Nigerian Civil War Hero, General  Benjamin Adekunle, is dead

General Benjamin Adekunle

One of the most popular figures in the Nigerian Civil War that raged between 1967 and 1970 has died, the Nation Newspaper is reporting.

General Adekunle, popularly known as Black Scorpion, died Saturday morning in Lagos, the paper quoted his wife, Folake, as saying.

He was 78.

Details about the passage of the retired general, regularly credited with an immense bravery that helped Nigeria defeat Biafra, is sketchy at this time.

In the meantime, read the Wikipedia entry on General Adekunle below.

Early Years and Background

Adekunle was born in Kaduna. His father was a native of Ogbomosho, while his mother was a member of the Bachama ethnic group in present day Adamawa State.  He underwent secondary education at the government college, Okene (in present day Kogi State). He enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1958 shortly after completing his school certificate examinations. He passed the army selection examinations and thereafter was despatched to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK, theBritish Army‘s initial officer entry academy. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on December 15, 1960.

As aplatoon commander, he served in Kasai Province of Congo with the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment during his first ONUC UN peace keeping tour of duty. In 1962, Lt. Adekunle became Aide-de-Camp to the governor of the eastern region, Sir Akanu Ibiam.

The following year, as a Captain, he was posted back to the Congo as Staff Captain (A) to the Nigerian Brigade HQ at Luluabourg – under Brigadier B. Ogundipe. In 1964, Major Adekunle attended the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington, in India. When he returned he was briefly appointed Adjutant General at the Army Headquarters in May 1965 to replace Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, who was proceeding on a course outside the country. However, he later handed over the position to Lt. Col. James Pam and was posted back to his old Battalion (1st Bn) in Enugu as Company Commander.

The Nigerian Civil War

Adekunle later assumed command of the Lagos Garrison as a substantive Lt. Col. When the Nigerian Civil War erupted in July 1967, Adekunle was tasked to lead elements which included two new battalions (7th and 8th) – to conduct the historic sea borne assault on Bonny in the Bight of Benin on 26 July 1968 (carried out by Major Isaac Adaka Boro‘s unit). This happened after the federal government gained confidence of most south western ethnic groups as a direct result of Biafran push to mid-west state and probe into Western region. Adekunle was promoted to Colonel after the Bonny landing.

Role After Civil War

The 6th (under Major Jalo) and 8th (under Major Ochefu) battalions of the Lagos Garrison subsequently took part in operations to liberate the Midwest following the Biafran invasion of August 1967. The 7th (under Major Abubakar) stayed behind to hold Bonny. Because Major Jalo’s Unit was seconded to Lt. Col. Murtala Mohammed‘s 2nd Division, Adekunle was left with only the 8th Battalion at Escravos. He, therefore, protested to Army HQ and got the Lagos garrison upgraded to Brigade status through the creation of the 31 and 32 Battalions (under Majors Aliyu and Hamman, respectively).

This formation, combined with elements of the Lagos garrison along the eastern seaboard, was officially designated the 3 Infantry Division.[1] However, Colonel Adekunle did not think the name “3 Infantry Division” was sensational enough nor did it project the nature of the unique terrain in which his men had to fight. Therefore, without formal approval from Army HQ, he renamed it the ” 3 Marine Commando(3MCDO).”

The “Black Scorpion” as he came to be known, was easily the most controversial, celebrated and mythologized figure in the war of attrition that laid the foundations for Nigeria’s contemporary crisis; and threw a wedge into the national fabric.

Benjamin “Adekunle’s boys in the Midwest seized Escravos, Burutu, Urhonigbe, Owa and Aladima. They captured Bomadi and Patani, Youngtown, Koko, Sapele, Ajagbodudu, Warri, Ughelli, Orerokpe, Umutu and Itagba”

Benjamin Adekunle was promoted to Brigadier in 1972. After the war, Adekunle was put in charge of decongesting the Lagos port that was having a chronic problem of clearing imported goods. He held this position until being compulsorily retired on August 20, 1974.

He attributed his problems during and after the war to his rivals in the army. In various interviews, he said there was always a rumour of coup linked to him until the army authority felt the concern to do something about it.

He had large followings in both the army and public at large and was the most popular military commander during the war, apart from Obasanjo, who succeeded him and brought the war to an end with the same 3 Marine Commando.

Adekunle led the Third Marine Commando Division with such great panache and determination that the foreign media, in looking for a human angle on the Biafran war, found him a ready source of news.

Gen. Adekunle’s son wrote an account of his father’s military career in a biography titled The Nigeria-Biafra Letters: A Soldier’s Story.

He died on September 13, 2014.


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  • international games

    May his soul rest in peace. However, it was this man’s wickedness that caused his own troops to remove him from the war front. His own officers opposed his treatment of the ibos, and got Gowon to remove him.

    • Tonnero

      What treatment did you Igbos want in a war? Caviar and champagne? Was he the first man to be removed from the war front? The fact is that he was a brave soldier who did not suffer fools gladly. He told it like it is. War is not a dance party. He was sent to kill Igbos just like you Igbos were sent to kill federal troops, period. Stop bellyaching as if the Igbos just sat in their homes and were attacked and killed.

      • Federalist2012

        Yes he was sent to kill. But even in war we don’t have to be extremely bestial and cruel. War is about killing but there is what we call war crimes. This man was proud to block food coming to the refugees outside Igbo land just because he felt there could be Igbos among them. That is not heroism but savagery.

