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Monday 15 January 2018

An interview with Elder Mazi Orji Okoro Ex-Biafran soldier conducted by Family Writers' correspondent, Solomon Iwejuo

An interview with Elder Mazi Orji Okoro Ex-Biafran soldier conducted by Family Writers' correspondent, Solomon Iwejuo

Elder Mazi Orji Okoro
FWP: Can we know you sir?
Elder Okoro Orji : I am Elder Mazi Orji Okoro from Arochukwu LGA, Abia State, precisely Amuvi village Biafra land.

FWP: As an elder in this struggle, how can you describe Biafran restoration movement?
Elderl Orji Okoro: Biafran struggle is an important movement to the life of any Biafran who value freedom and who sees freedom as a gift to excel in life.

FWP: Did you experience the Biafran War sir?
Elder Orji Okoro: Yes I joined Eastern Command Biafran Army in 1966 before the declaration of Biafran in 1967.

FWP: What brought about the Eastern Command Nigerian Army?
Elder Orji Okoro: When the (northerners) started killing the easterners (Biafrans), in the North and sending the dead and living  back to the Eastern region, the then commander Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu decided to prepare against Northern aggression by recruiting indigenous Army under the Nigerian government just to defend the Biafrans. We were fully trained like soldiers.

FWP: Can you call yourself a soldier now?
Elder Orji Okoro: Oh my God!  I was better both physically and mentally than Nigerian soldiers. Ojukwu used only six weeks to train us then.

FWP: Where did  the recruitment of Eastern Command of the Nigerian Army and training take place?
Elder Orji Okoro: It took place in Enugu State, 82 division. It was also known as prison ground.

FWP: What led to the killings in the Northern part of Nigeria then?
Elder Orji Okoro: It was not only in the North, they started the killings at Coal Cooperation Enugu. They were targeting economical areas just to make sure we (Biafrans) did not occupy important positions. Straight to the question, the killings was as a result of hatred due to our natural talents in all sectors of the economy.

FWP: What role did you play during the Biafran War as a trained soldier?
Elder Orji Okoro: When I joined the army in 1966, I was trained for two weeks and posted to Nsukka front at OPI JUNCTION which was close to the border between Biafra and Nigeria. In the war front, there was no weapon but machetes and with this, we were able to wage them through Amufu between Nsukka and Abakeleke. From Amufu, we went to Ngwo ( 9th Mile Conner) as back up to Local Red Devil armored car produced by Biafrans. When Enugu failed, we now came, to retreat to Ogwu where I was selected to be an instructor in the army at National Grammar School Okigwe where ten battalion camped. When ogwu failed, they moved us from national grammar school Okigwe to Saint Dominic School, Ugiri which was our headquarters then. That was where I lived till the war ended. I was a Biafran Army instructor when they declared no Victor no vanquish.

FWP: what were your experiences during the War?
Elder Orji Okoro: My experiences were very enamours, during the war, families missed love ones. That is father missed his wife, children, hunger, starvation, sabotage , no weapon, forceful marriage of our women, raping  and we were refugees in our own land.

FWP: After the  Biafran War, were you recalled back to the Nigerian Army?
Elder Orji Okoro: Yes, the Eastern Command of the Nigerian Army was recalled. But this was a fish to catch the bird. Many people that went back, were killed. I declined the offer that is why I am life today.

FWP: After the War, Gowon declared no Victor no vanquish, do you see any reflection about the declaration?
Elder Orji Okoro: Let truth be told, I have not seen any sincerity in this, our children were not allowed to go to school in the name of cut off marks, no hospital, abandon properties, divide and rule syndrome, no good roads, we could not choose who governs us, oil exploration, no constant power supply and we were  treated like third class citizens. We were locked up without trials.

FWP: Who is Nnamdi kanu and IPOB to you?
Elder Orji Okoro: IPOB is my life, food and everything you can think of. As Nnamdi Kanu came into my life, I turned to a young man in fact,  everything in me became new. Immediately I heard him on Radio Biafra, I knew that the person who would finish the job we started has come. I'm in support of the movement.

FWP: Apart from the support, do you still have any input that will aid the struggle?
Elder Orji Okoro: You know as it is now, I am getting to 80 years old and I am not getting younger however, my input is that we must remain formidable because Nnamdi Kanu is the only leader doing what we want. He represents our dreams and everyone should work with him. Saboteurs then went free but now our people may not take it easy with them.

FWP: Thank you Veteran Elder Mazi Orji Okoro, for granting interview to Family Writers Press.
Elder Orji Okoro: You are highly welcome, till tomorrow I still remain a Biafran and will die as a Biafran.

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