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Community erects monument to immortalize Civil War heroes

Tears and emotions took the centre stage last week when chiefs, youths, women and children in Biakpan, a community in Biase LGA of Cross River…

Tears and emotions took the centre stage last week when chiefs, youths, women and children in Biakpan, a community in Biase LGA of Cross River State came together to remember 5,000 of their kinsmen who were allegedly abducted and massacred in 1968.

The event had invoked memories of the three-year Nigerian Civil War of 1967 – 1970 where Biakpan community was said to have suffered much trauma. 

The chief of Biakpan, Onun Kanu Mba Kanu, consoled the people when the story of how more than 5000 men and youths of the community were forcefully taken away in 1968.

It was in memory of these men that the community decided to build a large monument worth N2m to immortalize them.

He described them as their true heroes and martyrs. He said such incident should never happen again in their community.

At the unveiling of the monument, the traditional ruler said the event was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the painful massacre.

He however cautioned against any misunderstanding in the country that could trigger another Civil War, saying the country may not be lucky to survive it.

He said all the 12 families of Biakpan, including those in Diaspora, were summoned to a meeting where they agreed to willingly contribute to erect the historic edifice, which rises above 30 metres.

It has the names of the different clans from where the 5,000 males from ages 10 to 40 were forcibly taken from.

Describing them as heroes and martyrs, the youth leader of the community, Mr Eko Olumba, said the community has not recovered from the traumatic incident, and they believed that the killing of their most resourceful young men at that time contributed to the economic setback of the community.

Eko said, “We decided to mark the golden anniversary of the slaughtering of our young men this year by erecting this gigantic monument in their memory. We raised the money through collective efforts, with big support from our brothers in Diaspora. They were all in support of the decision.”

Eko expressed happiness that they were able to come together to remember their fallen heroes in unison, saying this was possible because of the manner in which they were abducted and killed.

A former member of the House of Representatives, Bishop Alex Ukam, who had represented the Biase/Akamkpa federal constituency, commended the community for pulling their resources together to build the edifice.

Ukam said though the memories may not go away any time soon, yet the leaders, chiefs and the people should move forward believing that God had a purpose to have allowed such event to happen.

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