HC Deb 10 June 1953 vol 516 cc15-6W
37. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has yet received a report or has further information in respect of the disturbances at Kano, Northern Nigeria, on 16th May.

Mr. Lyttelton

Yes. I wish first to deny statements that special leave was granted to Native Administration staff on the day of the riots and that fighting was welcomed and, indeed, instigated by British officials in collaboration with certain Northern Nigerians. These allegations are wholly untrue.

I want also to make it plain that there were no attacks on Action Group leaders and that no evidence has been forthcoming from any source that any such organised attacks were planned. But the Lieutenant Governor was aware of the tension caused by the visit of the Action Group leaders and on Friday, 15th May, all police in Kano were put on the alert.

Further special police precautions, involving the posting of an additional 260 men in seven riot units, were taken on 16th May, when the Native Authority withdrew all permits issued for political meetings.

As the first acts of hooliganism took place over a wide area the existing police strength was insufficient to restore order, and further substantial reinforcements were brought into Kano throughout the following day. All the major rioting took place after the police had been greatly strengthened. Had these reinforcements not been available damage and casualties would no doubt have been much greater. According to the latest reports casualties total 46 killed and 205 treated or admitted to hospital: damage to property was small.

A rigorous administrative inquiry into the disturbances is already in progress, and in the light of its outcome the Nigerian Government will consider whether a formal inquiry should be instituted. Meanwhile, every opportunity has been and is being taken to impress the need for tolerance and calmness on all sections of the population.

I am sure that the House will agree with me that nothing should be said which might re-create the tension which led to these deplorable incidents.