May 25 2020 | Radio Biafra
The Asaba/Ahaba massacre occurred in early October 1967, during the Nigeria/Biafra war, the Nigerian government fought over the secession of Biafra from the Nigerian Federation, Asaba/Ahaba is predominantly Igbo region of Biafra, before the outbreak of the war, Asaba/Ahaba was former also known to be part of old Eastern Region of Nigeria. Asaba/Ahaba is ethnically and linguistically Igbo with no shred of doubt.
On that sorrowful day when the Nigerian Federal troops entered Asaba/Ahaba around 5th October 1967, and began ransacking houses and killing civilians.
The Nigerian government Federal troops claimed they were Biafran sympathisers or soldiers, available reports suggest that more than hundred souls have been killed individually and in groups at various locations in the town of Asaba/Ahaba. The Asaba/Ahaba leaders summoned their town people to assemble on the morning of 7th October 1967, hoping to end the violence through a show of support for “One Nigeria.” Hundreds of men, women, and children, many wearing the ceremonial akwa ocha (white) attire paraded along the main street, singing, dancing, and chanting “One Nigeria.”
At a junction, men and teenage boys were separated from women and young children, and gathered in an open square at Ogbe-Osowa village. Knowingly the Nigerian Federal troops revealed their machine guns to them, and orders were given, reportedly by Second-in-Command, Maj. Ibrahim Taiwo, to open fire. It is estimated that more than five thousand  men and boys were killed, some as young as twelve  years old, in addition to that, many more were killed in the preceding days. The bodies of some victims were retrieved by family members and buried at home.
But unfortunately, most of the people massacred bodies were buried in mass graves, without appropriate burial ceremony. Many extended families lost dozens of men and boys. The Nigerian Federal troops after the wholesome manslaughter occupied Asaba/Ahaba for many months, during this time most parts of the town was destroyed, many women and girls were raped or forcibly “married off”, and large numbers of Asaba/Ahaba citizens fled, frequently not returned until the war ended in 1970.
The estimated death toll during the early October massacre was in excess of five thousand [5,000], souls perished, although the exact numbers will likely never be known because the war could not give people the chance to start head counting of each family that loss either a male child or their father, but it is believed that more than the number estimated were wasted on daily basis with no one attacking them to stop. Ibrahim B. Haruna has sometimes been named as the officer who ordered the massacre, following a report of his testimony to the Nigerian Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission, known as the Oputa Panel.
In some articles, it was quoted that Ibrahim B. Haruna claimed the responsibility as the commanding officer of the massacre and having no apology for war crimes and the atrocity he committed against the defenceless citizens of Asaba/Ahaba. However, Ibrahim B. Haruna was not present in Asaba/Ahaba in 1967. He replaced Murtala Muhammed as C.O. of the Second Division in spring 1968. While there are no eye-witness reports of Murtala Muhammed ordering the killings, he was the Commander in the field, and thus must bear responsibility of war crimes.
In October 2017, the Asaba/Ahaba community marked the 50th anniversary of the massacres with a two-day commemoration, during which the new, comprehensive book on the massacre, its causes, consequences, and legacy, was launched: “The Asaba Massacre: Trauma, Memory, and the Nigerian Civil War,” by S. Elizabeth Bird and Fraser Ottanelli (Cambridge University Press). This book, which draws on interviews with survivors, military and government figures, as well as archival sources, discusses how and why the massacres happened.
The impact of this community trauma, decades after the event. What could possibly be the crime of these people, what could possibly warrant this genocide and annihilation on a peaceful people even at a point when they surrendered, without arms on them, the only answer is because they were Biafrans and as such must be annihilated, but Chukwu Okike Abiama said no that the remnants of Asaba/Ahaba must live to tell their story to the hearing of humanity for what Nigeria is, “a slaughter house”.
A witness of the mass murder, Dr. Cyril Uchenna Gwam, said: “The Nigerian Federal troops that came into Asaba came with the aim of eliminating every Asaba/Ahaba man as they thought, they were fathers, brothers and uncles of Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, the leader of the first Nigerian coup in 1966 that killed Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
The massacre is still not being acknowledged by the perpetrators as a highly sensitive issue that needs to be addressed. According to historians like Elizabeth Bird and Frazer Ottanelli, the massacre is not well known because it was covered up at the time it happened. They argue that this was done with the connivance of Nigeria’s allies and backers, such as the British government Labour Party of Baron Harold Wilson. The fact that the military commander whose soldiers committed the atrocities, Murtala Muhammed, became Nigeria’s head of state in 1975 ensured that the suppression of the truth continued.
Come 30th May 2020, the Indigenous People of Biafra will remember the innocent citizens of Asaba/Ahaba massacred in cold blood, in their pool of blood the Nigerian government rejoiced and make merry, the crime of these innocent people massacred till date cannot be discussed elsewhere in the zoo called Nigeria but even at that, Biafrans must not fail to remember her losses during the war of genocide and the way to forge ahead of impending dangers, what this portends for Biafrans as a people, if they fail as a nation to mourn them in Biafra, their memory will be forgotten and history will not do justice to them. Rest on our flesh and blood.
Chibuike John Nebeokike
For: Radio Biafra Media