Who Barked to Death After Insulting Alaafin Of Oyo

Chief Bode Thomas
Chief Olabode Akanbi Thomas

Who was Bode Thomas?

Olabode Akanbi Thomas, popularly known as Bode Thomas, was born on October 1919 into the family of Andrew Thomas, a wealthy and influential Yoruba trader. He attended C.M.S. Grammar School, Bariga, a missionary school founded by the Church Missionary Society on the 6th of June, 1859.


Bode Thomas studied Law in London alongside Chief FRA Williams and Remi Fani-Kayode (Femi Fani-Kayode’s father). Later on, Bode Thomas, FRA William, and Remi Fani-Kayode established the first Law firm in Nigeria named Thomas, Williams, and Kayode in Jankara Street, Lagos.

Chief Bode Thomas rose to prominence at a young age. He became a member of the Regional House of Assembly in 1951. He represented the Western region as Minister of Transport under the Macpherson Constitution.

He was astute, workaholic, thoughtful, and forward-looking. He was also a founding member of the Action Group. Prior to joining Action Group, he was a successful Lagos lawyer and was a member of the Nigerian Youth Movement.

Bode Thomas Vs Alaafin of Oyo

Reports claimed that Bode Thomas was a brilliant but very arrogant lawyer. He was said to be so arrogant to the extent that sometimes, people labeled him a bully. Judges hated the way he comported himself in court. They saw him as a brash and arrogant man.

Bode Thomas died in a controversial circumstance after his unfriendly encounter with Alaafin Adeyemi II, father of the current Alaafin Lamidi Adeyemi III. Both Alaafin Adeyemi II and Thomas (who was the Balogun of Oyo in 1949) were members of the Oyo Divisional Council. At a time, the respected Alaafin was chairman of the council before Thomas took over.

Alaafin Adeyemi II
Alaafin Adeyemi II

highlifextra gathered that on November 22, 1953, when Chief Bode Thomas arrived at a meeting of the council, all the other councilors, except Alaafin Adeyemi, stood up to welcome him. He rudely said to the king “why were you sitting when I walked in? Why can’t you show me respect?” Bode was 34 years old while the Alaafin was in his 60s.

Alaafin Adeyemi II felt very embarrassed and he said to Bode, “shey emi on gbo mo baun? Emi ni ongbo bi aja mo baun? Ma gbo lo” which translates as “am I the one you are barking at like that? Am I the one you are barking at like a dog? Keep barking.”

Bode as Transport Minister, 1952.

It was alleged that Bode Thomas got home and started barking like a dog. He barked and barked throughout the night till he died the following day – November 23, 1953. There were rumors that the Alaafin had Bode Thomas poisoned. He was survived by his wife, Lucretia Shobola Odunsi, and children. Among his children are Abimbola, Eniola and Dapo.

Bode has a street named after him in Lagos. He served as a colonial minister of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria and privy counselor of the historic Oyo clan of Yorubaland. He was a brilliant and successful man whose pride, they said, led to his fall.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Eribake, A. (2016, March 26). When Obas had to go on exile. Wiki.
  2. Uwechue, Raph; et al. (1991). Makers of Modern Africa: Profiles in History (Second ed.). London: Africa Books. ISBN 0-903274-18-3.
  3. The Bode Thomas Foundation Website
  4. Omipidan, T. O. (2019, January 6). List of Alaafin (Kings) of Oyo. highlifextra. /2017/06/06/list-of-alaafin-kings-of-oyo/
  5. Femi Fani-Kayode. “In remembrance of Fani Power”. Niger Delta Congress.

The Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) of 1935

Eyo Ita Esua of Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM)
Eyo Ita Esua of Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM)

The Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) was founded in 1935 after the introduction of the Clifford constitution of 1922 which paved the way for the formation of political parties in Nigeria.


History of the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM)

Prof. Eyo Ita Esua was known to be the founding father of NYM, and others like Earnest Ikoli, the first editor of the Daily Times of Nigeria (1926), Samuel Akinsanya and Dr. C. Vaughan were founding members.

The Nigerian Youth Movement competed for the political control of Lagos with the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) of Herbert Macaulay. It is believed that the defunct Lagos Youth Movement (LYM) of 1934 metamorphosed into NYM.

