[People Profile] All We Know About Odumegwu Ojukwu

All We Know About Odumegwu Ojukwu

Young Ojukwu in his Military Regalia

Profiling Chukwuemeka “Emeka” Odumegwu-Ojukwu

A Quick Glance At Chukwuemeka "Emeka" Odumegwu-Ojukwu
Full NamesChukwuemeka "Emeka" Odumegwu-Ojukwu
Nationality Nigerian, Biafran (1967-1970)
Date Of Birth4 November 1933
State of OriginBiafra.
Rank Lieutenant Colonel (Nigerian Army)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Okoli, Njideka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Stella Ojukwu, Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
ChildrenEmeka, Mimi, Okigbo, Ebele, Afamefuna, Chineme and Nwachukwu
WarsNigerian Civil War
EducationCMS Grammar School, Lagos
King's College, Lagos
Epsom College
Lincoln College, Oxford University
Eaton Hall
Years of Service1957–1967 (Nigerian Army)
1967–1970 (Biafran Army)

Chukwuemeka “Emeka” Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born on 4 November 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, his father was an Igbo businessman from present-day Nnewi, Anambra State. Sir Louis was in the transport business; he took advantage of the business boom during World War II to become one of the richest men in Nigeria. He began his educational career in Lagos, southwestern Nigeria.

Emeka Ojukwu attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos at the age of 10 in 1943. He later transferred to King’s College, Lagos in 1944 where he was involved in a controversy leading to his brief imprisonment for assaulting a British teacher who put down a student strike action that he was a part of. This event generated widespread coverage in local newspapers. At 13, his father sent him to the United Kingdom to continue his education, first at Epsom College and later at Lincoln College, Oxford University, where he earned a master’s degree in History. He returned to colonial Nigeria in 1956.

What Ojukwu Became Popular For. 

On 15 January 1966, Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu executed and announced the bloody military coup in Kaduna, also in northern Nigeria. At the time, Lieutenant-Colonel Ojukwu was in Kano, northern Nigeria,  Fortunately, the coup lost much steam in the north, where it had succeeded and t is to Ojukwu’s credit. Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu supported the forces loyal to the Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major-General Aguiyi-Ironisi. Major Nzeogwu was in control of Kaduna, but the coup had failed in other parts of the country.

Aguiyi-Ironsi took over the leadership of the country and thus became the first military head of state. On Monday, 17 January 1966, he appointed military governors for the four regions. Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu was appointed Military Governor of the Eastern Region. Others were: Lt.-Cols Hassan Usman Katsina (North), Francis Adekunle Fajuyi (West), and David Akpode Ejoor (Mid West). These men formed the Supreme Military Council with Brigadier B.A.O. Ogundipe, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, Chief of Staff Army HQ, Commodore J. E. A. Wey, Head of Nigerian Navy, Lt. Col. George T. Kurubo, Head of Air Force, Col. Sittu Alao.


By 29 May, the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom started. This presented problems for Odumegwu Ojukwu, as he did everything in his power to prevent reprisals and even encouraged people to return, as assurances for their safety had been given by his supposed colleagues up north and out west.

On 29 July 1966, a group of officers, including Majors Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, and Martin Adamu, led the majority of Northern soldiers in a mutiny that later developed into a “Counter-Coup” or “July Rematch”. The coup failed in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria where Ojukwu was the military Governor, due to the effort of the brigade commander and hesitation of northern officers stationed in the region (partly due to the mutiny leaders in the East being Northern whilst being surrounded by a large Eastern population).

The Supreme Commander General Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host Colonel Fajuyi were abducted and killed in Ibadan. On acknowledging Ironsi’s death, Ojukwu insisted that the military hierarchy be preserved. The most senior army officer after Ironsi was Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe. However, the leaders of the counter-coup insisted that Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon be made head of state, although both Gowon and Ojukwu were of the same rank in the Nigerian Army. Ogundipe could not muster enough force in Lagos to establish his authority as soldiers (Guard Battalion) available to him were under Joseph Nanven Garba, who was part of the coup. This realization led Ogundipe to opt-out. Thus, Ojukwu’s insistence could not be enforced by Ogundipe unless the coup plotters agreed (which they did not). The fallout from this led to a standoff between Ojukwu and Gowon, leading to the sequence of events that resulted in the Nigerian civil war.


On 26 November 2011, Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu died in the United Kingdom after a brief illness, aged 78. The Nigerian Army accorded him the highest military accolade and conducted a funeral parade for him in Abuja, Nigeria on 27 February 2012, the day his body was flown back to Nigeria from London before his burial on Friday 2 March. He was buried in a newly built mausoleum in his compound at Nnewi. Before his final interment, he had an elaborate weeklong funeral ceremony in Nigeria alongside Chief Obafemi Awolowo, whereby his body was carried around the five Eastern states, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, including the nation’s capital, Abuja. Memorial services and public events were also held in his honor in several places across Nigeria, including Lagos and Niger State, his birthplace, and as far away as Dallas, Texas, United States. His funeral was attended by President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and ex-President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana among other personalities.


A Few References:

  1.  “Ojukwu’s birthday”. Archived from the original on 8 December 2011.
  2. ^ “Nigeria’s ex-Biafra leader Chukwuemeka Ojukwu dies”BBC News. 26 November 2011.
  3. Jump up to:a b Daly, Samuel Fury Childs (7 August 2020). A History of the Republic of Biafra. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108887748ISBN 978-1-108-88774-8.
  4. ^ “Odumegwu-Ojukwu Dies At Age 78”. Allafrica.com. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  5. ^ “Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu obituary”the Guardian. 27 November 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  6. Jump up to:a b “Early Life of Emeka Ojukwu”. Allafrica.com. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  7. ^ Nwakanma, Obi. “Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1933-2011)”Vanguard Nigeria. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  8. ^ “Throwback: Day Ojukwu slapped his teacher”The News (Nigeria). Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  9. ^ “Educational History of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu”. Allafrica.com. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  10. ^ Forsyth, Frederick (1992). Emeka. Spectrum Books, 1992. pp. 24–25. ISBN 9789782462091. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  11. ^ Odumegwu Ojukwu, Chukwuemeka (January 1989). Because I am involved. Spectrum Books Ltd., 1989. p. 79. ISBN 9789782460462. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  12. ^ Madauwuchi. “Emeka Ojukwu Biography: Things You Did Not Know About Him”

Reference CC: Wikipedia

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