Ojukwu Agreed With Me In 2003 That Nigeria Must Remain United – Buhari

Less than 48 hours after his return to the country from London, where he spent more than 100 days on medical vacation, President Muhammadu Buhari has backed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in defending the unity of the nation.

Professor Osinbajo who was Acting President while the President was away had repeatedly insisted that the unity of the country was not negotiable.

His comments had come amid agitations for secession in the South East, a quit notice to Igbos in the North by northern youth groups and repeated calls for the restructuring of the country.

President Buhari, in defending the government’s position on the unity of the country recalled an encounter with the late General Chukwuemka Odumegwu Ojukwu in 2003.

According to the President, Ojukwu who led the ‘Republic of Biafra’ in its attempt to secede from Nigeria from 1967 to 1970 agreed with him that the country should remain united.

In his national broadcast this morning, President Buhari said, “In 2003 after I joined partisan politics, the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu came and stayed as my guest in my hometown Daura. Over two days we discussed in great depth till late into the night and analysed the problems of Nigeria. We both came to the conclusion that the country must remain one and united.”

Consequently, the President warned that secessionist agenda would not be tolerated and that all grievances must be channeled through legitimate means.

“Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood,” he said.

Police arrest protesters marching in support of Biafra

The police in Enugu state, South East Nigeria on Monday arrested over 100 persons for staging a march in support of the independence for the former breakaway state of Biafra.

The protesters, who were led by one Ben Onwuka, were believed to be members of the Biafran Zionist Movement raised the Biafran flag and then marched through the streets of the Enugu. They were arrested around Akwata axis of Agbani road in the capital city of Enugu state.

The group first gathered on Sunday to mark the birthday of former Biafran leader Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, who died in March.

The Police Public Relations Officer of the state, Ebere Amaraizu said the police acted on a tip off and that the suspected members were arrested with 61 Biafra flags and other flags that seemed to belong to other countries.

He said the suspects were arrested with 13 Berets, three Bands and eight Biafra Zionist Movement forms and that they have been charged to court for treason.

Group to declare Biafra republic in November

A pro-Biafra group, Biafra Zionist Movement, BZM, announced, on Tuesday, that it had commenced the process to launch the struggle for a State of Biafra with the international community, saying that the formal declaration of the new Biafra Republic had been slated for November 5.

This came as Conference of Igbo Youth Organizations, CIYO, warned that Ndigbo “would no longer watch in silence while our brothers and sisters are slaughtered like animals” in the Northern States.

National President of BZM, Benjamin Onwuka, at a briefing said what prevented the realization of Biafra republic over the years was the inability to get the support of world powers, like the United States of America to back the project.

He expressed regrets that the international community did not know the aspirations of the Biafra people, saying “Biafra must therefore be internationalized because the forces preventing the dreams for our independence are vested in the United Kingdom.

Biafra can only be achieved when we secure the support of the United States of America; the day USA comes to our side, that day we shall be free from Nigeria; the story of South Sudan where a bloody civil war was fought for over 24 years is a typical example.”

Meanwhile, the Igbo youths in a statement endorsed by 10 youth leaders, including the National Coordinator, Igbo Youth Grand Alliance, Uchenna Uchehara, who read it after their emergency meeting in Owerri yesterday said: “Events of the past few months in Nigeria have become very disturbing to stakeholders, especially the Igbo nation that played a major role in the founding of Nigeria and inspite of the tragedies of the Biafran war, resolved to give total support to one united Nigeria”.

Late Biafra warlord laid to rest

The Saint Michaels Catholic Church in Umudim, Nnewi in Anambra state, South-east Nigeria was on Friday filled to capacity as eminent Nigerians gathered for the church service/requiem mass for the late Biafra warlord and Igbo leader, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu.

President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Dame Patience Jonathan were among those in attendance at the funeral service. Other dignitaries present at the service were the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme and Justice Chukwudifu Oputa.

Also present at the funeral ceremony were the governors of Delta state, Emmanuel Uduaghan; Liyel Imoke, the governor of Cross River; the Anambra state governor, Peter Obi and the Abia states governor, Theodore Orji.

The Deputy Speaker House of Representative, Emeka Ihedioha, Chief of Army staff, Major General Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika and Senator Chris Ngige were also present at the funeral service.

Mr Jonathan in his condolence message extolled the virtues of the late Biafra leader. Calling him ‘our leader’, ‘our brother’ and ‘Ikemba’ the President praised the late leader in his five minute speech.

