By Adekunle Aliyu
Ailing leader of the defunct Biafran Republic and leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is dead
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu born on 4 November 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a businessman from Nnewi in south-eastern Nigeria died in London in the early hours after a long illness at Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK.
Odumegwu-Ojukwu also known as Ikemba Nnewi was said to have died in the UK after months in hospital for the treatment of a serious stroke he had suffered late last year.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu born on 4 November 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria was imprisoned for assaulting a white British colonial teacher, who was humiliating a black woman, at King’s College in Lagos began his educational career in Lagos.
At 13, his father sent him overseas to study in Britain, first at Epsom College, in Surrey and later earned a Masters degree in history at Lincoln College, Oxford University and returned to colonial Nigeria in 1956.
In 1957 the Ikemba Nnewi joined the Nigerian Army as one of the first and few university graduates. Ojukwu was among the 15 Nigerians officers out of the 250 officers the Nigerian Military Forces had then.
After serving in the UN peacekeeping force in the then Congo under Maj.-Gen. Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojuwkwu was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1964 and was posted to Kano, where he was in charge of the 5 Battalion of the Nigerian Army.
Aguiyi-Ironsi appointed Odumegwu-Ojukwu military governor of the defunct Easter Region on Jan. 17, 1966.
After the first military coup of 1966 and the counter coup that followed, Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared the defunct Eastern Region a sovereign state to be known as Biafra.
In the declaration and during his public address to the people of Biafra, he said: “Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern Nigeria be a sovereign independent republic, now, therefore I, Lt.-Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall, henceforth, be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of The Republic of Biafra.’’
On July 6, 1967, the then military Head of State, Col. Yakubu Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra in a bid to stop Ojukwu’s secessionist attempt.
The war lasted 30 months and ended on Jan. 15, 1970.
As the war was wearing out, Ojukwu went on exile and stayed away for 13 years. He was granted state pardon by President Shehu Shagari, a decision which was trailed by the deceased’s triumphant return in 1982.
Odumegwu-Ojukwu was married to Miss Intercontinental 1989 Bianca Onoh. They have children.
More details later.