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Posts tagged ‘Calabar’

Besieged by the Police By Okey Ndibe.


 

Okey Ndibe
Columnist:

Okey Ndibe

President Goodluck Jonathan is notorious for moving at slower than the speed of a snail when called upon to address issues that rather demand alacrity. Yet, Nigerians are besieged by a terrible plague that Mr. Jonathan can—and should—address immediately. It’s the plague of the “privatized,” lawless police.

Last week, a friend telephoned me from Lagos. Alarmed by his dispirited tone, I feared that something grave had happened. He acknowledged that he was downcast. “It’s about the way that the police are now used,” he explained. “Anybody with some money or political contact can buy himself a few police officers. They then use these officers to harass people everywhere, including in traffic.”

He described how commuters in Lagos trapped in the city’s hellish gridlock are constantly beset by the blare of police sirens. “These sirens go off so frequently, and you are expected to make way for the police-led convoy. Mobile police men hang out of the doors of the blaring vehicles, brandishing guns and koboko (horsewhips). If you don’t get out of their way fast enough, they can smash your car’s windshield or beat you up. Here’s the most annoying thing: more than 90 percent of the time, they’re not escorting any government official. They’re clearing the traffic for some private individual with money or connections.”

I was quite familiar with that nightmare scene. During my last visit to Nigeria, I spent time in Lagos, Calabar, Awka, and Enugu—and I saw that ugly scene play out numerous times in each city. I came away with the impression that police officers, whose orientation ought to be the combating of crime, had been deployed to serve as mai-guard (private security guards) for the country’s well-heeled—including those who had accumulated their huge nests in illicit ways.

Indeed, one saw two classes of police officers in Nigeria. One class—those on private deployment whose job is to harass the rest of us on behalf of their wealthy “owners”—struck me as clean and well dressed, their boots shiny, a sheen to their skins. The other class—who stood in the sun worrying motorists for bribes of N20 or more per car—appeared scruffy, their uniforms dirty or torn, their boots dusty or spattered with mud when they did not wear flip flops.

This misapplication of police power compounds the atmosphere of lawlessness in a country where might frequently usurps the place of what’s right. Each police officer in Nigeria is paid from the collective resources of all Nigerians. It is bad enough that the Nigerian police are scandal-prone, that they hardly know the first thing about solving serious crimes, that their training equips them to view Nigerians, not with any sense of civil regard, but as legitimate sport for all manner of violent impulses. To now “privatize” police officers, especially the dreaded ones called mopol (for mobile police), to lend these police officers to do the bidding of private citizens who happen to have mortgaged their senses for a haul of cash—to do this is to worsen Nigeria’s state of anarchy.

Mr. Jonathan ought to order the police to immediately stop the practice of deploying police officers on private duties. There’s a precedent for such a directive. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was no great custodian of law and order, saw fit to instruct the police to pull officers who were seconded to non-government officials. President Jonathan should tread the same path.

Like the country’s National Electric Power Authority (NEPA)—re-baptized the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)—the Nigerian police have an awful image. Billed as an electric power company, NEPA spent years earning a reputation for plunging Nigerians into darkness. Years before the government officially changed NEPA’s name, Nigerians had creatively refashioned the acronym, making linguistic games out of it. When in a generous mood, they rendered it as “Never Expect Power Always.” In moments of forlorn exasperation, they called NEPA “Never Expect Power At all.”

Nigerians’ most benign epithet for the police remains “Wetin you carry?” It grew out of the lazy question that police officers pose to hapless motorists they stop at ubiquitous police road blocks all over the country. These road blocks are ostensible crime-fighting devices, but any Nigerian kindergartner knows that they are, in reality, bribe-collection points.

In fact, Nigerians know that their police are allergic to fighting crime. Quite often, the police seem enamored of criminals. There are accounts of criminals who menaced their innocent victims with guns supplied by the police. Many Nigerians would say that, frequently, they can’t tell the police apart from criminals: both are so deeply, so inextricably embedded.

Nigerians know or tell some version of a joke that’s the product of despairing experiences. The kernel of the joke goes like this. A horde of armed robbers descends on a neighborhood, shooting sporadically into the air whilst going from apartment to apartment to haul away cash and valuables. A distressed victim makes a frantic telephone call to a nearby police station, breathlessly describes the harrowing event, and asks that police officers be sent to combat the robbers.

