As Nigeria prepares for her centennial celebration next year, British lawyers have revealed that a file containing Colonial Britain’s criminal activities in Nigeria are in secret boxes.
An online publication said the information is contained in 200 boxes of files: 1.5 tons of paper covering about 200 metres of shelving.
They are files on torture from 37 different colonies and protectorates, including Aden, Ceylon, Cyprus, Kenya, Malaya, Malta, Nigeria and Northern Rhodesia.
The Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated by the British colonial government in 1914, giving birth to Nigeria.
However, British lawyers and media, in a publication in The Guardian of London, weekend, said the secret government files from the final years of the British empire containing its crimes in Nigeria and other colonies were hidden in London.
There is a 1960 file concerning Northern Cameroons, both of which the Foreign Office plans to withhold until 2029.
These files remain classified under the terms of Section 3.4 of the 1958 Public Records Act, which permits government departments to withhold from public view any historic document “required for administrative purposes” or that “ought to be retained for any other special reason.”
Last year, a Nigerian website, USA Africa Dialogue Series, accused the UK of destroying records of its colonial crimes. It said between 1954 and 1959, the regional governors in Nigeria were encouraged by the Colonial Office to send “chatty reports” mainly on socio-political developments and on personalities in their regions.
But these governors, in spite of their cooperation in this regard, also demanded that their returns should be destroyed after they might have been digested.
A governor was said to have written “as you will see some of the comment is ‘hot’ and I should not like them to get too wide a circulation. I would be most grateful therefore, if after you read it you burn it.”
In the northern region, Sir Brian Sharwood-Smith (the colonial governor), pleaded that his “chatty reports” and other series to T. B. Williamson in the Colonial Office on his (Sir Brian’s) appraisal of the politicians and political situation should not be filed and were in fact to be (N.F.F.= Not For Filing) destroyed after Sharwood-Smith’s retirement.
The publication said the information is contained in 200 boxes of files: 1.5 tons of paper that covered about 200 metres of shelving.