Nigerian Atrocities 2 Million died 100,000 Military Casualties Christadelphians lived in Caves

This is a factual report on the experiences of one of our Nigerian Brethren in the Biafran War 1967-1970 in which two million people in Eastern Nigeria died from warfare, disease and starvation. We are in process of producing a book on the incredible deliverance God has wrought for His servants, which encourages us all in the knowledge of Divine protection should we be called upon to face persecution before our Master returns.

Soldiers searched our homes and looted properties  They took the roofs from several homes and used the corrugated iron sheets for their camps.  They took captive beautiful girls and women who were raped and carried away.  Some of these unfortunates have not been seen again.  Boys and middle aged men were never spared.  They were made to dig their graves and buried therein.  They were forced to consume two gallons of native liquor as punishment before their final doom.  With broken bottles they were barbed and forced to eat their hair before being killed.  Domestic animals were not spared.  Yams and cocoa yams and other foodstuffs were looted.  The Federal Government placed a total blocade on occupied Biafra.

Our Christadelphian members were wise, remembering our Lord’s injunction to his disciples regarding the Roman siege in A.D. 70 (Luke 21:20-22).  However, a few of our members who unfortunately jammed with the ‘vandals’ were tortured but later released; this occurred before we went into hiding into the caves. Before going into the caves I was hiding in the ceiling of our home and my elderly father was sitting at the veranda to keep the ‘vandals’ off.  Their entering into our village was at unawares and so at the earliest stage when they entered some were caught.  I remember meeting them unexpectedly on a Sunday with my Bible and they questioned me about my religion and I answered them appropriately, and with smiling faces we parted. There was a time on a Sunday when I was explaining some parts of Revelation and as I talked about the “fire” one of them entered where we were and asked, ‘What are you doing here?’  I answered, “We are studying our Bible”.  He passed us with his gun and went away with his loot;  in fact, Providence guarded us.

Many people suffered malnutrition.  Some of our members slept in the Lord, for example, our late Bro. Mark Kalu Mba Eze;  we also remember our Bro. Emmanuel Kalu Eme.  We lost many of our relations – parents, brothers, cousins, nephews and mothers -  it was at this time (Sept. 5, 1969) that I lost my own mother.  They were not in the truth;  fathers of most of our members died at this period.

We lacked several foodstuffs, but managed on the little available yam and cassava, rationing them.  Being blockaded, we could not get things from other areas like beans, rice, cow-meat, fish, crayfish for soup;  even salt and sugar were unobtainable.  No bread or biscuit, and soap for washing was scarce.

We Broke Bread every first day of the week, using sliced baked yam as a substitute for bread and palm wine (sap) for wine.  We read our Bibles with the aid of the Bible Companion and sang from the Christadelphian hymn book and exhorted ourselves – all done very silently.  From various hiding places I and a few others who were close to us in hiding met, this place was the cave where Bro. Kalu and I stayed; the place was not rotated.

I remember a day when I was accompanied by Bro. U.C. Eze when the soldiers suddenly met us.  They told me to go my way, but took Bro. Eze, whom they styled a Biafran soldier.  They began beating and torturing him.  Being embarrassed, I resorted in prayer to God to effect his release and my prayer was answered.  Bro. Eze was dealt with mercilessly, unable to easily find his way back;  I had to ‘pick-a-back’ him to our place where he received some treatment.  Bro. Eze is now blind.  I remember, too, that our Bro. K.C. Eze (now in the USA, where he had his university education and still works) was taken captive by the soldiers at that time, but was later released.  He is Bro. U.C. Eze’s brother in the flesh; he is still in our fellowship and visits us from time to time from the USA.

My books were buried under ground and some of them marred and spoiled;  such things were not spared nor any one educated. I am unable to give definite, accurate accounts of our dead members, including the children, during that war period, but remember Bro. Mark Kalu Mba Eze, Bro. Emmanuel Kalu Eme; some of our children include John Agwu Eze, Edeoma O. Ekeoma.  Other members died immediately after the war and include Bro. Philip Ekeledo, Thomas O. Agwu Eze.  More ‘non-members’ died or were killed by the ‘enemy’ soldiers. I estimate the total number of deaths in my village area to be upwards of 200 men, women and children killed by the soldiers or died by other conditions, but these were mostly not ‘in the Lord’.

Brother Elijah M.K.Eze

Memorable Quote

"I have seen things in Biafra this week which no man should have to see. sights to search the heart and sicken the conscience I have seen children roasted alive, young girls torn in two by shrapnel, pregnant women eviscerated, and old men blown to fragments, I have seen these things and I have seen their cause: high-flying Russian Ilyushin jets operated by Federal Nigeria, dropping their bombs on civilian centres throughout Biafra ... At Onitsha - the 300 strong congregation of the Apostolic Church decided to stay on while others fled and to pray for deliverance. Col. [Murtala] Mohammed's Second Division found them in the church, dragged them out, tied their hands behind their backs and executed them."

"Nightmare in Biafra," Sunday Times (London, 4/26/68, p.12), by a war correspondent

previous chapter previous page table of contents next page