Niger Delta armed insurrection did not begin with MEND, Okah or Asari-Dokubo.  Decades before them an Ijaw nationalist named Isaac Boro led an armed campaign for greater Niger Delta autonomy, resource control and self determination for the inhabitants of the Niger Delta.  So who was Boro, and what was his story?

The Background of Isaac Adaka Boro

Boro was an Ijaw nationalist that burned within with passionate zeal to remedy the injustice that minority ethnicities in the Delta suffered in a Nigerian state dominated by the large ethnic groups.  Boro noted that “most of the youths were so frustrated with the general neglect that they were ready for any action led by an outstanding leader to gain liberty…. we were clenched in tyrannical chains and led through a dark alley of perpetual political and social deprivation. Strangers in our own country! Inevitably, therefore, the day would have to come for us to fight for our long-denied right to self-determination”. He complained at the economic and material neglect of the Niger Delta:

“Economic development of the area is certainly the most appalling aspect. There is not even a single industry. The only fishery industry which ought to be situated in a properly riverine area is sited about 80 miles inland at Aba. The boatyard at Opobo had its headquarters at Enugu … Personnel in these industries and also in the oil stations are predominantly non-Ijaw,”

After briefly working as a teacher Boro joined the police and worked in Port Harcourt.  However Boro’s maverick nature saw him go AWOL and start working as an instructor at the Man O’War Bay Character and Leadership Center in Victoria, Western Cameroon.  He was fired from his police job for going AWOL.

Upon his return to Nigeria Boro enrolled at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study chemistry.  While there he became president of the students’ union.  His itchy feet managed to stay at university for two years before he once again departed, this time on a tour to solicit support for the Ijaw cause.  His journey saw him head to Ghana (in the company of Samuel Owonaru) to solicit financial aid for his mission to liberate and gain self autonomy for the people of the Niger Delta.  He was also an admirer of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and made a stop at the Cuban embassy in Ghana to claim solidarity.  However Boro and Owonaru’s appeals for Cuban support were unsuccessful and they were ejected from the embassy.

However Boro was not dissuaded.  He and Owonaru returned home and with their comrade Nottingham Dick, and began to recruit young men to their cause under the umbrella of an organisation known as the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF).  They eventually set up a military camp at Taylor Creek.  Their recruits were given training in the use of firearms and explosives in the creeks and bushes.  Dick served as the “chief of army staff” and “adjutant”.  Eventually they managed to muster a force of about 150 men split into three “divisions”.


On February 23, 1966 the three divisions moved out from their Touton Ban camp with Boro, Onwonaru and Dick as their divisional commanders.  Before going into battle the troops were given a rallying call:

Today is a great day, not only in your lives, but also in the history of the Niger Delta. Perhaps, it will be the greatest day for a very long time. This is not because we are going to bring the heavens down, but because we are going to demonstrate to the world what and how we feel about oppression….Remember your 70 year old grandmother who still farms to eat, remember also your poverty stricken people and then, remember too, your petroleum which is being pumped out daily from your veins, and then fight for your freedom”.

The NDVF men attacked a police station at Yenagoa, raided the armoury and kidnapped some officers including the police officer in command of the station. They also blew up oil pipelines, engaged the police in a gunfight and declared the Niger Delta an independent republic. The revolt was suppressed and Boro, Owonaru and Dick were put on trial on a 9 count charge of treason at Port Harcourt Assizes before Judge Phil Ebosie.  Boro was found guilty.  Before sentencing Boro made an impassioned plea of defiance.  He claimed that his people:

“had long sought a separate state not because they loved power but because their conditions were peculiar and the authorities did not understand their problems.  There is nothing wrong with Nigeria.  What is wrong with us is the total lack of mercy in our activities.”


Despite his plea Boro was sentenced to death by hanging.  In the melee of crisis and conflict in 1966 Nigeria, the sentence was not carried out and he was pardoned by then Nigerian Head of State General Gowon.  When war broke out in 1967, Boro surprisingly enlisted and fought on the side of the federal Nigerian forces against whom he campaigned.  He was killed in action on May 17, 1968 aged just 32.  He was buried in Lagos at the Ikoyi cemetery.  His widow Georeie Deyeha Adaka Boro is still alive.  She was pregnant with their child Deborah when her husband was killed, and gave birth to Deborah after her husband’s death.


40 responses

  1. I’ve really been enjoying your blog. So much so that I want to syndicate it on BustaBlog, a new blog network. You will earn money from your posts by doing nothing more than you’re are doing now.

  2. Thanks for writing this.

  3. I Support the Niger Delta Struggle

  4. it is ironic and a twisted sense of judgement on part of Isaac Boro to get the problem of injustice right and to now fight on the side of the perpetuators, the Hausas cattle rearers which continues till date. Anyway it was good to be the First Real crusader from the Ijaw nation, not these new naira franchises, kidnapping,rapping and collecting ransoms for self aggridisment.


