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Monday, 9 October 2017

'Why Ojukwu betrayed my father and killed him' - Lt. Col Victor Banjo's daughter

Victor Banjo died on September 22, 1967. He was a colonel in the Nigerian army who ended up in the Biafran army during the struggles between Nigeria and Biafra.
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Victor Banjo was mistaken for a coup plotter against the Nigerian prime minister Tafawa Balewa, by the government of Aguyi Ironsi and was imprisoned. He was later freed by Ojukwu.

However, he was again alleged to have staged a coup plot against Biafran president, Odumegwu Ojukwu, and was executed as a result.

There has been no third party verification of Victor Banjo's involvement in the Nigerian coup nor Biafran coup and many believe he was wrongly accused.

In an interview with The Nation, his daughter, Olayinka Omigbodun, a professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Ibadan, spoke on her father and why she feels he was betrayed by Ojukwu.

She said: "........ I still feel that pain that 50 years after my dad’s death, we do not have any official notification about his death from his employers.

"I also feel pained that my father has been treated very unjustly by the people who arrested him, people who kept him in prison, who took his things and had not returned those things even up till now.

"And by those who treated his immediate family so unjustly by denying us so much while keeping our father unjustly in prison.

"But I still believe in this nation. I had the choice of staying elsewhere than coming to live and work in Nigeria. I spent years in the United States and the United Kingdom training and schooling.

 "I have had the opportunity to lead international organizations abroad. I’ve been severally offered opportunities to apply for international jobs. But I am a firm believer in Nigeria.

"And people close to me will tell you that I am passionate about this country. I am actively involved in nation building irrespective of what the country did to my father."

When she was asked about the circumstances surrounding Col. Banjo's death, she said: "I never had the opportunity to meet one on one with Ojukwu before he died. But from my father’s letters which he wrote to us from prison and from what my mum told us, Ojukwu was my father’s friend.

"They were one of the very few graduates in the Nigerian army at the time, so they were close. I really don’t know why he decided to kill his friend.

"But from what I gathered like I said from my dad’s letters and the many things I read about the incident, my father was a patriot who meant well for this country.

"He also meant well for the Igbo. In fact, from some of his letters to my mother back then, he spoke out clearly against the massacre of the Igbo back then.

"His letter of November 14, 1966, which is on page 128 of the book I published for him, he lamented the killings going on in the east.

"He said he would not change the principles he lived for. He said justice and fairness to all should be the basis on which the country should be based on. He said he cannot fail to condemn what he described as the vindictive and vengeful killings of easterners.


"He warned that unless the killing stops, the bloodshed will be prolonged for a longer time. He warned the Yoruba of the West not to keep quiet on the killings saying they must not think that they are temporarily safe. 
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