NIGERIAN Ambassador to Cote D’Ivoire during late President Shehu Shagari’s administration, Denis Ukume, has disclosed that late Biafra warlord, Odumegwu Ojukwu, wept under his shoulder for forgiveness over role in war. The 83-year-old claimed Ojukwu agreed to Shagari’s condition to be referred to simply as “Mr” without any military insignia if he (Ojukwu) would be granted pardon for his role in the Nigerian Civil War.
But he said Ojukwu almost marred his chances of being accorded the amnesty when he flouted the condition a few hours after by referring to himself as “General Odumegwu Ojukwu”, in an appreciation letter he wrote to him following his role in the amnesty deal. Ukume’s claims were contained in his book, titled: “I believe”, which he published among three others, launched in Abuja.
His three other books also launched alongside, were titled, “My Challenges”, Osofinco and Mamma Mia”, respectively. In the published book, the former Nigerian ambassador also said the then National Party of Nigeria, NPN, had made efforts to frustrate the granting of amnesty to Ojukwu if he would not join the party upon return to Nigeria but that his firm opposition to the party’s leadership condition, led to the amnesty for the late Biafran leader.
“When the Executive Committee members of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, got wind about the progress being made in connection with the granting of amnesty to Ojukwu, they quickly sent a powerful delegation to me. “They requested that under no circumstances should amnesty be given to Ojukwu unless he gave an unequivocal undertaking that he would enroll as a member of the NPN on return. I told them clearly that their demand was unacceptable. I reported the matter to the president.
“Weeks later, I traveled to Lagos to inform the president that I was convinced beyond any doubt that Ojukwu was thoroughly remorseful for all that had happened during the civil war. I then recommended he be granted amnesty. “The president accepted my recommendation. He dispatched the Minister of Internal Affairs, Ali Baba, and the Director-General of National Security Organisation, NSO, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi with a list of conditions governing the granting of the amnesty.
“They were as follows: That no one would force him to join a political party. The government, however, advised that on his return, he should conduct a thorough overview of the political parties in the country with any of his choice; that his personal protection like those of all Nigerians was guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution; that he should not own a privately armed body for is protection,” he said