A former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has narrated how Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was named after a “rapist” by Nigeria’s Governor-General, Sir Frederick Lugard.
Fami-Kayode made the statement via his verified Twitter handle @realFFK in response to the statement of Britain’s ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron, about ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s response to the Chibok schoolgirls’ crisis.
Cameron had asserted that Jonathan rejected his administration’s offer to help rescue the Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted over five years ago during GEJ’s administration.
The ex-president has since debunked Cameron’s claim, stating his own side of the story.
Since the Cameron’s outburst, Fani-Kayode has tweeted a series of angry tweets, mostly centering on how the British colonial masters not only ruled Nigeria, but, especially, how they allegedly contributed to the ills plaguing the country.
One of Fani-Kayode’s tweets noted that:
Port Harcourt was named after a British man named Lord Lewis Vernon Harcourt who was a rapist and a paedophile.After he was exposed and faced with public condemnation he committed suicide in his London home on February 24 1922.
Rivers state pl CHANGE the name of your capital! pic.twitter.com/5nSvB2Lwug
— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) October 5, 2019
A run through Wikipedia shows that the man Lewis Vernon Harcourt was, indeed, accused of being a “sexual predator” and a “paedophile,” but the coroner and his biographer asserted that his death, while he was asleep, was not due to suicide.
As for being a sexual predator and a paedophile, he was never sued or arraigned, much less convicted, for any of the allegations.
According to the entry on Lewis Vernon Harcourt (January 31, 1863 – February 24, 1922S), the Briton was Secretary of State for the British Colonies, of which Nigeria was one.
On the naming of Port Harcourt, his Wiki entry states: “When the [Nigerian] port was established in 1912, there was much controversy about the name it should receive.
“In August 1913, the Governor-General of Nigeria, Sir Frederick Lugard, wrote to [Lewis Vernon] Harcourt, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, that, ‘In the absence of any convenient local name, I would respectfully ask your permission to call this Port Harcourt.’
“The Secretary of State replied, ‘It gives me pleasure to accede to your suggestion that my name should be associated with the new Port.’”
And so, Port Harcourt got its name. The story of Lewis Vernon Harcourt, however, has a twist to it, as he was accused of being a “sexual predator” and a “paedophile.”
Citing a 1984 biography of the late colonist by one Sean Hignett titled, From Bloomsbury to New Mexico – A Biography, Wiki states, “Harcourt was known in London Society a sexual predator of the young of both genders.
“He attempted to sexually assault Dorothy Brett, the daughter of Viscount Esher, when she was about 15.
“Dorothy Brett wrote of him that ‘It is so tiresome that Loulou is such an old roué.
“He is as bad with boys as with girls… he is simply a sex maniac. It isn’t that he is in love. It is just ungovernable sex desire for both sexes.”
Harcourt was believed to have committed suicide via potassium bromide, following an alleged attempt to seduce one Edward James. James’s mother reportedly spread the story throughout society.
In the final analysis, based on coroner’s findings, however, Harcourt died in his sleep at his London townhouse at No. 69, Brook Street (now Savile Club) in the early hours of 24 February 1922, aged 59.
“An inquest was held as to the cause of death, which was ruled accidental; the underlying cause being given as heart failure and sudden oedema of the lungs brought on by a dose of Bromidia, which he had been prescribed as a sleep aid.
“According to the coroner, who found extensive heart disease, the amount of Bromidia he had taken would not have caused death in a healthy person.
“According to his valet, there was only a very small amount of Bromidia left in the bottle the prior evening, which Harcourt did not take regularly.
“His physician, Dr. Lindsay Scott, had last seen him on 30 January and testified that Harcourt was not in very good health, being weak and with an irregular heartbeat. He said that he did not expect him to die suddenly, but admitted, ‘I did not think he would live many years.’”
The coroner dismissed the notion of suicide as ‘grotesque,’ given the evidence.
Patrick Jackson, Harcourt’s biographer in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, also noted that suicide seemed unlikely, given that Harcourt was in the midst of finishing a biography on his father, Sir William, which he had commissioned from Alfred George Gardiner.
Harcourt had spent the evening prior to his death editing a recent draft and had an appointment with Gardiner the following day to discuss the project.
Jackson writes, “It seems hard to believe that Harcourt would not have wished to see through to completion an enterprise over which he had exercised tight control, and which recalled for him the glorious days of political partnership with his father.”