“Is that right?” says the police officer at the other end, his tone calm and manner unhurried. The officer sucks his teeth, as if he’d just worked through a heavy meal of spicy goat meat escorted by two large bottles of Guinness. “We fit come now now, only say vehicle no dey. If you can fit to bring car, we go follow you there quick quick!”

In some countries, the point is made that the police are the citizens’ best friends. Suggest that to Nigerians, and you’d provoke guffaws. The Nigerian police are nobody’s friends. Some Nigerians would say their police are friends only of criminals. The Nigerian police offer little or no help to law abiding citizens. Some Nigerians would contend that ruthless criminals receive plenty of help from the police.

There’s—to cite one example—the case of Lotachukwu (Lota) Ezeudu, a 19-year-old accountancy student at the University of Nigeria who has never been seen since he was kidnapped on September 26, 2009. The main suspects in his abduction include Sam Chukwu, a divisional police officer (DPO), and Desmond Chinwuba, a sacked police officer who was standing trial in an earlier armed robbery. Both men have been on the run for several years. Some believe that Mr. Chukwu was the mastermind, that he ran a criminal ring whose nefarious menu included assassinations, armed robbery, and kidnapping. Among those in custody are Ernest Okeke, fired alongside Mr. Chinwuba, and Nnaemeka Chukwu, the DPO’s son.

Rogue officers like the fugitive Sam Chukwu further taint the already unflattering image of Nigeria’s police. They are one reason some took to calling the country’s law enforcement agency the Nigerian Police Farce.

Nigeria’s police are trapped in a crisis that demands long-term remedies, addressing in a fundamental way how police officers are trained, equipped and paid. For now, however, President Jonathan has a duty to spare Nigerians from some of the excesses of the police. He should order that no police officer should be seen working “private” shifts for Nigeria’s deep pockets.

 

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Only In Unity Do We Stand A Chance – Karo Orovboni.


By Karo Orovboni

As most Nigerians are religious or should I say portray to be religious, I will start by taking two quotes, one from the Bible, and the other from the Quran.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” – Matthew 12:25

“Do not be like the ones who became divided and disputed, despite clear proofs that were given to them. For these have incurred a terrible retribution” – Quran 3:105

Nigeria has become an extremely polarised nation, to the extent that the white on the national flag, which signifies unity, is crying for a colour change. Almost every national discussion you hear will most certainly have a sectional undertone. Political officers are chosen based on what part of the country they are from or to satisfy some political interests and not necessarily for their leadership capabilities or the intellectual skill set they possess. It is now endemic in Nigeria that a person who steals from the public purse is not a thief if he or she is from the same ethnic region; they are termed “my brother” or “my sister”. This in itself is shocking!

Almost every Nigerian you speak to is dissatisfied with the state of the nation; people are angry and blame each other for the deterioration of the nation. The northerners will tell you it is the southerners, the southerners will tell you the northerners have ruled Nigeria for too long. Some have even conceived that the amalgamation of 1914 was a terrible mistake; that we would have been better of if there was no amalgamation. But before we start pointing accusing fingers and blaming the problems on the other ethnic region, I have some advice. Why not look inwards and ask your regional or ethnic leaders that are in political positions or have held political positions in the past some salient questions like:

What have you done with the allocations given to you from the treasury?

Can you point to the projects you have executed with utmost transparency and accountability?

Where are the policies you initiated that have benefitted the average Nigerian and alleviated the level of poverty?

Can you in all sincerity tell us that you have not soiled your hands in the public purse?

This list of questions is in no way exhaustive but you can begin to form an idea of the kind of questions you need to ask them.

The secession of Nigeria is far from the solution, in fact, it will indeed worsen the problems. If Nigeria splits into many parts, the prevalent problems of today will still remain. If we don’t learn how to live in unity as Nigeria, we will never be able to live in unity even if Nigeria splits into fifty parts. There are only two sets of people in Nigeria – the good and the evil, and they both exist in every geopolitical zone of the country. The ethnic and religious division is nothing but a deceitful seed sown by greedy politicians that has now grown into a mighty forest that has since been nurtured by the same group. The divide and conquer rule is not a myth, it works, and it will continue to as long as you allow yourselves to be divided along ethnic and religious lines. The more the ethnic division continue, the more the greedy politicians increase in political and financial power – the division suits their purpose.