  5. marxist kola Edokpayi | Reply

    Since the inception of Yar Adua’s era, suffer me to say that national and economic problems have become worse and the contunuation of Nigeria as a nation is being threatened and jeopardised, standard of living have deteriorated beyond wildest dreams while his programme of action(seven points agenda) do not improve and are not capable of improving situation. Seven points agenda of Our president is a monumental disaster,there is no way Nigeria can be one of the 20 biggest economies by the year 2020 where corruption is legalised, development of the underdevelopment is exercerbated by the political robber and , the exploiters of the weak, When about 70% of my people live below poverty line yet Our legislooters are given #114,000 each day for feeding allowance whereas majority of the masses cannot feed with #100 a day. Niger Delta issue cannot be resolved and be solved by the presidential weakling. President Umaru Yar adua.
    Scientifically and rationally speaking, Yar adua’s era is the continuation of dictator Olusegun Obasanjo inglorious and capitalist regime.

    Army teaches a lesson in Niger Delta again by invading villages, death toll in the fighting has risen to over 200, with about 15 persons reportedly killed. They ARE mainly innocent women and children who were killed in the invasion. This is tantamount to the Odi genocide of November 1999 in which the sadistic then president order the invasion of Odi. I dont think any so called militant was killed.
    Let me run through the pages of history of Niger Delta struggle
    Even before the 1967-1970 civil war there was a fruitless attempt by a group of Ijaw ethnic minority youth – the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF) then led by Isaac Adaka Boro, to secede from Nigeria, by declaring the Niger Delta Republic in February 1966 in a bid to protect “Ijaw oil”Shortly before the eruption of the civil war in 1967 between Biafra led by Ojukwu in the Eastern region, the four regions of Nigeria (North, East, West and Midwest) had been abolished and replaced with twelve states, three of which were in the ethnic minority regions of the Niger Delta. From 12 states in 1967, Nigeria currently has 36.
    Apart from the state-creation exercise, the method of oil revenue allocation also changed over time. The share of oil revenues allocated to the minority rich oil-producing states of the Niger Delta fell from 50 per cent in 1966 to 1.5 per cent in the mid-1990s. It then rose to 13 per cent in 1999..
    Since the 1990s, the indigenous peoples or ethnic minorities of the oil-rich Niger Delta have protested against the exploitation and pollution of their lands and waters by international oil companies operating in partnership with the Nigerian state oil company – the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Notable among the social movements and ethnic minority organisations that embarked upon a national and international campaign against the state-oil partnership in the 1990s was the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), led anOgoni rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. He was hanged on 10 November 1995 along with eight other Ogoni activists on the orders of a military-constituted tribunal that found them guilty of inciting a mob to kill four of the “pro-government” Ogoni elite, after a trial that was described internationally as unfair and ridiculous.
    Nevertheless, the crisis in the Niger Delta is exemplary of how environmental and economic degradation has led to a violent response infused with cultural solidarity. Nigeria’s history is one of long running environmental, economic and cultural exploitation. Resources are essential to the Nigerian economy; oil accounting for 90% of exports and 80% of government revenue. Nigeria, today, earns about $7.09 billion annually from crude oil. Success in the oil industry has earned Nigeria the title of the 11th nation to join OPEC in 1971. But according to UNDP, although Nigeria is one of the world’s leading oil producers, it ranks 151st out of 177 of the world’s poorest countries. Nationally, 50 to 80 million people are living below the poverty line. In the Niger Delta, the foci of oil production, 72% of households live below the poverty line. A nation with such abounding resources should not be facing an economic crisis that has persisted since its liberation in 1960. The Nigerian federal government, in cohorts with oil multinationals, works collaboratively to maintain such bourgeois ideals. Meanwhile, Niger Deltans continue to economically vegetate in an evolving global corporate market. Perhaps these conditions begin to make more sense when we acknowledge that 10% of the country controls 40.8% of the country’s wealth. Indeed, the ruling hands of the elite are to blame. While some insist that oil money can be used to facilitate the launching of future development plans, the progression towards development remains stagnant. It is a shameful thing that Nigeria sells a liter of fuel higher to its citizen than any other oil producing countries. As we have seen so many times before, there is a conflict in the capitalist agenda. It is clear that the demand for fuel is about 31 million litres per day Owing to the government ineptitude,our refineries now produced 6 million litres leaving a huge gap of about 25 million litres.
    To meet this lacuna,the government contracted companies in spain which is not an oil producing state to refine petroleum products for Nigerian market.The cost of refining oil is always high compare to the countries that refine their products in their countries. This is laughable.
    In fact, Nigeria under the parochial leadership of political weakling Yar adua is approaching spiritual death and war. The blood is these innocent citizens is on his hand.
    A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war.
    John F. Kennedy.
    The people the government call militants are nothing but human rights activists who felt depressed and exasperated by the incessant development of the underdevelopment of their regions by successive administration. They have no other means than to subscibe or result to armed struggle.
    Niger Deltans carrying arm is not new, even Nelson Mandela subscribe to arm struggle when Umkhonto we Sizwe (or MK), translated “Spear of the Nation,” was the active military wing of the African National Congress in cooperation with the South African Communist Party in their fight against the South African apartheid government. MK launched its first guerrilla attacks against government installations on 16 December 1961. It was subsequently classified as a terrorist organisation by the South African government and media, and banned. Like MEND and others are labeled as militant groups by the Nigerian government, who have chosen to be the enemies of the people and exploiters of weak.
    Yar adua should face trials for violating the human rights of the people; for violating the rules of law; and for ordering a full scale military operation in a civilian domain.
    I am using this medium to call on the Nigerian masses to come together under one political platform and wage a marxist revolution in which the bourgeosie, political vampires, enemies of the people shall be overthrown violently and that will mark the inauguration of socialism in Nigeria. For this time calls for revolution. With SOCIALISM, the Niger Delta and Nigerian problems will be solve.
    From the blind passion of those that worship power May allah Saves Our country
    Marxist Kola Edokpayi

