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Monday, 29 February 2016

Biafra war hero, third in command Gen Nwawo dies at 92

Conrad Dibia Nwawo, the most senior officer in the entire People’s Army of Biafra, died on Sunday morning at his hometown, Onicha-Olona, Aniocha Local Gov­ernment Area of Delta State.
A colonel in the Nigerian Army, but a Brigadier-General of the People’s Army of Biafra, Nwawo was function­ally the third in command in the Bi­afran Military High Command, al­though he was senior to both Ojukwu and General Philip Effiong, Ojukwu’s deputy. Nwawo was Commissioned in 1954, Effiong in 1956, and Ojuk­wu in 1957.
According to close family sourc­es, Nwawo died in his sleep in the early hours of yesterday February 28. Nwawo, born in 1924, died at his home in Onicha-Olona, Aniocha North L.G.A. of Delta State, at the ripe age of 92, after a brief illness as­sociated with old age.
Colonel Nwawo, whose number was the Number 10 in the Nigerian Army, was, therefore, the tenth offic­er to be commissioned of the Nigeri­an Army having joined the Army on the 1st December, 1950 and commis­sioned on the 28th of May, 1954 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the then Queen’s Own Regiment, as the colonial Nige­rian Army was then called.
Officers who served in the de­funct Biafran Army told The AU­THORITY that the war exploits of the late war commander, were sourc­es of inspiration to most Biafran offic­ers and soldiers. Nwawo was said to have been trusted for his loyalty and competence by Ojukwu who was said to have handed him many sensitive and herculean commands in the Bi­afran Army.
These, our correspondent learnt, included Administrative Officer, Bi­afran Army Head Quarters, Com­mander of the 11th and 13thDivisions of the Biafran Army both of which he commanded at different times, and lastly the Guerilla Commando Unit.
Our correspondent equally learnt that it was General Nwawo who was reputed for having the courage and clout to persuade Major Chukwu­ma Nzeogwu who was most popu­lar with the troops in the course of the January 1966 coup to surrender, right amidst his victorious troops; a task which was at great risk to his life.
He will, however, be better re­membered for his many war exploits both in Biafra (1967-1970) and earli­er on in the Congo campaigns, along­side General Ironsi in 1961.
Notably also were his gallant military campaigns in the Onitsha, Abagana and Umuahia sectors. At a particular incident in Umuahia, he was said to have held the Feder­al troops with a handful of his men who were already cut off and isolat­ed from their Biafran compatriots, for two long days and nights, eventually clearing the lines in favour of the Bi­afran Army.
In the Congo, then a Major, he had fought alongside a compatriot, the late Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi. The two young officers had been so out­standing that they earned the prestig­ious award of the Military Cross giv­en to them personally by the Queen of England. Nwawo and Fajuyi were to be the first and only recipients of the Queen’s award in the Nigerian Army. With his death the only sur­viving awardee of the Military Cross is thus no more.
Nwawo started his career in 1946 after he graduated from the School of Agriculture in Ibadan in that same year. He worked as a civil servant first in the Moore Plantation in Ibadan, Nigeria and then the Cameroons until 1950 when he joined the Nige­rian Army as a foot soldier. He re­ceived officer training at the prestig­ious Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot, the United Kingdom.

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