“I am here with my wife to pay respects to our leader Ojukwu whose life symbolises service to the people. May his soul rest in peace,” he wrote in a condolence register opened at Ojukwu’s home.

The President on his facebook page said he is “personally touched by the depth of sadness at the passing of this philosopher, officer and gentleman”.

“It is remarkable and moving that his awesome life is a source of celebration by every strata of the Nigerian society,” Mr Jonathan wrote.

He said “in death Dim Ojukwu has consolidated and strengthened the nationalist philosophy agreed by all patriots that there was indeed “no victor and no vanquished”.

Ojukwu’s body was later interned in a mausoleum within his family compound, bringing to a climax the week long burial ceremony of the late Ikemba of Nnewi.

The government of Anambra state joined other states in the South-east region to declare a work free day to honour the great leader and pay him the last respect. Shop owners of Igbo decent around the country had their shops locked up today in memory of their leader.

Ojukwu died aged 78, on 26 November last year, in London, after suffering a stroke. He is survived by his widow, Bianca and many children.

His funeral, already once delayed, has seen a revisioning — or at least a remembrance — of Nigeria’s bloody civil war in a country where an almost collective amnesia about the event still exists. President Goodluck Jonathan has repeatedly mentioned Ojukwu and his legacy, something previous unheard of. Ojukwu’s coffin also has been transported around the country under a military honor guard.

For his family, that honor means a lot after seeing much of the family’s wealth confiscated at the end of the civil war and Ojukwu living in exile for more than a decade.

“He was a passionate man who wanted very much to leave his footprints in the history of his country,” his brother Lotanna Ojukwu reportedly told a news agency.

The roots of Biafra came from a 1966 coup in Nigeria, a former British colony that had gained independence only six years earlier. The coup, led primarily by army officers from the Igbo ethnic group from Nigeria’s southeast, saw soldiers shoot and kill Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, as well as the premier of northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello.

The coup failed, but the country still fell under military control. Northerners, angry about the death of its leaders, attacked Igbos living there. As many as 10,000 people died in resulting riots. Many Igbos fled back to Nigeria’s southeast, their traditional home.

Ojukwu, then 33, served as the military governor for the southeast. The son of a knighted millionaire, Ojukwu studied history at Oxford and attended a military officer school in Britain. In 1967, he declared the largely Igbo region — including part of the oil-rich Niger Delta — as the Republic of Biafra. The new republic used the name of the Atlantic Ocean bay to its south, its flag a rising sun set against a black, green and red background.

The announcement sparked 31 months of fierce fighting between the breakaway republic and Nigeria. Under Gen. Yakubu “Jack” Gowon, Nigeria adopted the slogan “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” and moved to reclaim a region vital to the country’s finances.

Despite several pushes by Biafran troops, Nigerian forces slowly strangled Biafra into submission. Caught in the middle were Igbo refugees increasingly pushed back as the front lines fell. The region, long reliant on other regions of Nigeria for food, saw massive food shortages despite international aid.

The enduring images, seen on television and in photographs, show starving Biafran children with distended stomachs and stick-like arms. Many died as hunger became a weapon wielded by both sides.

Nigeria’s Igbo people have since been largely marginalized in the country’s politics, despite being one of the nation’s top ethnic groups. Many hope for that to change in the upcoming 2015 presidential election, as there’s been discussion about the nation’s ruling party picking an Igbo as its candidate.

Ojukwu goes home with 21-gun salute

Soldiers fired a 21-gun salute at the funeral of Odumegwu Ojukwu on Thursday as Nigerian leaders paid final respects to the man whose 1967 declaration of Biafran independence sparked a civil war.

Forty-five years after he fought a war against the Nigerian government by proclaiming the Republic of Biafra, for people from the South-eastern region of the counntry.

With his coffin draped in the national colours of white and green at the funeral service in Enugu, Ojukwu’s farewell was attended by thousands.

The late Biafran warlord died in November in Britain at the age of 78.

 

Hundreds of armed police and security forces were deployed on the streets of Enugu during the funeral in a reminder of the continuing sensitivities around the cause for which Ojukwu became famous.

Pains of Biafra and brillance of Biafra

Around a million people died in Nigeria during the 1967-70 civil war, mainly from disease and starvation.

Ojukwu, then military governor of the eastern region, had accused the federal government of marginalisation and killing of thousands of Igbos.

Starvation was used as a powerful weapon of war. Undaunted, General Ojukwu and Biafra conceived and produced the Ogbunigwe, a cone shaped, sometimes cylindrical cluster bomb that disperses shrapnel with percussion.

