Late Dr. Chike Akunyili and Prof Dora Akunyili
Late Mr. & Mrs. Akunyili

OBINNA EZUGWU

Nigerians have continued to mourn the death of Dr. Chike Akunyili, husband of former Minister of Information and Director General of NAFDAC, late Prof Dora Akunyili, who was murdered by some unknown gunmen in Anambra State on Tuesday.

Dr. Akunyili, a renowned medical practitioner and philanthropist who owned one of the biggest hospitals in Enugu, St Leo, was shot at Nkpor, near Onitsha Anambra State while returning from a trip to Onitsha, where he had gone to obtain a posthumous award of excellence for his late wife.

His killing has continued to elicit condemnation from many, including former president of Igbo think tank group, Chief Goddy Uwazurike who described the diseased as a perfect gentleman who didn’t deserve to murdered in cold blood.

“Dr. Akunyili was always a perfect gentleman and he was killed in such brutal way, it’s very sad and stands totally condemned,” Uwazurike said.

“From what I learned, he was a victim of assassination. It was a case of mistaken identity. It’s totally condemnable.”

Uwazurike who lamented the worsening security situation in Nigeria’s Southeast, noted that some individuals have made it a point of duty to destabilize the zone.

According to him, the attacks in the zone are “synchronised to make the East ungovernable. They want anarchy. They are people who kill for pleasure and play football with human heads. It’s totally condemnable.”

Similarly, PDP youth leader, Emma Umeh @emmaikumeh, described the killing as a sad development, while condoning with the bereaved family.

“My condolences to the family of the Akunyili’s. This is really sad. The South East is now a war zone, we warned when ESN was formed that it was going to get bad. They killed 8 people yesterday.

“The leadership of IPOB have lost total control. It’s shameful. We need a proactive leadership right now.”

Also reacting to the murder, Dr. Ayoade Alakija, @yodifiji said, “I’m heartbroken by the news of the senseless murder of Dr. Chike Akunyili. Absolutely heartbroken for his beautiful family, our dear Chidiogo, Njerika & the grandchildren. Nigeria cannot continue to destroy her own legacy like this. This is a country at war.”

Similarly the Senate on Wednesday, observed a minute silence to mourn Akunyili’s murder.

According to the statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo, on Wednesday, the late doctor was mourned following a point of order raised by Senator Uche Ekwunife, representing Anambra Central.

The statement titled, ‘Senate mourns brutal killing of Dr. Chike Akunyili’ partly read, “Coming under order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules – Personal Explanation, Ekwunife noted with concern that on Tuesday 28th September, 2021, Dr. Chike Akunyili was gunned down in a most gruesome and very horrifying manner at Afor Nkpor, Anambra State.

“According to the lawmaker, the late Dr. Chike Akunyili, until his death, was the Medical Director of St. Leo Hospital Enugu. She noted that he also was an established academician, medical director, and one who had contributed to the development of healthcare in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has denied having any hand in the ‘senseless’ killing of Dr. Akunyili and other killings in the Southeast, noting that the killings were politically motivated.

Witness accounts had suggested that the killers may have been unknown gunmen who are sympathetic to the agitation for a separate state of Biafra in the zone, with many pointing fingers at IPOB.

However, the denied any involvement, noting that the masterminds of killings in the Southeast are taking advantage of the current situation in the region to unleash mayhem on their political opponents.

The Director of Media and Publicity of the secessionist group, Emma Powerful, aired the group’s view in a statement on Wednesday.

He said, “We the great family of the Indigenous People of Biafra ably led by our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Okwuchukkwu Kanu, wish to dissociate ourselves from the senseless killing of innocent citizens in Anambra State. We have no hands in the political killings going on in Biafra land. We have at several times raised the alarm that some cruel politicians are hiding under the cloak of the situation in Biafra land to eliminate their political enemies and blame it on IPOB.

“We also wish to clarify that IPOB has never issued an official statement that there would be no governorship election in Anambra State. Those peddling such rumour are not our members and should be ignored. Our position on the Anambra election will be made public at the right time through our normal channels of information dissemination. Anything to the contrary should be disregarded.”

IPOB further claimed that those who killed Prof Akunyili were responsible for the death of her husband.

“Those who killed Dora Akunyili husband killed his wife with poison because she exposed the death of Yar’Adua for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to take over as President of Nigeria, they know themselves, they conspired to poison Prof. Dora Akunyili.”

It added, “We have no issues with Chike Akunyili and we don’t know him, those behind this act must stop this and stop using IPOB’s name, we don’t want anybody to blame IPOB because we must get them, this is purely a political assassination going on in Anambra State now.

“It is obvious that those that burnt Anambra Government House and other parts of the state some years back are back to use intimidations and killings to subdue their opponents ahead of the governorship election in Anambra State.”