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OBASANJO RECALLS WAR TALKS WITH OJUKWU

By NBF News
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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is sad at the death of Ikemba Nnewi Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. 'It is with deep sadness that I received the news of the demise of my friend and colleague.

'He and I were subalterns in the army at Nigeria's independence in 1960. 'In a way, his death marks the end of an era in Nigeria.

Obasanjo also reminisced over discussions he had with Ojukwu before the latter's demise.

Speaking from London, Obasanjo recalled particularly that at several times, he discussed the possibility of an expression of remorse from Ojukwu 'on the Nigerian civil war which in itself was a culmination of actions and reactions''.

'I condole with his family and pray for the repose of his soul.''

Odumegwu Ojukwu died in a London hospital last Saturday at the age of 78. He was born on Nov. 4, 1933 in Zungeru, Niger State. Ojukwu served in the Nigerian Army alongside Obasanjo until the civil war of 1967 to 1970 put them on different sides of the divide.

In his struggle to preserve the independence of the then Eastern Region where he was military governor, Ojukwu declared a sovereign Republic of Biafra also in a secessionist bid to carve the then Eastern Region as a separate entity from Nigeria.

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, which ensued lasted for 30 months as the Nigerian side insisted that the country would not be polarised.

The war ended on January 15, 1970, after the then Lt.-Col. Phillip Effiong, leading the Biafran side, surrendered to Obasanjo.

Before the surrender, Ojukwu had gone on exile in Cote d'Ivoire.