Later on, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Samuel Ladoke Akintola, Obafemi Awolowo and H.O. Davis joined the party. The party was the first to have a national outlook in Nigeria based on the composition of its members. Prof. Kofo Ayobami was the president of the party, while Earnest Ikoli was the vice president, and H.O. Davis served as the secretary.

Membership of NYM

The membership of the party was open to all citizens of Nigeria, especially those residing in Lagos. NYM dismissed some of their members due to some political reasons but they were later accepted back into the party through the intervention of Nnamdi Azikiwe who promoted the spirit of Pan-Africanism among NYM members.

The aims of the Nigerian Youth Movement were to work towards the unity of Nigeria and to gain self-rule or independence for the nation. In 1938, NYM won the three seats in Lagos by defeating NNDP in the elections for the Lagos Town Council. NYM strongly opposed the system of indirect rule with support from traditional rulers.

In a charter published by the party in 1938, a paragraph said: “We are opposed to the term “Indirect Rule” literally as well as in principle. Honest trusteeship implies direct British Rule with a view to ultimate self-government.”

Contributions of the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM)

1. It promoted national unity by composing its members from several ethnic groups in Nigeria.

2. It fought hard for the political independence of Nigeria.

3. It aroused modern nationalism among Nigerians.

4. NYM played a prominent role in the abortion of the indirect rule.

5. It led to the formation of other political parties like NCNC (1944), AG (1951) and NPC (1951).

Thanks for reading,


  1. Omipidan, Teslom O. The Development of Political Parties in Nigeria. highlifextra. tag/developments-of-political-parties-in-nigeria/

See How 50 kobo Caused Nationwide Protest in Nigeria in 1978

Ali Must Go Protest
In 1978, Nigerian students staged a protest (Ali Must Go) which, till today, remains the mother of all Alutas (student protests) in Nigeria.

It was a nationwide agitation that brought the National Union of Nigeria Students (NUNS) into an open confrontation with the Military government of Olusegun Obasanjo and the stern-looking men of the Nigerian Army.


The bloody episode which popularized the power of Nigerian students started in April 1978, when the government asked the students to make more contributions by adding 50 Kobo to their cost of a meal per day.

The 50 Kobo increment meant that their cost of the meal would rise from N1.50 to N2.00.

The then Minister of Education, Ahmadu Ali was at the center of the matter until everything collapsed on his head.

Following the announcement, which didn’t go down well with the National Union of Nigeria Students, Segun Okeowo, the then president of the union made a move to address the issue.

The students held a meeting in Maiduguri, Ilorin, and finally in Calabar before taking a bold step to challenge the military government on the increment.

All along, Ali was trying to make the students believe that the increment was made by the Supreme Military Council and not by the Ministry of Education.

However, when the NUNS realized the government was not willing to reverse its decision, they resorted to demonstration and that was the moment things began to fall apart And the Police fired the first shot.

Segun Okeowo of Ali Must Go Protest
Segun Okeowo of Ali Must Go Protest

The first day of the protest brought the students and the Police face to face at the University of Lagos (UNILAG). A student was fired in the leg and bled to death because Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and Orthopedic hospital, Igbobi refused to treat him.

That infuriated Okeowo, the national students union president who immediately sent a message to his counterparts at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Ibadan, and other Federal Universities.

The students’ protests escalated and for over a week, they engaged themselves in an open confrontation with the Police and the Army.

Touched by the incident the student was shot dead by the police in UNILAG, the students, went on a rampage and about eight other students were reportedly gunned down in Zaria by Nigerian soldiers.

50 Kobo
The murder of the students caused more problems for the government as the students refused to be cowed by the gun-wielding murderers sent to put the situation under control.

The protest slogan, ALI MUST GO rent the air as the Minister of Education was believed to be the cause of the crisis that led to the students’ deaths.

After one week of the nationwide protest, the Federal Government shut down all universities, and students were advised to leave the campus.

The Segun Okeowo led students union and the ALI MUST GO saga remains a notable students-led aluta in Nigeria.

In fact, the history of students unionism in Nigeria will largely be incomplete without mentioning Segun Okeowo and the infamous protest that demonstrated the strength of Nigerian students.

