26 November 2011

Nigeria: Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Is Dead

Photo: Camopedia
Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, 34, President of the then Republic of Biafra. (file photo)

DIM Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, former Biafran leader and leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) is dead.

The Moment learnt that the elder statesman died early hours of Saturday, November 26, at Hammersfield Hospital London, where he had been receiving treatment for about a year now.

His death has been confirmed by relations and political friends including, APGA national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh.

'Our great Leader is dead! May his great noble soul rest in peace,' Umeh said.

Ojukwu was born in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria in November 4, 1933.

He was educated CMS Grammar School, Lagos, King's College, Lagos, Epsom College, Surrey, England, and Lincoln College, Oxford University, England where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters degree in History.

Upon his return in 1956, he joined the civil service in then Eastern Nigeria.

In 1957, he enlisted in the Nigeria and posted to Nigerian Army depot, Zaria.

Ojukwu was one of the graduates that joined the military during that period.

By 1964, he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Quartermaster General, Nigeria Army.

He was appointed Military Governor of defunct Eastern Nigeria by Military Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi on January 17, 1966.

By May of the same year, Nigeria was facing a serious crisis.

In a planned pogrom in Northern Nigeria, Southeasterners were the target of killing and abuses.

The attacks were said to be in retaliation for the killing of Northern politicians who were killed in the first Military coup in the country.

The crisis In May 1967, he declared Eastern Nigeria a Sovereign State named Biafra.

In May 1967, Ojukwu proclaimed himself Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of Republic of Biafra.

In July, 1967, then Head of State Yakubu Gowon declared war on Biafra.

A civil war ensued. The war raged on for another 30 months.

An attempt at peace during a meeting at Aburi, Ghana did not stop the war.

In 1970, Ojukwu handed over power to his deputy Major-General Phillip Effiong and left the country on exile.

He was granted political asylum in Cote D'Ivoire by the then President Felix Houphöet-Biogny.

The civilian administration of President of Shehu Shagari granted him an official pardon and he returned to the country in 1982 after 13 years in exile.

On his return, he joined the then ruling National party of Nigeria.

Ojukwu would later form the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).

Ojukwu who celebrated his 78th birthday early in the month was an active member of APGA until his death.

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