By Chris Onuoha
ASABA—A foremost traditional ruler in Delta State, the Asagba of Asaba, Professor Chike Edozien, has called on Nigerians and the Federal Government to evolve a system that guarantees justice for all, saying that it was the only way to drive and sustain unity in the country.
He stated this, weekend, in his palace in Asaba, during a media briefing to unveil a four-day remembrance programme tagged Remembrance and Forgiveness signpost, 50 years of Asaba Massacre, drawn to commemorate the killings of Asaba indigenes by federal troops during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war on October 7, 1967.
The Asagba, speaking through his traditional prime minister, the Iyase of Asaba, Chief Patrick Onyeobi, said: “We the people of Asaba Kingdom have decided to collectively come out and tell the world the story of our unfortunate and sad tragic experience of 50 years ago which left many of our people traumatized.
“We are telling the story because we dearly love our country Nigeria and want it to remain united and indivisible. We will not like the same mistakes that led us to the unfortunate Nigeria civil war of 1967 to 1970 which produced the Asaba massacre of October 7, 1967, to be repeated so that history does not condemn us, particularly the present generation of leaders of our country, as history has done the Bourbons of France, who history recorded as having learnt nothing, forgotten nothing, and mastered nothing from their history.
“We, therefore, must strive to evolve a system of government that guarantees justice to all. We also ask for the full support of the global community towards the realization of the goals of Asaba October 7 massacres.”
The memorial, billed to hold from October 5 to October 8, will witness programmes that include one minute silence for the Asaba martyrs at Noon on October 7, presentation of book on the carnage entitled “The Asaba Massacre – Trauma, memories and the Nigerian Civil War, authored by renowned anthropologist Prof. S. Elizabeth Bird, and a colloquium on the Asaba Massacre with the theme: “In pursuit of Rebirth.”
Eminent personalities expected include the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Maj. Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (retd), former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, among others.
Chairman of the Memorial Group Committee, Dr. Alban Ofili-Okonkwo, said; “At this turbulent time in the life of our nation, Asaba people have chosen to rise above the pain and anguish of the past and explore forgiveness. It is time to heal and to bring closure to this sordid event. It is against this backdrop that indigenes of Asaba, who witnessed the horrific ruin of their land and people are convinced of their duty to ensure that such a tragic incident never happens again anywhere in our country and the world.”