The remains of former Biafran leader Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu will remain in London for security reasons and proper care, it was learnt yesterday.
They won’t be brought home only when the burial rites are to start.
All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) National chairman Chief Victor Umeh broke the news to reporters at Ojukwu’s Casablanca Lodge Enugu home on his arrival from London.
Ojukwu’s children are expected home today, his wife, Bianca, will return to the country on Saturday, Umeh said.
The APGA chairman, who gave the indication that Ojukwu will be given a Christian (Catholic) burial, said extensive consultations will take place before the funeral.
“It is very clear that the burial of Ojukwu is not just like any burial. Certainly in this part of the world, it will be a burial nobody has ever seen. He was a man so many people are interested in his burial rites,” Umeh said.
According to him: “The short meetings we had in London and the ones they had at home require that more consultations will be made before a final date for his burial will be announced. Once the body is brought home, the burial rites will commence.
“The decision is that we still leave his remains in England for proper care and for us to get back home and work. You know the family will be involved. The people of Nnewi will be involved. The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) will be involved. As you can see, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, MASSOB leader, has been here receiving guests.
“The two governments under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) – Anambra and Imo – will be fully involved. All the governments in the Southeast region where he was military governor in the 60s will be involved. The President, who has shown immense concern for our leader in the past one and half years, will also be involved in the planning. So also other leaders across the nation.
“It will surprise you that in England, Ojukwu’s former colleagues in the school, people he went to Epsom College with, indicated interest that they want to be involved in his burial. So, it is something that you have to prepare very elaborately to accommodate all interests.”
Nnewi, Ojukwu’s home town, was in turmoil yesterday, following the invasion of the commercial city by members of the Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM).
The group, led by its President Benjamin Onwuka, stormed the Nkwo Nnewi triangle, singing war songs and waving Biafran flags.
However, it was not a lucky day for the crowd, numbering over 500, as they were dispersed by the police.
The president of the group, who lives in the United States, was arrested by the police.
Anambra State Police spokesman Mr Emeka Chukwuemeka, denied the arrest.
He said the people were making noise and sharing pamphlets and the police advised them to stop. They complied, he said.
But a member of the group told our reporter that their leader was whisked away by the police to an unknown destination.
Onwuka earlier told reporters that they were working to actualize Biafra.
He said: “Though we are still mourning our leader Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, we are not going to allow Ojukwu’s idea to die.
“America and other parts of the world must be part of the struggle, and some of the reasons why Biafra must be actualised include: creeping Islamisation of Biafrans, marginalisation of Biafrans and Islamic Banking and Economic System.”
Others according to him, are the neglect of infrastructure like Oji Power Dam and River Niger Bridge, lack of an international airport in the East and bad roads, which include Oba to Okigwe road, Onitsha to Enugu Expressway and Aba to Enugu expressway, among others.
Workers and some dignitaries have been scrambling to sign the condolence registers provided in strategic parts of the state.
When our reporter visited the secretariat, the House of Assembly Complex and the Government House where registers are open, the queues were long.
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the federal Government to immortalize Ojukwu.
The lawmakers said the late Biafran leader paid his dues to the political and economic growth of the country, in spite of being exiled as a result of the civil war, he never did anything to undermine the corporate existence of the country.
A delegation has been mandated by the House to visit the family of the late elder statesman.
The lawmakers’ position followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Uche Ekwenuife and 58 others, where the need to immortalise the late elder statesman was justified.
In her argument, Ekwenuife said, “last Saturday was a black day for us from the Southeast and for majority of Nigerians. He died at a time Nigeria needed his contribution for the stability of the polity.
“It is no gainsaying that the Ikemba was a historic figure with an outstanding family pedigree, who, despite his rich background chose to carve a niche for himself by joining the Nigerian Army after school in London”.
Her prayers that the late Biafran leader be immortalised by the Federal government and for the House to send a delegation to commiserate with the family was unanimously supported.
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Why Ojukwu’s body ‘ll remain in London, by Umeh