Ojukwu to receive full military burial


The Biafran warlord, the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, will be accorded a state burial with full military honour on March 2, just as the Imo State government has concluded plans to receive the corpse of the Igbo leader from Abuja on Monday.

Disclosing this yesterday at a press conference in Owerri, the state capital, the Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu, explained that President Goodluck Jonathan had given his nod for the Ikemba of Nnewi to be buried in full military regalia.

“I thank the President and the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, for this honour accorded the late Dim Ojukwu,” he said.
Uwajumogu, who is also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of Ojukwu’s burial ceremonies, added that the state government had lined up a week-long activities, tagged “Seven days for hero”, beginning with the inauguration of the board of Ojukwu Research Centre tomorrow to honour the departed former Eastern Region military governor.

“We did not start with his death. We started honouring him in his lifetime by building the Ikemba Ojukwu Square as a tribute to a living hero,” he said.
Other activities mapped out to honour the deceased include photo exhibition on the life and times of Ikemba Ojukwu on STV, MITV and Orient TV; inaugural lecture titled: “Effective leadership in the 21st Century” by the the Vice-Chancellor, Imo State University, Prof. B.E.B. Nwoke and an all night youth wake-keep/vigil at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, on Sunday.

The Speaker said the corpse on arrival from Abuja on Monday will be carried in a motorcade from the airport through Owerri, adding that the body will spend a night in the state before leaving for Aba.
Also, leaders of Ndigbo have expressed their willingness to give the Federal Government an exclusive right to give the former Biafran warlord, a befitting burial, as they want.
In a statement in Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday, the Ezeigbo Gburugburu and leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, said the Federal Government’s proposed burial arrangement which stipulated full military burial was acceptable to Ndigbo.

Uwazuruike, who spoke through his second-in- command, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, said: “We hail the President for approving full state burial for Gen. Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the leader of Biafra and Ezeigbo Gburugburu.
“The decision to stop MASSOB from participating during Ojukwu’s burial as a group, which was reached at the meeting with the burial committee and representatives of Chief of Army Staff and Ojukwu’s family, shall be abided with since the Federal Government has boldly and gallantly decided to give Ojukwu his full right as a hero.”

MASSOB expressed delight that the Federal Government’s decision to carry out the full burial programmes single handedly was a clear indication that government had understood their agitations.
The group insisted that the decision reached by the general burial committee was commendable, adding that they would abide by the agreements.
“The Igbo and MASSOB welcome this good news which has been the agitation that has been causing the separation. The decision to take up the burial by the Federal Government will put an end to the major cause of the problem as they have agreed to take up the heroic burial of Ojukwu which they wanted to deny him.”

Also, Eze Uwadiegwu Ogbonnaya of Umunya Autonomous Community in Uturu, Abia State, said the late Biafran leader was forced into the tragic 30-month civil war by the youths and elites of the then Eastern Region “rather than the callous misrepresentations in some circles that the war was imposed on the people of the region by the late hero for his personal interest.”
The monarch said this yesterday in Umuahia during a lecture titled, “Ojukwu’s demise and the quest for national unity” organised by the South-East council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ.
The occasion was chaired by the Abia State Deputy Governor, Emeka Ananaba.
The monarch noted that it was the then northern uprising and the gory sight of Igbo casualties and returnees from the North that overwhelmed the irate Igbo youths and elites who consequently issued a collective mandate to Ojukwu, the governor, to declare the region and territory as the Republic of Biafra.

The deputy governor, however, treated the title of the lecture with reservations, pleading that it would invoke unhappy memories if he spoke.
In his terse remarks, Ananaba said that he fought on the Biafran side and played a critical role that prevented the Nigerian troops from taking over the defunct Umuahia province and administrative headquarters of the Biafran government.
He said: “It will invoke unhappy memories if I speak. To be sincere, I don’t want to talk about Ojukwu’s activities, lifestyles, mannerism and combat readiness at any time to fight. The important thing is for us to give him a befitting burial.”


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