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Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu


General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi (born November 4, 1933) was the leader of the secessionist state of Biafra in Nigeria (1967–1970), during the Nigerian Civil War. He is usually referred to in news and other sources just as Ojukwu. Frederick Forsyth, a friend, authored a novel about him titled Emeka. It was published in 1982. Ojukwu was also a prototype of anonymous General character in Forsyth's novel The Dogs of War published in 1974.

He was born in Zungeru[1] as the son of Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu (KBE), a business tycoon who was believed to be Nigeria's first multi-millionaire. Chukwuemeka's name meant "God has done well." He attracted media publicity at a young age. In 1944, the young Ojukwu was briefly imprisoned for assaulting a white British colonial teacher who was viciously humiliating a black African lady at King's College in Lagos, an event which generated widespread coverage in local newspapers. He then went on to study in Britain, first at Epsom College, in Surrey and later earned a Masters degree in history at Lincoln College, Oxford University.

Ojukwu decided to enter the military over the objections of his father, who wanted him to study law. He joined the Nigerian military and graduated from the prestigious Sandhurst Military Academy in England. He then became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army of Nigeria and Military Governor of the oil rich Eastern Region. Following an anti-Igbo/Christian genocidal pogrom in the Muslim Northern Region, a meeting of Igbo customary chiefs at Umuahia in the Eastern Region decided to declare the region independent consisting the Igbo heartland, the Niger Delta (mostly Ijaw area) and the Cross River basin (Efik and Ibibio areas) independent. Ojukwu was chosen by the Igbos to lead the new country and appointed Head of State & General of the Peoples Army, named "Biafra" after the Bight of Biafra. Despite some early Biafran successes such as the world famous Abagana ambush in which two divisions of the Nigerian Army were annihilated, the Nigerians slowly gained the upper hand, supported by the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union and, tacitly, by the United States. Among the world's major nations, only France and Portugal offered some support to Biafra.

Ojukwu fled Biafra as it collapsed, intending to set up a government in exile. He subsequently lived in Ivory Coast for 13 years. Seeking to bolster his support among Igbos, President Alhaji Shehu Shagari pardoned Ojukwu and allowed him to return to Nigeria in 1980. He joined Shagari's National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and contested the 1983 election for the Senate. As the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), he ran for President in the 2003 presidential election. He claimed to have won the election and filed a court challenge against what he said was the "massive fraud" that allegedly denied him the presidency.

Today Ojukwu lives a quiet life in Eastern Nigeria. In early December 2006 he was again chosen to be the APGA presidential candidate for the April 2007 election.


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