Paul Osuyi, Asaba
MARKETS in Asaba, Delta State capital, will be shut on October 7, 2019, as natives of the town commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the genocide against them in 1967 during the civil war.
Over 500 natives of the town were said to have been congregated in one place and murdered in cold blood by troops of the Nigerian Army in their onslaught against Biafran rebels.
Addressing journalists on Saturday on the activities to mark the solemn anniversary, President-General of Asaba Development Union (ADU) worldwide, Prof. Epiphany Azinge, said over 400 names of the victims have been engraved at the site of the genocide at Ogbe-Osewe.
Azinge who was flanked by members of the memorial organizing committee, said both traditional and political approvals have been secured for the popular Ogbegonogo Market to be shut during a candlelight procession that will commence from Ogbe-Osewe through the market to the Oshimili Arcade for other rituals.
He called on Asaba indigenes in the diaspora to as a mark of respect for the fallen ones; observe a minute silence by noon on October 7.
Describing the 1967 action of the Nigerian military as heinous, Prof. Azinge urged the present Federal Government to tender an official apology and pay adequate compensation to families of the victims of the massacre.
He said such genuine reparation from the government and compensation will go a long way in assuaging the feelings of Asaba people, adding however that it will not completely obliterate the horrible experience from the minds of the people.
“Somewhere along the line, General Yakubu Gowon offered an apology but we demand an official apology to be made with a contrite heart from the government of the day.
“The issue of compensation can help us do many things like having a much more befitting resting place for our departed ones. But that is not to say that we will stop the rituals of commemorating that day, October 7.
“The respect we have for our departed ones is way beyond money, the annual rituals will continue, it is not going to abate. People killed in the first and second world wars are still being remembered, let alone the ones who were criminally massacred in 1967. We cannot stop the rituals irrespective of any reparation or compensation,” he said.