Monday, 24 April 2017

83-year-old retired army major shares military experience during the Nigerian civil war

83-year-old Major Asoya Hippolytus Azuka is a retired Major in the Nigerian army. In this interview with Austin Oyibode of, Azuka speaks of his military experience, how they fought in the Nigerian civil war and later detained and dismissed for fighting on the side of Biafra. Excerpt: Let’s look at your background I was born on December 29, 1934 into the family of Obi Asoya. My mother’s name is Rebecca, who hailed from Umuomake village, in Okpanam. I happen to be the only surviving child of my parents having lost the twins who were born before me. I attended St. Michaels’ Catholic School, Okpanam. Towards the end of 1961, I saw an advertisement for people to be recruited into the Nigerian army. I took the examinations. I attended the interview in Kaduna because I was living in the North. When the results were out, they did not release my result. They said they were going to add it to the list of those from the South since am from the South. So they conducted the Southerners examination in Lagos. They included my name as one of the successful ones. So that was how I joined the army. Retired Major Asoya Azuka cutting the cake to celebrate his 83-year- birthday in Okpanam Delta state When precisely did you join the army? I did the Nigeria military training from November 1961 to July 1962 and those of us who were successful were later sponsored overseas for further training. So I went to Mons Officer Cadet School, England for training. I did the training, succeeded and came back as 2nd Lieutenant. That was how we got involved in the Nigerian army. As a foremost military officer, who before joining the army, was at different intervals involved in teaching having pursued a career in education, what then would you say inspired you to participate in the Nigeria civil war? We were in the army when the January 1966 coup took place. I was two days old in Dodan Barracks when it happened. We felt there was the urgent need for that change because of what was happening in the country as at then but in July 1966, there was a counter coup by the Northerners.

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