Civil War veteran and Biafran hero Col. Joseph ‘Hannibal’ Achuzia is dead, the family confirmed today.
He died on Monday morning at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, Delta State, after a brief illness, one of his sons, Mr. Benedict Onyeka Achuzia told newsmen.
Already, a 21-gun salute has been shot to traditionally announce the demise of the Ikemba of Asaba to indigenes of the town.
At his residence at Idumujei quarters of Asaba, it was an atmosphere of grief as Asaba natives trooped in to sympathise with the bereaved family. A condolence register has already be opened for him.
Onyeka said his father passed on at about 8am.
“He died around 8 this morning. It was something we never expected but it happened. He was 90 years old. It’s just a sad incident,”Onyeka said.
“My father was the best dad ever. I was so sad when he gave up, and I can’t help it. Even when he was entering the mortuary, I couldn’t believe.”
Revealing his last moment with his dad, Onyeka said “he was smiling but we never knew he was going. May his soul rest in perfect peace.”
The late Col. Joseph Achuzia (rtd.) was born in 1929. He was a major in the Biafran army during the Nigeria Civil War of 1967 to 1970.
Prior to joining the Biafran Army in May 1967, Achuzia had been a soldier in the Nigerian Army.
He fled to the Southeast in fear of anti-Igbo sentiments among the Nigerian Army during the war.
Achuzia was a traditional stakeholder in the affairs of Asaba as he held the title of Ikemba of Asaba till his death.
He was generally sympathetic towards Biafran secessionism, but never supported the approach adopted by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
Achuzia rather advocated for the country to be restructured, while also insisting that activism for Biafra, as championed by the Supreme Council of Elders of IPOB, was based on protecting Igbo interests and identity, much like Afenifere or Arewa protect Yoruba and Hausa identity and interests, respectively.
As chairman of the Supreme Council of Elders of IPOB, Achuzia in his last interview with SUN News correspondent in Asaba last September, condemned the military’s “Operation Python Dance” in the Southeast region.