ENUGU RANGERS VETERANS TRUST: PRESERVING MEMORY, HONOURING A LEGACY By Chidi Anselm Odinkalu Umuawulu, a sleepy settlement in Awka, the capital of Anambra State in the south-east, is the unlikely origin of one of the greatest sporting resumes ever to come out of Nigeria. In the bowels of this village lies Holy Cross High School, the site from which story sprouted.Until the politicians contrived to destroy education generally, Nigeria’s High Schools used to guarantee an interminable production line of rarefied sporting talent. This role pre-dated Independence. Historian, Peter Alegi, recalls that in territories – such as Nigeria – ruled by the British, missionaries and colonialists formed steeped in Victorian traditions, anchored their mutually complementary missions on “a belief that sport forged physically fit young men of sound moral character.” In the pantheon of sporting activities inspired by this belief, football was the undisputed king. In 1963, a young man arrived Holy Cross Umuawulu to begin his secondary education. Emmanuel Okala was 12 when his goalkeeping career began in Umuawulu. Born in May 1951, his contemporaries from then remember him as a rather spindly figure whose height took him to the lower reaches of the heavens. Even as a new arrival at the beginning of his High School journey at the time, those who beheld him acknowledged that they were in the presence of a generational phenomenon. In 1970, Emma joined a football club created around the talents of a few young men most of whom had been demobilized from the war. Its name was Rangers International Football Club of Enugu. At the time, the leading continental footballing super-star was Robert Mensah, the legendary goalkeeper of Ghana’s Black Stars and also of Ashanti Kotoko Football Club. After Mensah was killed in a stabbing incident on 2 November, 1971, the continent cried out for a new goalkeeping supremo. From his humble beginnings in Umuawulu, Emmanuel Okala rose rather effortlessly to become the country’s undisputed goalkeeper over the next decade, ultimately growing to fill the void created by the untimely passing of Robert Mensah. Emma’s influence grew to outstrip the role of the solitary minder at the rear of the outfield players. In 1978 the African Sports Journalists Union (ASJU) voted him as the African Footballer of the Year, the first person and the first Nigerian to win that distinction. By then, he was better known as the “Man Mountain” a moniker invented by leading football commentator, Ernest Okonkwo. Two years later, in 1980, Okala was goalkeeper of the national football team, then known as the Green Eagles, which won the African Cup of Nations (AfCON). The captain of that team was Christian Chukwu, who, like Emmanuel Okala, also began his footballing career as an “Academical” at the National Secondary School, Nike, on the outskirts of Enugu. Like Emmanuel Okala, Christian Chukwu was also born in 1951. From Nike National, he also joined the Enugu Rangers. As a footballer it was said that his “outstanding will to lead and motivate others earned him the nickname ‘Chairman’, as his colleagues saw him as an anchor of hope.” That story of hope was not confined to the soccer pitch. The Rangers Football Club for whom both Christian Chukwu and Emmanuel Okala were leading super-stars, embodied the hopes of the people of south-east Nigeria as they emerged from the ruins of an utterly destructive civil war at the beginning of 1970 bereft of both capital and dignity. The core of that team also included Johnny Egbuonu described by a leading sports publication as “a classic dribbler” who could “do anything with the ball.” Popularly known as “School Boy”, Johnny’s career also began in the High School. He was destined for a great career in the colours of his country…


BREAKING: CHRIST EMBASSY HQRS IN LAGOS ON FIRE The headquarters of Christ Embassy Church, located in the Oregun area of Ikeja, Lagos State, is on fire. The incident was revealed through multiple videos shared on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) by eyewitnesses present at the scene. One user, Augustine, tweeting under the handle @Chief_Augustin1, shared a video and wrote, “Christ Embassy Church on Billings Way, Oregun, is on fire. Serious fire is raging, and men of the Lagos State Fire Service are working hard to put it off. Thank God service hasn’t commenced fully.” Officials from the Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service were quickly deployed to the scene and are currently working to control and extinguish the blaze. The exact cause of the fire is yet to be determined, and there have been no reports of casualties at this time. Residents and church members have gathered at the scene. The church, known for its large congregation and significant influence in the community, is a landmark in the Oregun area.


