Encomiums, Eulogies For Biafra Hero, Col. Achuzia



Encomiums have continued to pour in from far and wide for Col. Joe Achuzia (rtd), the Biafran War hero who died Monday in his hometown Asaba.

Nicknamed Hannibal and ‘Air Raid’ for his exploits in the Nigerian Civil War, Col. Achuzia, the Ikemba Asaba, died after a brief illness, aged 90. Ebonyi State Governor and Chairman South East Governors’ Forum, SEGF, Nweze Dave Umahi, said the death of the Biafran veteran was a great loss to Ndigbo and Nigeria as a whole, described Col. Achuzia as an icon and centre of Igbo unity.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, Umahi described the late Biafran hero as one of the last Igbo figures who lived and conquered their fears and stood for the liberation of their people. Umahi said by the death of Col Achuzia, Ndigbo had lost another great unifying factor, a great man of high intellect and warlord who put in everything to ensure safety of his people.

“Col Achuzia during the unfortunate Civil War was to Ndigbo a stronghold and dependable hero who sacrificed personal interests for the people of Biafra. He had since the ugly Civil War put everything behind him and continued to play his advisory role in the politics of Nigeria. By his death, we have lost another great man whose impact and love transcend beyond Igbo and Nigeria,

” Umahi said. “His death saddens us as a people because Ndigbo at this moment need such persons who have seen it all to continue to give directions on how to avoid insipient and divisive politics that tend to divide us more along ethnic and religious lines. I, therefore, commiserate with the government and people of Delta State and indeed the family of Achuzia over the death of this icon and centre of Igbo unity,” Umahi surmised.

The Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, described the late Biafran war commander, Colonel Joe Achuzia, as a great Igbo leader, warrior and brave compatriot. Ikpeazu stated that the late Achuzia gave his best to any struggle be believed in.

“As a people we believe there is time for everything. When it was time to defend our land and people, Colonel Achuzia gave his best. He is a true Igbo leader, warrior and a brave compatriot. “On behalf of the people and government of Abia State, I wish to express my sincere condolences to the Achuzia family, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the people and Government of Delta State.

” Gov Willie Obiano described Achuzia’s death as “the passing of a legend and a patriot of the highest order.” State Commissioner for Information and Communications Strategy, Ogbuefi Tony Nnachetta, signed the statement in which Obiano noted that Achuzia was “a man of service and deep convictions whose exploits in the sands of time can never be forgotten by our people, both young and old,” stressing that the fallen Biafran hero’s life was defined by constant trouble-shooting in Igbo land aimed at securing the “wellbeing of our peoples in war and in peace.”

“The people and government of Anambra State commiserate with the governor of Delta State, His Excellency Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Asagba in Council, Ohaneze Ndigbo, the immediate family of Col. Achuzia and Nigerians in general on this monumental loss, ” Obiano said, praying that Almighty God would accept his soul to rest in peace in His bosom.

The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, through its Director of Media and Publicity, Emma Powerful, lamented Achuzia’s passing, describing the Biafran War hero as one of those who saved the Ndigbo from being annihilated.

The statement by IPOB read in part: “With deep sense of loss and sorrow the entire family and leadership of IPOB join the immediate family members, relatives and Biafrans both home and abroad to mourn the sudden demise of our icon, hero and great Biafran warrior of our time Chief (Col.) Joe Achuzia.

“Hannibal and Air Raid as he was fondly called till his death, was an extraordinary and exceptional charismatic personality and finest battle-field commander of towering repute. “He and his war-time colleague Timothy Onwuatuegwu most represented the spirit of bravery and patriotism, which characterised the military campaign that prevented the annihilation of the Biafran race.

“He led the gallant Biafran soldiers who inflicted heavy defeat on the enemy at Abagana; he masterminded the recapture of Owerri, the then capital of Biafra from a better equipped British backed, Russian armed, Nigerian Army.

