Nigerians honor the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu on Monday with a heroic welcome in death, at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Army officers in ceremonial uniform marched in slow steps, bearing the glittering casket in a ceremony chaired by Senate President, David Mark. The casket was draped in green-white-green national colors with a pair of service shoes, a sword and a cap put on its top.
President Jonathan was represented at the airport ceremony by his vice, Namadi Sambo, who said Ojukwu was an advocate of a united Nigeria and a courageous man who fought with all his heart when his people faced pogrom.
“He stood up and fought for what he believed in. He stood up for justice and refused to compromise. He challenged inhumanity to man and when his kith and kin were faced with pogrom, he stood his ground and fought,” he said.
Sambo also described the late Ikemba Nnewi as a man of great intellectual and interpersonal skill as well as a fearless and principled leader to the Igbos during the period of the civil war.
There was a brief ceremony performed by Rev. Father Willy Ojukwu and Archbishop John Onayekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja.
Also in attendance were Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, Senators Uche Chukwumerije, Ben Obi and first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, who described Ojukwu as a man of great intellect, adding that Igbos were not alone in mourning him.
The Keynote Speaker at the event, former External Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, said the death of Ojukwu marked the end of an era. He also stated that the ills the late Biafran warlord fought against are still present in the country.
Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Governor of Anambra State, also described Ojukwu as a man of vision, adding that till today, Nigeria has not found a better solution to the problems that Ojukwu fought against.
Several family members were also in attendance, including the wife of the deceased, Bianca Ojukwu.
After the ceremony, Ojukwu’s body was transported to Owerri, the Imo State capital.