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Saturday, 20 May 2017

FAMILY WRITERS' MEMORIES OF BIAFRA HEROES AS WE STILL COUNTDOWN TO MAY 30TH REMEMBRANCE DAY

FAMILY WRITERS' MEMORIES OF BIAFRA HEROES AS WE STILL COUNTDOWN TO MAY 30TH REMEMBRANCE DAY

DAY 8 - SAT 20/5/2017 (BRIG. TIMOTHY ONWUATUEGWU IN FOCUS)

In this number 8 Day of Family Writers Memories of Biafra Heroes, Family Writers is knocking at the door of Brigadier Timothy Onwuatuegwu of blessed memory as one of the heroes worthy of our discussion. Brig. Timothy Onwuatuegwu was one of the finest and most courageous military officers ever born to Biafrans. He started his military career with the Nigerian army but later defected to the Biafran army when Gen Yakubu Gowon declared a war of genocide on Biafrans in 1967.

Brig. Timothy Onwuatuegwu was commissioned into the Nigerian Army in 1961 when he completed his military course at Sandhust Military Academy in England where most Nigerian military officers of that generation were trained. During the time of his training at Sandhust Military College, his Nigerian course mates include:
1. Murtala Mohammed
2. Illiyasu Bisalla

Brig. Onwuatuegwu was a committed and disciplined officer in the Nigerian army until the civil unrest caused by the dissatisfied Yoruba youths of Action Group (AG) under Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in Western Nigeria after the first republic electoral results which power hungry Chief Obafemi Awolowo believed that it was rigged against him. The inability of the Nigerian government under Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister, to use political solution to quell the civil unrest in Western Nigeria instead of declaring state of emergency, led to the first Military coup in Nigeria led by Maj. Emmanuel Ifeajuna and assisted by Maj. Chukwuma Nzeogwu which Brig. Timothy Onwuatuegwu was an active participant.

Brig. Onwuatuegwu was also among the army officers arrested and detained in prison when the coup failed. He was later released along side others at the eve of the genocidal war declared against Biafrans by the Nigerian government  under Gen Gowon. He, then had no other option than to defect to the Biafran Army where he mainly served as a boardroom Engineer and Strategist which made him saw a little of the battle field during the war. Brig. Onwuatuegwu's notable experience of the battle field during the genocidal war was the epic show of supremacy between the hardware sophisticated Nigeria armed forces coupled with their foreign military allies and intellectually sophisticated Biafra armed forces in Owerri Siege of 1969. When Gen Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Biafran Head of State sent Brig. Tim Onwuatuegwu to deliver Owerri from the Siege of Nigeria army, he met with Col. Joe Achuzia who was already At the battle field all through the war. He analyzed his intended strategy for the prosecution of the show of supremacy in Owerri siege from the view of a boardroom strategist to Col Achuzia, but Col. Achuzia who was very eager to hit Nigeria armed forces fire for fire and iron for iron disagreed with him on his strategy. The disagreement in modus operandi between Brig. Timothy Onwuatuegwu and Col. Joe Achuzia led to a verbal conflict between the two commanding officers to the extent that two of them drew pistols to shoot one another in annoyance. It was then that Gen Ojukwu intervened and told Brig Onwuatuegwu to stay action and allow Col Achuzia to go by his own strategy as the Commander of S Division of Biafran Army Owerri. When Col. Achuzia's strategy failed in the show of supremacy just in one week  of operation, Gen Ojukwu returned Brig. Onwuatuegwu as the Commander of S Division Owerri with his initially suggested strategy and that brought the liberation of Owerri from the Siege of Nigerian Army just in a little while.

Brig Onwuatuegwu is a rare talented army officer whom I doubt if there is his like in the present day army officers. Army officers of Onwuatuegwu's caliber usually jump out of Hilux Van and take cover if they sense danger when the vehicle is on high speed but the present day Fulani saturated Nigeria armed forces will be waiting for the Hilux to park  before they jump down from it.

Finally, Brig. Tim Onwuatuegwu escorted Gen Odumegwu Ojukwu to Uli Airport on January 9, 1970 when Gen Ojukwu was on his way to  Ivory Coast on  exile. Few weeks after the genocidal war, Brig Onwuatuegwu was assassinated due to his carelessness which was contained in two conflicting accounts that I cannot reconcile.

However, no matter how he died, Family Writers saw it imperative to bring to the knowledge of the younger generation of Biafrans the gallant efforts of Brig Onwuatuegwu in defense of Biafra land both in the boardroom and battle field of Owerri Siege of 1969. As we are going to remember our heroes on May 30, Family Writers want all Biafrans to remember Brig Onwuatuegwu's efforts.

Family Writers appreciate you for reading and have a pleasant day ahead. Keep a date with us tomorrow as we bring to you an expose to another Biafran HERO.

By Mazi Onyebuchi Eze
Family Writers Chief Media Analyst.

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