“From his heroics in the famous Abagana sector victory over Murtala Mohammed to his recapture of Owerri, Col. Achuzia left an indelible mark that would be acknowledged by every generation of Biafrans until the end of time.

He is our icon and all time hero. “Chief (Col.) Joe Achuzia marched his footsteps on the hallowed soil of Biafra during his youthful days for the liberation and betterment of Biafra. He left a legacy this generation will forever be grateful to him for.

We pledge to peacefully continue from where he left off until Biafra is fully restored the same way he restored our dignity in the battlefield against all the odds. “Our hero Achuzia came, saw, fought and overcame our enemies. We his children IPOB family members worldwide, owe it to him and posterity to continue this great fight he fought for all his life until the liberation of Biafra land, from the vicious grip of the oppressors, is irreversibly accomplished to his memory and glory of God”.

It added that Achuzia would be remembered by history as one of the finest and bravest soldiers the world has ever seen, adding that though his exploits were in a quickly forgotten war in black Africa, the magnitude of his accomplishments put in context ranks among the greatest military feats of the modern era.

Among those who have also paid glowing tributes to the late Achuzia are the Ogirisi Igbo, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, and Pastor Andy Okoji, Area Administrator (Area 1) of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, where the late Col. worshipped. Ezeonwuka said Achuzia not only participated actively in the defence of Biafrans during the Civil War but also took active part in the burial of war heroes at the inception of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration.

According to Ezeonwuka, who is a member of Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, “The good news about his death, however, is that he had attained salvation for eternal life through his active participation in the burial of the war heroes, which was instrumental to the adequate security of lives and property which Ndi Anambra are enjoying today because it was after that burial ceremony that the spirits of those dead war heroes rested and stopped instigating insecurity among the living.”

“There is no cause to mourn as “Colonel Achuzia will be reincarnated and he will continue where he stopped or where the Almighty Father will reassign him,” Pastor Okonji said. According to him, the late Biafran war lord was baptised into the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star before his demise.

Hon. Arinze Awogu, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Political Matters, recalled that he had personally paid a courtesy call on Achuzia late last year at his country home in Asaba, Delta state where Achuzia expressed appreciation on behalf of the Biafran war veterans to Obiano for fulfilling the duty the living owes the dead, by taking the bold step on January 12, 2015 to bury those that died during the Biafran/Nigerian Civil War. Awogu further quoted Achuzia as saying:

“Few months into the life of Obiano’s administration, he summoned Col. Ben Gbulie, Col. Emma Nwobosi, Col. E. M. Udeaja, myself and others and asked us to join in the drawing of programmes for the formal burial ceremony of dead Biafran war heroes Christened: ‘Ozoemezina’ and I laughed and asked Obiano ‘can you stand the heat from the Federal Government?’ And he bluntly told us ‘if burying those that died during Biafran War will take me to jail, I’m ready.’

” He noted that Achuzia lamented that the Nigerian authorities had continued to frustrate and undermine the Igbo/Biafra existentialism by upturning nearly every date that matters to Ndigbo.

“The civil war ended on 15 January and we planned to be marking every 15 January but the Nigerian authorities hijacked it by making 15 January Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

When we chose 29 May as the day to commemorate the genocide against Ndigbo, the Nigerian authorities chose to make the date Democracy Day. “That was why Ohanaeze Ndigbo shifted Igbo Day to 29 September instead of 29 May,”

Awogu quoted the late Achuzia as saying. Achuzia stressed the need for Anambra state and other states in the old Eastern region to always observe January 12th as public holiday in honour of those that died during the Biafran war since it was on January 12th that they were formally buried. Col. Achuzia who expressed his thoughts on the burial of the Biafran war victims recalled that when the war ended, anyone who saw his fellow Biafran would say to him ‘happy survival’.

He went on to ask “What then do we say to the dead who were not fortunate to survive the war; is it happy dead? Therefore, all we had to do for them was to formally give them a rest which no one had the bravery to do, except Governor Willie Obiano!” Achuzia further declared:

“And considering the courage with which the governor buried the Biafran war victims at the expense of his office in worst case scenario, it will be preposterous for anyone to accuse the governor of being against the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, not to talk of having hands in the death of any Biafran activist or not doing anything at all to prevent the killing of pro-Biafra activists in his State”.