Ojukwu and the Biafra RAP built airports and roads, refined petroleum, chemicals and materials, designed and built light and heavy equipment, researched on chemical and biological weapons, rocketry and guidance systems, invented new forms of explosives, tried new forms of food processing and technology. Biafra home-made armoured vehicle the “Red Devil,” celebrated also in the book by Sebastian Okechukwu Mezu Behind The Rising Sun, was a red terror in the battle field.

The Biafra shoreline was lined with home-made shore batteries and remote controlled weapons systems propelling rockets and bombs. There was also the Biafran Organization of Freedom Fighters [BOFF] led by Colonel Aghanya. These were the “so-called” Biafran rebels who in a space of less than three years, blockaded by land, air and sea, nearly pushed black African science and rocketry into the space age. Nigeria and Africa lost a wonderful opportunity.

Ojukwu went into exile in Ivory Coast after the Biafrans surrendered in 1970, and did not return until after a presidential pardon 13 years later. He ran for president several times following his return.

He remained a revered figure in eastern Nigeria, where the Igbo people dominate. His declaration of independence for Biafra came largely in response to the killing of large numbers of Igbos in the country’s north.

Hundreds of troops and armed police have been deployed for his funeral and interment on Friday, in Nnewi, his native hometown,  in Anambra state.

President Goodluck Jonathan was represented at the  funeral in Enugu by his deputy, Namadi Sambo.
Other mourners in attendance included the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, ex-Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings and former Commonwealth Secretary General Emeka Anyaoku.

Mr Jonathan is expected to participate in Ojukwu’s burial in his native southeastern hometown of Nnewi on Friday, according to his spokesman.

Jonathan, Army Chief, others pay tribute to Ojukwu

President Goodluck Jonathan and other eminent Nigerians on Monday paid their last respect to the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Odumegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu who died in a London Hospital on 26 November, 2011.

The late Ojukwu was given a full military funeral parade. The casket was draped in the Nigerian flag complete with a green army cap.

His corpse arrived aboard a British Airways plane accompanied by members of his family, including his widow, Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu and some of his children. It was taken to the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja where a colourful military parade was held in his honour.

President Jonathan described Ojukwu as an advocate of a united Nigeria. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika described him as one of the architects of modern Nigerian Army.

To Vice President Namdi Sambo, “No word can adequately express the nature, character and legacies and lessons left by this soldier and gentle man.”

OWERRI STOOD STILL FOR OJUKWU

From Abuja, the body of the late Biafra warlord was flown to Owerri, the Imo state capital. The ever busy city stood still as the body of late ikemba nnewi arrived in the south east region of the country for the first time since his death.

The corpse arrived at the Sam Mbakwe International airport, Owerri at about 3.0 pm in a military aircraft, accompanied by his wife, his son Emeka Ojukwu Jnr and APGA National Chairman Victor Umeh.

The body of the late leader was received by the Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha, governor of Anambra state Peter Obi and some other notable south east politicians.

Shortly after, he was honored with a short military parade by the men of the Nigerian army at the airport.

The body was then taken round the city before taken to the heroes square for the final lying in state and service of songs.

Meanwhile, Tuesday February 28, has been declared public holiday in Abia state to enable residents come out to pay their last respects to the late elder statesman whose corpse will enter the state en route Enyimba stadium, aba.

According to Ojukwu jnr., his father’s body will be interred at about 5pm on Friday evening of 2nd of March after a requiem High Mass in Latin that will be celebrated by some Catholic Bishops in his country home, Nnewi.

Leaders Tasked to Emulate Chukwuemeka Ojukwu

Prominent persons and leaders of Igbo land tasked the leaders in the country to emulate the attributes of justice, equity and peace as displayed by the late Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu so that stability will once again return to Nigeria.

At a mass rally in honour of the departed leader, prominent Igbo leaders said only courageous leaders who act with neither fear nor favour can restore the peace and security that have eluded the country for many months now.

They urged the present leaders to learn from the many attributes of Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu and right the many wrongs that has pushed Nigeria down into the depths.

Ojukwu was a Nigerian military officer and politician,he served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966, the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra from 1967 to 1970 and a leading Nigerian politician from 1983 to 2011, when he died, aged 78.

Ojukwu came into national prominence upon his appointment as military governor in 1966 and his actions thereafter.

A military coup against the civilian Nigerian federal government in January 1966 and a counter coup in July 1966 by different military factions, perceived to be ethnic coups, resulted in pogroms in Northern Nigeria in which Igbos were predominantly killed.