      • Federalist2012

        Shooting down planes bringing relief materials to civilians who might not even approve of the war was not heroism but barbarism. Everyone shall be held accountable for his or her actions.

      • Alcindo Satori

        I’m not Nigerian though I take great interest in what transpires over there. Reading adekunle’s reasoning during the interview is beyond shocking. I can’t imagine implementing cutting off of food supplies to an entire ethnic group (women and children, toddlers, etc) during conflict. And to conceive that you can even reason the way you do, no wonder nothing works in your country.

        • Otile

          That’s why Nigeria is going to blazes. Hatred and tribalism dies hard among the tribesmen of people who call themselves the most civilized tribe in Nigeria. It is pathetic.

        • sam

          ” no wonder nothing works in your country…” can any good thing come out of Nazareth, here comes the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. Great and good things happen in Nigeria it only takes those with the eyes of the spirit to see.

    • solomonlas

      he rest in hell fire for life.

  • D.A

    May your spirit inhabit the brave soldiers now fighting Nigeria’s second civil war. May they assume the power, strength, bravery and success that you showed when you led Nigeria to victory in its first civil war. You are truly blessed!

    • Otile

      May you perish at the hands of a butcher like Adekunle whom you admire. The megalomaniac cruelly shot Isaac Adaka Boro to death in PH and was gleeful about it. You are truly cursed.

      • D.A

        May every treacherous people die and cower at the feet of many more Adekunle’s of the Nigerian army.

        I named my some after him. I am proud of that!!

        • Otile

          You can name your son Beelzebub, who cares, since you are proud of mass murderers.

          • D.A

            No doubt you are proud of Ojukwuand Nzeogwu and I am proud of Adekunle. It is because of him that Nigeria’s borders are drawn the way it currently is!

          • Otile

            It is because of Britain and Russia that Nigeria’s borders are so distorted. Col Adekunle was trigger happy using the weapons supplied him by his colonial masters. He misused the weapons to the point that some of his fellow Nigerian soldiers were so appalled by his insanity that they removed him from the war front. Who in his right mind can be proud of such a beast?

          • dmak

            And u are proud of ur ojukwu who inflamed the crises and ran away to safety after leading millions of innocent people to there death???

  • Ejovwoke

    RIP The Black Scorpion. May your rest in perfect peace. Amen!

    • Otile

      Sorry there is no peaceful rest in hell.

  • Bola Tinubu_D-Traitor

    MY ONLY REGRET !!!

    Adekunle’s evil and wickedness against Ibos ……. resulted in the enthronement of the born-to-rule Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani as the owners of Nigeria …… with unlimited powers to slaughter and dismember Chief M. K. O. Abiola without qualms.

  • Esejovwo

    He may as well rest in pieces…as the blood of the innocent children whom he denied medicine continue to splash salvos in torrents on his way to h.ll

  • Adeyi

    The interview of General Adekunle was conducted in 1968. Can anyone please provide any current information about the post war feelings of the ‘Black Scorpion.’ He was a young man of about 32 years when all these took place. Surely, deep reflections would have made him regret any humanitarian blockade, though he might still have maintained that the war ‘must be won at all cost.’ Nevertheless, Nigerian remained one, by whatever means. May his soul rest in piece, and may the soul of the victims of the civil war rest in peace. I lost an Uncle who was barely in his early 20s during a an ambush by Biafran soldiers. He went back to retrieve wounded soldiers he was leading and he fell to the bullets of the ‘enemies.’ At least, this was what I read in the telegram sent by Major Ochefu to my father who was also a Major in the Nigerian Army. We must all avoid conflicts and stop beating any drums of war, as our nation, Nigeria, must remain one, for our common good as brothers. God bless Nigeria!

    • Otile

      Your uncle and your father committed mass murder for oil. Now again you want Nigeria to remain one so that oil will flow into your family household forever. Military family my foot. Imam Shekau, Allah ya gafata malam. Insh Allah you will breakup Nigeria for us, Shango will not prevail.

    • confusion247

      You need mental evaluation by using that word “must”. One Nigeria should be by choice and not by force or must.

  • Adewale Ajadi

    It is very sad that Biafra propaganda still drives much of the conversation about Adekunle as for me I prefer General Alabi Isama’s account including the alleged starving of people. He asked a very pertinent question how many starving Biafra soldiers did you see? In fact his pictures and report over 500 of them corroborates a war from the 3rd Marine Commando that was extremely benign and humane. The same Isama points out that he believed Adekunle towards the end suffered from PTSD. To the point he allegedly organised to kill off two his key officers. A victim of his own success and adulation. On the final phase of the War Isama ‘s account of Obasanjo’s contribution is quite eloquent since part of the reason he wrote his book was to challenge Obasanjo’s book ‘My Command’. General Adekunle was a patriot who served his country diligently and effectively but was also as deeply flawed as many of us stand in judgement. History on the longer term will recognise he was a hero for most of his service. He rests after a life of purpose.

    • Otile

      Your point is that Adolf Hitler was an admirable hero since he served the German people as Col Adekunle served Nigeria. What a way of reasoning.

  • Garden-City Boy

    Gowon and Obasanjo must be pissing in their pants now. Death is again on the prowl for Nigerian butchers. Who is next?

    • Otile

      Danjuma and Gowon must rot alive before they die and go to hell.