Stories abound about the exploits of the late Brigadier General Benjamin Adekunle during the country’s civil war from 1967-1970.
The Black Scorpion as he was popularly called by his colleagues was also described as the ‘Bloodhound of Nigeria’ by the authorities in Lagos, where the central government was based then.
Benjamin Adekunle was the head of the 3rd Marine Commando of the Nigerian Army which liberated the whole of the South from Biafran control.
German journalist Randolf Baumann interviewed Adekunle in Igweocha during the Nigeria-Biafra War for Stern Magazine, and the interview was published on August 18, 1968. When Uzor Maxim Uzoatu put it on social media, it sparked hot debates. The interview is published below by TheNEWS magazine this week for its readers. Read below:
“I have to kill the Ibos—sorry”
Stern reporter Randolph Baumann spoke with the General of the Nigerian front troops.
If you want to get to know the devil of Africa, just ask for Adekunle. He is the man who is responsible for the death of 100,000 Ibo people”. The man who provided this tip to Randolph Baumann, the Stern reporter, was Mister Ikpa, the official representative of the Republic of Biafra in Lisbon. Mister Ikpa knew even more: “Adekunle does not like journalists. He had a man from England who disagreed with him shaved bald, do an hour of push-ups, and write one-thousand times: I am a crappy Englishman and don’t have a say in Nigeria”.
Having been thus forewarned, the Stern reporter flew to Port Harcourt, a big Biafra harbor city in the midst of a swamp and in the oil field of the Niger-delta, and requested an interview from the “devil” Benjamin Adekunle.
Major Adekunle, 28-years old, General of the Nigerian troops on the South front sat enthroned behind the General’s desk of the Shell administration, which he had made into his main station when he took the Ibo-city by storm on May 18. Now he stated: “I am convinced you will report objectively and keep to our orders.” We confirmed that.
“Okay,” he beamed, “the Germans just know how war works. Tonight there is a front-party in my headquarters. You will come! An order is an order!”
This interview with the most important man in the Nigerian war took place at night. Whisky and beer were abundant, uniformed go-go girls played DJ, Adekunle danced and petted his mascot, a small mountain goat named “Ojukwu”.
STERN: Your friends in the federal government of Lagos call you the “bloodhound of Nigeria”. You are chasing a whole people. You kill everything.
ADEKUNLE: Europeans are awful. They always generalize. My troops have kept prisoners. You have had a chance to convince yourself of this.
STERN: I only saw one prisoner, a fifteen-year old boy.
ADEKUNLE: There you are! In addition I want to emphasize that we do not murder all people who no longer want to remain members of the Nigeria Federation.
STERN: Does that mean that you do not want the extinction of the Ibos?
ADEKUNLE: The nation which the Ibos founded under the name of Biafra on May 30, 1967 is not a pure Ibo-federation. You Europeans should really know that by now. Seven million Ibos and five million other population groups are living now in the 80% overpopulated Biafra: Ibibios, Ijaws, Kalabaris, Ekios, Efiks, and Annangs. These minority populations in the Ibo nation have always hated the Ibos. Therefore they jubilantly welcome the liberation of their areas through federal troops.
STERN: What are your troops doing when they march into a town around Port Harcourt, an area where most of the farmers are not Ibos?
ADEKUNLE: We aim at everything that moves.
STERN: Small children tend not to stay put for very long.
ADEKUNLE: I know. I have two myself.
STERN: What will your troops do when you get to the Ibo heartland, that is, to the place populated by Ibos only?
ADEKUNLE: There we will aim at everything even if it is not moving.
STERN: Are you racist?
ADEKUNLE: You should know exactly where racists are. There is no such thing as racism in Nigeria.
STERN: But why are you refusing to discuss this war with a European?
ADEKUNLE: Let me tell you something: When the Russians surrounded Stalingrad did you request a land corridor from them so as to better feed your soldiers who were stuck in the pot there? Of course you didn’t and I can tell from your face that you think the thought of a land corridor to bring in food for the captured German soldiers in Stalingrad is a bad joke. Me too. Where and when, …………., was there a war in which the loser was re-nourished one more time before the final loss? Why are you just calling for a land corridor for Biafra? Why aren’t you calling for a land corridor for the Viet Kong? I have to declare: You Europeans are simply not competent!