ABAGANA WATERLOO: HOW BIAFRAN FORCES ROASTED NIGERIAN SOLDIERS IN AN AMBUSH The Abagana Ambush of March 31st 1968 is one out of the many confrontations between Nigerian and Biafran troops during the civil war which lasted for exactly two years, six months and nine days. It was during this ambush that the Nigerian army suffered the heaviest single loss in the civil war. In October 1967, the 2nd Division of the Nigerian Army, led by Col. Murtala Muhammed, chased Biafran Soldiers into Onitsha. Right after the Biafran army crossed into Onitsha, they blew up a part of the River Niger Bridge to prevent the Nigerian troops from crossing. Struck on the other side of the river, the Nigerian troops turned back to Asaba and ransacked the town in an attack that is later known in Nigerian history as the Asaba Massacre of 1967. In December 1967, the 2nd Division of the Nigerian Army finally crossed the River Niger Bridge into Onitsha and captured the city after three failed attempts. After crossing into Onitsha, the Murtala-led 2nd Division planned to link up with the 1st Division, led by Col. Shuwa, which was penetrating the Igbo heartland from the north through Nsukka in Enugu. So, on the 31st of March 1968, the Nigerian 2nd Division moved out towards Enugu in a long convoy escorted by armored cars. The Abagana Ambush Prolific Nigerian novelist, Chinua Achebe, wrote: “The amalgamation of these two forces, the Nigerian Army hoped, would then serve as a formidable force that would ‘smash the Biafrans”. Col. Murtala Muhammed was said to have assembled and deployed a convoy of 102 vehicles which included troop carriers, fuel tankers and four armoured cars to facilitate this plan on March 31, 1968. However, the Biafran secret intelligence caught wind of the plan and reported it to a higher Biafran command which instantly planned an ambush. A 700-man troop, led by Major Jonathan Uchendu, was given the task to ambush the invading Nigerian force at Abagana in the Enugu-Onitsha highway. The unsuspecting Nigerian 2nd division, numbering about 6000 soldiers, marched on until they were halted by a surprise attack from a smaller but well-prepared Biafran army. The Biafran troops allowed the Nigerian troops to march right into their midst before raining bullets on them. A homemade rocket called ogbunigwe was used during the Abagana Ambush. One of the ogbunigwe rockets was launched directly at a fuel tanker in the Nigerian army convoy leading to chains of explosions which created a 400-metre conflagration that incinerated men and metals within seconds. Refuelling vehicles exploded and burnt many infantry units. After the OGBUNIGWE rocket attack, Biafran soldiers opened fire, killing what is left of the shocked 2nd division of the Nigerian Army. About 600 Nigerian soldiers died in the attack; many others scampered in different directions. Col. Murtala Muhammed was relieved of duty afterwards and never commanded a division again during the war. Although some accounts put Murtala as having been among those in the convoy, this had not been definitively shown to have been the case. Jonathan Uchendu, the commander of the Biafran army that led the Abagana Ambush, recounted that the sight of the 2nd Division convoy almost paralyzed his troops. His boys were so anxious to start firing, more out of panic than anything else. He asked them to remain calm until he gave the command. He allowed much of the Nigerian 2nd Division convoy to pass through. His boys were shocked why he would allow them go through into the Biafran held zone. They were nervous and suspicious, yet they trusted his military gallantry and so awaited to know his strategy.The Abagana Ambush was probably the most resounding battle ever won by the Biafrans during the…


LP CRISIS ENDS AS APAPA FACTION ENDORSES ABURE AS CHAIRMAN The leadership crisis rocking the Labour Party (LP) seems to have finally come to an end as the factions led by Chairman Julius Abure and Lamidi Apapa have put aside their differences and agreed to work together. The rift began in April 2023 when a court judgment restrained Abure and three others from parading themselves as national officers of the party. Despite this, Abure maintained his position with the support of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). However, Abure’s relationship with the NLC soured after a controversial national convention in Anambra that returned Abure and his loyalists to office. The NLC subsequently retracted its support for the new leadership and established a transition committee to conduct a fresh convention. Facing pressure from the NLC led by its National President, Joe Ajaero and the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, it has been revealed that Abure reached out to the Apapa faction for unity. A source close to the LP national secretariat confirmed that Abure sought to close ranks with Apapa’s faction to present a united front against the NLC’s demands. “It is the only logical way for him to have a united front against the threat of the NLC in particular. I believe you already know Abure has a long history with Lamidi Apapa and Abayomi Arabambi before now,” the source said. Abayomi Arabambi, spokesman for the Apapa faction, confirmed the reconciliation. He said that they had no issues with Abure initially, but rather with the NLC’s perceived attempt to hijack the party. He said, “We are together to stop all those political hawks from taking over our party. We thought they (NLC) were fighting for a just cause. But it is very obvious they only want to take over our party and we are not going to accept that. We in the Lamidi Apapa group are not lawbreakers like those who supported Abure in disobeying the court order. I have said this several times on air. “It was because of this threat that Abure extended an olive branch for all of us to bond together. It was obvious that these people were not only with him to fight us but to take over the control of the party. So we cannot be outside and allow some people to take over our party. That was why Abure asked us to come together in the party’s interest. “We are here to fight those people who want to use the Labour Party to foment trouble and destabilize the country. That is what we are against. Nobody is contesting or running for any election now. We know the next race is in 2027. Why should we now be seeking ways to bring the nation down? We are averse to that.” He added, “I also want you to know that there is nothing like Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign here anymore. It has been dissolved. Everybody has reverted to former governorship and presidential candidate. We don’t want disinformation at the Labour Party. “Again, you recall that there was a crisis in APC and the PDP. Yet, the warring parties came together and resolved it. So what stopped us from resolving ours? When you are fighting, there is no permanent enemy. It is all about permanent interest.” National Publicity Secretary Obiora Ifoh also confirmed the reunion. He said, “Labour Party is united. We do not have a division in the sense that as a party that came out of the election hugely successful with a lot of results to show, several people would want to have a stake in the Labour Party. The implication is that a lot of stone-throwing and interest will begin to manifest. But the Labour Party has a…


