21-gun salute has been shot to traditionally announce the demise of the Ikemba of Asaba, Col. Joseph Achuzia a.k.a Hannibal, who was a major in the Biafran army during the Nigeria Civil War of 1967 to 1970.
Sunnews reported that the war veteran who was a traditional stakeholder in the affairs of Asaba, died on Monday morning at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, Delta State, after a brief illness, according to one of his sons, Mr. Benedict Onyeka Achuzia.
Before his death and joining the Biafran army for the civil war in May 1967, Achuzia was a soldier in the Nigerian Army. He fled to the Southeast in fear of anti-Igbo sentiments among the Nigerian Army during the war.
In a 2011 interview, Col. Joseph Achuzia disclosed why they forced Ojukwu to declare Biafra. He said in the interview;
All of a sudden, we were given a date that on such and such a day the federal government is going to carve up Eastern Region. Ojukwu then called a Consultative Assembly of the people, among which were the Ika Igbos, also given a pride of place as part of the Igbo nation. Our traditional rulers from the Midwest, the Igbo speaking areas attended that conference.
I was privy. I was there. And around 1pm a news flash came. What we were hearing as rumour became a reality: Eastern Region was carved. They carved out Rivers State and South East State. So we went into the afternoon recess and by the time we came out of recess and went into afternoon session, a decision was quickly reached that we can’t sit back and see ourselves divided, so the best thing to do was that we must ask Ojukwu to declare the State of Biafra.
Before that there has been a lot of argument, here and there, over the issue of what name do we go by. So many different names and configurations were bandied about but finally we asked the group of lawyers assembled to prepare a communiqué declaring the state of Biafra.
Even that meeting, Ojukwu wasn’t there, he was still in Government House. This meeting was being held within Hotel Presidential. So by the time the decision was reached, this was carried to him, we were surprised that he said no. He will not do it. He said that he will not declare. We thought either they didn’t teach the military what is meant when somebody is trying to cut you to bits. If he didn’t understand, we did. So message was sent back to him and an ultimatum was given him that if by 8:00 O’clock that night he didn’t declare the state of Biafra, not only will we remove him, we will declare and decide who leads us.
Later in the evening he finally announced the state of Biafra. So we all rejoiced that now, at least, if Nigeria continued attacking us, we now knew how we were going to fight. The Eastern Region was one whole entity notwithstanding the earlier announcement by federal government creating three states out of Eastern Region.