AMERICA’S SECRET FILES: THE UNTOLD BIAFRAN STORY

Secret American diplomatic dispatches, spread over 21,000 pages, provide previously unknown information about the Nigerian Civil War

Early in the morning of 1 July 1967, Nigeria’s young head of state, Colonel Yakubu Gowon, was feeling uneasy in his office at the Supreme Headquarters, Dodan Barracks in Lagos. The unease was a result of his being ceaselessly pressured to authorize a military invasion of the breakaway Republic of Biafra.

Thirty officers had been recalled from courses abroad. Trains and truck convoys, bearing fuel, supplies and men, were still leaving Kano and Kaduna for the south of River Benue.

Colonel Mohammed Shuwa of the First Area Command had moved his command headquarters southwards and set it up in Makurdi. The 2nd Battalion was already headquartered in Adikpo. Schools and private homes had been commandeered for the use of Major Sule Apollo and his 4th Battalion in Oturkpo. They were itching for action. The same day, Major B.M. Usman “a member of the intimate northern group around Gowon” told the American defense attaché: “I do not know what in hell he is waiting for; the boys are all ready to go. They are only waiting on his word.”

Members of the Supreme Military Council, who had been meeting twice daily, were waiting for his word. The whole nation was waiting. Biafra, which was on high alert, was also waiting.

On 27 June 1967, Cyprian Ekwensi, famous writer and Biafra’s Director of Information Service, through the Voice of Biafra (formerly Enugu Radio), urged Biafrans to be prepared for an invasion on June 29 since “Northerners have often struck on 29th day of the month.” He was alluding to the day northern officers, led by Major T.Y. Danjuma, seized Gowon’s predecessor, Major- General Aguiyi-Ironsi, and killed him in a forest outside Ibadan.

Gowon, then 31, had been running the affairs of 57million Nigerians for 10 months. It had not been easy. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, his 58-year old trusted deputy and adviser, was with Okoi Arikpo and Philip Asiodu, permanent secretaries of the ministries of External Affairs and Trade and Industries respectively.

They were preparing to put the noose on the neck of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell-BP, which had frozen royalty payments due to the Federation Account on 1 June 1967 and had offered to pay the Biafran government £250,000.

Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, Biafran leader, had ordered all oil companies to start paying all royalties to Enugu because they were operating in a new country or risk heavy penalties.

Ojukwu: Sworn in as Head of State of Biafra

Specifically, he demanded a minimum of £2million from Shell-BP. The Federal Government had imposed an economic blockade on Biafra. It entailed barring all merchant vessels and sea tankers from sailing to and from Koko, Warri, Sapele, Escravos, Bonny, Port Harcourt, Calabar ports, which Ojukwu had declared part and parcel of Biafra.

Biafra controlled the land on which the oil installations sat; the Nigerian government controlled the coastal entrance and exit to those lands. Shell-BP was confused as to whose order should be obeyed. Sir David Hunt, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, told his American counterpart after the meeting with the Nigerian delegation: “Awolowo is very firmly in control of Ministry of Finance and he is giving Stanley Gray, Shell’s General Manager and other experts from London a very difficult time for the past three days.” They persuaded Awolowo to accept a deal that would favour the Nigerian government and, at the same time, would predispose oil workers and the £150million investment to danger in the hands of Biafran military forces. Awolowo refused, arguing that anything short of the status quo was recognition of Biafra and concession to the rebels. As for security of investments and personnel, he argued that once royalties were paid, the Nigerian government would have the capacity to fund whatever action it would take on the rebels and Shell-BP’s investments would be safe.

Gowon paced to the large outdated map of the country by the door to his office. When he asked Awolowo to come and join his government, Awolowo said he would accept only if Gowon did something about the dominance of North over the rest of the nation. A month before, Gowon had broken up the North into six states, but the map by the door still showed the old Nigeria, with an imposing North at the top. He ran his finger around the boundaries of Biafra and asked himself: “How can I authorize an invasion of my own people?” He knew what it meant to be resented. He was not the most senior officer in the army. He was not a Muslim Hausa or Fulani from Kano, Kaduna or Sokoto. He was a Christian from one of the small minorities that dot the North and yet, events had promoted him to the position of the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief–to the chagrin of many northern officers, politicians, and emirs.

He knew the Igbo were resented in the North for succeeding where indigenes had failed. His Igbo lover, Edith Ike, told him her life was threatened twice in Lagos since she returned from the North in March.

According to the secret US document of 1 July 1967, Edith’s parents, having lived in the North for 30 years, where she too was born, had fled back to the East in October 1966 because of that year’s massacre of the Igbo. Not 30,000 but around 7,000 were killed, according to the American documents. Donald Patterson of the Political Section and Tom Smith of the Economic Section travelled from the US Embassy in Lagos to the North after the pogrom. “The Sabon-Garis were ghost towns, deserted, with the detritus of people, who had fled rapidly, left behind. Most Northerners we talked to had no apologies for what had happened to the Ibos, for the pogrom that had killed so many. There were exceptions, but in general, there was no remorse and the feeling was one of good riddance.

“One day, our Hausa gardener attacked and tried to beat up our Ibo cook. We fired the gardener, but not long afterwards, the cook left for the East,” said Patterson.

Earlier that week, Gowon called the West German Ambassador in Lagos. The Germans were eager to be in the good graces of the Gowon administration. A war loomed. And in wars, buildings, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure are destroyed. These would need rebuilding. The contract for the 2nd Mainland Bridge (later called Eko Bridge) was signed two years earlier by the Ambassador, CEO of Julius Berger Tiefbau AG and Shehu Shagari, Federal Commissioner for Works and Survey. That was Julius Berger’s first contract in Nigeria. It was due for completion in less than two years and they wanted more bilateral cooperation. The ambassador assured Gowon over the phone that he had taken care of all the details and guaranteed the safety of Edith, the nation’s “First Girlfriend”.

On the evening of 30 June, just before her departure on a commercial airline, Edith told the American Defense Attaché Standish Brooks, and his wife, Gail, that she actually wanted to go to the UK or USA, but Jack, as she affectionately called Gowon, insisted that she could be exposed to danger in either of the two countries. Germany, he reasoned, would be safer.

To Major B.M. Usman and other northern officers around Gowon, who had attributed his slow response to the secession to the fact that his girlfriend was Igbo and that her parents were resettled in the East, it was such a huge relief that at the Supreme Military Council meeting of 3 July 1967, Gowon authorized the long awaited military campaign.

Edith had safely landed in West Germany. Gowon told the gathering: “Gentlemen, we are going to crush the rebellion, but note that we are going after the rebels, not the Ibos.” The military action, which was to become the Nigerian Civil War or the Biafran War or Operation Unicord, as it was coded in military circles, officially started on 6 July 1967 at 5 a.m.

The North was minded to use the war as a tool to reassert its dominance of national affairs. Mallam Kagu, Damboa, Regional Editor of the Morning Post, told the American consul in Kaduna: “No one should kid himself that this is a fight between the East and the rest of Nigeria. It is a fight between the North and the Ibo.” He added that the rebels would be flushed out of Enugu within six weeks. Lt. Colonel Hassan Katsina went further to say with the level of enthusiasm among the soldiers; it would be a matter of “only hours before Ojukwu and his men were rounded up”.

The northern section of the Nigerian military was the best equipped in the country. To ensure the region’s continued dominance, the British assigned most of the army and air force resources to the North. It was only the Navy’s they could not transfer. All the elite military schools were there. The headquarters of the infantry and artillery corps were there. Kaduna alone was home to the headquarters of the 1st Division of the Nigerian Army, Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (Army Depot), Air Force Training School and, Nigerian Defence Academy.

Maitama Sule, Minister of Mines and Power in 1966, once told the story of how Muhammadu Ribadu, his counterpart in Defence Ministry, went to the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, and the British Commandant of the school told him many of the students could not continue because they failed woefully. When Ribadu thumbed through the list, Sule said, it was a Mohammed, an Ibrahim, a Yusuf or an Abdullahi. “You don’t know what you are doing and because of this you cannot continue to head the school,” an irate Ribadu was said to have told the commandant.

Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was one of the students for whom the commandant was sacked. “You can see what Yar’Adua later became in life. He became the vice president. This is the power of forward planning,” Sule declared.

Unknown to the forward planners, according to the US documents, Ojukwu had been meticulously preparing for war as early as October 1966, after the second round of massacre in the North. He had stopped the Eastern share of revenues that were supposed to accrue to the Federation Account. By 30 April 1967, he had recalled all Igbos serving in Nigeria embassies and foreign missions and those that heeded his call were placed on the payroll of the government of Eastern Region. The 77,000 square kilometres of the Republic of Biafra–a mere 8 per cent of the size of Nigeria–was already divided into 20 provinces, with leaders selected for each. They had their own judiciary, legislative councils, ministries and ambassadors. Alouette helicopters and a B26 bomber were procured from the French Air Force through a Luxemburg trading company. Hank Warton, the German-American arms dealer, had been flying in Czech and Israeli arms via Spain and Portugal since October 1966. The military hardware, they could not get, they seized. A DC3 and a Fokker F27 were seized from the Nigerian Air Force in April. NNS Ibadan, a Nigerian Navy Seaward Defence Boat (SDB) that docked in Calabar Port, was quickly made Biafran.

Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, who was supposed to be in Enugu in prison for his role in 1966 coup, joined in training recruits in Abakaliki. Foreign mercenaries were training indoctrinated old people, young men and teenagers recruited as NCOs [Non-commissioned Officers] in jungle warfare, bomb making, mortar and other artillery firing. Ojukwu, through speeches, town hall meetings, market square performances and radio broadcasts, succeeded in convincing his people that their destiny was death or a separate state. All his performances in Ghana that culminated in the Aburi Accord of January 1967, or discussions with the Awolowo-led National Conciliation Committee five months later, turned out to be ruse.

The underground war preparations, the secret arms stockpiles openly manifested themselves as Ojukwu’s stubborn refusal to accept offers or concessions during these peace meetings.

But the Biafrans knew that their vulnerable line was along Ogoja, Ikom, Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Yenogoa. Support from the six million people making up the Eastern minorities was very much unsure. The minorities viewed their leaders in Biafra high command as traitors. And without the minorities, Biafra would be landlocked and most likely, unviable as a state. More so, their vast oil and gas resources were the reason they contemplated secession in the first place. The Biafra high command believed that if there was going to be any troop incursion from there, they are going to be transported through ship. They already had a B26 bomber to deal fire to Nigeria’s only transport ship, NNS Lokoja, anytime it approached the Biafran coastline.

The Biafrans also knew that Gowon wanted to respect the neutrality of Midwest and not invade through Niger Bridge, which would have driven the people of the Midwest into waiting Biafran hands. But if Gowon changed his mind and there was a general mobilization of the two battalions of the federal troops there, they had trustworthy men there that would alert Enugu. And if that failed, according to the US documents, the Niger Bridge had been mined using “explosives with metal covering across the roadbed at second pier out from the eastern side”.

The Biafrans also knew that the Yoruba, who were sworn enemies of the Northern hegemony, would never join the North militarily or politically against the Biafrans. When Gowon vouched to “crush the rebellion,” progressive Yoruba intellectuals deplored the language. Professor Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, Vice Chancellor of University of Ife, described the use of the word as unfortunate. Justice Kayode Eso of the Western Court of Appeal said: “Crushing the East was not the way to make Nigeria one.”

Mr. Strong, the American consul in Ibadan, whom they had been speaking to, confidentially wrote: “As intellectuals and modernizers, they see the conflict in terms of continuing determination of conservative North to dominate the more advanced South and they expressed fear that once North subdues East, it will seek to assert outright dominance over the West. The centre of trouble might then swing back to the West, where it all started.”

The Biafrans understood, therefore, that their strongest defence perimeter would be along Nsukka, Obudu, Gakem and Nyonya in Ogoja province, where they share border with the North. That was where they concentrated. On 8 July after three days of fighting, only four Biafran troops were dead and nine wounded in Obudu, while up to 100 Nigerian troops were dead, according to the Irish Embassy official, Eamon O’tuathail, who visited the Catholic Mission Hospital in Obudu. He said: “Forty five (45) of the dead had already been buried and the villagers were seen carrying the heads of the remaining around town.” In June before fighting started, Ojukwu charged on Biafra Radio: “Each Biafran soldier should bring back ten or twenty Hausa heads.”

At Nyanya, Nigerian troops attempted to seize the bridge linking Obudu and Ogoja, but were beaten back by the Biafran troops on 7 July at 1400hrs. According to the New York Times’ Lloyd Garrison’s dispatch of 8 July: “The Biafran Air Force–a lone B-26 fighter bomber–flew sorties from Enugu today, bombing and strafing enemy columns. Asked what damage it had inflicted, its European pilot replied: “Frankly, I don’t know. But we made a lot of smoke. Hundreds of Enugu pedestrians waved and cheered each time the plane returned from a mission and swooped low over the city buzzing Ogui Avenue.”

Tunde Akingbade of the Daily Times, who was returning from the frontlines, said the first Nigerian battalion in Ogoja area was “almost completely wiped out by a combination of mines and electrical devices (Ogbunigwe)”.

In the first few weeks of the war, the Biafrans were clearly on top. “Enugu is very calm,” the confidential cable of 13 July 1967 noted. “Ojukwu is dining with Field Commanders in State House tonight.”

On the federal side, confusion reigned. They had grossly underestimated Biafran capabilities. “Gowon and his immediate military advisers believe they can carry out a successful operation putting their trust in the superiority of the Hausa soldier,” the British High Commissioner, Sir David Hunt, told his American counterpart on 31 May 1967. He said further: “A northern incursion would be hastily mounted, ill-conceived and more in the nature of a foray.”

Even the Nigerian infantry, which advanced as far as Obolo on Oturkpo-Nsukka Road, was easily repelled. It ran out of ammunition. At the Supreme Headquarters in Lagos, they were accusing Shuwa, the commander, of not sending enough information about what was going on. Shuwa counter-accused that he was not getting enough and timely orders. Requests for ammunition and hardware procurement were chaotically coming to the Federal Armament Board from different units, not collectively from the central command.

Major S.A. Alao, acting commander of Nigerian Air Force (after George Kurubo defected to Biafran High Command) together with the German adviser, Lieutenant Colonel Karl Shipp, had travelled to many European cities to buy jets. They were unsuccessful. Gowon had written to the American president for arms. The State Department declined military assistance to either side. Gowon replied that he was not requesting for assistance, but a right to buy arms from the American market. That too was rejected.

The CIA had predicted a victory for Ojukwu, but American diplomatic and consular corps in Nigeria predicted victory for the Federal side and concluded that a united Nigeria served American interests better than the one without the Eastern Region. Two conflicting conclusions from an important department and a useful agency. The American government chose to be neutral. Dean Rusk, America’s Secretary of State said: “America is not in a position to take action as Nigeria is an area under British influence.”

The British on the other hand were foot-dragging. At the insistence of Awolowo, “the acting prime minister” as he was called in diplomatic circles, Gowon approached the Soviet Union.

According to a secret cable (dated 24/08/67) sent by Dr. Martin Hillenbrand, American Ambassador in East Germany, to his counterpart in Lagos, MCK Ajuluchukwu, Ojukwu’s special envoy, met Soviet Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexandr Romanov, in Moscow in June 1967. Romanov said that for USSR to recognize Biafra and supply it arms, the latter had to nationalize the oil industry. Ojukwu refused, saying that he had no money to reimburse the oil companies and that Biafrans did not have the expertise to run the oil installations.

A month later, Anthony Enahoro, the Federal Commissioner for Information and Labour, went to Moscow, signed a cultural agreement with Moscow and promised to nationalize the oil industry, including its allied industries once they got arms to recapture them from the Biafrans. Within days, 15 MiGs arrived in sections in Ikeja and Kano airports, awaiting assemblage. There was no nationalization.

Meanwhile, buoyed by the confidence from early success, the Biafrans went on the offensive. Their B26 (one of the six originally intended for use against the Nigerian Navy) was fitted with multiple canon and 50mm calibre machine gun mounts. It conducted bombing raids on Makurdi airfield, Kano and Kaduna. Luckily for Nigeria, the two transport DC3s had gone to Lagos to get more reserve mortar and 106-artillery ammo. In Kano, there were no fatalities, only a slight damage to the wing of a commercial plane.

Kaduna, however, was not that lucky. On 10 August 1967, the B26 dropped bombs on Kaduna airbase, damaging many buildings and the main hangar. The German consulate in Kaduna confirmed that a German citizen, a Dornier technician tasked with maintaining Nigerian military planes, was killed and two others injured.

A week later, the senior traffic control officer, A.O. Amaku, was arrested for sabotage. He was accused of failing to shut off the airport’s homing device, thus giving the Biafran plane navigational assistance. His British assistant, Mr. Palfrey, was similarly suspected. He resigned and immediately returned to the UK. However, Major Obada, the airbase commanding officer and an Urhobo from the Midwest, strongly defended the accused.

The daring bomb raid provoked many more Northern civilians to run to the nearest army base and enlist to fight.

According to a report by US Ambassador Elbert Matthews, cabled to Washington on 3 July 1967, unidentified men tried to bomb the police headquarters in Lagos on the night of 2 July. They attempted to drive an automobile into the compound, but the guards did not open the gate. They packed the car across the street near a small house opposite a petrol station. Leaving the car, the men fled and within seconds, an explosion took place. The house was demolished and all its occupants killed, but the petrol station was unaffected. Eleven people, including some of the guards at the police headquarters, were injured.

Two hours later, a second explosion, from explosives in a car parked by a petrol station, rocked Yaba. This time, the station caught fire. The ambassador remarked: “It is possible this is a start of campaign of terrorism…public reactions could further jeopardize safety of Ibos in Lagos.” And sure it did.