  6. matthew ogagavworia | Reply

    Brilliant historal excurcion on the Niger Delta Struggles which the contraption called Nigeria has continued to deny the suffering people of the region. As in every struggles, it will be tortous and painful,time can only give victory to the people. We call on the people of Niger Delta to employ every available pressure on the State to ensure that its get equity and justice and is able to enjoy the benefits of the natural resources in its area. The current wanton destruction of the people, degradation of the environment must stop. The earlier the Nigerian State recognize the inalienable rights of the people of Niger Delta, the better as a conflagration of foces will combine to extint the state in the foreceable future.

  7. wow interesting am doing something about the niger delta

  8. the struggle still continues haa izon

  9. Boro was a confused, misguided person. He could not even hold down a proper job or finish a course of study.
    He was full of hatred for Ibos at a time when oil played no significant role in Nigeria. His hatred of Ibos
    led him to commit many fatal errors including becoming a tool of Hausa-Fulani Islamic hegemonists. Boro eventually fought to create greater injustice from which the Ijaw people have yet to extricate themselves. This is what
    happens when hatred of the Ibo race is allowed to become the central and driving force of an ethnic group
    such as Ijaw.

  10. In Isaac Adaka boro’s case one would go with the saying that (the victors valiant is the diffited peoples hero).This is because the man stood and fought for a cause which he believed in and he died for it.Years after his death the Niger Delta people are still suffering and nothing is being done about the peoples plight.Till date u cnt talk about Niger Delta crisis and not talk about Isaac Adaka Boro.

    1. the guy was just a arrogant and a coward too, he foolishly joined forces with those he was against

      1. Don’t you think,an enemy of your enemy is your friend?

    2. All those who betrayed Biafra in the Civil, died like Chicken, too cheap death because to joined the most popular Enemy of our progress…

  11. That means this cheating has been for quite a long time, am just very very unhappy, pls God help me to forget this; because de more i think of this de more i think of great Evil.

  12. I really support Adaka Boro’s effort during his time but he made the same selfish mistake like Awolowo and Saro wiwa which got back to them as a karma and their people were still paying a great price for that till today. Awolowo started shouting for liberation but when the opportunity calls Gowon gave him a better job in the government as a finance minister, he forgot his pride and discourage the yorubas from standing up for their right. Yorubas had every opportunity to kick both Ibo and Hausas from western Nigerian territory during the war to claimed their blessed land which includes this present Niger Delta of the defunked Mid-Western State that flows with crude oil, rather Awolowo deceived the Yorubas and kept sanging praises to the dumb-ass Gowon and his Nothern people. Ibo’s were only fighting to rule themselves while Hausa is fighting to rule the entire Nation. The Yoruba’s were happy to be ruled and controlled by Hausa’s whereas them (Yorubas) were the most developed,educated and financial well-to-do tribe in Nigeria as at that time.Rather Yorubas joined the Hausas in fighting the Ibos during the civil war while they had every opportunity to take over the country or secede without pain or war. An average Yoruba man is a coward.
    Ken Sarowiwa and his People of Rivers State seized Ibo property’s in Porthacourt after the war just to show their support for Nigeria victory and expecting some blessings from the Hausas, at the end the Hausa man hanged Sarowiwa to death like a Christmas goat with his other 8 kinsmen from Ogoni.
    Isaac Adaka Boro lost his life during the civil war while fighting against the wrong people (Biafra), but who knows exactly the cause of his death? Yakubu Gowon must had ordered his killing for fear of facing another rebel war from Niger Delta after their defeat of Biafra. Such thing can happen.