He revealed the motive behind the formation of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, maintaining that the survival of the political platform should be a concern to all Ndigbo. He frowned at the notion that tended to suggest that APGA is a mere political party, while insisting that APGA is the soul of Ndigbo, which is at the heart of Igbo survival as an identity vehicle for Igbo quest to manage their own affairs politically.

Achuzia recalled that the two legacies bequeathed to Ndigbo by Dim Ojukwu were Biafra and the APGA, adding that Ojukwu’s soul rested on these two legacies.

He recalled that Ojukwu’s thought on Biafra was for a final abode where nobody could cross into to harass his people, while APGA was lately founded as a platform to resist political limitations against Ndigbo in Nigeria. He posited that since the First Republic,

Ndigbo were not only denied a shot at the presidency as no political party was willing to give them presidential ticket but were also prevented from having ideological political platform to rally round their own people. Achuzia, a British trained aeronautic engineer and one-time Secretary General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, commended Gov. Willie Obiano for living up to the dreams of APGA’s founding fathers, despite the challenges in human management.

He implored Obiano to ensure that APGA produced presidential candidate in 2019 general election if Biafra has not been restored or actualized by then. The fiery war commander revealed that it was Ojukwu’s desire for it to be on record that an Igbo ran for the presidency of Nigeria in every election year and that the Igbo come together under a political unity and nurture same to national mainstream.

Achuzia who was until his death the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Elders of the Indigenous People of Biafra, SCE of IPOB world-wide, absolved Obiano of being a party to the gruesome murder of unarmed members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB at Nkpor and other locations in Anambra state on May, 30, 2016.

He recalled that the Amnesty International, AI had in its November 2016 report accused Nigerian security forces of killing unarmed IPOB activists. Makmid Kamara, the Interim Director of AI Nigeria was quoted as saying: “By far the largest number of pro-Biafra activists were killed on Biafra Remembrance Day on 30 May 2016 when an estimated 1,000 IPOB members and supporters gathered for a rally in Onitsha, Anambra State.

The night before the rally, the security forces raided homes and a church where IPOB members were sleeping. On Remembrance Day itself, the security forces shot people in several locations. AI has not been able to verify the exact number of extra-judicial executions, but estimates that at least 60 people were killed and 70 injured in these two days.

The real number is likely to be higher”. But in absolving Obiano of any involvement in the said killings, Achuzia said that he held a meeting with the then Anambra state Commissioner of Police, Hosea-Hassan Karma, now Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone 9, Umuahia, on the 29th of May 2016 where they agreed on police non-interference with the event of the following day, May 30th.

He stressed that in that meeting, Karma had assured him that the police would stay away from the Biafra Remembrance Day event of 30 May 30, but that while himself and others had secured police consent and understanding for a hitch-free Biafra Remembrance Day celebration, they forgot that there was the army too.

Achuzia, who at 90 was still mentally sound, thanked Awogu for deeming it fit to visit him as he marked his 90th birthday, saying that he bore the brunt of the civil war as he was thrown into jail for seven years after the war ended on the orders of the Federal Government under Gen. Yakubu Gowon.

He bemoaned that those that were in power at the end of the civil war did everything against his person because of his role in the civil war except that they didn’t harm him which he attributed to God’s will, and for him to live to clock 90 years could only be by God’s extra-ordinary grace.

Achuzia, who never minced words on topical issues, demanded that he, as a person, should be addressed as “a Biafran” as that reflected his true identity. On his part, Dr. Elvis Idu of Delta State University, Abraka expressed sadness at Achuzia’s death.

The University don said he was deeply touched by the passing of the Biafran war lord, who played active role in the Nigerian civil war, adding that he was no doubt, known for speaking his mind, no matter whose ox is gored.

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