A Lagos resident, who visited the police headquarters after the attack, told the Australian ambassador “Ibos must be killed.”

There was panic all over Lagos. Anti-Igbo riots broke out. Northern soldiers at the 2nd Battalion Barracks in Ikeja used the opportunity to launch a mini-version of the previous year’s torture and massacre of the Igbo in the North. On 7 July 1967, Lagos State governor, Lieutenant Colonel Mobolaji Johnson, condemned the bombing in a radio broadcast. “A good number of Igbos in Lagos is innocent and loyal to the federal government. It is only fair that they be allowed to go about their business unmolested so long as they abide by the law and are not agents and evildoers,” Johnson said.

He called for Lagosians to join civil defence units and for Easterners to come and register with the police.

Meanwhile, the corpses of troops and soldiers wounded in Yahe, Wakande, Obudu and Gakem that arrived Kaduna by train on 11 July 1967 sparked enormous interest in enlistment and volunteering. Recruitment centres were established in Ibadan, Enugu, Lagos and Kano. But it was at the Kano centre, headquarters of the 4th Battalion of the Nigerian Regiment that generated the biggest number of recruits. According to the US confidential cable of 17 July 1967, 20,000 of these were veterans, who had been recruited to fight on the British side in Burma. The Burma veterans marched angrily to the recruitment offices to replace those that had been killed or injured. Around 7,000 were accepted. Of these, 5,000 were immediately sent to the frontline. They said they needed no training; only guns.

As they advanced, towards the outskirts of Ikem, 4km southeast of Nsukka, when mortal fires from the Biafran artillery landed close by, inexperienced recruits ducked for cover behind their transport columns out of fear and incompetence in bush warfare. Not these Burma veterans. Damboa, the Regional Editor of the Morning Post, was embedded with some of these veterans under the command of Major Shande, formerly of the 5th Battalion, Kano, which Ojukwu commanded in 1963.

One day, at about 2a.m, Biafran forces began firing from the jungle in the hope of drawing a return fire if the enemy was ahead. “But the veterans were too smart and began to creep towards the source of firing. After some time, the Biafran troops began to advance thinking that there were no federal troops ahead since there was no return of fire. They walked straight into the pointing guns of these veterans, their fingers squeezed the triggers,” said Damboa to a US Consulate officer named Arp.

These veterans were shooting at innocent Igbo civilians, too. Damboa further told Arp, when he came back from the frontlines on 17 September 1967, that “federal troops were shooting most Ibo civilians on sight, including women and children except for women with babies in their arms. Initially they observed the rules laid down by Gowon on the treatment of civilians. Then, after the takeover of the Midwest, they heard stories that Ibo soldiers had killed all the northerners they found residing in the Midwest. Since that time, Federal troops have been shooting Ibo civilians on sight,” added Damboa.

The Midwest Invasion

Something was happening to Biafran soldiers, which the Federal troops observed but could not explain. Indeed, the fortunes of the Federal troops were improving. Colonel Benjamin Adekunle’s 3rd Marine Commando had landed on 25 July 1967 at Bonny Island, establishing a heavy presence of federal forces in the creeks. Two L29 Delfins fighter jets from Czechoslovakia (NAF 401 and NAF 402) were at the Ikeja Airport and battle ready.

Five more, on board Polish vessel Krakow, were a week away from the Apapa Ports. Major Lal, an ammunition ordnance officer seconded from the Indian Army to Nigeria, had arrived from Eastern Europe, where he had gone to acquire information necessary to utilize Czech aerial ordnance. Sections of 15 Soviet MiG bombers hidden in NAF hangars were being assembled by 40 Russian technicians lodging in Central Hotel, Kano. Bruce Brent of Mobil Oil was flying jet oil to Kano to fuel these bombers. Captain N.O. Sandburg of Nigerian Airlines had flown in seven pilots, who had previously done mercenary work in South Africa and Congo, to fly the MiGs. Names, birthdates and passport numbers of 26 Russians, who were to serve as military advisors had been passed to Edwin Ogbu, Permanent Secretary, External Affairs Ministry. They were in Western Europe awaiting a direct flight to Lagos.

But George Kurubo, the Federal Air Force Chief of Staff, who had earlier joined the Biafran high command, had defected back to the fold and had been sent to Moscow as ambassador to facilitate the flow of more arms from the Soviets.

Lt. Colonel Oluwole Rotimi, Quartermaster-General of the Nigerian Army, went to western Europe with a fat chequebook.

What followed was the arrival of Norwegian ship, Hoegh Bell, bearing 2,000 cases of ammunition; and British ship, Perang, which discharged its own 2000 cases of ammunition. A German ship Suderholm also arrived. Those in charge of it claimed she was in Apapa to offload gypsum. But the US defense attaché reported that it was carrying “300 tonnes of 60mm and 90mm ammo.” The Ghanaian vessel, Sakumo Lagoon, was already in Lome, heading to Apapa to discharge its own ammo. A cache of 1,000 automatic fabriquenationale rifles had arrived Lagos by air on 8 August 1967 from the UK.

Speaking secretly to UK Defence Attaché, Lt. Colonel Ikwue said he too had gone to the German Defence Firm, Merex, to buy ammunition: 106mm US recoilless rifles at $86 per round; 84mm ammo for the Carl Gustav recoilless rifles at $72 per round; 105mm HEAT- High Explosive Anti-Tank warheads at $47 per round. Ikwue also bought three English Electra Canberra, eight Mark II Bombers at $105,000 each, 15 Sabre MK VI-T33 Jets at $100,000 each.

With all of these, Awolowo, rejected Hassan Katsina’s request for funding of 55, 000 more rifles for new recruits. However, he agreed once Gowon intervened and assured him it was not a request inspired by fraudulent intentions.

Federal troops had captured Nsukka, 56km from Enugu. Over 200 non-Igbo Biafran policemen had fled across the Mamfe border into Cameroun. In Ogoja, the Ishibori, Mbube and other non-Igbo Biafrans welcomed the federal troops after driving out the Biafran troops in a fierce battle.

The Biafrans blew up the bridge over the Ayim River at Mfume as they retreated.

The momentum was with the Federal side, but they knew their victories were not only because of their military superiority. At critical stages of battle, even when the Biafrans were clearly winning, they suddenly withdrew. An instance was on 15 July 1967, to the west of Nsukka on the route to Obolo. According to a conversation Colonel J.R. Akahan, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, had with British Defence Advisor, the Nigerian infantry companies of the 4th Battalion, totally unaware of the presence of the 8th Battalion of the Biafran army, were buried under a hail of bullets and mortar.

Yet, the Biafran forces began to retreat. This enabled the remnants of the federal infantry company to regroup and successfully counter-attack. Even more senior Biafran commanders that should have been aware that the area had come under federal control were driving into the arms of the federal side. Nzeogwu and Tome Bigger (Ojukwu’s half-brother) were victims of the mysterious happening. Ojukwu initially put this down to breakdown of communication in the chain of command. During a special announcement over Biafran radio on 15 July 1967, Ojukwu said: “Yesterday, a special attack, which would have completely sealed the doom of enemy troops in the Nsukka sector of the northern front, was ruthlessly sabotaged by a mysterious order from the army high command…Our valiant troops were treacherously exposed to enemy flanks.”

At 9.30p.m on 8 August 1967, Biafran forces invaded the Midwest. In the recollection of Major (Dr.) Albert Nwazu Okonkwo, military administrator of Midwest, made available in confidence through an American teacher living in Asaba to Clinton Olson, Deputy Chief of Mission in Lagos on 1 November 1967, it was known by 4 August 1967 in Asaba that the Midwest, West and Lagos would soon be invaded.

On 5 August, Ojukwu had warned the Midwest government, headed by Colonel David Ejoor, that if northern troops were allowed to stay in the Midwest, the region would become a battleground. Many Midwestern officers knew of the plans; some of them had gone to Biafra earlier to help in the preparations. Lt Col. Nwawo, Commander of the Fourth Area Command at Benin, was probably aware. Lt Col. Okwechime, according to the document, certainly knew of it. Lt Col. Nwajei did not know and was never trusted by the anti-Lagos elements in the Midwest. “After the Biafran takeover, Nwajei was sent back to his village of Ibusa, where he was said to be engaged in repainting his home until just the arrival of Nigerian troops in the area,” disclosed the document.

Major Albert Okonkwo, later appointed military administrator, did not know in advance. Lieutenant (later Major) Joseph Isichei and Lieutenant Colonel Chukwurah were not informed in advance. “Major Samuel Ogbemudia participated in the invasion, properly by prior agreement,” the document stated.

That night of 8 August, Biafran army units blazed across the Onitsha Bridge and disarmed the Asaba garrison that was then stationed at St Peter’s Teachers’ Training College. Then they went on to the Catering Rest House, where Midwest officers were living, and disarmed the officers. The only exception was Major Asama, the local commander, who escaped and drove to Agbor at about 22.30hrs.

There were no casualties except for one officer with a gunshot wound in the leg. The invading force drove to Agbor, where it split into three columns. One column drove northwards towards Auchi and Aghenebode. A second column went to Warri and Sapele.

“The main force led by Victor Banjo was supposed to drive on to Benin and capture Ijebu-Ode, reach Ibadan on 9 August, reach Ikeja near Lagos by 10 August, setting up a blockade there to seal off the capital city,” the document quoted Okonkwo as saying.

However, this main column stopped in Agbor for six hours, reaching Benin at dawn. There was no real resistance in Benin, where no civilian was killed. The main column left Benin for Ijebu-Ode early in the afternoon. It stopped at Ore, just at the Western Region’s border.

According to US Defense Attaché report, three weeks before, Ejoor informed the Supreme Headquarters that he had information that Ojukwu was planning to send soldiers in mufti to conquer the Midwest. So, the 3rd Battalion, which was heading towards the Okene – Idah route to join the 1st Division on the Nsukka frontline, was ordered to stop at Owo. The first Recce Squadron from Ibadan, which had already reached Okene, was reassigned to take care of any surprise in the Midwest. By the time Lagos heard of the invasion, this squadron was quickly upgraded from company strength to a battalion, with troops of Shuwa’s 1st Division across the river, and another battalion was stationed at Idah to hold a defensive alignment against any Biafran surprise from Auchi.

Upon receiving the telephone call from Major Asama about the Biafran invasion at Asaba, Ejoor hurriedly left his wife and children at the State House, went to his friend, Dr Albert Okonkwo at Benin Hospital to borrow his car. He then sought asylum in the home of Catholic Bishop of Benin, Patrick Kelly.

In his first radio address to the people of Midwest on 9 August 1967, Banjo said Ejoor was safe and “efforts were being made to enlist his continued service in Midwest and in Nigeria.” Ejoor stayed in the seminary next door to the bishop’s house for almost two weeks, receiving visitors including Banjo, Colonels Nwawo and Nwajei, Major (Dr.) Okonkwo, who were trying to persuade him to make a speech supporting the new administration.

Ejoor refused. He was told that he was free to go wherever he wished without molestation. Not trusting what they might do, he went back to Isoko his native area, where he remained till federal forces captured it on 22 September 1967.

Before Banjo knew the full score, he met with Mr. Bell, UK Deputy High Commissioner, the evening of Benin invasion. Bell summarized his and Banjo’s words as:

a. There were no fatal casualties though some were wounded.

b. Ejoor and two senior officers were not in Benin when Eastern troops arrived. Bell had firm impression that they had been warned about the day’s event.

c. All the Midwest is now under the control of combined East/Midwest forces.

d. East was asked to cooperate by certain Midwest officers because an invasion of the Midwest by the North was imminent.

e. That he does not agree with Ojukwu on the separate existence of Biafra. He is convinced that a united Nigeria is essential.

f. Bell said he saw only three officers at the army headquarters: one was a Midwestern medical officer (Major Okoko). All others were Easterners.

Meanwhile when Banjo made the first radio address, he announced the impending appointment of a military administrator, but there was considerable difficulty among the Biafran and Midwestern leaders in selecting a suitable man.

First choice was to be someone from the Ishan or Afemai areas. Someone from the Delta was next, preferably an Ika-Igbo. However, the stalemate continued until Ojukwu intervened and selected Albert Okonkwo. Ojukwu knew Okonkwo only by reputation.

Okonkwo had certain things that recommended him. First, he had an American wife, which cut the family/tribe relationship problem of those times in half. Second, he was considered to be politically “sterile,” having been in the US for 13 years and was not associated with any political party or faction. Third, he was commissioned a captain in the medical corps on 2 October 1965 and just made a Major on 22 June 1967. The implication was that he was not tainted by army politics. He was also very pro-Biafra.

As soon as Okonkwo became military administrator, Banjo was recalled to Enugu to explain the failure of the military campaign. During his absence, the Midwest Administration was established (an Advisory Council and an Administrative Council). Banjo succeeded in convincing Biafran leaders in Enugu that his halt at Ore had been dictated by military expediency. He then returned to the Midwest front. Banjo informed Okonkwo of the military situation through Major Isichei, Chief of Staff of the Midwest. Isichei later commented that he had noticed that Banjo’s headquarters staff never discussed plans or operations in his presence. Through Isichei, Banjo told Okonkwo that Auchi had been lost after a fierce battle when, in fact, it was not defended at all.

Suspicions began to thicken around Banjo. Okonkwo, in a confidential statement made available to the Americans, said he also noticed that Banjo obtained money by requisition from him for materials, food and officers salaries’, thus drawing on the Midwest treasury. On 19 September, when Okonkwo telephoned Enugu, he discovered from the Biafran Army HQ that Banjo was simultaneously drawing funds from Biafra for all these supplies. Okonkwo sent Major Isichei to arrest Banjo for embezzlement, but they found that he had already left Benin and had left orders for all Midwest and Biafran soldiers to fall back to Agbor.

Okonkwo ordered his Midwest government to move from Benin to Asaba, which it did that day. The seat of the government was behind the textile factory, in homes once inhabited by expatriates. In August, Okonkwo tape-recorded five broadcasts to be used when possible. Those included the Declaration of Independence and the Proclamation of the Republic of Benin, as well as a decree setting up a Benin Central Bank, a Benin University, etc. The Republic of Benin Proclamation was delayed while the consent of the Oba of Benin was sought. Finally, just when the Oba had been convinced that the Republic was “best for his people,” the actions of Banjo were discovered and the Midwest seemed about to be lost, or at least Benin was undefended. Okonkwo went ahead with the broadcast early on 20 September 1967 in order to record for history that the Midwest was separate from Biafra. It was the last act of his government in Benin.

Early afternoon on 9 August, Banjo’s main force left Benin for Ijebu-Ode. It was composed of both Biafran and Midwest units. Midwest troops, who were mostly Igbo, had joined the “liberation army”. Commanding the Midwest forces with Banjo was Major Samuel Ogbemudia, who had been nursing the idea of defection. When the troops reached Ore and halted, Ogbemudia disappeared to later rejoin the Nigerian Army. Lt. Col Bisalla, acting Chief of Army Staff, confirmed that Ogbemudia, in the morning of 9 August, telephoned him precisely at 7:20am to inform him of the “trouble in Benin.”

According to Standish Brooks, the US Defense Attaché, Ogbemudia was the first Nigerian officer to attend American Military School’s counterinsurgency course in Fort Bragg, 1961. Brooks said after his arrival in Lagos on 9 September 1967, Ogbemudia said: “He escaped with a small group of non-Ibo troops from the Benin garrison and have been waging a guerrilla warfare against Eastern units. Having run out of ammo, he made his way back to Lagos.”

Army Headquarters believed him and Brooks’ report further stated: “Ogbemudia would be sent to the headquarters of Second Division in Auchi to assist in operational planning because of his intimate knowledge of the Midwest area and his recent experience in the Midwest under Eastern control.”

From 20 September onwards, the Midwest and Biafran Army began to fall apart. The 17th Battalion in Ikom mutinied and fled. So did the 12th and 16th Battalion in the Midwest.

In the evening of 22 September, the Midwest paymaster, Col. Morah, from Eze near Onicha Olona, offered an American expatriate in Asaba £3, 000 if the American would arrange for Morah to get $5,000 upon his arrival in the United States. This would have been a profit of about $3, 400 to the American. The offer was refused. Later on September 25, Morah disappeared with £33, 000, the document said. This was the time six NAF planes went on reconnaissance and reported back to the Defence Headquarters that they had noticed “heavy movements of civilians over the bridge from Asaba to Onitsha,” but did not have the details. On 27 September, Okonkwo called a meeting of all Midwest civil servants, where he said if the Nigerian Army reached Agbor, he would close the Onitsha Bridge. He would not let the civil servants abandon the population of Asaba to the inevitable massacre when the Federal Army reached the town. The people of Asaba knew by this time of the killings of Igbos in Benin when the federal forces reached it on 20 September. Everyone assumed that it would happen in Asaba.

From 20 September, there were no Biafran soldiers stationed west of Umunede, east of Agbor.

On 1 October, Midwest commanders in Umunede and Igueben, south of Ubiaja on the Auchi-Agbor Road, fled from their positions. Their Biafran subordinates promptly retreated. Constant streams of retreating Biafran and Midwest troops filed through Asaba on 2 and 3 October. The Biafrans were usually mounted in vehicles, while the Midwesterners had to walk. The attitude of the Biafran soldiers and officers was that they would not fight for the Midwest if the Midwest Army did not want to fight. In Asaba on 2 October, the elders and chiefs met to consider sending a delegation to the approaching Nigerian Army to surrender the town and ask for protection in return for help in finding and capturing Biafran soldiers in the town. Cadet Uchei, who brought soldiers to stop the delegation with death threats, thwarted this effort. At this time, some 35 non-Igbos were rounded up and given shelter at St. Patrick’s College, Asaba.

