ENUGU (AFP) – Hundreds of armed police and security forces were on Thursday deployed for the funeral of Odumegwu Ojukwu whose 1967 secessionist bid sparked a civil war in which around a million people died.
President Goodluck Jonathan was expected to attend the ceremony at Enugu in southeastern Nigeria for which there was heavy security.
“Today’s event is national one and we are not leaving anything to chance security wise. We are inpartnership with other security agencies to ensure that the event goes on without negative incidents,” said Enugu police spokesman Ebere Amaraizu.
“We have deployed hundreds of security personnel, including police anti-bomb squad and men of the state security service,” he added.
Authorities in Enugu declared Thursday a public holiday in honour of Ojukwu who died three months ago aged 78.
Ojukwu’s declaration of the Republic of Biafra in 1967 plunged Nigeria into a 30-month civil war in which most of the one million victims died of disease and starvation.
Nigeria has in past months seen a string of deadly bomb and gun attacks, claimed by the Islamist Boko Haram sect, in which hundreds of people have been killed in Abuja and and some states in the north.
Ojukwu’s body was flown from Britain to Nigeria with full military honours on Monday.
The Oxford-educated colonel died on November 26 in London where he had been receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
Vice president Namadi Sambo and other dignatories attended the ceremony held for him in Abuja on Monday.
Ojukwu was scheduled to be buried on Friday in his Nnewi hometown in eastern Anambra state.