One of the most brutal succession killings in Nigeria was the Asaba Massacre which occurred in early October 1967, during which the life’s of at least 1,000 individuals were lost. In literal words, this set of individuals can be easily called “Victims of circumstances”.

Three months into the Biafran war, August 1967 to be precised; the indigenous Igbo troops (Biafran Soldiers) invaded the Midwest region, to the west of the Niger River. They spread west, taking charge of Benin city and reaching as far as Ore where they were pushed back by the Nigerian Second Division under the command of Col. Murtala Muhammed; the then military head of state. The division gained the upper hand and forced the indigenous troop back to the Niger where they crossed through the bridge into the Biafran city of Onitsha Anambra State. They blew up the eastern span of the bridge so the federal troop didn’t penetrate or get a chance to get them.The federal division troops entered Asaba around 5th October 1967, and began killing and brutally ransacking the houses of indigenes claiming that they were Biafran sympathizers.

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On the early morning of October 7th 1967, leaders gathered townspeople of Asaba hoping to end the violence through a show of support for “One Nigeria”. Men, women and children paraded round the region wearing Akwa Oche (Native white clothing), till they arrived the main square were federal troops were allegedly ordered by the second in command, Maj. Ibrahim Taiwo. An estimate of more than 7,00 men and boys were killed in addition to many more killings in preceding days.

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The bodies of victims were carried away by other family members, while most of them were buried in mass grave without any official burial rite. The federal troops occupied Asaba for many months during which they destroyed many houses, raped and married young girls forcibly. Large number of citizens fled to exile until the way ended in 1970.

Silva Okpara for Hiztorybox.com

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