In this interview, Mrs Uloma Okwudiri, wife of slain IPOB member who was reportedly killed on May 29th 2016 Biafran day rally by soldiers at Nkpor, relives the pains of not seeing the body of her loving husband, Kingsley. She asked the military authorities to release her husband’s whether dead or alive even as she picks holes with the casualty figure being bandied about, saying it is much higher. She spoke with EMMA OKEREH and Stella Omona in Abuja. Excerpts;
My name is Mrs. Uloma Favor Levi OKwudiri, wife of Mr. Kingsley Okwudiri Ejiifor murdered by the military on May 29, 2016, eve of Biafra May day,May 30th in Nkpor Catholic church, Anambra State.
What really happened that night?
He traveled on sunday 29th May, 2016 from Port Harcourt for Biafra rally at Nkpor. He was among the people killed and until now, we have not seen his corpse.
How did you know he was killed?
There is an eyewitness, a survivor of the attack. Only one out of hundreds of them survived. We talked that night at about 11.45pm and he said he was in the church and that his battery was running down that I may not get him. He said he would call me tomorrow. By 2am that night, the military came and killed them. The eyewitness was the only one that survived. When I called the next day when I did not hear from him, another person picked the call and I asked him to give the phone to the owner, but he said, ‘’ madam I am sorry, come and take his phone’’ that he was among the people killed.
Do you know of other people that are in similar situation as you?
Other people have recovered corpses of their loved ones but my husband’s own is nowhere to be found. They said the villagers, IPOB members succeeded in carrying other corpses but they said my husband’s own was taken away by the army. I may not know what exactly happened since I was not there but the young man that survived said he was killed there and they dragged their corpses away. They said some of the villagers recovered some corpses and took them to the mortuary. I may not know of others whose corpses are yet to be recovered but I know that many of them were killed.
How many were killed
They were 70 members that traveled from Port Harcourt that day to Nkpor, other people from other places joined them.
There were different groups that traveled from all the states of the federation that gathered at that church that night. The total number of people that were massacred that night were many and the army took away many of the corpses from the church to erase the evidence because it would be unheard of that they killed people in the place of worship. We have a record of close to 600 people that were killed that night. Amnesty International recorded 150. There is allegation of mass burial at army barrack in Onitsha. They came with dogs, many vehicles and armoured cars and made sure there is no trace. They were mercilessly shooting at anyone on sight. Report say they used the armoured car to break the gate and because they know it will be unheard of, they took away many of the corpses.
How did the survivor escape?
I saw the young man when I went to collect my husband’s phone. He said he came out when the church service was going on because there were some IPOB members staying outside watching what was going on. He said there was a man that was making a call and he held the man and said he was a saboteur that they asked everyone to off their phones so they can concentrate. That was when they started hearing the sound of guns. He said it was raining and he left the man and jumped inside the gutter and began to crawl for about five kilometres and that my husband was running to do the same, and that he heard my husband shouting my name. He said he heard one of them say finish him and one of them ran and shut him in the head. He said after crawling for some time, he looked back and saw that they have killed everyone.
So, what do you want done now
What I want is that if they are still holding my husband captive, if he is still alive or dead, let them release him dead or alive and I want justice done. I am a poor widow now with three children, no one to fend for me, you know what it takes for a poor woman to take care of three children both in feeding and everything, academic and my children always ask of their father, when will he come back? So, if others may keep quiet because of any other thing, I may not because he is a good man and loving husband.
How old is your last child
My last child will be three years old by October while the first one is nine years plus.
What is your message to others in similar situations?
Let them not fear, let them come out instead of hiding and dying in silence.
What is the name of the army officer that led the operation?
I cannot remember, but there is a name that rings a bell, one Bala . We have it in our archives, I will get it for you.
Message to the military
They should know that freedom of expression, worship and association, self-determination is enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and international laws. No matter how you try, you cannot defeat an ideology. The more you are killing us, the more we produce babies that will continue the fight. So, the earlier they come to terms with it, the better.