Who Killed Adaka Boro


Hosiah Emmanuel



Isaac Jasper Boro was born to a Kaiama family in present day Bayelsa State of Nigeria, in 1938 and died in mysterious circumstances on May 16, 1968 while fighting to unite Nigeria. [1,2]


Boro was he who shortly after the Jan. 1966 coup declared the first Republic within Nigeria called the Niger Delta Republic that lasted for 12 days. It was an attempt to liberate the Niger Delta people from the socio-economic oppression by the then eastern regional government. He was a chemistry undergraduate and the president of the students' union of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a police officer and at his death, a commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army. see [4 for more details about this aspect of his life as I concentrate on the subject matter of this piece).


It is no use to repeat that Isaac Boro who was jailed by the Maj. Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi government on recommendation by the supreme court of Nigeria was pardoned by Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon's government and later commissioned by the Nigerian Army as an officer to help liberate southern territories under Biafran control. He recruited Rivers men who volunteered to serve under him and gave them brief training at Escravos. According to Obasanjo on page 47 of [1], Boro's one-thousand Rivers men were "hurriedly and poorly trained with little or nothing in the way of training facilities and resources". His group was then attached to the 3 Marine Commando Division (then 3 Marine) under the command of Col. Benjamin Adekunle. Adekunle's post-war political ambition was captured aptly by Obasanjo in his book "My Command" thus:


"Col. Adekunle, at this point saw the war not only in terms of crushing a rebellion, but also as a means of building himself up for any future political position or responsibility which he might wish to seek, I knew of people of Western State origin who had felt politically victimized and who saw in Col. Adekunle a saviour and told him so, and he believed them."


Is it possible that Adekunle planned the events that led to Boro's death as a scheme to take all the credits of the successes of the division at the time and permanently disconnect Boro's relationship with Federal headquarters?

Hear Obasanjo again:


"At the entrance to my office (Adekunle's former office) there was a warning signboard ' Enter at the pain of Death'... I removed the notice and flung it some fifty metres..."


If you are following the foregoing, you will notice that the 3 Marine was not making progress at the time Boro and his men joined them. This informed the "hurried" training. But the fortunes of the group was changed by Boro's men and again Obasanjo who showed some disdain towards Boro in the style of his writing about Boro in his book, probably because he did not want to give too much credit to a commissioned officer who did not receive formal military training in order to protect the millitary instutution, captured it this way (page 50 of [1]):


"Eket. Here, Isaac Boro and his Rivers men of 'Sea School Boys' had become a significant factor in the operations of the Division. Their knowledge of the riverine areas, their understanding of the local languages, their ability to live off the land and their SWIFT though tactically less accomplished (?) movement accounted for their HUGE success in areas around Opobo, Andoni, Obodo, Opolom, Oranga, Buguma, etc"


The "etc" in the above statement is Obasanjo's which I take to mean that the list of areas where Boro's men recorded HUGE SUCCESSES was endless. If you recollect that the then Col. Obasanjo was the head of a division at Ibadan at the time and eventually replaced Col. Adekunle as head of 3 Marine Commando, you will take his words seriously. The gravity of his words weighed heavily on me as I realized (by reading the book) that he was not a fan of Boro. Boro and his men were responsible for the huge success of the 3 Marine Commando for which Adekunle took the initial credits. The fortunes of the 3 Marine Commando dwindled after Boro's death which led to the replacement of Adekunle with Obasanjo. Hear again

Obasanjo: [2]


" The morale of the soldiers at least of 3 Marine Commando Division was at its lowest ebb. Desertion and absence from duty without leave was rife in the Division. The despondence and general lack of will to fight in the soldiers was glaringly manifest in the large number of cases of self-inflicted injuries thoughout the formation..."


The preceding captures the result of the absence of a winning unit after Boro's death. It is glaring that the division commander did a miscalculation of thinking he could hold it together without Boro.


Getting back to why I suspect that Boro might have been killed in a conspiracy organized by Col Benjamin Adekunle, the then commander of the 3 Marine Commando division, it is noteworthy that a good number of the men of Boro's Brigade had similar suspicion which made them uncontrollable after his death and subsequent dissolution by the powers that-be. Hear Obasanjo: [1]

"It was here in Okrika that Maj. Isaac Adaka Boro was killed, APPARENTLY (emphasis mine) by a fleeing rebel soldier whom he encountered during a private visit. His death led almost immediately to the dissolution of 19 Brigade which became uncontrollable without him"


I took proper notice of the word "apparently" used by a very senior officer who later became a military head of state before writing the book. In Obasanjo's mind therefore, the true circumstances leading to death is unknown.


Despite basing my theory on official record of a senior officer of Obasanjo's calibre, some informal account that give credence to this exist. In an article recorded on the web in [3], one Mr. Akpobulokemi B. Oborokumo has the following to say:


"My cousin Jones, a Regimental Sergeant Major during the Nigerian civil war told me over and over again that Major Boro did not die in the heat of battle with the Biafran forces. He said the area had already been captured and secured by his company and Major Boro was on an inspection tour when they came under fire. My cousin swore by the Ijaw gods that it was an ambush by one of Brigadier Adekunle's units under the scorpion's direct command."


There is enough reason for the government of Bayelsa and the legislators from Bayelsa to get the appropriate federal institition to do a fresh investigation to establish true situation that led to his death. All related documents captured in the course of investigation will become useful for further research by interested persons in future.


At the time of putting this together, my copy of Benjamin Adekunle's new book had not arrived and since Boro's death anniversary of May 16 is past, I thought it timely to give this opinion now and rekindle public interest on the need to do answer the question of "Who Killed Boro". I will update this after reading Adekunle's book.


Thank you.

Hosiah Emmanuel



1. General O. Obasanjo. "My Command." Heinneman, Ibadan, 1980.

2. Mr. A. LTare-Otu. http://www.unitedijawstates.com/boro.htm"

3. Mr. A. B. Oborokumo. "http://www.unitedijawstates.com/boro.htm"

4. Chief G. Fawehinmi. "The Murder of Dikibo. Another Lesson for Niger Delta". http://www.dawodu.com/fawehin1.htm