Twice, Cadet Uchei brought soldiers to kill the refugees and arrest the Americans in charge of the school. On the first occasion, Lt. Christian Ogbulo, ADC to Okonkwo, stopped the attempt. Cadet Williams from Ogwashi-Uku brought soldiers to rescue only the Americans from Uchei’s second attempt. Also on 2 October, Col. Chukwurah, who had been the commanding officer at Agbor, came to Asaba and told the Midwest Army HQ staff that he had overthrown Okonkwo and he was now military governor of the Midwest. Chukwurah fled across the bridge to Biafra before nightfall.

Only two of the officers of the Midwest Army were known not to have fled from battle during the campaign: Major Joe Isichei (who was a Lieutenant on August 9) and Lt-Col. Joe Achuzia. Gathering a few soldiers, they attempted to shoot their way out. Okwechime was seen in Onitsha at this time; he had been wounded. By the evening of 2 October, the Midwest Army was completely dissolved.

From 6 a.m on 4 October, machine gun-and mortar fire was heard near Asaba, but the direction was uncertain. It was later discovered that the firing came from Asaba-Isele-Uku Road. At about 1p.m, as the staff members of St. Patrick’s College were leaving the dining room, the first mortar shell landed on the school football field. Mortar shelling continued until dusk. Federal troops reached the northern edge of the campus, along the Asaba-Agbor Road, at about 5p.m. By noon of 5 October, there were six battalions lining up on the road in front of the college, according to Captain Johnson, who was third in command of the 71st Battalion. By the evening of 6 October, Federal forces held the road all the way into the Catholic Mission, two miles inside Asaba. Biafran resistance west of the Niger was over.

Major Alani Akinrinade commanded the 71st Battalion. (Akinrinade in a clarification, said his command was the 6th Brigade and truly he was in Asaba at this time.

His second in command was a Tiv officer, older than Alani. The men of this battalion were mostly Yoruba and Tiv, with some Delta (Ijaw) men. “Most spoke English. They were disciplined, courageous and polite,” the American report stated.

Captain Johnson ordered the Americans to leave Asaba by the morning of 6 October. The reason was understood to be that the 71st Battalion was unable to guarantee their safety from the “second wave” of federal soldiers, known as “the Sweepers” coming behind. “The Sweepers” were only briefly observed, but they wore long hair, had “cross-hatching tribal marks on both cheeks” and apparently willing to live up to their reputation as “exterminators.” According to secret cables sent from American embassies in Niger and Chad to the Embassy and consulates in Nigeria, thousands of Nigeriens and Chadians crossed the border to enlist for the war.

Ten trucks of Nigerien soldiers were seen being transported for service in the Nigerian Army from Gusau to Kaduna and over 2,000 more waiting on Niger-Nigeria border for transportation to Kaduna. The secret document went on: “1,000 Chadian soldiers passed through Maiduguri en route Kaduna. These mercenary soldiers constituted the “Sweepers.” The captured American teachers aptly observed that there were soldiers regarded as fighting soldiers and there were other units that came behind to conduct mass exterminations.

Major Alani, it was understood, was trying to get as many civilians as possible into the bush before the sweepers could arrive.

On the 5 October, when they came, a lieutenant attempted to arrest the American teachers at St. Patrick’s College and their non-Igbo refugees, who had hidden from retreating but still vicious Biafran troops.

Captain Johnson quickly summoned Major Alani. The lieutenant claimed to be acting for a “Major Jordane,” but a check proved this as false. Alani sent the lieutenant and his men away and posted a guard to the school until the staff and refugees left Asaba. There were too many civilians to be executed that Captain Paul Ogbebor and his men were asked to get rid of a group of several hundred Asaba citizens rounded up on 7 October. Not wanting to risk insubordination, he marched the contingent into the bush, told the people to run and had his men fire harmlessly into the ground. Eyewitness accounts confirmed that he performed the same life-saving deception in Ogwashi-Uku.

However, other civilian contingents the sweepers rounded up were shot behind the Catholic Mission and their bodies thrown into the Niger River. This incident and many others were reported to Colonel Arthur Halligan, the US military attaché in Nigeria at that time, the document concluded.

At night on 19 September, Banjo was arrested in Agbor. He was court martialed in Enugu three days later. Okonkwo participated in the court-martial and Ojukwu was present too. Banjo was found guilty, together with Emmanuel Ifeajuna (“the man from Ilaah who shot Abubakar” –the Prime Minister), Phillip Alale and Sam Agbam.

Bob Barnard, American consul in Enugu, said Ojukwu told him that he ordered the killing of Banjo, Ifeajuna, Alale and Agbam because they had planned to oust him from office, oust Gowon as well and install Awolowo as Prime Minister. The American military attaché, Arthur Halligan and Brooks, the Defense Attaché who had some prior intimation of the coup cabled the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington 3 August 1967 that “in the long run, Njoku will unseat Ojukwu.”

Ojukwu told Barnard: “The plotters intended to take Brigadier Hillary Njoku, the head of Biafran Army into custody and bring him to the State House under heavy armed guard ostensibly to demand of him that Njoku be relieved of command on the grounds of incompetence.” They had been behind the withdrawal of troops and reverses of prior Biafran victories. He continued: “Once inside the State House, Njoku’s guards would be used against him. Ifeajuna would then declare himself acting Governor and offer ceasefire on Gowon’s terms. Banjo would go to the West and replace Brigadier Yinka Adebayo, the military governor of Western Region. Next, Gowon would be removed and Awolowo declared Prime Minister of Reunited Federation…Victor Banjo, Ifeajuna and others kept in touch with co-conspirators in Lagos via British Deputy High Commission’s facilities in Benin.”

When the American consul asked Ojukwu for evidence, Ojukwu replied: “Banjo is a very meticulous man who kept records and notes of everything he did. The mistake of the plotters was they talked too much, their moves too conspicuous and they made notes. As a result, the conspirators came under surveillance from the early stages of the plot’s existence. Their plans then became known and confirmed by subsequent events.”

In a separate document, Clint Olson, American Deputy Chief of Mission wrote: “Much of the information recounted came from Major (Dr.) Okonkwo. Banjo freely admitted in his testimony that a group of Yorubas on both sides of the battle were plotting together to take over Lagos and Enugu governments and unite Nigeria under Chief Awolowo. Gowon, Ojukwu, and Okonkwo were to be eliminated; Gowon was to have been killed by Yoruba officers in the Federal Army.”

The document stated further: “When arrested on the night of 19 – 20th September, Banjo offered no resistance because he said then it was too late to stop the affair and the plot was already in motion. His role, Banjo said, was already accomplished. As far as is known, Banjo died without revealing the names of his collaborators in Lagos.”

Before Banjo got to Enugu after his arrest, Okonkwo had telephoned Gowon to warn him of a threat to his life. Okonkwo said he was afraid that the assassination of Gowon would prevent the Heads of State Mission of the Organization of African Unity from coming to Nigeria. The OAU mission held the best hope of resolving the war, Okonkwo believed.

Whether Ojukwu knew of or agreed with Okonkwo’s warning to Gowon was not known. However according to the American Olson, roadblocks appeared in many places in Lagos and were severely enforced. They were removed after about 48 hours as mysteriously as they had appeared.

Gowon, in an exclusive interview with New Nigeria after Banjo revealed himself as the head of an invading army, said he once met Banjo and Ojukwu in 1965 during the crisis that followed the 1964 parliamentary elections. They were discussing the merits of the army taking over governance.

Meanwhile on 10th August 1967, at 9:25pm NNS Lokoja, (Nigeria’s only landing craft) left Lagos again with supplies to reinforce the activities of Adekunle’s 3Marine Commandos(3MCDS). Two weeks before, she had taken two battalions – the first consignment of the 35,000 men strong Division to Bonny. The Biafran Navy comprised speedboats, tug boats, barges commandeered from the oil companies and canoes and rafts of fishermen.

NNS Ibadan a Second World War British navy Seaward Defence Boat with a 40/60mm Bofors anti-aircraft forehead that could hardly fire three rounds without jamming was the command ship of this Navy. She was proudly rechristened BNS Biafra. Commander Winifred Anuku, head of the Biafran Navy had mapped out a plan to arm an old dilapidated dredging ship with hidden artilleries and several companies in its well and deck fittings. Seeing it was old and non-military, one of the NNS enforcing the blockade would be confident to approach her and interrogate her, they reckoned. Then they would quickly open fire on the upper deck of the Nigerian ship, over power her and walk her to their Naval Dockyard in Port Harcourt as the new Biafran sea jewel. Three days in sea, no NNS approached. Lt Cdr P.J. Odu the commander of this planned piracy reported back to Anuku: “no enemy ship sighted 20miles offshore.” He then dismissed the naval blockade as “propaganda to convince friendly countries from sending shipments of arms.” When James Parker, the UK Deputy High Commissioner stationed in Enugu and Bob Barnard, his American counterpart met Ojukwu and asked him about the rumoured invasion from the sea, Ojukwu simply spread his teeth surrounded by his bushy beard. “He laughed at the thought that the Nigerian Navy could enforce a blockade of Biafran ports or mount amphibious on Biafran coasts with its winding creeks and primordial mangrove swamp running twenty miles inland,” Barnard wrote. “He said he doesn’t know where the Nigerian naval vessels go when they depart Lagos but they are not, repeat, not patrolling off the coast of Biafra.”

Unknown to the Biafrans, NNS Penelope the command ship of the Nigerian Navy had been summoned with all her sisters including the five taking turns to enforce the blockade to the Naval Dockyard in Apapa. By 1800hrs on 18th July 1967, they were all there. Also assembled were three merchant vessels from the Nigerian National Shipping Line, King Jaja, Oranyan, Bode Thomas and later Oduduwa and Warigi from Farrell Lines. They were there to rehearse a joint Army and Navy amphibious operation which was later variously described as “masterpiece in the history of warfare in Africa, ”“the first of its kind by any 3rd world country,” “the African version of Omaha Beach landings that turned the tide of the Second World War.”

By the 25th July, the invasion to stamp Federal boots on the Niger Delta and close in on Biafra from the south was launched. The three Seaward Defence Boats(SDBs) NNS Ogoja, Benin, Enugu, proceeded into Bonny river channel while NNS Nigeria, a frigate, stood on the high seas guarding NNS Lokoja with its human cargo. Because of her longer range 4 inch battery, Nigeria was still able to provide support for the operational objectives of the three SDBs ahead. NNS Ogoja the largest of the SDB spotted BNS Biafra heading downstream. She quickly sheared away from the convoy to engaged her. Once Biafra came within her range, Ogoja volleyed thunderous shots in rapid successions and Biafra replied feebly and its Bofors guns kept on jamming after three shots. Akin Aduwo commanding Ogoja and P.J. Odu commanding Biafra were colleagues and very good friends for years and the war had made them reached a point where one must destroy the other for the greater glory of his country.

While the engineers were fixing this jam, Biafra was trying to quickly manoeuvre round in a tight circle so that it won’t be in a broadsides range with Ogoja hence becoming a turkey shoot. Then she got stuck in the shallow end of the river. Adunwo depressed his guns, fired low at the stern to jam the engines and propellers. That ensured Biafra was going nowhere again. His friend and his crew quickly deserted the ship and escaped into the swamps. The tow tug boat Abdul Maliki later came to tow BNS Biafra back to Naval Dockyard in Lagos where it was rechristened NNS Ibadan. Ogoja returned to join Benin and Enugu never realising that the fight between friends, the desertion of Biafra, its rechristening in Lagos would be the metaphor for the 30 months civil war.

The heavy fire from Enugu, Benin and Ogoja so thoroughly subdued the Biafran defensive positions on Bonny Island that resistance to the NNS Lokoja’s troop landings were too scattered to make an impact. Not only was this D Company under the Biafran 8th Battalion of Port Harcourt too small to defend Bonny, they went on offensive when the ships were not within range, hence easily giving away their stations. Hence Federal SDBs didn’t have to recourse to indiscriminate shelling to subdue the island which may have affected the oil installations and refinery jetties. US Defence Attaché’s noted in his secret report of 27th July 1967, Gowon, was “overjoyed” when Adekunle reported that Bonny had been taken with “no damage to the oil installations.” All the 16 storage tanks with their 3.9 million crude oil were intact. Quickly, they consolidated their positions on both sides of the river channel and by mid-morning 5th August, Dawes Island which controls river channels leading to Okrika were in Adekunle’s hands.

On the 10th of August, Adekunle received report from Supreme Headquarters that a whole Biafran Brigade had crossed the Niger Bridge and they had split in Agbor. Some battalions were heading northwards towards Auchi and Agenebode, some were heading westwards to Benin and more pertinently to him, some were heading southwards to Warri and Sapele. So the 3MCDs made immediate plans to respond to this Biafran surprise. First Adekunle knew that this Biafran invasion may be a tactical objective whose overall mission imperative was the recapture of Bonny. Biafran Navy Headquarters in Port Harcourt cannot feel safe knowing that a Nigerian brigade was stationed 35km away at Bonny. What Adekunle did was to quickly redeploy the 7th and 32nd battalions to the Forcados and Escravos creeks 166 nautical miles away to contain any advance of Biafran troops to the creeks. The 8th battalion proceeded to hold a defensive alignment with Port Harcourt.

Major Abubakar’s 9th Battalion left to hold Bonny Island and perform rear operations. The NNS that were bringing in supplies, equipment, personnel were re-routed 166 nautical miles back to Forcados and Escravos. The Nigerian national line cargo vessel, Oranyan which on the 8th of August had departed from Lagos and arrived in Bonny with supplies, equipment and some personnel was ordered unload at the village of Sobolo-Obotobo which is northwest of Forcados. At 6:30am on the 11th of August, NNS Enugu had left Bonny River and was on recce in Escravos River in case there were militarised speedboats, tugs or barges lurking somewhere. None. At 9am, NNS Lokoja disgorged two additional rifle companies at Escravos and they quickly established defensive positions there. On the 13th of August, MV Bode Thomas added more supplies, equipment and personnel reinforcements. The build-up continued.

To the annoyance of Adekunle who arguably was the most successful war commanders in Nigeria’s military history, a new Division was created and called 2nd Division headed by Lt Col Murtala Muhammad while his own formation despite the success of his mission so far was not upgraded to a Divisional strength. With the addition of 31st and 33rd Battalion, he was upgraded to 3rd Marine Commando Division. Muhammad’s 2nd comprised three brigades 4th, 5th, 6th Brigades commanded by Lt Cols Godwin Ally, Francis Aisida, Alani Akinrinade. Their mission imperative was to rout the Biafran forces from the Midwest by invading from the West, Northwest and North.

Ally’s 4th Brigade (which was to be later commanded by Major Ibrahim Taiwo CO of the 10th Battalion because a sniper fire hit Ally in the chest in Asaba and almost killed him) was on the Ore, Ofosu, Okitipupa sector holding a defensive alignment against Banjo’s advance. Akinrinade’s 6th Brigade was tasked with Owo-Akure sector and Aisida’s 5th was the command Brigade in Okene with Auchi, Ubiaja being their strategic objectives and Benin, Agbor, and Asaba being their operational objectives. All the brigade commanders were waiting for a sign. In his report of 24th August 1967, Standish Brooks, US defence Attaché wrote: “Murtala Muhammad does not want to fight a piecemeal campaign without a series of logical and successive objectives being assigned and without reasonable capabilities to achieve the objectives at hand.” Bisalla, the Chief of Staff(Army) said of Murtala, I know him “when he starts he wants to go all the way to the River[Niger] before he even thinks of stopping.” But he needed the sign first and his brigade commanders were waiting too. Tick-tock.

Besides the military communication units, the army headquarters in Lagos, at times used the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation to transmit information to all the divisional headquarters and brigade commanders. It could be done during radio programmes, news bulletins or radio jingles. They public heard these secret codes but they thought they were part of the show. But on the 20th of September 1967, at 8 o’clock in the morning NBC broadcast the sign the field commanders had been waiting for. “The frogs are swimming; the frogs are swimming.” The CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS)monitored and recorded key signals, statements and speech about the war from every radio station in Nigeria, Biafra and neighbouring countries. And they shared them with American Diplomatic/Consular units, CICSTRIKE (Commander In Chief STRIKE – Swift Tactical Response In Every Known Environment), ACSI (Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence), CINCMEAFSA(Commander in Chief Middle East/South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara) and DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency). Standish Brooks, their Attaché posted to Nigeria analysed The frogs are swimming intelligence thus: “this informed the 2nd Division and the guerrilla bands operating in various areas of the Midwest that elements of Adekunle’s 3rd Division are already ashore from the Escravos/Forcados creeks.”

Hastily marshalled Midwestern militias had been dealing fires to the Biafran occupiers. It was reported that Urhobo, Ijaw and Itsekiri swimmers were diving underwater and organising surprising attacks on Biafran units and formations along the Ethiope River. In Benin too they reminded themselves they were the city of Ovonramwen Nogbaisi and these Biafran forces were the latest version of the British expedition forces of the 19th century. And so rapidly, young men were organising themselves as into deadly underground resistance groups, old people who could not fight were contributing money and their dane guns; young women like Moremi were reported to be offering their bodies to get close to these Biafran forces and poison their food. The Midwest must be made inhospitable for Biafran agenda.

