Today in History: 55 Years Ago, Ahaba(Asaba) Massacre took place, No Justice.

On this day, October 7, 1967, one of the heinous massacres took place in Ahaba (Asaba), present-day Delta state. The Nigerian troops invaded Ahaba (Asaba) and shot dead over 2000 Igbo people.

What was their crime? 

Today marks 55 years the people of Ahaba (Asaba) in Delta state have been living in deep sorrow and anguish. They've been swimming in the ocean of misery and trauma as a result of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war.

It was alleged that the massacre was carried out to teach the Ahaba (Asaba) people a bitter lesson "for being and supporting Biafrans". Barely three months into the war over the declaration of the Republic of Biafra, the federal troops descended on the small town on the west bank of the River Niger.


Like possessed beings, the federal troops went berserk, ransacking and vandalising homes, killing every "man" sighted and destroying homes, among other things. The killings started on 5th October and took another horrendous dimension on Oct. 7, 1967. That day, hundreds of men, women and children came out chanting "One Nigeria" in support and solidarity with the federal troops. Many of them came out in their best local white attire (akwa ọcha). 

But the military had other plans. They took the innocent citizens to Ogbe-Osowa area of the town. There, they killed hundreds of men in cold blood. And Ahaba (Asaba) laid prostate, in ruins. A town without men.

The order for the killing was reportedly given by Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Taiwo. Ironically, Taiwo was beheaded during a coup in 1976, reinforcing the saying that those that kill by the sword will die by the sword (Ogbu mma ga-ana na mma). And his son Brigadier-General Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo, is the Nigerian Army Commander who claimed nobody died at Lekki. His father  masterminded the killing of over 1,000 Igbo Civilians in 1967at Ahaba (Asaba) Massacre. Hereditary.

Another version of witness account credited to Dr. Uchenna Gwam, who escaped death by whiskers said: "The Nigerian troops that came into Ahaba (Asaba) came with the aim of eliminating every Ahaba (Asaba) man as they thought they were fathers, brothers and uncles of Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, the  leader of the 1st Nigerian coup in 1966 that killed Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.

CKN, hailed from Okpanam, 5 kms drive from Ahaba (Asaba). I would rather say those soldiers that came to Ahaba (Asaba) were on a revenge mission and not after the Biafrans. He further said that when the federal troops opened fire on the defenceless Ahaba (Asaba) citizens, Ibrahim Taiwo was excitedly shouting: "Kill them all! They are all unbelievers!"

The mass murder was not a one-off thing. "At Ogbe-Osowa, the mayhem was on Oct. 8 at John Halt, it was Oct. 9, 1967; at St. Patrick's college, Ahaba (Asaba) and Umujia, both in early 1968. Little did Ahaba (Asaba) people know that the attempt to embrace the federal troops was a game of death.

Every village prepared and went to Ogbe-osowa square, thinking that they were coming to receive their friends but the reverse was the  case. When they got there, they separated the men from the women. The next thing they opened fire. The whole men there were mowed down. The women buried those men killed. The women went through the lifeless bodies looking for their own people because everybody wore akwa ọcha. 

So, if you recognised anyone that you know, you take the body and bury. Vultures were feasting on the dead, puncturing their stomachs. The soldiers took advantage of the situation and raped so many women, both young and old, they forcefully married so many others. 

A cenotaph had been erected in memory of the fallen, with their names inscribed on the wall. We remember today the victims of the despicable massacre of unarmed Igbo civilians masterminded by General Murtala Mohammed, carried out by Major Taiwo and his boys.

God rest the dead.


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