I have said it previously that the problem of Nigeria is not the Northerners or Southerners, it isn’t the Christians or Muslims, but the major problem is corruption in high places. This is the common evil that we need to wade at all cost. A poor man from Calabar is of no better than a poor man from Sokoto. The same denominator, poverty, joins them.

I will like us to ask ourselves some questions. Of what benefit is it to you personally if the president is from your region but you have just lost a close family member because you could not afford to pay for sound health care, or when pregnant women in your region have a slim chance of surviving child birth due to bad health care service that is in its own coma? Of what use is it to you personally if the governor is from your village but yet the probability of it snowing in Nigeria is higher than you finding a job after graduation? What benefit is it to you if the local government chairman goes to your church or mosque but yet the road to your house is still impassable?

As the body is of many parts, so is Nigeria of many ethnicities, languages, and dialects. God that made the human body didn’t make a body of the same part but of different parts. There are many parts of the body but they all work together. The eye cannot say to the mouth that I do not have need of you, neither can the feet say to the hand let us depart in peace. The nose cannot perform the functions of the stomach, neither can the ear do the functions of the mouth, each member has its own important part to play in the body. The tender tongue in the midst of 32 soldiers (teeth) cannot do without each other, even though they fight at times (teeth bites the tongue), they still live together and cannot be separated.

Nigeria is a diverse country; we should draw strength from our diversity and not division. We should understand that we have different religions, ethnicities, and culture; we should learn to respect each other, live with our differences and treat everyone fairly. Every Nigerian should be able to live the way he wants in conformity with his culture, ethnic preference, and religion.

The future of Nigeria is indeed bright and it needs the brightest of brains from the north, south, east and west to joins hands to move this nation forward. We should see people for who they are or what they can contribute to the emergence of a better Nigeria and not for the geographical location they represent. If we follow the holy books we claim to believe in, we realise that we stand a better chance if we unite to advance this great nation.

Karo Orovboni

You can engage Karo on twitter @K_Orovboni

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters 

Aviation Minister Oduah: I won’t allow abandoned projects.


Stella-ODUAH-03

Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, has assured that the ongoing remodelling of airports will be completed in record time

without any abandoned project under her watch.

Oduah spoke after a two-day tour of eight airports at the weekend.

The minister inspected the remodelling of Yola, Sokoto, Ilorin, Abuja, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Enugu airports.

Oduah, who decried the abandoned project syndrome in Nigeria, said the present administration was committed to timely completion of projects it started in late 2011 under the Airport Remodelling Project Initiative.

She said: “When we came on board in 2011 and drew up our master plan and implementation road map, which had as its core components the Airport Remodelling Project, we were charged by Mr President to ensure that we complete every project we embark on.

“We assured Mr President that we would see every project to its logical conclusion and we are committed to that. We are fortunate to have his full support and the support of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“The result of that level of support is what you are seeing today. Not only have we completed, inaugurated and put to use a lot of the remodelled airports, work on the remaining ones is at 95 per cent completion. So, under my watch, no project we have begun will be abandoned.”

The minister said the Yola Airport was critical to the successful implementation of the transformation programme in the Aviation sector.

She said it was among the designated perishable cargo centres, adding that its cargo terminal would be completed in the second quarter of this year.

Source: Radio Biafra.

3 killed, 18 houses burnt in C’ River community over village head scuffle.


C River community

From JUDEX OKORO, Calabar
Three persons have been reportedly killed and 18 houses burnt over the struggle for the village headship of Ofodua-Adun community in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State.Besides, over 30 persons were said to have sustained injuries with their property destroyed just as farm lands and crops worth hundreds of thousands of naira were destroyed.Daily Sun checks revealed that the two communities of Iva Egbe and Iva Egba of Ofodua Adun had been locked in a succession battle in the last three decades leading to alleged incessant attacks on Iva Egbe by Iva Egba natives.While the Iva Egbe paternal royal family among the other four traditional families claimed to be vested with the exclusive right to produce the village head, the Iva Egba and three communities of Iva Enang, Iva Obeten and Iva Awonokwe , were insisting on rotation of the Ofodua traditional political organization.This development had pitched the warring communities against each other as well as sowing seed of discord and disharmony between the hitherto two communities.It was learnt that the battle over who would take over the traditional stool got to a climax penultimate month when the Iva Egba, Iva Enang, Iva Obeten and Iva Awonokwe communities allegedly invaded the farm lands of the Iva Egbe family members, destroyed their crops and attacked the people physically.