The frogs are swimming. Adekunle and his 3MCDOs left their Escravos base at 3am and they were blazing towards their objectives on speedboats. The boats held a platoon of 26 troops and the ones that carried a Land Rover each could only take 12 soldiers. With NNS Enugu providing the operational support, seven hours later, they had secured the ports of Koko and Sapele. They forked into two columns: One headed towards Warri and by 22nd of September, they had captured the Warri port and the ECN power station in Ughelli. The frogs are swimming. The other column headed northeast to Agbor on Sapele/Agbor Road. And a northern column from the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division was heading south east to Agbor too via Ehor-Agbor Road. The following day, 26th of September 1967, Agbor fell. To keep up the momentum, Lagos send in 5000 German G3 7.62 rifles to be issued to marine commandoes. The riverine operation of the 3MCDs was billed to be defining in its ruthless efficiency because the federal government wanted to use it especially to send a message to the oil companies suspending royalty payments who their boss was: Nigeria or Biafra. The American secret cable of 3rd July stated that Shell-BP was convinced that “Biafra was here to stay and that Ojukwu would be kind to the company.”

The 2nd Division too had been moving rapidly on its objectives. The frogs are swimming. After the fall of Ubiaja, Muhammad divided the new 8th Brigade reassigned from the 5th Brigade into two columns. As of the night of 21st September 1967, a column was at the village of Ekpon 20km away from Agbor on Uromi-Agbor Road. The other column was at that time was in the village of Ebu blazing towards Asaba which was 40km away. Elements of the 6th brigade were at Okeze village heading towards Agbor after capturing Benin. In seven days, Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Kwale, Warri, Sapele fell; Ojukwu fled.

The 3MCDs were asked to pull back from Agbor and Kwale and the Ethiope River was made into the interdivisional boundary with the 2nd Division. On 29th September at 1550hrs, CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service recorded Adekunle on Benin Radio warning Midwesterners: “not to take advantage of the presence of federal troops to engage in looting, murder, and other criminalities.” Addressing the people of Warri, western Ishekiri, Agbor, he warned against using soldiers to achieve “personal vendettas.” Adekunle reminded his listeners that “he has powers to impose martial law in coastal areas but does not wish to do so.” He then signed himself off as General Officer Commanding Nigerian Coastal Sector.” It wasn’t only Adekunle made Colonel after the successful Bonny Island landing that promoted himself again without the approval of Lagos. On 21st of September, Murtala Mohammed went on the same Benin Radio, as monitored by the CIA, to “officially confirm the complete liberation of the Midwestern state except Agbor and Asaba” as the GOC of the second division when he was only a lieutenant Colonel. He then announced “on behalf of the head of the Federal military government” the appointment of “Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ogbemudia as the temporary administrator.” Gowon and the federal executive council were reported to have been “shocked” but they “regularised the appointment since Ogbemudia was the most appropriate for the job.” Another document titled Military Campaign in the Midwest recorded “Ogbemudia’s father is of mixed Benin-Ika extraction, as his home village near Agbor is inhabited by a tribally mixed people. Ogbemudia’s mother is ‘pure Ibo’ from the East.”

Later in the evening, Ogbemudia came to radio to address the people. The CIA was listening too. He asked all workers to resume work on the morning of September 22 and voided all the appointments and promotions made by the Biafran regime. He asked the people not to “pay back Ibos in their own coin” and announced the the lifting of the curfew imposed by the Biafran regime. However, he advised people to keep indoors after 10:00pm “to allow the federal troops to complete the operation of mopping few relining stragglers.” But why after 10pm in the night?

On Wednesday 20 September 1967, federal troops opened a barrage of fire on a Catholic Convent in Benin City. There was only one nun there and she managed to escape with a few injuries. The soldiers subsequently said they were told by the local people that some Igbos were hiding behind the convent and so the opened fire on anything that moved. Furthermore, while Bishop Patrick Kelly was giving spiritual comfort to one Igbo civilian who was badly wounded, some soldiers approached him, enquired whether he was yet dead. When the Bishop said he was still alive, they promptly killed him. The bishop made a report to the Irish ambassador who subsequently gave Gowon and the American ambassador too.

The cold-blooded massacres in Midwest were not monopolised by the federal troops only. In a confidential report of 15 October 1967 recorded that, “as the Biafrans retreated from Benin to Agbor, they killed all the men, women and children they could find who were not Igbos. The town of Abudu, one of the larger places between Agbor and Benin lost virtually of its population with the exception of a small proportion that fled into the bush.” The British expatriate teacher, Anthony Charles Stephens was killed there when he refused to surrender his car to the retreating Biafran forces. Father Coleman an Irish SSMA priest said before Biafran troops left Agbor “without a fight” they killed off most of “non-Ibo men, women and children.”

In general, the American confidential report stated, non-Igbo Midwesterners were very anti-Biafran throughout the occupation. Many of them hid Northerners in their houses for weeks away from the Biafran troops who set out to kill them. The document continued: “Nearly all rejoiced when federal troops came in. The only town that was an exception was Ehor where even after the federal troops arrived, the local populace was protecting the Igbo soldiers and tried to confuse the federal troops.” However in Benin, there was no intention to confuse at all; “the civilians were busy pointing out the Ibos.” So the federal troops set up “two big camps to serve as safe havens in a school for the Ibos. The women and children were taken there,” the report said. But the men? Sam Idah, the director of the Benin Cemetery on Ifon Road told the American diplomats that day (21/09/67), 24 hours after the federal troops arrived 1,258 bodies have been buried there. “Trucks from the ministry of work and transport and from Benin development council were used to haul the corpses to the open pits.” Rev Rooney a Catholic Missionary with Benin Public Service said “a total of 989 civilians had been killed that day in the city.”

Ambassador Elbert Mathews noted that “with the capture of the Midwest and the fall of the Biafran capital within days, the Federal Government senses eventual military victories and was in no mood for outside criticisms.” And so the massacres went on unchecked. Their report in the international media encouraged some diplomatic recognition for Biafra and arms shipments which prolonged the war for another 27 months.

The Untold Story of Biafra ( From US secret documents )

Gowon in an exclusive interview he gave the editor of New Nigeria after Victor Banjo shocked the whole nation by revealing himself as the head of an invading army, said he once met Victor Banjo and Ojukwu in 1965 during the bloody commotion occasioned by the blatant rigging of the 1964 Nigerian Parliamentary elections. They were discussing the merits of the army taking over governance.  In a lengthy trial in 1962, Awolowo, Enahoro, Lateef Jakande, Sasore, Nwaobiala, Umoren, Ebietoma, and some other members of the only party in Opposition were sentenced to ten years imprisonment on the grounds of accusations which obviously applied to  Nnamdi Azikiwe of NCNC and Ahmadu Bello of NPC – leaders of the coalition of the parties in power. Chief S.L. Akintola, AG’s No2, who succeeded Awolowo as the Western Premier was said to have disagreed with Awolowo’s decision to exclude AG from the ruling federal coalition because a lot of important posts in civil service, vice-chancellors of UI and UNILAG, Ports Authority, Railway Corporation, the military, industries, were going to the Igbos and northerners to the exclusion of Yoruba. Not only that, they were bringing their people to fill the roles down the ranks. Akintola began to show open dissent to Awolowo in other matters as well. And so he was eventually removed after the party members passed vote of no confidence in him on the Western House of assembly in Ibadan.

Conflagrations erupted. And the federal coalition government used the opportunity to zoom in, reduce the influence of Awolowo’s popular AG and extend the reach of Igbo-dominated NCNC and Hausa-Fulani-dominated NPC in the West. The coalition government even created another Region, the Midwest, to cut the West down to size.

They knew in a fair fight they could not win elections in this AG’s stronghold so they flipped the results around like dodo and akara that were being fried so that Akintola who had then formed an alliance with the North could continue in power. The streets of West that had known nothing but flames and blood more than any region in the country re-erupted once more. It was the people’s mandate which was stolen that Wole Soyinka wanted to redress that he had to hold up  the western TV station at gunpoint and asked that his own tape should be broadcast instead of the pre-recorded tape of Akintola that had been publicised during the day would be broadcast during primetime in the night. Soyinka in the tape asked  “people of the western region, stand up for your rights… Chief Akintola and his crew of renegades to quit the country.”

Victor Banjo and Ojukwu were impressed. They were following all these events and were mooting a coup.  Gowon said he told them once a coup started, it won’t stop and they should count him  out of any coup plans. Ojukwu approached David Ejoor too he too refused. However, less than a year later, he came back from studies in the UK on 13thJanuary 1966 and there was a coup on the 15th at the level of Majors. After the murder of the Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa rather than approve the appointment of Zanna Bukar Dipcharima, a Borno politician that the surviving NPC-NNDP politicians in the state house had agreed on as the acting Prime Minister, Dr Nwafor Orizu the acting President in the place of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe who was away, handed over to Aguyi-Ironsi.  The New York Times headline called it “a coup within a coup.” Furthermore, some Igbo officers loyal to hours-old head of state went and arrested Victor Banjo who rigorously denied having anything to do with the coup.  Ojukwu was in Kano then as the garrison commander of the 5th battalion advising Ironsi on what to do. Gowon said as the Adjutant-General, he ordered Banjo freed though “he had reservations that an officer of his calibre with so much interest in politics could be ignorant about it yet he couldn’t help recalling the episode of 1964[sic:1965].”

Two days after, Banjo turned up armed to the police headquarters to kill the Aguyi-Ironsi, Gowon said. Ironsi had set up his command headquarters in the place because the police had just recently installed a new communications system and it became the only source of receiving of transmitting information to all the necessary army units. Gowon, the next  head of state was there too, so were George Kurubo, the next chief of staff(Air force) and Patrick Anwunah, the next General Staff Officer (1) for Intelligence at Army HQ. Banjo was subsequently disarmed and carted away to the East with other mutineers before he, Gowon, could properly speak to him.

Seven months later, Gowon, as the new Head of state said he was interested in the facts.  He began making efforts to free Banjo from Enugu prison. “I was told he preferred where he was.” That was Ojukwu who repeatedly said he didn’t recognise the “illegal regime” of Gowon. However, Gowon said further that Banjo wrote him a later on 15th of July 1967 which later received on 12 August after he had invaded the Midwest. In the letter Gowon said “he complained against his arrest [the previous year] and said it was due to Ibo machinations. He also stated that as an officer of the Nigerian army both the federal government and Ojukwu had refused to give him a role to play in the country’s affairs.” Gowon said Banjo “asked me to send his passport to him to enable him to leave the country… I find it hard to explain the behaviour of the man I knew. It may be that he is undertaking his assignment under pressure, or he is doing it to spite the federal military government…on the other hand, he may be thinking that what he was doing is playing a part in the affairs of the country.” Gowon described Banjo whom Obasanjo took over from as the Army Chief of Engineers as a well-qualified engineer and an intelligent extremist who thought that “the masses do not know what is good for them. There is an elite that knows what he masses really want. The elites must take over.” This, Gowon said, suited “Ojukwu’s inordinate ambition.” Ojukwu, Gowon stated flatly, joined the army because of power.

According to a broadcast to the German people on Bayerischer Rundfunk Muchen(Bavarian Broadcasting, Munich) on 11 September 1967,  The German west African correspondent of the service for many years, Klaus W. Stephan  said  Ojukwu “had determined to alter the political constellation of power in Nigeria by means of the army one day. He sympathised with the January 1966 plot-makers but was careful enough to avoid any overplayed attachment to them. Ojukwu told me later that it had being him who had requested General Ironsi to crush the coup, and that he had stopped the General from being arrested.” On 8 April 1967 in Enugu, Ojukwu told Suzanne Cronje, the author of The World and Nigeria: The Diplomatic History of the Biafran War, 1967-1970 : ‘On January 15, I was the one who advised Ironsi to stand as the Head of the Army, call for support and then organize the various units that would immediately support, so that the rebels who were bound to be few and already committed would suddenly find that the whole thing was  phasing away.” “Obviously on the grounds of thankful feelings, the General made him Military Governor of the Eastern provinces,” Stephan continues on air in Germany. “I know Ojukwu as a man of more than average intelligence, extraordinary versatility, high eloquence and remarkable personal charm. But there are two characteristics in that man that are not realised by many people for a long time: his greed for power and his ability to charm and enchant the masses: a demagogue.”

“He suffers from Hitler-like megalomania,” Richard Akinjide said of Ojukwu to the American consul, Mr Strong in Ibadan in the document of September 11, 1969. Akinjide explained that as a child he was rejected because his father strongly denied the allegation that the pregnancy that led to him was solely of his doing alone; other mysterious force or forces may have been at work too.  His mother was a mistress his multimillionaire business magnate father Sir Louis Ojukwu acquired on one of his business trips to the North. Being a devout catholic, Sir Louis refused to accept boy into his house in Lagos. So he sent him back to the north here he was born and where his mother made a living as a trader. Ojukwu like Nnamdi Azikiwe, was born in Zungeru, in the present Niger State. As the boy grew up, friends of the business mogul prevailed on him to recognise the boy as his own son. He then agreed to do so but the boy was something of an embarrassment so he sent him off to school in England where the boy eventually made it into Oxford University.

Akinjide, a former NNDP politician said “he knew Ojukwu well” when he was a federal minister under Tafawa Balewa.  He continued: “When Ojukwu returned back to Nigeria he tried to get a job with the Nigerian Tobacco Company (NTC) but was turned down. Akinjide speculated on how Nigerian history might have been different if NTC had given Ojukwu a job. “Instead he drifted into civil service and was given a post as Assistant District Officer at a bush post in the East. He was unhappy in this position,” Akinjide said because he felt his talents were not recognised. Seeking a better road to power and influence he joined the Nigerian army and because of his good educational background, he was soon sent to the elite Royal Academy Sandhurst in the UK.

Akinjide believed Ojukwu’s career and personality can be explained as an endless effort to gain the recognition he was early denied and to show his father and the society that rejected him how wrong they were. In fact, Akinjide put it in more dramatic terms: “Ojukwu was subconsciously seeking revenge for his early rejection.” Akinjide concludes that “a man so driven is not subject to rational dissuasion from the course on which he has set himself.”

In separate document, titled Psyching out Ojukwu (19/09/1969), Mr Strong wrote about the story Nnamdi Azikiwe told him and the Western Military Governor, Adeyinka Adebayo over lunch in Ibadan. Azikiwe said that the reason why Ojukwu hated him was because “at one point he had settled a dispute between Ojukwu and his father which had already reached the proportion where Ojukwu had threatened to shoot his father.” Azikiwe told the private gathering that Ojukwu’s father was a very good friend of his and he prevailed on Ojukwu not to carry out his threat. Since then, Azikiwe said, Ojukwu had been very unfriendly towards him. According to Chief N.U. Akpan who was Ojukwu’s secretary before and during the civil war, one the first orders Ojukwu gave as he arrived Enugu as the military governor on the 19th January 1966 was to “remove Azikiwe as the Chancellor of University of Nsukka, cut off all incomes accruing to him from his properties in Nsukka and order African Continental Bank to recover forthwith all overdraft  or loans outstanding against Azikiwe or any companies and business establishment with which he might have been associated.” Azikiwe told the American consul: “Perhaps I offended him by preventing him from shooting his father.”

Awolowo too knew early enough that he was dealing with a dangerous man. Reviewing his own efforts undertaken at considerably personal risk to find an accommodation with Ojukwu before he declared the secession in May 1967, Awolowo told Ambassador Mathews, on 24 August 1967 in Lagos, he was convinced it was impossible to negotiate with Ojukwu who was seeking to bring all southern Nigeria under his sway. He was committed to conquest not secession. According to the periodic Intelligence Note complied on the Nigerian situation on by Thomas L. Hughes, the Director of Intelligence and Research submitted to US secretary of State, Dean Rusk , the “chief target” of the Ojukwu’s “seizure of Midwest” was the Yoruba. “Should this large tribe, numbering 8 million or more, choose to join Ojukwu in a move to oust Northerners from southern Nigeria, the rump Nigerian federation would come apart…The Yorubas, riven by past divisions and in no mood to pull Ojukwu’s chestnuts out of the fire [rescue Ojukwu], are undecided. They have tended to side with the Gowon government ever since their principal spokesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, agreed to join it last June. At the same time the fear northern domination remains strong…Awolowo rallied towards the Federation when Gowon, himself a Northerner, showed he meant to break up the once monolithic North by decreeing several new states there,” the US intelligence estimate stated.

On 12th of September Radio Biafra broadcast attacks on Awolowo and Anthony Enahoro for being in “the rebel government of Gowon.” The Radio referred to the recent arrest and detention of “Wole Soyinka that patriotic Yoruba son” and the arrest and interrogation of Tai Solarin the well-known Yoruba educator and writer. The Radio thought it “significant” that these “Yoruba freedom fighters” should be threatened by a government of which “Chief Awolowo himself a Yoruba is a deputy head.”  It reminded its listeners that “Awolowo and Enahoro have not only succumbed to northern pressure but have also teamed up with Gowon to supress [Solarin and Soyinka] whose ebullient enthusiasm for Yoruba freedom is threat to their security but they have substituted private interest for commonweal.” The radio, confirming the findings of the US intelligence estimate, then recommended that “all Yorubas should waste no time in responding to call by one of their own sons, Brigadier Victor Banjo, commander of liberation forces. It is such young men as Brigadier Banjo, Wole Soyinka and Tai Solarin that will provide effective but selfless leadership that Yorubas badly need at this moment.”  Noting  the risk of involved in the Biafrans sounding more Yoruba than the Yoruba themselves, the American ambassador noted in a confidential document  of 15th September 1967: “In fact, the Eastern effort to tell Yorubas who their leader should be, as well as not to follow Awolowo could cause opposite reaction among majority of people in Yorubaland.” It did.

