Statement by Chief Awolowo while before the High Court before sentencing for Treasonable Felony
September 11, 1963
In “Adventures in Power Book One: My March through Prison” by Obafemi Awolowo [Macmillan Nigeria Publishers, 1985]; pp. 198 ff.
I must say, and this may have to be taken up with a higher tribunal, that I do not agree with your Lordship’s verdict, and the premises on which it is based.
For upwards of 30 years, I have been in politics in Nigeria; during this period I have operated in various important theatres in the life of this great Federation. I have, with others, fought against British imperialism with all my might, and with all the talents that it pleased God to give me. Together with other nationalists, some of whom are with me and many of whom are not with me here, we have successfully thrown out British imperialism and enthroned Africans in positions which, 20 or more years ago, they never dreamt of occupying.
I have been an unyielding advocate of a Federal Constitution for Nigeria. I have all along, with other leaders of this country, been a very active and constructive participant in all the constitutional conferences which have taken place since 1953, and which have culminated not only in the attainment of independence but in the production of a Constitution of which Nigerians are very proud.
This Constitution is now being gradually violated.
I have also fought against anything which savours of injustice. It is thus an irony of history that, as one of the architects of Nigeria’s independence, I have spent almost half of Nigeria’s three years of independence under one form of confinement or another.