Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Igbo genocide: Asaba, 7 October 1967

Today, Tuesday 7 October 2014 is the 47th anniversary of the mass execution of 700 Igbo male, boys and men, in Asaba (twin Oshimili River port) by genocidist Nigeria military brigade commanded by Murtala Muhammed and Ibrahim Haruna and Ibrahim Taiwo. This was during phase-II of the Igbo genocide which Nigeria launched on 6 July 1967. Emma Okocha’s Blood on the Niger (TriAtlantic Books, 2006), a compulsory reference in the study of the Igbo genocide, meticulously catalogues the savagery and aftermath of this massacre. Okocha, who lost most of his family during the slaughter, survived the execution as a 4 year-old.

Hundreds of other Igbo boys and men were also slaughtered by the Muhammed-Haruna-Taiwo brigade in several other towns and villages in this Anioma region of Igboland, west of the Oshimili, as  Okafor Udoka writes recently (Okafor Udoka, “Lest we forget the genocide of Asaba”, Skytrend News, 6 October 2014). Ifeanyi Uriah, now 60, another survivor of the Asaba execution, recalls, in an interview with Udoka, the haunting memory of 7 October 1967:
I cannot tell this story without tears in my eyes … They [genocidist brigade] ordered everyone to come out to the [Asaba] town square … They were honest with us. They told us they were going to kill us. They took us to the mounted machine guns. Then it dawned on us that it was true. I was standing with my older brother at the edge of the crowd. He was holding my hand. He had always taken care of me. We shared the same bed. He was the first to be dragged away by the soldiers. He let go of my hand and pushed me into the crowd. He was shot in the back. I could see the blood gushing from his back. He was the first victim of the massacre. Then all hell let loose. I lost count of time. To this day, I live with the smell of the blood of my brethren that night. Even the heavens wept for the victims of this holocaust. Finally the bullets stopped (Udoka: 2014).
Nigeria murdered 3.1 million Igbo people or one-quarter of this nation’s population during the three phases of the genocide – 29 May 1966-12 January 1970.

Twitter @HerbertEkweEkwe

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