Achebe vs Awolowo Latest: Yakubu Gowon blasts Chinua Achebe

War time Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has criticized renowned author, Professor Chinua Achebe, over his new book on the Nigerian civil war, saying he [Achebe] does not know the issue he was writing about.

Gowon said he was ready to face the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague on the matter if necessary.

"What role did Achebe play in the secessionist plans? Achebe must have been outside the country during the war and probably did not know what happened during the period otherwise he would not have written on what he was not sure of", he remarked.

The erstwhile Nigerian leader, who was answering questions from journalists while on a courtesy visit to Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu at the Presidential Lodge, Minna, Niger state, yesterday, said Achebe must have been talking out of ignorance, adding that he and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo had no regrets over their roles in the civil war, pointing out that if there was no secession, there would not have been civil war.

“In fact , if there was no secession by the south eastern part of the country, there would have been no civil war because right from the beginning of the crises, the war would have been averted if not for the secession . It was something I believed we could have stopped,” he stressed.

Gowon also debunked the claim by the author that his administration embarked on the mass killing of Igbo, adding that the federal troops did not also use hunger as a weapon to dislodge the dissidents.

“It was the Igbo that objected to the creation of corridor for movements of medical aid and food supplies to the civilian population at the period; on this, I am ready to face the International Criminal Court of Justice at the Hague for prosecution over the role played by me during the war and, fortunately, some Nigerians are still alive to bear witness to the roles played by both the leadership of the secessionist group and the then Federal Military Government under my leadership, “the war-time leader stated.

He also recalled that during the war, a ship named “Josina” and owned by the secessionist group, which they claimed was carrying agricultural implements, was captured by federal troops and it was subjected to a thorough search and the cargo turned out to be a collection of arms and ammunition.

Gowon, who was in Minna for a 2-day prayer organized by Nigeria Prays, a group he leads, said that the massive deaths recorded by the Igbo during the civil war was caused by their own propaganda machine which claimed that the northern invaders were coming to their camps and that caused panic and pandemonium among their people because some people were trying to move from one location to the other out of fear of imaginary attacks by the so called northern invaders and without food.