With troops blazing with Biafran agenda already at West’s door at Ore, it became clearer to Awolowo that Ojukwu was not interested in secession only but actually in conquest. Awolowo proceeded to rally the Yoruba that had hitherto being lukewarm to Gowon’s government with a powerful “I am absolutely and irrevocably committed to the side of Nigeria” press release on 12 August 1967. It was Awolowo’s first statement defending the Federal Government since the Civil War began on 6th July. Unlike many of Awolowo’s speeches and public statements, this one derived its forceful elocution from the use of adverbs and intensifiers. There were no “could,” “might” and other hedge-betting modal verbs. It was all ‘must,’ ‘will’ and other commanding auxiliary verbs. Hear Awolowo: “It is imperative that the unity of Nigeria must be preserved and the best judge of what to do now is the Federal government which Yorubas must continue to support.” He said further: “The Yorubas have never set out to dominate others, but have always resisted, with all the energy in them any attempt however slight or disguised, by others to dominate them.… Indeed it is for these reasons that they must now be ready to resist any attempt by the rebel forces from the East and the Mid-West to violate their territory and subjugate them.… To these ends, therefore, all Yoruba people, particularly those in the Western and Lagos States which now face the threats of invasion must not only be as vigilant as ever, but must also lose no time and spare no efforts in giving every conceivable support to the Federal troops in defence of their homeland, and of the Fatherland.”

Awolowo was not only rallying the Yoruba people, he was sending a powerful message to the Biafran High command in Enugu. Victor Banjo on 11th August had sent a secret note to Governor Adebayo the man which according to Biafran High Command was slated for assassination by Banjo’s gun. In the letter, amongst other things, Banjo asked for “clarification of the Western position.” Adebayo promptly passed the letter to Awolowo in Lagos.  S.G. Ikoku, an Awolowo loyalist in the East and AG’s secretary general, who was in exile in Ghana, said Major Ifeajuna told him when he escaped to Ghana, their plan in January 1966 coup was to free Awolowo from Calabar prison and install him as Prime Minister. In reality, there was no army unit heading to Calabar to spring Awolowo out of jail. However, with so many killings of people’s idols, would Awolowo allow himself to govern the country from a seat of blood?  Would the unconstitutional Prime Minister Awolowo have the authority to bring the coup plotters who gave him the highest office in the land to justice for the blood shed? Would he had demotivated the three NPC politicians who pleaded the excuse of the assassination of their party idols and Ironsi’s reluctance to do bring them to justice as the reason they organised and financed the October 1966 massacres of Igbos in the North? What would soldiers like Lt Col Mohammed Shuwa, or those loyal to the assassinated Zakariya Maimalari or Abogo Largema do when Awolowo visited the North as an Ifeajuna-selected Prime Minister of Nigeria?  Here again was Victor Banjo, 21 months later, offering Awolowo another seat of blood.

Receiving the secret note, Awolowo promptly and publicly pledged his allegiance to the federation and called upon special adverbs, forceful intensifiers and commanding modal verbs to elicit and consolidate the patriotism of his fellow Westerners. The statement split AG and the West down the middle.   They had not forgotten the monstrosity of northern hegemony; they had not forgotten how the North colluded with Igbos to foment trouble in the West.  They have not forgotten how this North-East coalition had excluded Yoruba from key posts and grassroot recruitment policies. The American consul in Ibadan wrote on 7/8/67 that: “An old line supporters including more mature intellectuals like Prof Hezekiah Oluwasanmi[the Ife University Vice Chancellor] and S.O. Ighodaro[lecturer Lagos University] support the statement. They said: “Awolowo has always been a minorities man, and the Eastern takeover of Midwest and continued occupation of Eastern minority areas is an indication of continued Ibo desire to dominate southern Nigeria.” Mr Strong continued on the other hand: “AG activists and man in the street  are convinced Awolowo made the statement under duress…They say Awolowo’s true position was indicated in the Leaders of Thought resolution in May which said if any region seceded or forced out, the West would automatically become independent. The activists feel that Awolowo missed the opportunity to bring the present conflict to close by coming to Ibadan and make a Western Declaration of Independence speech supported by Victor Banjo and his National Liberation Army.”

Mr Strong provided another dimension. “Since ‘there are no secrets in Yorubaland,’ it is very likely Awolowo was aware of coup talk here and issued the statement to forestall Western coup attempt and try and keep the tenuous peace in the West.” On the night of 11th August, Mr Smallwood the British Deputy High Commissioner came to inform his American counterpart that “decision has been taken by a group of AG activists to support efforts to stage a Midwest type coup here in the West. Timing uncertain but could happen anytime from 12th. Planners supposedly do not include top members of AG hierarchy but certain young activists who hope present AG leaders with fait accompli consistent with their own sympathies.”

Mr Strong was sceptical of its success of the coup not because of Awolowo’s rallying call, but as he wrote: “In the West, several ingredients for successful coup are lacking. There is, for example, no real counterpart of Ibo officers here.”  And yet, that was the coup for which Victor Banjo confident of its success received Ojukwu’s bullets with his head raised high and his chest pumped out at the firing squad in Enugu. (Odumosu, the secretary to the Western government was to later tell the consul in a secret document of 11 October 1967 that Bola Ige and Bisi Onabanjo both commissioners were suspected to be involved in the plot to make Banjo replace Adebayo once he invaded the West). Strong also noted that Alhaji Busari Obisesan, the former NNDP speaker of the Western House of Assembly had been heavily involved in the plot to assassinate the pro-AG, pro-Awolowo Governor Adeyinka Adebayo since November of the previous year, they had not succeeded. The NNDP were traditional allies of North’s will to dominate. The consul noted: “their plans in the past traditionally involve use of Northern troops for NNPD ends.” That was the 4th battalion.  This north-based battalion was moved over to Ibadan in 1957, it was said, to quell the political restiveness engulfing the streets of Ibadan. Soon they  became a repressive machine made available  by Ahmadu Bello to Akintola to use against his plentiful opponents and critics. The self-loading rifle Akintola used on the night he was murdered by Captain Nwobosi and his men was given to him by the 4th battalion commander, Lt Col Abogo Largema.  He personally supervised Akintola’s target practice in his barracks. It was some members of  this notorious battalion that Major Danjuma also used to capture and murder Ironsi and the Western Governor then Adekunle Fajuyi. As part of Gowon’s effort to secure the support of the West, he pulled this  this notorious battalion back from Ibadan stationing them in Jebba.  As Captain Hamza, Ahmadu Bello’s chief body guard said to an expatriate friend who then informed the British Deputy High Commission which in turn informed the American consulate, Busari Obisesan have gone up North to see Hassan Katsina on 10th August for help. NNPD was “plotting their own measures to counter the AG threat of takeover” in the light of a pro-AG governor.

Meanwhile on the streets of Ibadan there was bay for blood. On the morning of 15thAugust 1967 Governor Adebayo told the American Consul that “the trouble in Ibadan in the last three days were caused by some Hausas including some Hausa soldiers hunting out and beating up Ibos. They wanted to kill them. This started sporadically but when situation got worse yesterday. He decided firm action was necessary to bring it under control. He ordered soldiers back to barracks and later announced curfew.” The Western state Police Commissioner Emmanuel Olufunwa addressed the Hausa community in Sabo and “warned them against engaging in any unruly acts.” The leader of the Hausa community replied and warned his fellow Hausas against doing anything [that would] damage their reputation.” It wasn’t clear whether he was being  ironic or sincere because at 8:15pm that same day, Lt Colonel Obasanjo as the head of Ibadan Garrison command and his deputy Major Olu Bajowa were there with around 60 troops with bayonets drawn to seal of the Hausa quarter.

In Lagos, the atmosphere of deep mistrust of Igbos left behind and those who recently made their way back from Biafra thickened. There was fear, there was panic.  It had come to light that some of the Igbo minority of the Midwest were used to sweep away Ejoor, and put an Okonkwo in power. It will happen too in Lagos they reckoned. Banjo’s troops were reported to be in Ore heading for Lagos. Was it going to be Chiedu? Or Emeka? Or Silvanus? Or would it be Calixtus? The atmosphere of suspicions thickened. Rubbles of the damaged Inland Revenue office, the British Library, the telephone exchange and cinema house near Rowe Park in Yaba from the explosions of bombs conveyed in a petrol tanker on 19 July 1967 were there. Four people died and 56 injured. On the night of 9th August another Biafran plane flew in from the East and dropped bombs on non-military area. ‘Warning bombs,’ Ojukwu called then in a lengthy midnight address on radio Biafra on 10 August 1967. The plane also dropped leaflets in Ikeja and Palmgrove areas “calling on people to overthrow Gowon’s government and the Hausa imperialists.” The American ambassador noted that the leaflets were similar to the ones being distributed by Biafran soldiers to gain their support in the Midwest.  Around quarter past 4 on 16th August 1967 another Biafran plane flew in and dropped two bombs on Apapa. The more these bombs exploded, the more Lagos Igbos were put in trouble.

Ambassador Mathews cabled Washington: “We have a number of reports that Ibos are being taken from their homes and offices, in many cases not, repeat, not gently. We have no info on what is being done with those detained.”  In an earlier document Mathews wrote that: “Soldiers in lorries mounted house-to-house searches along Ikorodu road in densely populated quarter of Lagos, and took Ibos from their houses to the army barracks.” Governor Mobolaji Johnson’s went on radio to address Lagosians in a way sharply different from the conciliatory tone he adopted the previous month when Biafran explosions began to rock Lagos. No he said: “Ibos openly rejoiced at the events in the Midwest and that some openly boast Ojukwu will soon take over Lagos or bomb Lagos to ashes.” The Governor continues: “all these acts of treachery, sabotage and uncharitable-ness are an abuse of kindness and hospitality of people of Lagos state.”

According to official police estimates around 50,000 Igbos live in Lagos then, around 32,000 are believed to live in “Lagos suburbs of Ikeja” where the airport and army base are located. As of August 1967 only 17, 000 were left of the total. In Ibadan there  were an estimated 6000 Igbos left.   “Recent conversations with Alhaji Adegbenro(Awolowo’s lieutenant), Dele Ige(Bola Ige’s younger brother) and other prominent Yorubas have indicated great fear on their part that Ibos were planning to sabotage federal institutions located in Ibadan in particular University of Ibadan and University College Hospital,” Mr Strong wrote in a confidential cable. In an effort to understand this fear, “he questioned E.M. Ajala, the local head of Nigerian Tobacco Company, whose employees had been implicated in the discovery of ten cases of gelignite near University of Ibadan. According to Ajala, the leader of the group was an Ibo graduate of University of Nigeria…the purpose is to teach the Yorubas a lesson having displaced their countrymen after the mass exodus of Ibo doctors and professors from both institutions since last October [1966].” The American diplomat then noted that UI and UCH were under guard and that “Premier Hotel now searches all entering guests.”

Though later rescinded by Awolowo when he heard of it overnight, 5pm on 16th August 1967, the British Area Manager of Electricity Corporation of Nigeria(ECN) received an executive order from Governor Adebayo that he had 48 hours to round up ‘his Igbos’ and send them to the designated collection points. All Igbos in Ibadan were to be rounded up and send to designated collection points as a matter of state policy. The collection point for ECN Igbos was ironically Liberty stadium. Olunloyo College of Education and Government College were the collection points for the estimated 400 Igbos of UCH and 900 Igbos of UI.  All 6000 to be rounded up would then be transported via train to Apapa for onward shipment back to the East. According to the American consular, Prof Ade Ajayi, the acting Vice-Chancellor of UI after Prof Kenneth Dike fled, had gathered his remaining Igbo staff and offered to repatriate them with three months’ salary paid in advance.

At two o’ clock that same day, Governor Adebayo played host to the Leaders of Thought gathered in Parliament Buildings Ibadan to discuss Victor Banjo and the developments in the Midwest. Adebayo told the gathering: “He stands firmly by oath to join with colleagues in the federal government to do everything in our power… to work for reconciliation amongst various peoples of the Federation.”  Yet on that same day he signed a secret executive order for Igbos to be rounded up and deported from Ibadan. Awolowo told the gathering: “I hold this view quite firmly that the best interests of the Ibos, Yorubas, Hausas, and other national groups will be best served in a reconstituted and reconstructed united Nigeria in which it is impossible for any ethnic group ever again to lord it over any  other ethnic group.” So what was the government of the West trying to do about the collection points plan? By the following morning Peter Odumosu secretary to the western government went to those he had served the 48hours to rescind it. He informed Mr Smallwood, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Ibadan who in turn informed the American consular.

In Kano airport, soldiers seized an Igbo steward from her plane when it touched down airport from London.  She was never heard of again. Radio Kaduna informed its listeners that all branch of African continental Bank (ACB) have been closed and were being searched by mobile police after “intelligence reports” revealed “all ACB branches” were harbouring explosives. ACB, the radio informed its listeners, was owned by “the former Eastern Nigerian Government and the banned Ibo Union.”

Meanwhile on 10th August 1967, at 9:25pm NNS Lokoja, (Nigeria’s only landing craft) left Lagos again with supplies to reinforce the activities of Adekunle’s 3 Marine Commandos(3MCDS).  Two weeks before, she had taken two battalions – the first consignment of the 35,000 men strong Division to Bonny.  The Biafran Navy comprised speedboats, tug boats, barges commandeered from the oil companies and canoes and rafts of fishermen. NNS Ibadan a  Second World War British navy Seaward Defence Boat with a 40/60mm Bofors anti-aircraft forehead that could hardly fire three rounds without jamming was the command ship of this Navy. She was proudly rechristened BNS Biafra. Commander Winifred Anuku, head of the Biafran Navy had mapped out a plan to arm an old dilapidated dredging ship with hidden artilleries and several companies in its well and deck fittings. Seeing it was old and non-military, one of the NNS enforcing the blockade would be confident to approach her and interrogate her, they reckoned. Then they would quickly open fire on the upper deck of the Nigerian ship, over power her and walk her to their Naval Dockyard in Port Harcourt as the new Biafran sea jewel. Three days in sea, no NNS approached.  Lt Cdr P.J. Odu the commander of this planned piracy reported back to Anuku: “no enemy ship sighted 20miles offshore.” He then dismissed the naval blockade as “propaganda to convince friendly countries from sending shipments of arms.” When James Parker, the UK Deputy High Commissioner stationed in Enugu and Bob Barnard, his American counterpart met Ojukwu and asked him about the rumoured invasion from the sea, Ojukwu simply spread his teeth surrounded by his  bushy beard. “He laughed at the thought that the Nigerian Navy could enforce a blockade of Biafran ports or mount amphibious on Biafran coasts with its winding creeks and primordial mangrove swamp running twenty miles inland,” Barnard wrote. “He said he doesn’t know where the Nigerian naval vessels go when they depart Lagos but they are not, repeat, not patrolling off the coast of Biafra.”

Unknown to the Biafrans, NNS Penelope the command ship of the Nigerian Navy had been summoned with all her sisters including the five taking turns to enforce the blockade to the Naval Dockyard in Apapa. By 1800hrs on 18th July 1967, they were all there. Also assembled were three merchant vessels from the Nigerian National Shipping Line, King Jaja, Oranyan, Bode Thomas and later Oduduwa and Warigi from Farrell Lines. They were there to rehearse a joint Army and Navy amphibious operation which was later variously described  as “masterpiece in the history of warfare in Africa, ”“the first of its kind by any 3rd world country,” “the African version of Omaha Beach landings that turned the tide of the Second World War.”

By the 25th July, the invasion to stamp Federal boots on the Niger Delta and close in on Biafra from the south was launched.  The three Seaward Defence Boats(SDBs) NNS OgojaBeninEnugu, proceeded into Bonny river channel while NNS Nigeria, a frigate, stood on the high seas guarding NNS Lokoja with its human cargo. Because of her longer range 4 inch battery, Nigeria was still able to provide support for the operational objectives of the three SDBs ahead.   NNS Ogoja the largest of the SDB spotted BNS Biafra heading downstreamShe quickly sheared away from the convoy to engaged her. Once Biafracame within her range, Ogoja volleyed thunderous shots in rapid successions and Biafrareplied feebly and its Bofors guns kept on jamming after three shots. Akin Aduwo commanding Ogoja and P.J. Odu commanding Biafra were colleagues and very good friends for years and the war had made them reached a point where one must destroy the other for the greater glory of his country.

While the engineers were fixing this jam, Biafra was trying to quickly manoeuvre round in a tight circle so that it won’t be in a broadsides range with Ogoja hence becoming a turkey shoot.  Then she got stuck in the shallow end of the river. Adunwo depressed his guns, fired low at the stern to jam the engines and propellers. That ensured Biafra was going nowhere again. His friend and his crew quickly deserted the ship and escaped into the swamps. The tow tug boat Abdul Maliki later came to tow BNS Biafra back to Naval Dockyard in Lagos where it was rechristened NNS IbadanOgoja returned to join Beninand Enugu never realising that the fight between friends, the desertion of Biafra, its rechristening in Lagos would be the metaphor for the 30 months civil war.

The heavy fire from EnuguBenin and Ogoja so thoroughly subdued the  Biafran defensive positions on Bonny Island that resistance to the NNS Lokoja’s troop landings were too scattered to make an impact. Not only was this D Company under the Biafran 8thBattalion of Port Harcourt too small to defend Bonny, they went on offensive when the ships were not within range, hence easily giving away their stations. Hence Federal SDBs didn’t have to recourse to indiscriminate shelling to subdue the island which may have affected the oil installations and refinery jetties.  US Defence Attaché’s noted in his secret report of 27th July 1967, Gowon, was “overjoyed” when Adekunle reported that Bonny had been taken with “no damage to the oil installations.” All the 16 storage tanks with their 3.9 million crude oil were intact. Quickly, they consolidated their positions on both sides of the river channel and by mid-morning 5th August, Dawes Island which controls river channels leading to Okrika were in Adekunle’s hands.

