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Former Chief of Army Staff set for burial in hometown

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Major General David Ejoor (rtd), who was former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and who once served as Governor of Mid-Western State of Nigeria, has been slated for burial.

TheNewsGuru (TNG) reports Ejoor whose death occurred in February has been slated for burial in his hometown.

According to the funeral arrangements made available to TNG, two services of songs would hold in Lagos and Delta before body of the deceased is laid to rest.

Until his death, Major General Ejoor was the oldest and most senior Nigerian Military Officer alive.

He played significant roles in the era of military rule in Nigeria, and rose to the enviable height of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) between January 1971 and July 1975.

He was Governor of the former Mid-Western Region between January 1966 and August 1967, and the first Nigerian Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) between January 1969 and January 1971.

Born January 10th 1932 in Ovu, now in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, Ejoor would be buried at his residence in Ovwor-Olomu, Ughelli South LGA of the State.

The burial will take place on Friday, the 3rd day of May, 2019 by 9:00 a.m. after a service of songs on Thursday, 2nd May at Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral, Warri/Sapele Road, Warri, Delta State at 4:00 p.m.

TNG reports the service of songs that would hold in Lagos, would take place on Monday, 29th April, 2019 at Havillah Events Centre, Plot 6, Chief Yesufu Abiodun Oniru Road, Dideolu Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos by 5:00 p.m.

Ejoor, who died February 10 at the age of 87, is a distinguished son of Urhobo, who attended Government College, Ughelli (GCU).

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He is the first Urhobo man to join the Army, and was commissioned in 1953 as a Second-Lieutenant, with his army number as NA17, after Lieutenant-Colonel Victor Banjo (NA16).

He made history as one of the first Nigerian officer cadets to get Regular Commission into the Nigerian Army in the process of Nigerianising the officer corps in the early 1950s.

Ejoor graduated from the prestigious Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK, in 1956.

By the time Nigeria gained independence from Britain on October 1, 1960, Ejoor had become a Captain and “had the historic fortune of commanding the Army Guard at the dawn of independence.”

This background perhaps explains Ejoor’s commitment to the unity of Nigeria.

Following his performance as a member of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in the Congo from December 1960 to July 1961, he was promoted to the rank of Major.

He was credited with “designing the Nigerian Army cap, badge and rank insignias.”

Nigeria’s first military coup on January 15, 1966, was a defining juncture in Ejoor’s career.

He became an accidental political administrator.

He was a Lieutenant-Colonel and Commander of the Army Battalion in Enugu at the time and helped to foil the coup.

Ejoor was appointed Military Governor of the then Midwest Region, following the failure of the coup and the collapse of the civilian government.

His position made him a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the country’s highest ruling body.

The counter-coup of July 1966, which culminated in the Nigerian Civil War, 1967 – 1970, highlighted Ejoor’s vulnerability as a member of an ethnic minority.

The July coup was a retaliatory rebellion led by Northern soldiers, mainly of Hausa/Fulani origin, largely against Igbo officers from the then Eastern Region.

The Midwest Region, governed by Ejoor, had a substantial Igbo population, and was targeted by Igbo separatists in the crisis.

Ejoor reportedly survived three assassination attempts by Igbo officers.

Ejoor, a fervent federalist, fled from his base in Benin, the capital of the Midwest Region, following an invasion by the secessionist army.

Ejoor’s escape from Benin spawned various narratives.

He is said to have rode a bicycle to Ebor-Orogun and eventually appeared in Lagos, the then federal capital – some accounts say he disguised as a woman.

His escape illustrated the dangerous situation as well as his own ingenuity.

In wartime, Ejoor became a director at the Army Headquarters.

He was involved in getting France, America and India to support the Federal Government during the war.

He became a general in 1971, and attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK.

His rise to the position of COAS was testimony to his professional orientation.

Reorganising the army after a divisive war required a sense of professionalism, and Ejoor is believed to have done well in restructuring the Nigerian Army.

It is striking that Ejoor’s military career came to an abrupt end when he was just 43, following the ouster of the then Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, by a coup in 1975.

Interestingly, Gowon had been his junior at Sandhurst but became his boss as a result of ethnic politics.

Ejoor subsequently became President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union, which showed his cultural side.

In 1982, President Shehu Shagari invited Ejoor to draft a defence policy for Nigeria, an indication of the respect he enjoyed as a retired top military man.

He earned two Nigerian national honours, Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

He was retired compulsorily by General Murtala Mohammed, after the latter had become Head-of-State, with the rank of Major General on July 29, 1975.

The interment of Ejoor would hold immediately after the burial service at his residence in Ovwor-Olomu, Ughelli South LGA, and reception, after burial at his residence in Ovwor-Olomu, Ughelli South LGA.

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