The invaders later moved from the farm land to the village and attacked Egbe family members killing three in the process and pulled down over 18 houses just as over 30 persons were wounded.In a petition addressed to the state police commissioner and made available to Daily Sun, Iva Egbe traditional leaders decried the incessant attacks on their families because they had refused to let go their traditional inheritance.In the petition dated December 6, 2013 and signed by Ovarr Ignatius Egba, Felix Abeng and Patrick Abeng Egbe, the community said the latest attack was an ethnic cleansing sort of and wanted government to intervene in the crisis.Speaking on the crisis, one of the youth leaders, Sunday Attan, said: “We have suffered in the last three years in the hands of our brothers from Iva Egba because of village head. Look at me now; I have lost everything I laboured for years to build. What are we struggling for and for how much?”When Daily Sun visited the state police command at Diamond Hill, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Hogan Bassey, was not around for comment, but an officer in his office, said: “It is true that Ofodua community in Obubra local government has reported to us and the command is still investigating.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Father, Uncle Of Cross River Deputy Governor Kidnapped:


Chief-Essien-Cobham

The Nigerian police has confirmed the abduction of Etubom Essien Cobham, the father of the deputy governor of Cross River state,

Mr Efiok Cobham, by gunmen at his country home in Creek Town.

The Public Relations Officer of the Cross River State Police Command, Mr Hogan Bassey, confirmed the development while speaking with newsmen in Calabar. He said: “For security reasons, I cannot tell you what we are doing to rescue him.

“The Commissioner of Police, Mr Kola Sodipo, and senior officers of the command have gone to Creek Town to see the building and the damage done.”

Eye-witnesses said the gunmen abducted the old man at about 2 a.m. on Friday in his residence at Creek Town in the Odukpani Local Government Area of the state.

Sources said that the deputy governor’s uncle, whose name was not immediately ascertained, was also abducted by the gunmen.

According to the sources in Creek Town, there was so much shooting while the operation lasted.

On the number of persons abducted across the state, Bassey said: “For now we are talking of the father. In due course we will give you details.”

On the incident at the residence of the Director-General of the State Security Service (NAN), Mr Ita Ekpenyong, he said the kidnappers could not gain access to Ekpenyong’s place.

Some reports said the kidnapers had initially burst into the residence of the brother of the SSS Director-General, but only succeeded in vandalising the building as the brother, identified as Chief Asuquo Aka, was not at home

The attackers were said to have been repelled upon getting to the home of the SSS DG himself.

Sources disclosed that the heavily armed abductors, accompanied by an Alsatian dog, came in through the Calabar creeks with two speed boats.

The incident, according to eye-witnesses, lasted for hours and took the community by surprise as the kidnappers fired gun shots indiscriminately to scare away any form of resistance before executing their act.

The attackers who were said to have entered Creek Town via the Bakassi Peninsula, came in two flying boats: “They broke the wall of the deputy governor’s father’s house to gain access to the building”, said
one source.

Source:

Father, Uncle Of Cross River Deputy Governor Kidnapped.


 

Efiok Cobham, deputy governor of Cross River state
By PM News, Lagos

The Nigerian police has confirmed the abduction of Etubom Essien Cobham, the father of the deputy governor of Cross River state, Mr Efiok Cobham, by gunmen at his country home in Creek Town.

The Public Relations Officer of the Cross River State Police Command, Mr Hogan Bassey, confirmed the development while speaking with newsmen in Calabar.

He said: “For security reasons, I cannot tell you what we are doing to rescue him.

“The Commissioner of Police, Mr Kola Sodipo, and senior officers of the command have gone to Creek Town to see the building and the damage done.”

Eye-witnesses said the gunmen abducted the old man at about 2 a.m. on Friday in his residence at Creek Town in the Odukpani Local Government Area of the state.

Sources said that the deputy governor’s uncle, whose name was not immediately ascertained, was also abducted by the gunmen.

According to the sources in Creek Town, there was so much shooting while the operation lasted.

On the number of persons abducted across the state, Bassey said: “For now we are talking of the father. In due course we will give you details.”

On the incident at the residence of the Director-General of the State Security Service (NAN), Mr Ita Ekpenyong, he said the kidnappers could not gain access to Ekpenyong’s place.