  13. Comr fredy steady ready | Reply

    The legacy of boro cnt be forgotten. Boro is alive so ijaw youths wake up, lets go back to our bible. Look at de area we ve succeded an de area we ve failed. De struggle continiuon

  14. All the speculation as to how this man lost his live is a pile of rubbish. The real answer lies on who he was fighting and mistakingly regarded as his enemy. One wonders what he would have thought with the current near extermination of the people of the ND for control of their oil.

  15. isaac boro is avaliant he means well 4 niger delta but he took wrong decision in fighting alongside the pple is against,i believe his death might come from the conspiracy of then military goverment.they believe dat after d civil war he might caused another war 4 the caused he believe in.

  16. I love your work! You are very good! I am a magazine publisher and I have been looking for who 2 do boro article for me! I’ve finally found what have been looking for. Well down again.. I hope I can publisher it.. Pls send me your bbpin so we can talk better.. Or what ever way I can reach you! I really want 2 have more of your work on my magazine! This is my number, 07038356612. Thxs

    1. Jennifer – check your e-mail.

  17. The issue for me is very controversial,I think has paid his dues,nobody is perfect,I suggest that the younger generation be wise and careful,be very tactical and apply the best strategy.

  18. The issue for me is very controversial,I think boro has paid his dues,nobody is perfect,I suggest that the younger generation be wise and careful,be very tactical and apply the best strategy.

  19. Kenifaboh Okibegha | Reply

    We the ijaws,we must continue to fight to liberate ourselves from the shackle of intimidation and oppression not minding what it might take or cost.

  20. Who killed Adaka Boro? A question that defied answer over many years Adaka Boro was executed on a Saturday afternoon at about 4pm by firing squad on the order of General…..? by Brigadier then Colonel….? during the civil war anyway that is irrelevant now let us fught to keep Nigeria ONE!


  21. I like boro

  22. Wel i dnt knw bur if i shuld coment Boros life was a waisted one. jst hp his generation wil do beter.

  23. Wel i dnt knw bur if i shuld coment Boros life was a waisted one. jst hp his generation wil do beter. When u want to aply a change in the runing of the afairs of this country try ojukwus concept and c whether u wil suceed and nt runing a flexible revolution campaign that is nt straight forward

  24. Boro lives on. Thanks for beginning the struggle.

  25. ezetu dautari seyifa | Reply

    its high time we stop bloodshed and taking up of arm .for fighting a cause – but holding on to Jesus and GOD our creator so he can see us trough in our agitation this is the only way to just cause thnk you =-

  26. pius o waritimi | Reply

    16th of may 2013 is another anniversary the Ijaws are still running circles. There is no legacy for generations to come how sad. The rape, deprivation,environmental decay going unabatted The President should abolish THE PETROLEUM act ,THE LAND USE DECREE and do his best to address the issue of CORRUPTION. An intellectual approach is necceesary and inevitable. Not annual celebrations and funfairs on his anniversary I mean BORO. Obudou P. Waritimi

  27. Isaac Boro may your soul rest in peace, but Nigerians should known that we the Niger Delta we are raising up for the fight which Late Boro left. A time shall come when we will take control of our resource in Nigeria. Happy Boro Day. Long Live the Niger Delta states, Long live Nigeria.

    1. Amakoromo, You should firstly, count how many males in your family then you can started estimating the number of Soldiers you have before talking about war or battle, who will fight for your, or do you want to betray us like Isaac Adaka Boro, the ‘Enemy with us at the Dinner’

  28. To Peter, Sorry Nigeria is not ONE and will never be ONE so stop decieving yourself or you can go to North Nigeria and let them know you are Peter, you will be a dead man in the next riot

  29. Issac Boro was foolish and lost his life for no course, among all the easthern senior army officers, the only person who lost his life was Nzogwu maybe one thing or another. the rest survived the civil war but Issac refused to join Biafra rather his threators and was killed by them, it’s like enemy with us at the dinner

  30. we nd to fight with everything we hv cause they cannot understand,by justic,publishing,music,acting,gun fight,political.

  31. Boro is a living hero like jesus to the niger delta states.we keep on fighting till boro words come to stay in our lives

    1. Ebiware Augustine Asabah, I think, you are a ‘drunken-fisher-man’ for comparing such a murderer, betrayal and selfish Adaka Boro with Jesus, may God Almighty forgive you… Drunkard

  32. Regards to ur family great adaka boro,u left foot print for we to get there ur dream is for we,ur vision is for us all,

  33. Great man with a great heart. KUDOS!

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