On the 10th of August, Adekunle received report from Supreme Headquarters that a whole Biafran Brigade had crossed the Niger Bridge and they had split in Agbor. Some battalions were heading northwards towards Auchi and Agenebode, some were heading westwards to Benin and more pertinently to him, some were heading southwards to Warri and Sapele. So the 3MCDs made immediate plans to respond to this Biafran surprise. First Adekunle knew that this Biafran invasion may be a tactical objective whose overall mission imperative was the recapture of  Bonny. Biafran Navy Headquarters in Port Harcourt cannot feel safe knowing that a Nigerian brigade was stationed 35km away at Bonny.  What Adekunle did was to quickly redeploy the 7th and 32nd battalions to the Forcados and Escravos creeks 166 nautical miles away to contain any advance of Biafran troops to the creeks. The 8th battalion proceeded to hold a defensive alignment with Port Harcourt.    Major Abubakar’s 9th Battalion left to hold Bonny Island and perform rear operations. The NNS that were bringing in supplies, equipment, personnel were re-routed 166 nautical miles back to Forcados and Escravos.   The Nigerian national line cargo vessel, Oranyanwhich on the 8th of August had departed from Lagos and arrived in Bonny with supplies, equipment and some personnel was ordered unload at the village of Sobolo-Obotobo which is northwest of Forcados. At 6:30am on the 11th of August, NNS Enugu had left Bonny River and was on recce in Escravos River in case there were  militarised speedboats, tugs or barges lurking somewhere. None. At 9am, NNS Lokoja disgorged two additional rifle companies at Escravos and they quickly established defensive positions there.  On the 13th of August, MV Bode Thomas added more supplies, equipment and personnel reinforcements.  The build-up continued.

To the annoyance of Adekunle who arguably was the most successful war commanders in Nigeria’s military history, a new Division was created and called 2nd Division headed by Lt Col Murtala Muhammad while his own formation despite the success of his mission so far was not upgraded to a Divisional strength. With the addition of 31st and 33rd Battalion, he was upgraded to 3rd Marine Commando Division. Muhammad’s 2nd comprised three brigades 4th, 5th, 6th Brigades commanded by Lt Cols Godwin Ally, Francis Aisida, Alani Akinrinade. Their mission imperative was to rout the Biafran forces from the Midwest by invading from the West, Northwest and North.

Ally’s 4th Brigade (which was to be later commanded by Major Ibrahim Taiwo CO of the 10th Battalion because a sniper fire hit Ally in the chest in Asaba and almost killed him) was on the Ore, Ofosu, Okitipupa sector holding a defensive alignment against Banjo’s advance. Akinrinade’s 6th  Brigade was tasked with Owo-Akure sector and Aisida’s 5th was the command Brigade in Okene with Auchi, Ubiaja being their strategic objectives and Benin, Agbor, and Asaba being their operational  objectives. All the brigade commanders were waiting for a sign. In his report of 24th August 1967, Standish Brooks, US defence Attaché wrote: “Murtala Muhammad does not want to fight a piecemeal campaign without a series of logical and successive objectives being assigned and without reasonable capabilities to achieve the objectives at hand.” Bisalla, the Chief of Staff(Army) said of Murtala, I know him “when he starts he wants to go all the way to the River[Niger] before he even thinks of stopping.” But he needed the sign first and his brigade commanders were waiting too. Tick-tock.

Besides the military communication units, the army headquarters in Lagos, at times used the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation to transmit information to all the divisional headquarters and brigade commanders. It could be done during radio programmes, news bulletins or radio jingles. They public heard these secret codes but they thought they were part of the show. But on the 20th of September 1967, at 8 o’clock in the morning NBC broadcast the sign the field commanders had been waiting for. “The frogs are swimming; the frogs are swimming.”  The CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS)monitored and recorded key signals, statements and speech about the war from every radio station in Nigeria, Biafra and neighbouring countries. And they shared them with American Diplomatic/Consular units, CICSTRIKE (Commander In Chief STRIKE – Swift Tactical Response In Every Known Environment), ACSI (Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence), CINCMEAFSA(Commander in Chief Middle East/South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara) and DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency). Standish Brooks, their Attaché posted to Nigeria analysed The frogs are swimming intelligence thus: “this informed the 2nd Division and the guerrilla bands operating in various areas of the Midwest that elements of Adekunle’s 3rdDivision are already ashore from the Escravos/Forcados creeks.”

Hastily marshalled Midwestern militias had been dealing fires to the Biafran occupiers. It was reported that Urhobo, Ijaw and Itsekiri swimmers were diving underwater and organising surprising attacks on Biafran units and formations along the Ethiope River. In Benin too they reminded themselves they were the city of Ovonramwen Nogbaisi and these Biafran forces were the latest version of the British expedition forces of the 19thcentury. And so rapidly, young men were organising themselves as into deadly underground resistance groups, old people who could not fight were contributing money and their dane guns; young women like Moremi were reported to be offering their bodies to get close to these Biafran forces and poison their food.  The Midwest must be made inhospitable for Biafran agenda.

The frogs are swimming.  Adekunle and his 3MCDOs left their Escravos base at 3am and they were blazing towards their objectives on speedboats. The boats held a platoon of  26 troops  and the ones that carried a Land Rover each could only take 12 soldiers. With NNS Enugu providing the operational support, seven hours later, they had secured the ports of Koko and Sapele. They forked into two columns: One headed towards Warri and by 22nd of September, they had captured the Warri port and the  ECN power station in Ughelli.  The frogs are swimming. The other column headed northeast to Agbor on Sapele/Agbor Road. And a northern column from the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division was heading south east to Agbor too via Ehor-Agbor Road. The following day, 26th of September 1967, Agbor fell.    To keep up the momentum, Lagos send in 5000 German G3 7.62 rifles to be issued to marine commandoes. The riverine operation of the 3MCDs was billed to be defining in its ruthless efficiency because the federal government wanted to use it especially to send a message to the oil companies suspending royalty payments who their boss was: Nigeria or Biafra. The American secret cable of 3rd July stated that Shell-BP was convinced that “Biafra was here to stay and that Ojukwu would be kind to the company.”

The 2nd Division too had been moving rapidly on its objectives. The frogs are swimming.After the fall of Ubiaja, Muhammad divided the new 8th Brigade reassigned from the 5thBrigade into two columns. As of the night of 21st September 1967,  a column was at the village of Ekpon 20km away from Agbor on Uromi-Agbor Road. The other column was  at that time was in the village of Ebu blazing towards Asaba which was 40km away. Elements of the 6th brigade were at Okeze village heading towards Agbor after capturing Benin. In seven days, Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Kwale, Warri, Sapele fell; Ojukwu fled.

The 3MCDs were asked to pull back from Agbor and Kwale and the Ethiope River was made into the interdivisional boundary with the 2nd Division. On 29th September at 1550hrs, CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service recorded Adekunle on Benin Radio warning Midwesterners: “not to take advantage of the presence of federal troops to engage in looting, murder, and other criminalities.” Addressing the people of Warri, western Ishekiri, Agbor, he warned against using soldiers to achieve “personal vendettas.” Adekunle reminded his listeners that “he has powers to impose martial law in coastal areas but does not wish to do so.” He then signed himself off as General Officer Commanding Nigerian Coastal Sector.” It wasn’t only Adekunle made Colonel after the successful Bonny Island landing that promoted himself again without the approval of Lagos. On 21st of September, Murtala Mohammed went on the same Benin Radio, as monitored by the CIA, to “officially confirm the complete liberation of the Midwestern state except Agbor and Asaba” as the GOC of the second division when he was only a lieutenant Colonel. He then announced “on behalf of the head of the Federal military government” the appointment of “Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Ogbemudia as the temporary administrator.” Gowon and the federal executive council were reported to have been “shocked” but   they “regularised the appointment since Ogbemudia was the most appropriate for the job.” Another document titled Military Campaign in the Midwest recorded “Ogbemudia’s father is of mixed Benin-Ika extraction, as his home village near Agbor is inhabited by a tribally mixed people. Ogbemudia’s mother is ‘pure Ibo’ from the East.”

Later in the evening, Ogbemudia came to radio to address the people. The CIA was listening too. He asked all workers to resume work on the morning of September 22 and voided all the appointments and promotions made by the Biafran regime. He asked the people not to “pay back Ibos in their own coin” and announced the the lifting of the curfew imposed by the Biafran regime. However, he advised people to keep indoors after 10:00pm “to allow the federal troops to complete the operation of mopping few relining stragglers.” But why after 10pm in the night?

On Wednesday 20 September 1967, federal troops opened a barrage of fire on a Catholic Convent in Benin City. There was only one nun there and she managed to escape with a few injuries. The soldiers subsequently said they were told by the local people that some Igbos were hiding behind the convent and so the opened fire on anything that moved. Furthermore, while Bishop Patrick Kelly was giving spiritual comfort to one Igbo civilian who was badly wounded, some soldiers approached him, enquired whether he was yet dead. When the Bishop said he was still alive, they promptly killed him. The bishop made a report to the Irish ambassador who subsequently gave Gowon and the American ambassador too.

The cold-blooded massacres in Midwest were not monopolised by the federal troops only. In a confidential report of 15 October 1967 recorded that, “as the Biafrans retreated from Benin to Agbor, they killed all the men, women and children they could find who were not Igbos. The town of Abudu, one of the larger places between Agbor and Benin lost virtually of its population with the exception of a small proportion that fled into the bush.”  The British expatriate teacher, Anthony Charles Stephens was killed there when he refused to surrender his car to the retreating Biafran forces.  Father Coleman an Irish SSMA priest said before Biafran troops left Agbor “without a fight” they killed off most of “non-Ibo men, women and children.”

In general, the American confidential report stated, non-Igbo Midwesterners were very anti-Biafran throughout the occupation. Many of them hid Northerners in their houses for weeks away from the Biafran troops who set out to kill them.  The document continued: “Nearly all rejoiced when federal troops came in. The only town that was an exception was Ehor where even after the federal troops arrived, the local populace was protecting the Igbo soldiers and tried to confuse the federal troops.” However in Benin, there was no intention to confuse at all; “the civilians were busy pointing out the Ibos.”  So the federal troops set up “two big camps to serve as safe havens in a school for the Ibos.  The women and children were taken there,” the report said. But the men? Sam Idah, the director of the Benin Cemetery on Ifon Road told the American diplomats that day (21/09/67), 24 hours after the federal troops arrived  1,258 bodies have been buried there. “Trucks from the ministry of work and transport and from Benin development council were used to haul the corpses to the open pits.”  Rev Rooney a Catholic Missionary with Benin Public Service said “a total of 989 civilians had been killed that day in the city.”

Ambassador Elbert Mathews noted that “with the capture of the Midwest and the fall of the Biafran capital within days, the Federal Government senses eventual military victories  and was in no mood for outside criticisms.” And so the massacres went on unchecked. Their report in the international media encouraged some diplomatic recognition for Biafra and arms shipments which prolonged the war for another 27 months.

END OF PART 1

  • Damola Awoyokun, a Marine and Structural Engineer in London, is also the executive editor of Pwc Review

A German’s View on Islam – worth reading because this is by far the best explanation of the Muslim terrorist situation

A German’s View on Islam – worth reading because this is by far the best explanation of the Muslim terrorist situation I have ever read. His references to past history are accurate and clear. The author of this email is Dr. Emanuel Tanya, a well-known and well-respected psychiatrist–a man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, and owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide and shape our attitude toward the present day Islamic fanaticism. He said, 

“Very few people were true Nazis, but many enjoyed the return of German pride the Nazis brought to the German nation, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, the Nazis were in control of the nation, they owned us, and we had lost control. Suddenly they plunged the country into a devastating and costly world war, and by the end of the war we had woken up to a new reality – our world of comfort, peace and freedom had come to an end. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.

“I see the same situation playing out today with respect to the attitude of the majority towards the the current Islamist movement. We are told again and again by ‘experts’ and ‘talking heads’ that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. This unqualified assertion may be true, but the fact is that it is entirely irrelevant! It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who are waging any one of the 50 shooting wars currently going on worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups in Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, and carry out the so called honour killing. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers. The hard and quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the ‘silent majority,’ has been cowed and made extraneous and irrelevant.”


“Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. 

China’s huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.”


“The average Japanese individual, prior to World War II, was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians, most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.” 


“And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were ‘peace loving’?” 


“History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt. Yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. 

Peace loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.”


“Islamic prayers have now been introduced into Toronto and other public schools in Ontario, and, yes, in Ottawa too while the Lord’s Prayer was removed due to being so offensive! But to whom? Not to the vast majority of Canadians but to the few Islamic fanatics!”


“The Islamic way is only peaceful until the fanatics move in and take control. In Australia, and indeed in many countries around the world, many of the most commonly consumed food items now have the halal emblem (i.e a sign or instruction that says this product is not to be eaten, consumed or used because Islam forbids it) on them. Just look at the back of some of the most popular chocolate bars, and at other food products in your local supermarket. Foods on aircraft have the halal emblem, just to appease the privileged minority who are now rapidly expanding throughout the world. 

In the U.K, the Muslim communities refuse to integrate and there are now dozens of no-go zones within major cities across the country that the police force dare not intrude upon. Sharia law prevails there, because the Muslim community in those areas refuses to acknowledge British law. As for we who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts — the fanatics who threaten our way of life.”


Anyone who doubts the seriousness of this issue and just deletes without sending it on, is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on in the hope that thousands, world-wide, read this, think about it, and send it on – before it’s too late.

How IBB destroyed Nigeria’s foundations and institutionalized corruption and other vices

AZIKIWE’S OPINION OF OJUKWU/Biafra

“Yes. I played a prominent role in Biafra for the unity of the country in order to restore peace and bring about unity of the country. That’s the role I played. I advised Ojukwu. I said well look, you have declared secession.

What we should do is to get the elder statesmen and women of the nation to reconcile you and Gowon. I said by declaring secession, you get so many people who do not believe you to remain there.

You see all of us were interned. As we were interned then, we couldn’t express our own views as we see it because, he made Decree Number 5 which vested absolute powers in himself and if you were against his views, it then constituted an act of subversion and the penalty was death by shooting.

Well, it was a war-time measure and that is understandable. So, I advised him. I said go to the conference table and iron out your differences. Allow elder statesmen and elder stateswomen to bring the two of you to the conference table and settle this matter so that there will no more be civil war and the country may be united. He agreed. But Gowon was advised by the Ministry of External Affairs to insist on pre-conditions.

That is that before he could negotiate with the secessionists, that they must accept certain terms; accept the 12-state structure and all. So, it was quite obvious that the Federal Government wanted Biafra to come to the conference table with their hands tied and their feet tied. But they won’t be free agents.

That was the diplomatic mistake on the part of the Federal Government. So, when they did that, then Lt- Col. Ojukwu told me, “How can I go to the conference table based on these ultimatums?”

Still I advised Ojukwu to go to the OAU and ask them to use their good offices to settle the dispute and that we should avoid loss of lives. He accepted my advice in good faith.

Then he said, ‘Now, you have some heads of state in Africa who are your friends, would you mind going to appeal to them to use their good offices so that the Nigerian civil war could be an item on the agenda for OAU summit in Kinshasa?’ I said I would gladly go. So he sent me to Monrovia as a peace envoy.

I went there and met my friend, President Tubman. Tubman expressed his willingness to use his good offices. He told me he would see another mutual friend, the late Haile Sellassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, and both of them would see that the civil war was placed as first item on the agenda of the OAU Summit in Kinshasa.

I returned and broke the news to Ojukwu. He was very pleased.

Then, when the OAU summit opened, Chief Awolowo, as Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council and Commissioner for Finance, led a strong Nigerian delegation to Kinshasa and raised a very strong objective on the Nigerian civil war being placed as an item on the agenda on the grounds that according to the OAU Charter, this was a domestic affairs and member states were precluded from interfering in the domestic affairs of each other, which was really sound according to international law.

But we wanted to solve it in the African way, to use mediation and conciliation to bring two warring brothers together.

The OAU accepted the submission of Chief Awolowo and so it was not put into the agenda. Well, history will show now between Chief Awolowo and myself, who actually accentuated the war. I was trying to get the OAU to settle the dispute so they could go to the conference table and he was thinking of legalism, that it would amount to interference in the domestic affairs of a member-state.

But meanwhile here you have two brothers killing each other.Well, Ojukwu told me, I have done my best. You see, Nigeria was relying on law and we are relying on humanity.

What’s next? I said why not try other heads of states and see what could be done to bring about peace? He then said he left the initiative with me. I suggested going to some heads of state and see what can be done. But his advisers led by Dr. Nwakama Okoro suggested recognition.

That if we can get other states to recognize Biafra, maybe the hands of Nigeria may be forced to go to the conference table.

Well, I thought that was a sound idea and I placed my services at their disposal so as to meet my friends.

We had in mind President Senghor of Senegal, President Houphouet Boigny of Ivory Coast, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, President Milton Obote of Uganda, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and of course Francois Bongo, he is now Omar. He now has become a Muslim. He was then a Christian.

The long and short of it all was that I and these great African statesmen agreed that if Gowon persisted with pre-conditions, then they would accord recognition to force the hands of Gowon to go to the conference table and bring about peace.

That was one.

Two, Gowon had already predicted that the war would end on March 31 and as far as these African statesmen were concerned, these killings and atrocities did not do any credit to the image of Africa and as such what should be done was to stop it as soon as possible.