Some reports said the kidnapers had initially burst into the residence of the brother of the SSS Director-General, but only succeeded in vandalising the building as the brother, identified as Chief Asuquo Aka, was not at home

The attackers were said to have been repelled upon getting to the home of the SSS DG himself.

Sources disclosed that the heavily armed abductors, accompanied by an Alsatian dog, came in through the Calabar creeks with two speed boats.

The incident, according to eye-witnesses, lasted for hours and took the community by surprise as the kidnappers fired gun shots indiscriminately to scare away any form of resistance before executing their act.

The attackers who were said to have entered Creek Town via the Bakassi Peninsula, came in two flying boats: “They broke the wall of the deputy governor’s father’s house to gain access to the building”, said
one source.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

The Pincer strategy used to defeat Biafra.


Alabi-Isama-04

The Pincer strategies

My suggested strategy was, first for the Sector HQ to move forward to Ohoba nearer the beleaguered 16 Bde immediately, then to start what I called Operations Pincer 1, 2 or 3, one of which will not only relieve 16 Bde of pressure but end the war at the same time. the war front, and he was completely frustrated like most of us. However, we had to realize that Uli Ihiala was the most important part of Biafra at that time.

So, I invited Akinrinade to my Uyo HQ to discuss the “Pincer Strategy” after which Akinrinade and I went to discuss with Ayo Ariyo in Calabar; but Ariyo was no more interested. He led us into Port Harcourt during the 30-day advance, he held Port Harcourt until Adekunle returned finally to the war front, and he was completely frustrated like most of us.

We were not sure of what was inside the house; maybe it was even bugged. So, we came outside to discuss and to study the map. However, Ayo Ariyo listened to the plans, the strategy and the tactics of Operations Pincer 1, 2 and 3, he made some corrections and adjustments to the plans, and reminded me that all these had been discussed before we left Calabar a year ago, since April 1968, and only needed some adjustments, as the situation had changed. He was right, and he also told us that he had trained another 200 recruits that could be made available; I also had about 250 and Akinrinade another 250 recruits who were trained locally. Our three sectors were solid and had not seen or experienced any Biafran counter-attack since they were routed in our sectors at Aba, Ikot Ekpene and Calabar. We intensified training in all respects; from drivers training to medical, first aid, weapons training, snipers training, artillery and mortar training.

We sent long range patrols, and had plotted all known Biafran troop positions, defences, their re-supply routes, including obstacles en-route Uli Ihiala which was the “Centre Of Gravity” of Biafra’s war effort at that time. Only Sector 1 had problems which were of their own making; it was just a blunder. Any new reinforcements sent to 1 Sector merely fizzled away into Ohoba/Owerri road, just to die or be wounded. The hospitals were filled up at Port Harcourt with Owerri front casualties. The situation needed a new plan and strategy, not conventional warfare, which was just frontal, brutal and got so many dead, especially in a situation where we could have defeated the Biafrans mentally before they were defeated physically.

Further to Obasanjo’s reorganization, Major S.S Tomoye who was my deputy in Sector 3, was moved to Akinrinade’s 17Bde in Aba. Prior to his redeployment, Tomoye was deputy and Brigade Major at 13 Bde in Uyo. He also knew about Ops Pincer 1, 2 and 3. As a matter of fact, he helped draw all the maps and organize the training related to the final battle for the capture of Biafra’s centre of gravity at Uli Ihiala. We were no longer in the riverine war theatre, so tactics needed to change as we expected heavy casualties, which necessitated more training for the Medical Evacuation Team on how to evacuate casualties under heavy fire. I was transferred to Enugu while Major George Innih was transferred to take over my 13 Bde in Uyo. The plan looked good even if he made it seem as though this latter change was designed to replace the “enemy” that commanded 13 Bde.

It was okay by me as long as the entire Brigade knew about ops Pincer 1,2 and 3, and the troops that fought so hard and well from Calabar to Port Harcourt did not just die like chicken in the hand of an inexperienced commander; but the casualties kept coming in an alarming rate.

However, Obasanjo’s aim in reorganizing the Division as he did was to ensure that as GSO1 Akinrinade would still be able to control his old 17 Bde under the new command of Major Tomoye as well as the 13 Bde. But there was a snag. Of all the Pincer options, the one Obasanjo had preference for was Operation Pincer 1 which was the bloodiest, and the one rejected by the Army HQ as well as 3MCDO under Adekunle. And to canvass support for his choice, he went to 1 Division himself to brief Col. Bisalla on Pincer 1. Bisalla was not in Enugu at the time, so he spoke with Lt. Col. Danjuma who received him warmly but could not take a decision on the issue. Obasanjo also got in touch with 2 Division on the same subject.