FEAR GRIPS ENUGU COMMUNITY AS COURT GRANTS BAIL TO SUSPECT IN TRADITIONAL RULER’S MURDER Residents of Oruku autonomous community in Enugu State’s Nkanu East Local Government Area are currently in fear after Justice Cyprian Aja of the State High Court granted bail to one Moses Nnamani. Nnamani is a prime suspect in the murder of the community’s former traditional ruler, Igwe Chidiebere Emmanuel Mba. The community has been embroiled in an inter and intra communal conflict with its neighbour, Umuode, for over three decades. The conflict escalated on December 26, 2020, when Igwe Chidiebere Emmanuel Mba was murdered during the community’s annual meeting. Nnamani, a 57-year-old land commission agent, allegedly hired policemen to kill the monarch. He and Inspector Daniel Dennis, 47, were arrested and charged with murder and conspiracy. However, Justice Romanus Odugu recused himself from the case. But after several back and forth, the duo of Nnamani and dismissed Inspector Daniel Dennis were arraigned on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in Charge No E/125/24 before Justice Aja on two count-charge of conspiracy and murder. The charge read: “Count one – statement of offence: “CONSPIRACY contrary to Section 494 of the criminal Code law of Enugu State cap 30 Vol. II, Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004. “Particulars Of Offence: MOSES NNAMANI, DANIEL DENNIS on or about the 26 day of December, 2020 at Oruku Community with the jurisdiction of this court conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit: Murder of HRH IGWE EMMANUEL CHIDIEBERE MBAH the Traditional Ruler of Oruku Community. “Count II: Statement Of Offence – MURDER, Contrary to Section 274(1) of the Criminal Code Law Cap 30 Vol. II. Revised laws of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004. “Particulars Of Offence: MOSES NNAMANI, DANIEL DENNIS on or about 20 day of December, 2020 at Oruku Community within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable murdered 14.09 IGWE EMMANUEL CHIDIEBERE MBAH the Traditional Ruler of Orok Community by shooting him with a gun.” However, despite the grave offence, Justice Aja granted Moses Nnamani bail with two sureties. He is also going to hear and determine the bail application of dismissed Inspector Daniel Dennis on Monday. In granting Nnamani bail, Justice Aja said the sureties must be one Permanent Secretary and one traditional ruler who must have a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court. The value of the property, he said, must not be less than N20 million. Justice Aja explained that “granting bail to accused doesn’t mean that he cannot be convicted if he is found guilty after trial”. SaharaReporters had reported that despite the gravity of the charges against the accused persons in the murder of the traditional ruler, the court had earlier granted two other suspects – Onyema Ede and Chikadibia Okenwa bails. After their release on bail, the duo allegedly carried arson attacks on the houses of two brothers from the community, Ejike and Agozie Ani, who are opposed to the murder suspects. The houses were burnt to the ground on 26th December, 2022, exactly two years after Igwe Mba was murdered. The arsonists also burnt down the palace of the late Igwe and 10 other houses the same day. Igwe Emmanuel Mba was attending the Oruku Annual General Meeting (AGM) at its town hall when a team of police officers from the Special Tactical Squad of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Investigation Bureau, stormed the venue. They brought the monarch out, and shot him before the people attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The killing drew national outrage, making the state government set up a seven-person judicial commission on 8th January 2021. Headed by Mr. Justice Harold Eya, the commission was mandated to inquire into the circumstances of the murder. In its nine-page…


