Aftermath of several denials by security agencies that members of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) were killed on May 30, 2016 during a ceremony marking remembrance of Biafra war heroes, Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano has confirmed that indeed, some IPOB protesters were killed.
The confirmation came just as Obiano tendered an unreserved apology on Wednesday to IPOB saying it was regrettable that such a number of Biafra agitators (which he did not mention), were massacred.
Obiano also sad that the impression held in some quarters that he was a party to, and was responsible for the massacre cannot be substantiated.
Speaking when he played host to Biafran War Veterans led by Gen. Joe Achuzie at Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, during a condolence visit over the death of his mother, Mrs. Christiana Obiano, the governor emphasized that he could not have ordered the killing of those who voted for him in 2013 election.
Obiano said he has always been guided on issues of conviction which made him against all pressures from federal authorities to still go ahead to bury those that died during the civil war, less than a year into the life span of his administration.
He said, “Abuja was against my plan to bury the victims of Biafran war. There were lots of opposition to it from security agencies but I went ahead to bury our dead war heroes. As a young boy during the war, I knew what happened.
“I saw many dead bodies and I know the importance of according proper burial to the departed even more so those that departed in the painful and regrettable way as they did.
“So, I had to embrace all odds to bury them in an elaborate ceremony on the 12th of January 2015, less that one year into my administration.
“How then will I contemplate killing their off springs for the same reason of Biafra? I didn’t do that, I’m innocent of the name calling”.
The governor also said that the report the security agencies made available to him on the incident showed that nobody was killed but that when he visited the hospitals involved Menax hospital and St. Charles Borromeo hospital all in Onitsha, among others to see the victims and to provide succor to them, he got to know at the hospitals that people were killed and that some of those killed and the injured were taken out of the state to neighbouring states since very many of them came from outside Anambra state.
Continuing Obiano said he volunteered to pay the hospital bills of the victims but some of them refused his offer insisting that he is profoundly sorry for what had happened and affirmed that he has since then tried to ensure that such doesn’t happen again in Anambra state.
Regretting the actions and inactions that led to the current agitation for Biafra, the governor said he once told the President Muhammadu Buhari, that if what is being done for the Northeast or close to it was done for the Igbos after the war, there would have been no agitation for Biafra.
Obiano cited the deplorable federal roads in the southeast, issue of 2nd Niger Bridge, lack of federal presence as viewed by the youths of Igboland saying these glaring shortcomings had made the longing for Biafra inevitable.
Disclosing that towards this end, he has directed that history about Biafra be taught in schools in the state, Obiano said, “Our children need to know what happened. There are about four or more very good books on Biafra. It is important that our children are told of what happened and I have directed that Biafran history be taught in our schools in Anambra state”.
Recalling events that transpired when Boko-Haram convicts were brought to the state, he said, they were the worse set of Boko-Haram terrorists. They were brought all the way from Njamina (Chad Republic) and one of the nine convicts came with his nine (9) wives and fourteen (14) children.
He disclosed that he had to struggle to get them out of Anambra state and southeast because their presence was a psychological trauma to Ndigbo.
In his remarks, leader of the Biafran war veterans, Gen. Joe Achuzie absolved Governor Willie Obiano of the accusations, saying nothing before, during and after the incident suggested that the governor was culpable.
On what he knew about the killings, he said, “Sadly enough, after attacking the IPOB peaceful protesters, a false report was forwarded to the state governor that nobody was killed”.
He added that giving the spread of the victims that were killed, he will make a formal presentation to the Southeast Governors’ Forum for a concerted effort in assisting the victims in a form of “victims support” to cater for the families of those killed and injured.
Achuzia pointed out that Obiano has shown genuine commitment towards the people’s struggle by undertaking the burial of all Biafran soldiers that died during the Nigerian Civil, noting that such a man cannot carry out such despicable action against his own people as was erroneously held by some Biafrans.
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