However, when Bisalla returned to base in Enugu and looked at the bloody implication of Operation Pincer 1 he rejected the plan. That was how God saved Nigeria and Biafra from what would have been a senseless massacre that would have forever blighted the conduct of the civil war, and the image of Nigeria. To give a picture of the enormity of the possible consequences of Op. Pincer 1, you just have to think of a people trapped and surrounded by 1 and 2 Divisions, of the Nigeria Army, and the 3MCDO; all of them advancing simultaneously with tank, artillery and air support bombardment. Could Nigeria have been able to justify the aftermath? But that was Obasanjo’s preference, which practically every body in the command structure of the entire Nigerian army rejected. Since he had to settle for Pincer 2, innocent refugees, women and children, including the aged and disabled trapped in what was left of Biafra were thus saved from the horror of the devastation that would have been their fate if Obasanjo had had his way.

My modest estimate is that if Operation Pincer 1 had been executed there would have been a total of only slightly over a million Ibos left in Nigeria today. And there would have been no way we could absolve ourselves from heavy responsibility of what could truly have been genocide. In the final analysis, Obasanjo and Bisalla met at a meeting in Lagos where Bisalla had to explain why he could not accept to go along with Operation Pincer 1. In restrospect, he showed same brutal force in Odi, Bayelsa State in November 20, 1999 when he was civilian president.

Gen Hassan Usman Katsina, who became the Chief of Staff (Army) in May 1968, was briefed on Operations Pincer 1, 2 and 3 during his visit to 3MCDO in July 1968 after the capture of Port Harcourt. That was when 3MCDO started going astray with Adekunle’s operation OAU. In particular, after the fall of Owerri and Aba, the disastrous effort to take Umuahia in early October 1968 (secretly approved by Gowon and SHQ) rather than focus on Uli as approved by AHQ, brought things to a head. According to his memoirs, in mid-October 1968 the GSO1 at the AHQ, Col. Oluleye visited 3MCDO HQ in Port Harcourt and subsequently raised the possibility of creating a 4MCDO from the 3MCDO as an option to sending Adekunle on leave or replacing him altogether. But Gowon was not convinced yet. I was told about Oluleye’s visit; I did not know about it.

Col. Obasanjo was finally convinced that OP Pincer 2 was the way to go at last. It was not the only way to do it, as there were other methods of achieving the same result, but definitely not the initial way we had gone about it.

When I saw his confused look which suggested doubt, disbelief, and a lack of comprehension, I explained again, using the same map. All the 3MCDO problems were in Sector 1. Let us stop the blame game and get on with it. I further explained, by going into details as follows using the same map :-

*The remaining 16 Bde should be beefed up to strength, to defend their present position to disallow further Biafran advance across their defence line.

*19 Bde commanded by Maj Aliyu, should also be beefed up to strength to take up defensive positions where they were.

*15 Bde that was still at Omoku, should also be brought up to strength, and, with an extra Battalion, should advance to Uli Ihiala, passing through Ebocha,Mbebe, to Izombe, Mgbidi, with Oguta to the left. The extra Battalion would be left to defend Izombe, to avoid troops at Oguta from interfering with the advance of the main body of 15 Bde advancing to Mgbidi. They would bypass Owerri to the right, as we did not need Owerri. Otamiri River would be on the Battalion’s left flank.

*Then, 12, 14, and 17 Bdes under the command of Akinrinade, should advance from their present Sector HQ at Aba, to Inyiogugu, with Owerri to the left, aiming for Orlu. I also explained that 3MCDO never fought in the towns. We always bypassed them, surprising Biafran troops that expected us to fight inside the towns and villages, on the streets, including perhaps house-to-house fighting, which we avoided by all means. Based on the projections, I predicted that Akinrinade would take Uli-Ihiala in exactly seven days of crossing the start line at “H” hour.(5). We were lucky, I continued, that 1 Division had captured Okigwe in Oct. 1968, followed by Umuahia in April 1969, (which was two months before this briefing). Col. Obasanjo himself arrived in May 1969 three weeks after Umuahia was captured. 13 Bde, which was in my sector was already the largest of all the Brigades, and was well beefed up, ready to go. 13 Bde, therefore, would link up with 1 Division at Umuahia, and thence, advance along both sides of the river to RV right of Akinrinade at Urualla to take Nnewi (Ojukwu’s home town), behind Uli-Ihiala.

