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Thursday, 5 October 2017

50 YEARS AFTER: REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF MORE THAN 1,000 BIAFRANS IN ASABA

50 YEARS AFTER: REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF MORE THAN 1,000 BIAFRANS IN ASABA

Written By Paul Ihechi Alagba,
For Family Writers Press.



“I looked around and I saw machine guns all around us. Some of them were also carrying automatic rifles. One of them shouted an order, and they started shooting,” a survivor and eye witness of the Asaba genocide, Mr Ify Uriah narrated in a documented report by renowned journalists, S. Elizabeth Bird and Fraser M. Ottanelli.


The Biafran forces were already proving a strong force by the first four months after the Nigeria government led by General Yakubu Gowon declared war against the newly proclaimed independent Biafra state.

Biafra defense forces were already cutting across Midwest of Nigeria, which left the Nigeria forces even more fragile and disorganized. Gowon couldn't believe it, Britain was stunned, Multinational oil companies were bewildered in uncertainties. "This is not happening... We must stop them at all cost or we lose forever!" These words were muttered in the closed door sections of the conspirators with their newly enthroned accomplices. They had thought Biafra would be a history by three months, but now, here they are, in the presence of a tornado of a wounded nation desperately seeking for survival.
Yakubu Gowon was assured of an internationally recognized impunity. They unleashed Gowon...and the vibrant military Head of State unleashed his bloodthirsty men...and the genocide became emboldened.

The Biafran forces trusted the wrong people and were sabotaged. It was in the process of a retreat to the hinterland that the bridge which connected the ever busy Onitsha to the developing Asaba was blown up. The Federal troops invaded Asaba and perpetrated what a London observer described in January 1968 as "the greatest single massacre" that has been executed in Biafra land.

"The Federal troops entered Asaba around October 5, and began ransacking houses and killing civilians, claiming they were Biafran sympathisers," an independent report documented.
In a bid to quench the hostilities created by the rampaging Nigeria soldiers, the Nigeria government lured the local leaders in Asaba to organize all their people for a solidarity rally for "ONE NIGERIA". They were assured that such is the only thing that can save them from being decimated alongside Biafrans in the other side. The solidarity rally was organized. By the morning of October 7, 1967, all the remnants of the besieged Asaba town both men and women, young and old gathered at the town square located at Ogbe-Osowa village.
The trap caught a big fish, and the devils invoked a feast of blood. Gowon is earnestly waiting for a success affirmation. The Second Division Commander, Col. Murtala Muhammed and his second in command were on ground to accomplish the genocidal mission and report to the General.


Then, all of a sudden, men were separated from women, male teens separated from their female counterparts. The young men and teenage youths were rounded up...and before anyone could know what is happening, the cacophony of strafing is already emanating from all corners. The newly imported weapons passed a litmus test, and thousands of lifeless bodies heaped upon each other, as streams of blood stretches across the city.

“Some people broke loose and tried to run away. They shot my brother in the back. The rest of us just fell down on top of each other. And they continued shooting, and shooting, and shooting. I don’t know how long it took; after some time there was silence.” Ify Uriah who was just 13 when the incident took place narrated.

Asaba was left in desolate, agony and anguish...and this is only the beginning of the Biafra genocide.

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