Thanks for reading, highlifextra


Late Ken Saro-Wiwa and His Three Children

Read about Ken Saro-Wiwa here

Ken Saro-Wiwa and children L-R Zina, Tedum and Noo 1982 Port Harcourt - Source: Noo Saro-WiwaKen Saro-Wiwa and children L-R Zina, Tedum and Noo 1982 Port Harcourt – Source: Noo Saro-Wiwa | NPP

The Historical Background Of Sanitary Inspectors In Nigeria

Sanitary inspectors in the 60s
Known as ‘wole-wole’ in Yorubaland, ‘Nwaole-ala’ among the Igbos and ‘duba-gari’ among Hausa people, sanitary inspectors are government officials saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the sanitation of houses and neighbourhoods in every part of Nigeria.


The office of the sanitary inspector was established during the colonial era of Nigeria. At the dawn of their establishment, they were known as sanitary attendants because their primary function then was to serve as helping hands to colonial masters (sanitary inspectors) who execute sanitary duties themselves.

On a clearer note, colonial masters who oversaw sanitization were called ‘sanitary inspectors’ while Nigerians who worked under them were referred to as ‘sanitary attendants’.

The sanitary attendants handled meager duties such as marking tall or bent trees, noting dilapidated buildings, pasting announcements or warning bills, interpreting for colonial masters, etcetera.

As time went on, the sanitary attendants were assigned more professional functions such as daily sanitary inspection, collection of water samples, noting mosquitoes’ breeding sites, and so on.

Many of the sanitary attendants improved their education level and thus earned more recognition for their office. They began to execute functions such as felling tall trees that were close to residential buildings, identifying infectious disease cases, disinfection and disinfestation, liaison between the colonial masters and villagers, verification of notices issued by their colonial masters (sanitary inspectors), retention of daily, weekly and monthly returns and others.

In the 1920s, Dr. Isaac Ladipo Oluwole played a crucial role in improving the status of Nigerian health workers, including the partly recognized sanitary attendants.

Dr. Oluwole returned from Britain as a public health physician and became the first African Medical Officer of Health (MOH) in the Lagos colony. In 1920, he established the Nigerian School of Hygiene in Yaba, Lagos, which was the first of its kind in Nigeria, and trained qualified people to become sanitary inspectors.

During this period, the sanitary attendants were now referred to as sanitary inspectors and were put in charge of:

  • Routine sanitary inspection of houses, markets, schools, and communities.
  • Waste disposal and environmental sanitation, pollution control, and industrial sanitation.
  • Water sampling and sanitation.
  • Port health duties (air, land, and seaports)
  • Control of communicable diseases (infectious diseases).
  • Building and urban planning.
  • Vector and pest control e.g. Malaria control.
  • Prosecution of public health offenders in the court.
  • Meat and food inspection.
  • The disposal of the dead (corpses).
  • Occupational health and factory inspection.
  • Vaccination/inoculation of both schoolchildren and adults.
  • Health education on personal and public hygiene.
Sanitary inspectors in the 60s
They were dreaded by all and sundry, even more than the then colonial police officers, because breaching their orders was breaching the system, so people avoid getting into their trouble net by tidying up their environments.

Another factor that improved the status of the sanitary inspectors was the establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948 as people with a higher level of education joined the profession.

In 1988, the name of the profession was changed to environmental health officers in line with the internationally accepted name of practitioners of the profession and also to accommodate members of the profession who graduated from the university with a degree in public health, environmental health, and epidemiology.

Fast forward to recent years, the present situation of the sanitary inspectors in Nigeria is disheartening as little regard is given to them and their functions. The profession is withering away at an increasing spate and people now tag it ‘old-school’ while some are not even aware of their (sanitary inspectors now environmental health officers) existence.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Professional Association of Environmental Health Officers of Nigeria (PAEHON); “Preventing disease through proper environmental management in the 21st century in Nigeria”; 2001;
  2. Sani Garba; Environmental Health in Nigeria, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; 2004;
  3. Omipidan. Teslim Opemipo (2014). Colonial Rule in Nigeria and Nigeria’s Struggle for Independence. highlifextra.
  4. Ayodeji Olukoju; Local And Global Dynamics In The Transformation Of The Port-City Of Lagos Since The Nineteenth Century (PDF); Department of History and Strategic Studies, University of Lagos.
  5. Image Credit – Émi Ni Afrika

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