*18 Bde, another brigade in Sector 3, would hold its position at Itu and be prepared to enter Arochukwu, should the Biafran troops in Arochukwu move against Pincer troops of 13 Bde. A battalion each was still standing by at Obubra, Ugep, and at Ikot Okpora, under the command of Lt Col Ignatius Obeya, who was the Commander of 18 Bde, should the Biafrans move against Calabar instead.

*The worst scenario was if Biafran troops in Arochukwu moved towards Calabar, which was our own Centre of Gravity. In that case, the battalion at Ikot Okpora would engage them before they cross the river at Ikot Okpora. The role of 18 Bde would not change, they would enter Arochukwu behind the Biafrans. Either way, a dilemma would be created for Biafran troops at Arochukwu if they ever moved. Their best bet was to do nothing. Col. Obasanjo then took a good look at the map and the plan again, while Col. (Fr.) Pedro Martins laughed, and said that he was impressed. When in 2009, Mr. Kayode Williams and I went to see Fr. Martins at his Victoria Island residence in Lagos for his 90th birthday belated greetings, he remembered everything in detail as related to the Operation Pincer 2 briefing in Port Harcourt. It was incredible.

But Col Obasanjo preferred Op Pincer 1, despite all advice against it.

He then went about contacting the other two Divisions. Fortunately, the Pincer 1 idea was turned down by both Col. Bisalla of 1 Division and Col. Jalo of 2 Division. Col Bisalla’s point was very valid; he said there would be too much blood and that the aim of the war was not to exterminate the Ibo people or permanently change their culture by us occupying Iboland. I was impressed. I took the picture of their meeting. It was then that he had a rethink on Op Pincer 2. It was at this time that Col Obasanjo suddenly transferred me to I Division at Enugu.

The final battle (Final execution of Op Pincer 2)

I will explain here how Op Pincer 2 was finally executed when the officers were tired of line straightening operations which yielded no positive results except more casualties. Since all the units were already in position, and battle ready, the final battle started. As early as 0600 hours on 22 December 1969, 17 Bde under Maj SS Tomoye fired the first shot. He advanced to the right flank in order to be able to link up with 1 Division troops already at Umuahia since April 1969. This was what was expected of 13 Bde, but he did not move because he was not part of the line straightening operation; but since Akinrinade had decided to advance without 13 Bde, he did not bother.

The gap between Owerri and Umuahia was important because the Biafran troops that were dislodged by 1 Division at Umuahia had not settled down to defend their new locations. The Biafran troops also did not expect the move between the gaps. They were expecting that the old conventional, mundane tactics of hitting one’s head in a frontal attack as in Ohoba and thence to Owerri was what would happen. They, therefore, tied down most of their troops defending Owerri, for a show down with 3MCDO. So, they dug-in at Owerri, and in depth. It was expected to be the Mother of all battles at Owerri.

16 Bde commanded by Maj Utuk, who was still itching to take revenge on Owerri was not allowed to advance, while 19 Bde commanded by Maj. Aliyu was in defensive position to tie down Biafran troops at Owerri. With devastating 122 mm Artillery bombardment, directed at Owerri and Ohoba, the Biafran troops had no more doubt that 3MCDO was coming again, and they were ready for the mother of all battles.

Then 15 Bde commanded by Maj Iluyomade, who liked to salute like Hitler, moved into the gap between Oguta and Owerri to the left from Omoku, capturing Izombe, with Orashi River to his left which later flows right to his front.

That again further confirmed that 3MCDO would try to go back to Oguta. Therefore, Biafran attention was directed at Oguta and Owerri axes, while 14 Bde commanded by Maj Ola Oni to the left, and 12 Bde commanded by Isemede in the center advanced through the gap between Owerri to the left, and Umuahia to the right.

At this time, 13 Bde commanded by Maj George Innih had moved right from Ikot Ekpene towards Itu to what Obasanjo called passing through operation to capture Arochukwu. George Innih’s route is marked in red on the map. That distance alone is about 100 miles on a very bad road. To use the phrase used by Obasanjo in his book, he was to swing left towards Umuahia. That distance is another 100 miles from Arochukwu, and another 100 miles or more to Uli Ihiala, the Divisional objective.

