WHY IKWERRE PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE A PART OF THE ILL-FATED BIAFRA – Igwe Onyeche Wofurum
From the beginning, Ikwerre leaders clearly saw their inclusion in the unilaterally declared Biafran State as unconstitutional and a rape of their own independent identity as a distinct ethnic nationality in Nigeria. Moreso, nobody in Biafra consulted the ethnic minorities before the secession that annexed them into the Igbo project of self-determination.
According to Professor Simeon Achinewhu in WONUKURU OBAZIOLU, prominent Ikwerre indigenes, especially educated ones, were the direct target of the animosity of the Aros who came to Ikwerre land in search of greener pastures and domination of their lands.
Professor Achinewhu also said that the refusal of Ikwerre people to fully integrate the Aros into their traditional institutions infuriated them to no end. The Aros from Arochukwu in present-day Abia State, according to him, exuded much arrogance on account of their exploits in education and trade. The war provided them with a golden opportunity to avenge their non-integration into the fabrics of Ikwerre life. It was not surprising that at the beginning of the war, the Aros spied on and reported the cream of Ikwerre elites and other opinion leaders to the Biafran soldiers for interrogation, detention, torture or execution. Mr Simeon Boro Abraham and Dr Obi Wali escaped being arrested but Wonukwuru Obasiolu could not, as he was arrested and killed by Biafran soldiers.
Obasiolu was callously murdered by the poorly trained and ideologically bereft Biafran rag-tag soldiers, a related tragedy played out to complete an unspeakable calamity in the entire Ikwerre land.
On page 66 of the book, “Sunset in Biafra,” Elechi Amadi recalled Obasiolu’s cruel plight as follows: “If I allowed myself to be taken away, they would torture and possibly kill me. This was the fate of Mr. Obasiolu, a Journalist who had graduated from Nsukka. He was taken away, openly tortured and killed. His death agonies have now become a legend among our people.”
Obasiolu was ordered to dig his own grave and then buried alive.
He must have been a marked man as a result of his high-profile involvement in the emancipation of Ikwerre people at the time.
The news of his death brought a great shock to his young pregnant wife who fell off from a bicycle and died later with her unborn second child. All the cowards who for political reasons are struggling to rewrite Ikwerre history should understand that Biafrans never meant well for Ikwerre people.
Obasiolu was an accomplished journalist who only propagated what was good and noble for his people, without attempting to erode the identity of others. He was indeed a hero in Ikwerre land. The Iwhuruohna Journalists Forum (IJF) in 2020 voted to immortalise him as a martyr of Ikwerre political struggle which he championed through his journalistic writings.
With what the so-called Biafrans did to Ikwerre people during the war, it would be very stupid of any Ikwerre person to claim that Ikwerre is a part of Biafra.
Igwe Onyeche Wofurum (also known as Humble Lion), a Journalist, Social Critic, Human Rights Crusader and the Publicity Secretary of Iwhuruohna Journalists Forum (IJF), writes from Port Harcourt.