Therefore if the war didn’t end by March 31, then the propaganda of ‘Biafra’ that it was an act of genocide would be justified. And they didn’t want to accept that.

I went on this mission and succeeded in persuading these heads of state to agree to give recognition just to force the hands of Nigeria, diplomatically speaking, to the conference table.

President Senghor said he couldn’t because the majority of his supporters were Muslims and rightly or wrongly they felt it was a religious war. And he said well, if he granted recognition, then his government would fall.

But he supported the idea of forcing the hands of Nigeria to the conference table. Houphouet Boigny was prepared, provided his people backed him. Ditto for the others except Milton Obote who told us that Prince Mutesa and the Bagandans wanted to secede and he couldn’t support secession when his own state was confronted with similar problems. It left four of them.

That is, President Nyerere, Houphouet Boigny, Kaunda and Bongo. They agreed on the understanding that the war did not end by March 31, 1968 and pre-conditions would be removed to make it easy for both Ojukwu and Gowon to go to conference table.

So they granted recognition and it worked like magic because immediately after this, Dr. Okoi Arikpo, who must be presumed to be responsible for this diplomatic blunder (he was the Commissioner for External Affairs]—a good man no doubt, but he is a very poor diplomat in my own humble opinion – announced to the outside world that Nigeria would no longer insist on pre-conditions and that he was prepared for conference table but the war did not end on March 31 and so, they left the impression, you see, that Nigeria wanted to annihilate the Ibos.

You noticed the Soviets gave Nigeria more arms and Nigeria used those arms to destroy the secessionists. Here, I came in again and I advised Ojukwu. I said look since Gowon has withdrawn the pre-conditions, go to the conference table and argue the points so as to pave way for a peace conference.

It was agreed that they should meet in Niamey. I advised Ojukwu to go. Again Gowon was ill-advised so he couldn’t come.

At Niamey here was Ojukwu. I was on his side. Gowon wasn’t there but Haile Sellassie, Hamani Diori, Tubman and General Akran were there representing OAU. So, I told Ojukwu, I said now you have an upper hand.

These respected leaders of the OAU were there. I had briefed Ojukwu. I said ‘look your line of approach is to express appreciation for what the OAU was doing in order to maintain peace in Africa but you were prepared to co-operate and you are leaving the whole matter in the hands of the OAU to see what could be done to bring an earlier cessation of hostilities.

I said just say that and thank them and sit down.Now Gowon didn’t attend. He sent a junior man, I think Alhaji Femi Okunnu or so, to represent him. And they didn’t even attend this conference at which the four heads of state presided. It was only the Biafran side.

So Ojukwu won a diplomatic victory and you know Ojukwu is a very good speaker if you give him all the facts. He was a good public relations expert and he won. He said, ‘well if Gowon was sincere why did he spite such great men and didn’t attend?’ That worked.

They agreed that Nigeria could be contacted so that we have a peace conference in Addis Ababa. It was a diplomatic victory for Biafra and so we returned to Biafra highly elated. And Ojukwu insisted that I should accompany him to Addis Ababa.

Then something happened. Some of his advisers felt that I was becoming a victim of compromise and that I was a bad influence. That all I was trying to do was to make Biafra impotent. They told Ojukwu that Biafra was holding its own militarily. And why should we want a peace conference?

That he should be very, very careful with me, especially as an Onitsha man because they thought that I was using him as a means to give publicity for myself internationally and that time will come when people will look more to me than to himself.

Well, as a young man, human, he fell for such flattery. I don’t want to mention all the names, but particularly influential in swinging his opinion at that material time was Mr. C. C. Mojekwu, who was based in Lisbon. Then Mr. Matthew Mbu was our Commissioner for External Affairs and he himself did as much as possible, but then he realized that he was having someone who has power of life and death over everybody.

So, we went to Addis Ababa and on the night before the conference, Matthew came to my bedroom at about 10 in the night. He said, “Do you know that all we have done, this man is going to undo them tomorrow?’ I said ‘No’. Then he brought out a printed version of a long speech.

The world press said it lasted for 90 minutes.

He [Ojukwu] went back on everything we discussed. He attacked the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union – all the nations of the world and the OAU, and said that they were misleading us and that the sovereignty of ‘Biafra’ was not negotiable.

We went to the conference. I sat next to him. I thought that he was going to speak in accordance with the spirit of Niamey. But he spoke for 90 minutes and he just got the whole place upside down.

Naturally, Tony Enahoro – he led the Nigerian delegation – replied in kind and so we were back to square one. So, when we returned, I advised him. I told him that I was surprised at what he did but it was not late. He said, ‘The sovereignty of Biafra is not negotiable and if anybody should try to compromise that sovereignty, then it will be an act of subversion.’

Well, that was quite clear to me so I said, ‘Your Excellency, you still have Port Harcourt and you can still bargain from position of strength – after all, the main issue in the civil war is oil and they say that in international politics, oil is combustible and as you have a combustible situation you can begin from the position of strength’. He said, ‘No, Port Harcourt is impregnable.’ ‘Very well, Your Excellency,’ I said. I went back to Nekede where I had been in protective custody since February, 1968. Two weeks later, Port Harcourt fell.

He sent for me. I said, ‘Well, Your Excellency, I did warn you. You cannot now negotiate from a position of strength but having received recognition from four states, we can still use them to see what we can do to appeal to the outside world.’ He said, ‘Very well, I think you should go to the United Nations to seek for recognition.’ I said, ‘Your Excellency, let us wait until after OAU summit in Algiers and find out what Africa thinks.’ In the meantime, I went to Tunisia to see my friend Habeeb Bourguiba of Tunisia. He wasn’t quite well, so we moved from Carthage to Hermit where he stayed. Ojukwu had always said the civil war would be won on the battlefield and not on the conference table, and Bourguiba didn’t take kindly to that. He said don’t you people advise this young man? I explained to him that I have done everything I could to advise him, but he insists on going to the battle field.

So we crossed our fingers awaiting the verdict of Algiers. You know it was decided by 33 to 4 in favour of Nigeria. I advised Ojukwu that to go to the United Nations to seek recognition would be unrealistic since Africa had decided by 33 to 4 in favour of Nigeria. I said Nigerian envoys, the Nigerian delegations, would just percolate the membership of the United Nations and they would frown at the whole thing. He insisted. I was then in Paris. I wrote him a letter. I said,

‘Since you refuse to go to the conference table to negotiate for peace, since you prefer that the civil war should end on the battle field and not on the conference table; since you said that the sovereignty of Biafra is not negotiable, I am afraid I cannot continue as a peace envoy because you have destroyed all the vestiges of any optimism for peace.

Therefore I am relieving myself of my services as a peace envoy. I cannot continue as a peace envoy. I cannot continue as a peace envoy because you have let me down. You left me under the impression that if I succeeded in getting recognition you will go to the conference table. You got four recognitions; you did not go to the conference table. I am therefore going to London on exile.’

I went to London in voluntary exile and the British government granted me asylum. I do not see how anybody could say that I ran away from my country.

I crossed the Atlantic 46 times, trying to negotiate with various heads of state so that they could grant recognition or make OAU to settle the dispute. How could the head of state turn round now and accuse all those who were politicians in pre-1966 and post-1966 as being responsible for the downfall of the republic?

I did my best to preserve the unity of Nigeria and also to preserve the lives of old men, able-bodied men and women and children but I failed. What could I do? I went on free exile and they keep saying that I was among those responsible for the downfall of the republic. I plead not guilty”.

Excerpts from the interview he granted to New Nigerian Newspapers, 1979, as Presidential aspirant under the platform of Nigerian People’s Party.

DADDY, I’LL BE A PILOT!’ AND HE WAS ONLY 4 YEARS OLDBy FEMI ADESINA

Dear all…please permit me to share this. I believe it will bless someone.. Our hustles n bustles shall not be in vain

Parents please read 
An amazing story
Start your weekend with a powerful dose:
***

DADDY, I’LL BE A PILOT!’ AND HE WAS ONLY 4 YEARS OLD

By FEMI ADESINA

Be careful what you dream about, it may well come to pass. Oluwatobi is my firstborn, “my might, and the beginning of my strength.” One day, when he was just four years old, we were all in the living room; myself, his mom, and his sister, when he exclaimed:”Daddy, I’ll be a pilot!”

I looked at him, looked at his mother, and said casually: “What does he know about piloting?” For by then, Oluwatobi had not gone near an airport, not to talk of entering an airplane.

But somehow, what he said refused to leave my mind. Just like the biblical Mary, after the angel told her of the virgin conception, I “kept all those things, and pondered them” in my heart.

‘Tobi (as we call him) began to live his dreams. He needed to see only the picture of an airplane in a newspaper or magazine, and he would cut it, file it away, or paste on the wall of his bedroom. When he was old enough to manipulate a computer, he always went to sites where he could read about aircraft.

I had thought he would outgrow the passion. But the older he grew, the firmer and clearer the dream became. “Daddy, I’ll be a pilot!”

As a growing journalist with growing means, I got to the point I could go on vacation with my family once a year. We started with Ghana. Then South Africa. And London… Tobi was in secondary school, and talked about nothing save flying a plane. Each time we travelled, it was like nirvana. While I kept looking at my wristwatch, expecting the time we would land, my son, and his sister, Tosin, felt completely at home in the sky.

I had expected two people to baulk, and talk Tobi out of his dreams. His mother, and my own mother (Tobi’s grandma, whom he was particularly close to). But the two women surprisingly did not dissuade the boy. They submitted to the perfect will of the Almighty. Underneath are the Everlasting Arms.

Never underestimate the power of dreams. At 18, my son packed his baggage, and was on the way to Aeronav Academy, in South Africa. The fees were staggering, but by then, I was Deputy Managing Director/ Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Newspapers. The pay was good enough, and with some belt tightening and lots of sacrifice, I could afford the fees.

Tobi got to Johannesburg at the peak of winter. “A cold coming we had of it, just the worst time of the year. For a journey, and such a long journey, the ways deep and the weather sharp, the very dead of winter.” (T.S Eliot, The Journey of the Magi). I remember the first email he sent to me:”Daddy, it’s so cold, I had to sleep with my shoes on.” Lol. My heart went out to him, but he that would eat honey from the rock must never consider the blade of his axe.

By the end of his first year, he got the private pilot license. Second year, he got the commercial license. I was breathing like a hog under the financial burden, but didn’t Jesus promise that his yoke was easy, “and my burden is light?” I kept trudging on, and one day, at age 21, my son was back, a fully licensed pilot.

But there was still one more river to cross. And when he told me about it, I almost bolted (just as our President almost did, when he saw the state of the treasury after inauguration into office). Tobi told me of the need to proceed to Sweden, for a type rating license, in which he would specialize on the Boeing 737. A boy of 21 years, planning to fly a whole house in the sky? The money, in dollars, sent my heart racing, and my head spinning. But by then, I was already Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun. The publisher was a welfarist, and he took good care of his staff. If the family would take garri, instead of corn flakes, well, we could send Tobi to Sweden. And off he went, coming back months later with a type rating license. Arik Airline gracefully gave him a job.

For almost two years, the young pilot has been plying his trade, but he never flew me. The closest we got was one Saturday morning, about a year ago. I had just landed in Lagos, and who did I meet on the tarmac? Tobi and the crew that was taking over the airplane for the next flight. Safe skies, I told him, after we had taken some pictures, along with Captain Mohammed, an Arik veteran.

Then D-day came. And it was Monday this week. I had gone to Lagos to be part of Fathers Day celebration in my church, Foursquare Gospel Church, which held on Sunday. Return journey was 7 a.m Monday, aboard Arik.

On Sunday night, Tobi told me: “Daddy, you’ll be on my flight back to Abuja tomorrow.” Great expectations.

I approached the aircraft with Mr Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State, and an old friend. An airline staff collected my hand luggage, and took it onboard. I then offered to relieve the former governor of the burden of his own luggage. Trust the ever self-effacing man. He hid the bag behind his back, as I made for it. We laughed.

I was on Seat 1D. The former governor was directly behind me. I told him my son was the co-pilot, and he was so very happy and excited at the news. And then, who came in, and took Seat 1F, right beside me? Another gentleman and friend, Mr Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. We began to chat about the economy, and the risks falling oil prices in the international market could pose to the steadying exchange rate of the dollar to the naira. That was when Tobi struck. He came out from the cockpit, and said the Captain had consented that I should be their guest throughout the flight.

I first declined. Flying in the air was tough enough, who wants to go and frighten himself to death in a cockpit? 

“Daddy, come and see what you paid for. Come and see where your money went,” my son said. I introduced him to the CBN governor, and excused myself from the cabin. The co-pilot to the co-pilot had come. Father and son were in the cockpit.

Captain Carretero Alberto hails from Spain. And what a genial man he turned out to be throughout the 55 minutes flight. I got to know about his family, his professional background, and many others. He had kind words to say about Tobi, and, indeed gave him the thumbs up sign many times, as the young pilot flew the plane, and made what he considered smart moves.

Preparing to lift into the air was a whole set of ceremony. Many things to check. Engines, lights, wings, doors, everything.As Tobi handled the joystick, the joy kiln was kindled in the heart of a proud father.

Communication with the control tower was continuous, and lasted almost throughout the flight. As the plane lifted, and soared into the deep, azure sky, I could not see a thing. Not the foggiest thing. How do pilots do it? But there was a forest of buttons and knobs. They kept touching and pressing them. Is this what they call instrumentation? At a point, the sun streamed in powerfully, in all its brightness. And they fixed their sun visors.

“This is why pilots wear sunglasses,” Tobi told me.

As the journey progressed, memories flooded in. The plane was moving forward, but I was going back in time. I remembered that June 25, when unto me a child was born, and unto the Adesinas a son was given. When I got to the hospital, and he was brought out for me to have a look, I remember the yell he gave. Now, the tot of that day is flying a Boeing 737. What will he fly next, a 747 or Dreamliner? The wonders of our God.

Then I chuckled. What did I remember? When Tosin, my daughter was born. Tobi was already three. He had not seen as much soft drinks as on the naming ceremony day. He drank Coke, Fanta, Pepsi, Sprite, everything. Then later, he came to meet me: “Daddy, my tomach (that was how he called it) is paining me. ” I laughed, and asked why his tomach would not pain him, as I had seen him, mixing the drinks? Now, the boy is flying a plane.

I chuckled again. What is it this time? The time he was going to secondary school. A day before resumption, I had taken him to Ikeja, where we bought a pair of boots, which would be part of the school uniform. We barely got home before Tobi slipped into the boots, and for the rest of the evening, he strutted round the house in the jackboot. It was yeoman’s effort to get him to remove it at bedtime. Even then, he put the boots daintily on his bed, throughout the night. 

And then, the winter night he slept with his shoes on, in Johannesburg. Lol. 

Soon, the plane swung right. And Tobi pointed the runway of the Abuja airport to me. We had begun to descend earlier, and would land in eight minutes. At the dot of that time, he brought the big bird gently onto the runway. What an experience for a father!

Since that Monday, when I posted the pictures of father and son on Facebook, the thanksgiving on our behalf has been overwhelming. I thank everyone who commented, and prayed for us. May your day of joy not be postponed. Amen.

My friend and brother, Onochie Anibeze, editor of Saturday Vanguard,  asked for this write up exclusively for his newspaper. I was glad to oblige. Gloating is not one of the reasons I went public about my joy. Far from it. Rather, it is out of thankfulness to God. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony.” Glad to talk about the wonders of our God. 

This is my story, this is my song. May every father have cause to rejoice in his son. And on the day of that joy, may the fathers not have toothache.

I can hear the amen. Oh, glory to God.
.Adesina is Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity

​MY FIRST LESSON…–Pastor Sam Adeyemi.

The first day I went to Canaanland, Ota to see Bishop David Oyedepo was a memorable one full of lessons. I had met him at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja where I first told him I wanted him to mentor me in ministry; because I needed the same grace of effortless accomplishments on his life and ministry.


He had his PA give me his complimentary card, then told me to come to his office at Canaanland, Ota. I was so excited that I couldnt wait for the Independence Day National Christain Service to end at the Ecumenical Centre so I could dash home and tell my wife about my encounter with the bishop.


On the appointed date, I went to Canaanland, Ota with my wife Nike to see the bishop. We waited for six hours and could not see him. There was a crowd of people also waiting. He is a thoroughly busy person, and he gives a good measure of time to each person that enters the office.


I was totally disappointed that day. I thought he would tell his orderlies and PA to bring me inside immediately once they saw me; because I was Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christain Center.


By 3pm, we were all told to go home and come at another appointed day; without as much as any explanation. Since I entered full time ministry, that was my first time of having to wait for an audience with someone; to wait for a full six hours!


I went home angry. I told myself I wont go there again. “What sort of thing is this?” “How can I stay there and waste a whole day without seeing the bishop?” “Dont I have other things to do?” I kept fuming to myself at home. I couldnt calm down to piece together all that happened at Canaanland that day. For all I cared, the bishop knew I was coming that day to see him.


But my wife kept telling me to be patient so as to get what I want. Nike talked me into going back to canaanland for another wait for the bishop. I finally determined that I must see him, no matter the time it would take.


On the new date of appointment, I went again with my wife and waited another six hours before we were sent home. I had cancelled a lot of meetings and shifted a dozen appointments to go back to Canaanland, Ota. I was so thoroughly washed down by that second disappointment.


It then happened for the third time before my wife stopped talking me into going again. She allowed me to make my decision. I had had enough. I went home and got busy. I neither called the bishop during this my period of total hands-on-ministry, nor went to see him again. I simply bought all his books, and a thousand tapes of the bishop. I read the books till they became a part of me. I listened to the tapes at home, in the office, and when I’m driving. I soaked myself in the work of the ministry. We started many projects in our church, including setting up schools, orphanages, and the Daystar Leadership Academy. I didn’t bother to call nor try fixing another appointment with his PAs.