When Akinrinade did not see him for four days, they continued the advance without him and his 13 Bde. On my birthday, 24th December 1969, Akinrinade and Tomoye linked up with 1 Division at Umuahia. They greeted me for my birthday and told me that it was my birthday present. That was cool, but I was biting my finger, wishing I was on the advance with them. We were running a commentary like a soccer match. On Christmas day 25th December 1969, I sent a message to the COSA in Lagos to say that Obasanjo went to Arochukwu and so did the 13 Bde with about 3,000 men going the wrong way. COSA then sent a signal message to Obasanjo to concentrate on Uli-Ihiala and nowhere else. Obasanjo then wrote in his book that he wondered how COSA knew about his move to Arochukwu. By the time he got the message, Akinrinade had ended the war by capturing Uli Ihiala. At this time, with Inyiogugu to their left, 12,14,and 17 Bdes under Akinrinade’s command (The Coordinator) then had 1 Division at Umuahia look after their right flank, which made the advance faster without having to wait anymore for 13 Bde. Akinrinade did not have air support, because the Count Von Rosen inquiry was still going on in Port Harcourt.

y the 5th of January 1969,14 Bde was at Amaraka, 12 Bde was at Umuna, while Tomoye’s 17 Bde passed through to take Umuzoma, and Urualla. From the right flank, the “Dream Team” was threatening Orlu from two flanks, having crossed Imo River, and were to enter Uli Ihiala by night fall.

By Thursday of 8th January 1969, Tomoye described the situation that they were not firing anymore, as there were too many refugees and too many Biafran troops just dropping their weapons and running, while some managed to enter their vehicles and drive fast away from the war front. They told all those that raised their hands up in surrender to just go home. They did not capture any POW. Casualties were light on both sides. Artillery could not be used beyond Owerri because of the enveloping troops from 12, 14 and 17 Bdes that were already behind enemy lines. By morning of Friday 9th January, 1970, Tomoye radioed to say that he thought the war was over as the Biafran troops were not fighting anymore. Beware of stray bullets, I shouted, and I asked after Maj. Innih. Tomoye had heard that his troops were at Owerri. I trusted that Akinrinade would not allow troops to enter the towns, which is why he warned Edet Utuk to remain in defence, and not enter Owerri. With his annoyance over what happened during the seven month siege, Utuk, might have the tendency to kill for revenge.

Very early in the morning of Tuesday 13th January 1970, a Biafran officer called Achuzia, with white handkerchief, crawled towards 17 Bde position, and was captured and taken to Lt. Col Akinrinade. He introduced himself as Col Achuzia, and that he was sent by Gen. Effiong and all the officers of Biafran Army to surrender to the commander of the Federal troops, and to invite the Commander to come and meet the Biafran officers somewhere few yards away, where they had gathered to surrender. The town was called Amichi, and that they were all waiting at a house there.

At first Akinrinade did not want to go but later he agreed and Maj Tomoye accompanied him. Before they left, they left orders with their troops that if in two hours they were not back, or nothing heard from them, the entire place must be leveled to the ground.

So, they left with Achuzia who we had wanted to kill in Port Harcourt if we got him, for killing Chief Halley Day, the owner of The Silver Valley Hotel at Port Harcourt. When we were young officers, before the war, we used to travel to Port Harcourt to stay at the Silver Valley Hotel because we were friends of Chief Halley Day’s children. Akinrinade of course then remembered that we should not kill anyone that looked at us in the face.

Akinrinade then told him that we were looking for him and that the meeting that they were going to should be worth it. Achuzia took Akinrinade and Tomoye to a house nearby, where they met Achuzia’s European wife, and Achuzia broke kola nuts with the usual Ibo traditional welcoming ceremony. Well, so far so good, after which they then went to meet all Biafran officers seated and waiting to surrender to the two officers- Akinrinade and Tomoye. Akinrinade met all of them including some of our classmates like Gbulie and others. It was then that Akinrinade sent word to Obasanjo that Biafran troops had surrendered to him and his men if he would like to come and see. I was still on the RS301 Operation Radio with some officers, listening to our commentary-like discussions with Tomoye’s radio operator.

It was then that Obasanjo, the GOC of 3 MCDO started looking for his officers. It took him four hours to drive from PH to Amichi.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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