Ojukwu who was not an active participant in either coup was appointed the military governor of Nigeria’s Eastern region in January 1966 by General Aguyi Ironsi.

In 1967, great challenges confronted the Igbos of Nigeria with the coup d’etat of 15 January 1966 led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu who was widely considered to be an outstanding progressive and was buried with full military honors when killed by those he fought against.

His coup d’etat was triggered by political lawlessness, and uncontrolled looting and lacing in the streets of Western Nigeria. Unfortunately the Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello; the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Tafawa Balewa; the Premier of the Western Region,Chief Ladoke Akintola and the Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie Eboh (among others including military officers) were killed in the process.

The pogrom of Igbos followed in Northern Nigeria beginning in July 1966.Eventually, then Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu declared Biafra’s Independence on 30 May 1967.

He led talks to seek an end to the hostilities by seeking peace with the then Nigerian military leadership, headed by General Yakubu Gowon (Nigeria’s head of state following the July 1966 counter coup).

The military leadership met in Aburi Ghana (the Aburi Accord), but the agreement reached there was not implemented to all parties satisfaction upon their return to Nigeria.

The failure to reach a suitable agreement, the decision of the Nigerian military leadership to establish new states in the Eastern Region and the continued pogrom in Northern Nigeria led Ojukwu to announce a breakaway of the Eastern Region under the new name Biafra republic in 1967.

These sequence of events sparked the Nigerian Civil War.

Ojukwu led the Biafran forces and on the defeat of Biafra in January 1970, and after he had delegated instructions to Philip Effiong he went into exile for 13 years, returning to Nigeria following a pardon

Thousands mourn Ojukwu in Lagos

Thousands of people trooped to the Tafawa Balewa Square, venue for the Lagos state organised funeral rite occassion for Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to pay their last respect to the late Biafran warlord.

In attendance were notable national leaders who came to pay their tributes to the deceased, describing him as one of the greatest leaders in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha who spoke in his native Igbo language, said that “with the departure of the icon, the Igbo nation must not mourn but celebrate the passage of Chief Ojukwu.” He said that Ojukwu is “not dead but alive.”

Chief Rochas charged every Igbo man that now is not the time to mourn but the time for them to rediscover themselves. He warned that “the ideals for which Ojukwu fought and died must never be in vain.”

The governor also noted that the ways Nigerians have mourned Chief Ojukwu since his death, has shown that “the war has truly ended and that at the appropriate time the Igbos will come up again.”

Another speaker at the event and a former Presidential Candidate of the defunct Nigerian Advance Party (NAP), Tunji Braithwaite said Chief Ojukwu did not declare war against his country but against lies, injustice and corruption.

He noted that Ojukwu’s death should remind Nigerians that the country is now standing where it was in 1966 which precipitated the crisis and that if appropriate corrective steps are not taken, “the country may be fulfilling some apocalyptic predictions about the nation.”

The one day tribute precedes the arrival of Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s remains next Monday, and it began with Professor Lazarus Ekwueme leading a choral group for a rendition of the national anthem.

Also present at the event was the governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola who described the late Ojukwu as a man who stood for what he believed in. He noted that “the Nigerian civil war was not about succession but about Ojukwu’s love for his people. I will tell them that Ojukwu did not love Nigeria less but simply loved his people more”.

 

Watch Video Report

“And that his brave and large-hearted leadership guaranteed the continued unity of Nigeria in the aftermath of the war because it takes courage to stand up and speak. But it also takes courage to sit down and listen”.

A former Presidential aspirant and activist, Professor Pat Utomi in his tribute said he was not at the ceremony to praise or celebrate Chief Ojukwu but to invoke his spirit to rise and fight for justice in Nigeria. He said for so long injustice seem to have taking over the country, adding that as a man who lived and fought for the enthronement of justice, Ojukwu’s struggles should not be in vain.

Eminent Nigerians present at the event included Senator Ben Obi, Professor ABC Nwosu, Admiral Allison Madueke and Chief Emeka Anyaoku. The former Governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe and Vice Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu were also present at the tribute paying event in honor of Ojukwu.

Below are images from the tribute paying day for the late Ojukwu in Lagos:

Ojukwu funeral rite: Governors plea for peace

Governors of three states have restated the need for national unity and peaceful coexistence among the different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The Niger State governor, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu and two of his colleagues from the South East, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia state and Peter Obi of Anambra state made the submission at the funeral rite of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in Zongeru, Niger state.
The governors believe that it is only in an atmosphere of peace that the country can progress. They appealed to those clamouring for Sovereign National Conference to have a rethink because according to them, there is no need for it.