Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu dies: leader of breakaway Nigerian state Biafra was 78


Former Biafra warlord Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (L) who emerged as the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)'s presidential aspirant for 2007 elections after their national convention in Enugu is pictured with chief Victor Ume and Mrs Virgy, governor of Anambra State during the APGA convention held in Enugu, Nigeria, 04 December 2006.



Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has died, according to Africa news reports. 

The Oxford educated Nigerian colonel, who founded the Republic of Biafra — a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria — in 1967 and led it until 1970, has died. He was 78.

The Associated Press said he died on Saturday, without citing a cause. Ojukwu reportedly had a stroke at his home in Enugu, Nigeria, in December 2010, and had since been under treatment in London. 

He reportedly died in Hammersfield Hospital.

According to AllAfrica.com, the national chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) that Ojukwu led, confirmed Ojukwu's death.

Chief Victor Umeh reportedly said: "Our great Leader is dead! May his great noble soul rest in peace."

According to VOA, Ojukwu is internationally better remembered "for the late 1960s images of starving Biafran children with emaciated faces and stick-like arms.

"A son of one of Nigeria’s richest men and educated in Britain, Ojukwu gained international prominence during the 1966 coup in Nigeria. An estimated 1 million people were killed during the ensuing civil war."

Despite this, plaudits rolled in from African leaders.

The office of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued a statement Saturday saying Ojukwu will be remembered as one of the great personalities of his time who stood out as a fearless, erudite and charismatic leader.

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State described Ojukwu's death as a big loss to Nigerians.

"Though, we knew his health had been poor, one still expected a miracle from somebody whose image was as large as who he was as the Ikemba Nnewi," he said, The Nation reported.