ATIKU REVEALS WHY HE VISITED BUHARI IN DAURA The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday paid a visit to former President Muhammadu Buhari at his residence in Daura, Katsina State. He was accompanied by Senator Aminu Tambuwal and other prominent PDP stakeholders. In a social media post, Atiku revealed the reason behind his visit. “Accompanied by some stakeholders of our great party, the @OfficialPDPNig, we visited the Daura residence of former President Muhammadu Buhari to pay a courtesy call and offer Sallah homage,” Atiku said. The visit has sparked speculation about Atiku’s intentions, with many believing it may be a strategic move to build bridges and seek support ahead of the 2027 presidential election. It is worth noting that Aminu Tambuwal, who was the Governor of Sokoto State, withdrew from the PDP presidential primary election in 2022, just before voting commenced, paving the way for Atiku Abubakar’s emergence as the party’s presidential candidate. “I have come to the conclusion – to the glory of God Almighty, seeing millions of Nigerians suffering and the need for us to close ranks in the party and as one of the leaders in this party – I have come to a patriotic conclusion to step down my aspiration,” the former Speaker of the House of Representatives told the gathering.“And not only that, I have appealed to my supporters to take this in good strides and for national unity and patriotism – not only that, those who are delegates here – should vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”


WIN OR LOSE, RANGERS WEAR LEAGUE CROWN TODAY Enugu Rangers can afford to lose 56-0 this Sunday to Gombe United and erase the record negative goal difference of the already relegated side. Such a scoreline will not change the destiny of both sides as Rangers will merely enter the pitch to fulfill the fixtures for formality sake. They will be more interested in the post match event – their coronation as the new king of Nigerian league.  A win will only add icing to the celebration cake, taking their points to 70, just three short of 73 obtained by the defunct Dolphins in the 2010/2011 season.  But it is taking nothing away from Enugu Rangers who will be presented with the league trophy this Sunday by the NFF president, Ibrahim Musa Gusau. The NFF chieftain headlines a choice list of eminent guests expected at the occasion, which will see the champions, who will be crowned for the eighth time since a national football league was introduced in 1972. Their success this season was confirmed last weekend when they beat Bendel Insurance 2-0 at home while their three rivals – Remo Stars, Shooting Stars and Enyimba lost their respective away games with identical scorelines of 2-1.


ATIKU VISITS BUHARI IN DAURA, DAYS AFTER MEETING IBB, ABDULSALAMI Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar, has paid a visit to former President Muhammadu Buhari. Atiku paid homage to Buhari at his residence in Daura, Katsina State, on Saturday. A video of the visit, showed that former governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, was part of Atiku’s entourage. The visit is coming barely three days after Atiku visited former military heads of state, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, in their respective residences in Minna, Niger State. Announcing the earlier visits in a post on X, Atiku had said, “Today, I paid Sallah homage to former Heads of State Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and Gen. Abdusalami at their residences in Minna, Niger State.” The visits have heightened speculations that Atiku is preparing grounds to contest the 2027 presidential election. In May, Atiku had vowed to continue contesting for the presidency as long as he’s healthy. He made the declaration amid moves to form a coalition with his counterpart from Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, and other political parties.


TUNISIAN PRESIDENT SACKS RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS MINISTER AFTER 49 PILGRIMS DIED IN HAJJ Tunisian President, Kais Saied, has sacked the Minister of Religious Affairs in the country after 49 Tunisians died in this year’s hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. The death toll has risen to 1126, more than half of them from Egypt, according to AFP tally on Friday, compiling official statements and reports from diplomats involved in the response. The President “decided to end the duties of Ibrahim Chaibi, the Minister of Religious Affairs,” a statement by the Presidency who posted on Facebook said without giving any further details. On Tuesday, the Tunisian Foreign Ministry reported the death of 35 Tunisian pilgrims, but the number has risen to 49 so far, according to Tunisian media. The ministry didn’t specify whether the deaths were related to high temperatures, adding that most of the dead had travelled to Saudi Arabia with tourist visas and outside of the Saudi government’s official pilgrimage programme. Each year, official permits are allocated to countries through a quota system and distributed to individuals via a lottery. Even for those who can obtain them, the steep costs can make the irregular route – which costs thousands of dollars less – more attractive. That has been especially true since 2019 when Saudi Arabia began issuing general tourist visas, making it easier to travel to the Gulf kingdom.Deaths during the pilgrimage have also been confirmed by Malaysia, India, Jordan, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia, Sudan and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.