Ojukwu’s First Son Passes at 60

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Late Sylvester Debe Ojukwu

David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

Sylvester Debe Ojukwu, the eldest son of Biafra warlord, Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, passed on Saturday in a Lagos private hospital at 60.

A family source told THISDAY that Debe died Saturday afternoon after a few days in the hospital, noting that he had complained of fever.

After complaining of fever, the source said Debe was admitted into the hospital where he finally passed on.However, another source claimed that the deceased had high blood sugar.

Beside the family source that spoke with THISDAY yesterday, the President General of Nnewi Town Union, Chief Ugochukwu Udemezue confirmed the death of Debe Ojukwu.

While confirming the death to journalists, Udemezue said Debe had complained to some kinsmen early in the week that he had ‘high blood sugar”.

He, therefore, described the death as a rude shock, noting that the community had been thrown into mourning since Debe’s demise was announced.

According to him, Anaedo, Umudim and indeed the entire Nnewi would miss Debe.

He said all the community would be involved during his burial.

He said, “My heart is broken and the people of Nnewi too. He is dead, he died on Friday. He spoke with some people on Monday and Tuesday where he complained of high blood sugar. When the time comes for his burial, everybody will be fully involved because he is our son.”

In a telephone conversation yesterday, Ojukwu’s widow and former Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu said it was not her duty “to make announcements about dead persons in the Ojukwu family.”

She said Nnewi people “have their customs and tradition. According to our tradition, it is not my role to make such announcements. We have elders in the family who have such duties and functions. It’s not part of my duties.”

Born in1958, Debe had had his paternity mired in a controversy over his paternity.

During the burial of his late father in 2011 at Nnewi, some family members stopped Debe from active participation in the funeral at the family compound.

He had to relocate to a nearby space from the family house to host his visitors, a situation that nearly triggered an uproar amongst the elders of the community who it was gathered had high regards for Debe as the first son of Ojukwu.

When Ojukwu’s will was read in 2012, Debe’s name was not mentioned in the document, a situation the late Debe challenged in court, describing the will as a concocted document.

Describing himself as the clone of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Debe at several times called for a DNA test to confirm his paternity and end the whole controversy.

He had at a time said, “If they claim I am not his child, then the correct test to determine all that is a DNA. This is not something anybody can wish away. That I was barred from performing ‘dust-to-dust’ during my father’s burial was discriminatory.

“It is against Section 42 of the Nigerian Constitution, which says that no child should be discriminated against on the basis of circumstance of birth. For anyone to go a mile extra to say my name is not in the Will is not something that will go unchallenged.

“I am one person who believes in the truth. And for me, if you err and recognise the fact that you erred and you are ready to show remorse, there is no reason why forgiveness should not come. But when you try to grandstand, there can be no settlement in sight.

“The so-called will was not my father’s Will. He did not write that Will. All the things that have been written are within the realm of speculations. The signature on the Will is not that of my father. I am a trained police officer.

“You can take a look at the letters he had written to me and other documents I showed you. The signature on it is different from that which is on the will. I know what I am talking about. His true signature is in the archives of the Federal High Court.

“My father that you are talking about was a former Military Governor of the Eastern Region. He signed edicts, laws. So, his signature is within the domain of public records. Because I knew him, he was not the type of person that took rubbish. They went and forged the signature.

“If you check all the documents, you will find out that the signatures on them do not correspond with that on the will. My father was such a person that when he signed a document, it was like Ikemba. And Ikemba moved straight. Ikemba moved like lightening. If you see his signature, it is deliberate. It is never shaky. I am his clone. He did not do anything without me,” Debe had said.