The late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s first son, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (Jnr.) has revealed that the Biafran war veteran, Col. Joe Achuzie, was the one who commenced the process of negotiating peace between Biafra and the Nigerian side before Maj. Philip Effiong came to meet the Nigerian side.
The junior Ojukwu, who described now late Achuzia as a gallant soldier and a great Nigerian, said he was the first Biafran senior officer to make contact with the Nigerian side.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide had described the death of Achuzie as a great loss to Ndigbo and Nigeria, stressing that the history of the Biafra/Nigeria war would not be complete without mentioning Achuzie, a veteran who fought gallantly in the war.
However, in a statement in Awka at the weekend, Ojukwu (Jnr.) said, “He was the first Biafran senior officer to make contact with the Nigerian side and led them on to Maj. Gen. Phillip Effiong. That contact followed a visit to him by the Biafran Director of Propaganda, Uche Chukwumerije.
“He was part of the final discussions that led to Philip Effiong’s declaration of the end of the war, at which point he was interrogated and sent to detention. He didn’t think he would come out alive and based on these experiences, he later published his war memoirs – Requiem Biafra.”
Noting that Achuzie worked closely with his late father, during the battle for the emancipation of Ndigbo, Ojukwu said he was indeed a dependable officer during the Nigerian civil war.
According to him: “It is with a heavy heart that I write to mark the passing of an Iroko, a champion of the Igbos and a great Nigerian.”
“As a civilian before the war, he was based in Port Harcourt from where he ran a large engineering firm which specialized in making explosives and training on its handling. He was the President General of the Ika Igbo at that time. He was nominated to represent the Ika Igbo at the Eastern Region Constituent Assembly which preceded the declaration of the Republic of Biafra. He was never in the Nigerian Military. However, he fought in the Korean wars from where he gained his Military and Guerrilla experience.”
“He was tasked with putting together a Biafran Militia. Based on performance, the militia was drafted into the Biafran Army and he became a Commissioned Biafran Officer. His zeal, his passion and his unconventional approach distinguished him in the battle field, though he was criticized precisely by some as being over-zealous. During the war, he was favoured by my father because of his uncanny capacity to produce results. He had a direct reporting line to him and he was involved on several fronts. The two remained quite close to the twilight of their years.”
Speaking further on Achuzie, Ojukwu said he was vocal against Igbo marginalization. “He was involved with Ohanaeze, he was at some point, the Secretary General, while Joe Irukwu was the President General. He was involved in the Oputa Panel. He remained very vocal about Igbo marginalization and supported the agitations for a new Biafra. While not calling out for secession, he believed strongly in self determination.
“Col J.O.G. Achuzie’s life was a life re-defined by the Biafran war as was the case with that entire generation and by extension the Igbo race. For one side, he was a villain and for the other side he was, and will always remain, a war hero.” he added.
“As a citizen of Nigeria, he was a man who chose not to sit on the sidelines as a spectator to history. Rather, he took his destiny in both hands and left an indelible mark in the history of our nation,” Ojukwu Jnr asserted.