Six months later, we met at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, and you should have seen the look of surprise and happiness at the same time on the bishop’s face.


“This my son. Where on earth have you been?” Did you travel to Mars?” He hugged me so tight as if his life depended on it. He was all smiles. He started asking me questions about how ministry has been going, and I answered excitedly, with all the clarity he wanted.


We found a seat in the lounge and talked for about 30 minutes; because the flight was delayed by 30 minutes. He kept asking questions and I kept talking.


The next day, the bishop called me. He called me again after three days. From then on, seeing him became less cumbersome. That was how I became a regular keynote speaker at the Covenant University Special Programmes on Character Development and National Transformation.


Today, the bishop pubicly refers to me as one of his favourite sons in ministry, and our ministry has grown in leaps and bounds because I sense the same grace upon the bishop operating in our ministry too.


TAKE HOME LESSON

Deep calls unto deep. Men of destiny, men of purpose, men who are busy and occupied with their primary assignment on the earth can easily recognise themselves across a hall when they meet.


All things being equal, busy people love busy people. Busy people rarely love to associate with, or accomodate people who slow down their momentum.


So whenever you find yourself complaining about an apperant lack of attention from a busy person, the solution is to just go and get busy with your life and assignment. First of all, discover your specific assignment, your niche, and grow in your influence. Get busy!


This is because recognising each other when you’re both at the top is far easier and effortless than recognising each other at the crowded ground level. The high decibel of noise and purposeless activity of the crowd at the ground level, comprising of people of all sort of character and orientation will never allow that to happen.


Up your game!

Selah!

Retired MI5 Agent Confesses On Deathbed: ‘I Killed Princess Diana’

An 80-year-old retired MI5 agent, John Hopkins, has made a series of astonishing confessions since he was released from hospital, including claims he assassinated Princess Diana on Royal orders.
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An 80-year-old retired MI5 agent, John Hopkins, has made a series of astonishing confessions since he was released from hospital in London on Wednesday and told he has weeks to live. Hopkins claims to have been involved in 23 assassinations for the British intelligence agency between 1973 and 1999, including Princess Diana. 

Mr. Hopkins, who worked for M15 for 38 years as an operative, claims he was often used as an hitman by the agency, to discreetly assassinate individuals considered a threat to the domestic security of the United Kingdom.

Trained as both a mechanical engineer and munitions expert, Mr. Hopkins claims he also has extensive experience of less conventional methods of inflicting death and destruction, including chemicals and poisons.

The 80-year-old British man claims he was involved with MI5 assassinations between June 1973 and December 1999, during a period he says “the MI5 operated with less external oversight.” Hopkins says he was part of a cell of seven operatives who were trusted to carry out political assassinations across the UK. Most victims were politicians, activists, journalists and union leaders.

Mr. Hopkins says Princess Diana is unique among his victims, as she is the only female he ever assassinated, as well as the only Royal. She is also the only victim that the Royal Family themselves ordered to be taken out.

[Banned Worldwide: Princess Diana Documentary ‘Unlawful Killing’. Must See.]

He claims to feel “ambivalent” about Princess Diana’s death. On the one hand, Diana was “a beautiful, kind-hearted woman” who did not deserve to have her life cut short. But according to Mr. Hopkins, she was also placing the British Crown at risk:

She knew too many Royal secrets. She had a huge grudge and she was going to go public with all sorts ofwild claims. My boss told me she had to die – he’d received orders directly from Prince Philip – and we had to make it look like an accident. I’d never killed a woman before, much less a princess, but I obeyed orders. I did it for Queen and country.”

The next stage of the high-level conspiracy involved the media, under tight Palace control, talking to each other to “square their stories, make sure everybody was on the same page. It was a well run operation.”

British journalists all answer to editors who answer to oligarchs who all want knighthoods from the crime family at Buckingham Palace. There is no free press in Britain,” said Mr. Hopkins.

“We got away with murder.”

The 80-year-old, spending his final weeks at home, said he expects to be taken into custody following his admissions, but says “I can’t say that I care an awful lot.” Hopkins explained that any investigation into the affair would “take forever” and be “very complicated” because there are few written records around secret MI5 activities and “most of my colleagues are already dead“.

The most important witness in the case, Mr. Hopkin’s boss, died of a heart attack in “the early 2000s” and the alleged ringleader, Prince Philip, “will never be charged with anything, of course

[Queen Elizabeth Ordered Princess Diana Murder Says Diana’s Best Friend]

If Prince Philip ever let himself be analyzed by a psychiatrist I’m sure he’d be diagnosed a psychopath. He has all the dark triad traits.”

Asked why he didn’t refuse the job, or expose the plot at the time, he explained “MI5 agents swear allegiance to the Crown, we can’t be impartial when it comes to the Royal family. At best I would have been done for treason, at worst Philip would have designed a grisly fate for me.

*I am Responsible for Nigeria’s Problem – By Israel Dara Sobaloju*

_When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that, in our democracy, government is us._ – *Barack Obama*
The coughing *Rats and sneezing snakes* sometimes consider if the Rabbit do lay egg, they sometimes connive to search out the reason behind the bleating of the goat, and neglect the *ostensible efforts* that needed to be put together to exhilarate the residual effect of *Cat and Crocodile*. In our social system, some lives have been wasted due to the fact that a society that is allergic to reality and truth has commissioned its own collapse. In a society that will rather unite to build the *tall tower of Babylon*, than to fight against the responsive *evil of the villains*, all they usually get is distractions from ethnicity and languages.
Our nation has been on *a rotten mask for a long time*, with we the citizen believing that we have buried the face of our mischievous denigration and overconfidence in the *exhaustible hope and Patience our father* implanted in us. The gods of the goodwill of patience may no longer be on our sides, as he has taken a walk to visit the crying country, whose pretty building just fell from the shock of the land, whose little children fell from the back of a speeding lorry trying to escape the war he never knew nothing about. We have spent such a long time crying over spilt milk even while the scorching sun has dried the milk away to give us showers of blessings. Our anthem now become sour in the ear of the singer and the listeners, with our *resources tappers* dancing to the tune of it, as all they can hear is the hip-hop of some wailing citizens.
*Hip-hop*, when the singer chant the crowd and the crowd turn back the chant expressly not minding the *palatine life of their stage men*. The minds and the consciousness of our dear nation has gone to Zanzibar beach for a vacation. The beauty of Zanzibar has made the women of Tanzania lock it down under the tall palm tree, relaxing while its owner are under government who are building *fiefdoms of oppression and hatchery of mischiefs.* The pseudonym expression of the lives of certain members of our species and nation would be treated with ignominy and unparalleled indignity even without the permission of the citizens of the nation, thanks to our festival of unjust choices, cowardice, and silence which has enthroned injustice as a tradition in our milieu. The injustice now hunt after our sacred conscience, feeding on *the nectar* of our gullible choices and decisions.
How will I prefer to see a man who stole two tubers of Yam in Onitsha market because he had nothing to eat and feed his family with due to the dryness and feyness of the land, through the siphoning ability of some little few, than see a senator who has carted away the countries resources and budgetary allocation of the country preparing for a future they are destroying for the mean man or why will I clamour for the release of a notorious billionaire kidnapper – Evans who has duped many family of their joy and future like some Nigerians are doing? It seems that Nigerians as a people are in *perpetual slavery to self-deception and abnegation of civic right.* We are so very allergic to reality. Truth for us is whatever consolidates our unexamined prejudices. We prefer to chant our mischievous politicians when they ride in exotic cars, for them to throw out just a piece of the naira. We prefer to ask a senators for *selfie*, when we purportedly sit beside them luckily in the church than ask the reason while that beautiful girl still roams the street with the food she ate three days ago. We follow our governors and ministerial appointees on social media, when they follow back, we’re happy as if we won a lottery, and pass by the crippled woman who asked for our help while passing through the stinking river by the street.
I carried *a woebegone expression* when I saw the number of youths congratulating the Senate President of Nigeria’s upper chamber when he was acquitted of all charges by the code of conduct tribunal on the social media, instead of pushing against the decision of the tribunal despite every evidences placed before it. Why do this youth do this, to get a retweet, and show it to their social media friends as an achievement their father could not attain. We prefer to talk, and discuss about our celebrities whose impart *on the society are neither existing nor positive, than reprove our senate of the policies they are incorporating into our sphere. This is why a Nigerian will rise up and proudly declare himself very happy, be followed by a celebrity on the social media, even though the tenets of his religion, and the codex of self-respect* forbids his pledging himself as a slave without the chance of manumission to any man; his ignorance and juvenile naiveté armed him with the effrontery to celebrate the supreme insularities of his narrow-mindedness in the village square.
See, our dirty pipes, *which carry the filthy feaces of our pretence and ignorance has blown in front of our case judges’ chamber*. The secret we spent our entire life protecting has  been revealed. Our brothers and sisters in the north now want our eastern siblings to leave the shores of their zone, our Yoruba sisters now want to create their own state because the will of our Igbo brothers is to leave the laboring mother of the North in the labour room and pass through the window to the nearby stream to save him of the stress the new baby will cause him. What else can we do? Our *Naira can no longer work confidently in the state of currency* as the lord of the town – Dollar is found of mocking its retarded growth and degenerative ascension. No more food for the hungry child whose father gave up his life saving the country. The lean mother whose breast is dry of milk cry so bad that the vultures shakes at her cry. But some men whom they have chosen with the *myopic and sentimental discretion of ethnicity and religion* sits in their habitations to afflict them.
Am I Nigeria’s problem? Am I responsible for the family who died on the road which has become death slab last week? Do I owe this nation anything? Yes, I need to make this confession, tell the acting vice-president of our nation – *Prof Yemi Osinbajo that I am the author of Nigeria’s problem*. When I refused to protest the decisions of my representatives at the senate, when I saw that little girl crying for food and I could not help. We are individually responsible for Nigeria’s problem. It will be a *disgrace to conclude some minority has caused the problem of over 150 million people.* Social media has become a curse to us rather than a blessing. *Machiavelli* couldn’t have invented a more genial game to occupy and distract all the *freshly-minted professors of ignorance,* and and elite of stupidity. The little minority have however taken up the social media to torment our ignorance instead of we taking it up to monitor and keep them on their toes. It is high time we all stood up to the call of our national anthem and pledge to challenge the lascivious act of our government and define our democracy. *The people forms the government in democracy not the government form the people.* Until we can stand up to beat our chests and say *”I am responsible for Nigeria’s problem”* and take necessary steps, our nation may slump one day for us to find out *that it has woken up in three different Dreamlands* (Biafra, Oduduwa and Arewa).
*Israel Dara Sobaloju is a Public Affairs analyst, Journalist, Curator of ScholarZine Nigeria and Student of Obafemi Awolowo University, you can reach him on 07037954874 or Israelsobaloju@gmail.com*

*June 12 Commemoration: Mere Fanciful Theatrics?* _Why commemoration is not necessary_ _By Israel Dara Sobaloju_

The insanities of Karma, and the phlegmatic behaviour of the gods guarding individuals sojourn on earth as resulted in unequal distribution of power, resources and fame. Just 24 years after the death of Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola which resulted from his will and behest to get back his mandate given to him in an election regarded as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria. But day by day, the history of the day many as regarded as notable and purported democracy day (instead of May 29) is vanishing from history books without us paying cognisance to it, that a child born in the next decade may want to ask “who’s MKO?” This may not be farfetched, drawing the hands of time back. In the concluding part of Goodluck Jonathan’s (Nigeria’s erstwhile president) democracy day speech, he announced the change in name of University of Lagos to immortalize MKO – a decision that was greeted by weeks of protest from both lecturers and students of the university.
It is sad to see that even after many years people still need the autopsy of his death either to maim the killer or justify his mandate. Many of us are so allergic to the truth that we sometimes develop some adaptive features to swallow up anything that go against our primitive thoughts and conceptions, religious sentiments, lazy illusions and heretic tales with every indignation of benightedness to disprove the validity of the subject matter. Whereas the truth always remains valid no matter the heaviness of stampede that befalls it. In 1993, Nigerians as a people were tired of the autocratic military rule, they were tired of the forceful marriage, and wanted to taste the result of self-will, but was collared away from them as Ibrahim Babangida declares the election invalid eventhough it was won and loss.
On June 11, at Epetedo, MKO Abiola addressing a large crowd said “People of Nigeria, exactly one year ago, you turned out in your millions to vote for me, Chief MKO Abiola as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But politicians in uniform, who call themselves soldiers but are more devious than any civilian would want to be, deprived you of your God-given right to be ruled by the President you had yourselves elected….. I saw enough is enough” This led to his arrest as Babangida sent hundreds of soldiers to bring him down to his feet with the charge of treason. He refused to be released even when granted the privilege, all he needed was his people’s given mandate. The commemoration of this day is not well defined by us – Nigerians, are we celebrating Abiola, democracy survival from the rape action of our military men or the martyrs of the democracy we enjoy today. Presently, June 12 is no longer a notable day in Nigeria calendar since the exit of Olusegun Obasanjo from power as only Southwestern state government declare public holidays for their workers. If the trend continues June 12 may be lost in Nigeria’s history book.
The psychological amnesia experienced in the other parts of Nigeria may soon be contracted by the southwesterners, and the day may be lost in the web of history. Our pseudo-intellectuals and intellectuals alike are very busy playing the gladiatorial shows of mutual tribal vilipends, ethnic and religious absurdity instead of marshaling their intellectual resources against the retrogressive forces that has tied Nigeria to the pillars of poverty and decay. Our political elites now see the day as a game which they can express their professorship in ignorance and employ the internet to express their parochial interest. They come out to boost of their allegiance to the nation’s development, camouflaging as a Messiah, but all that is needed to open the veil and put their face outside the mask is a valued paper or political appointment and portfolio, then they rant and suddenly encapsulate their momentary allegiance which needs resuscitation in an oxygen room. Thus pseudo-patriot vuvuzelas do not only leave our heart broken, they also want to see our land relinquished. Personal gains, destructive opinions and archaic beliefs are all they have to render to a bashed and malnutrited nation who had always given birth to stillbirth patriot like Musa Yar’adua.
Why celebrate a day that had been highjacked to the habitation of the wicked by drunken corrupt personnels turning Nigeria to a nest of killers, den of corruption, an amorphous mass of seething discontented sectionalisms, pitch of human rights play. June 12 as become a sounding board for dubious politicians with carriers of cockroach-like mentality believing their the lion of the game. MKO Abiola may never get justice to the course he fought for in the last days of his life despite the yearly reawakening of the sleeping history as the significance of the day had been lost in the tides of the political monsieur.
Commemorating this day, despite our monumental miscarriages is not because we are concerned primarily about the neuroticism of justice. We are concerned about the personality, whom injustice was inflicted upon. Nigerians have grown not to care about principles but about personalities. We celebrate just the public figures who died in the four walls of the office not minding the soldier killed in sambisa forest in his bid to defend his father’s land. One may want to pray not to give birth on a rich man’s birthday as the serene of his car may overshadow the cry of her baby. In Nigeria, on a poor man’s weeding day, the drummer may forget his drumming sticks on the bellows but will offer to play in a rich man’s burial for free. That’s the sarcophagus state we are in Nigeria if we’ll admit it. I guess why June 12 has focused on Abiola is because the death of beggars invites no comets. Many Nigerians died due to Abiola’s Epetedo declaration, many houses burnt, many were lynched alive. When a poor man’s son dies the Dog bark and the bird tweet, But when celebrities and princes (which the poor – Nigerian admire so much) sneeze; gravity itself pulls galaxies off the sky, to prostrate and fall over themselves in obsequious advertisement of vainglorious affectations in solidarity with a member of the calibre of the elite who had a fever; even if he be a dishonorable rogue.
Many heroes have gone unnoticed, as the poor man King Solomon described in one of his books – Escletiates, who saved his country from doom but was forgotten thereafter because of his poverty. Many people died during the fight for Abiola’s mandate – including his wife – Kudirat Abiola. Many journalists were lost in between fries of upending bullet shots with several others disfigured. If we then talk about justice and commemoration of the dead, every calendar day will be filled with something to celebrate. Social Justice was in the first place crucified by out ostentatious political leaders, if not, Where is justice for the school children, who on their way to join their parents for holiday have to die in a Sosoliso plane crash in Port Harcourt? with our airlines officials parading coffins like Dana air crash on our airways. Where’s justice or commemoration for the Chibok school girls kidnapped over 3 years ago. Maybe April 14 should also be a public holiday, then we’ll have to sleep in the confines of our rooms for life.
In the 80s an advertorial championed by Chike Ubaka on NTA Enugu has this warnings to road users “Dead men have no right of way,
Why must you throw your life away?
Drive with care,
For life is dear!” If we’re to engage all the days of our existence to mourn the dead, we’ll have no one to live. Even Jesus Christ – the most generous personality earth ever witness said “let the dead bury their dead.” June 12 has no significance if a politician can still sit down to embezzle our money diligently. M.K.O Abiola is worth celebrating, so do everyone who loose their life fighting for due course. June 12 commemoration should not be about Abiola but about taking our Nation to the level envisaged by him – a poverty free nation. What we need to focus on now is Nigeria’s unity and pride, not allowing the cloud of uncertainty to bedevil us. We need to build a nation where everyone has a sense purpose not a nation that hype the minor work of the rich than the poor.
_God Bless Nigeria_
*Israel Dara Sobaloju is a Journalist, Public Affairs Analyst, curator of ScholarZine Ng and student of Obafemi Aw olowo University reach him on 07037954874*