Caption from A Decade of Crises in Pictures by Peter Obe: "Peter Obe (holding camera) in Enugu with (Lt.) Colonel Yakubu Danjuma. Extreme right is Mr. (Johnson) Banjo. He was kidnapped and murdered while on duty with the Federal delegation in Kampala during one of the abortive peace talks with the rebels." Circa 1967.
Johnson Banjo, a Nigerian civil servant who was serving as a confidential secretary at the Nigeria-Biafra Peace talks in Kampala, Uganda in May 1968, disappeared on May 23rd soon after his arrival as part of an advance party.
Banjo had access to confidential papers and was last seen entering an elevator at the hotel where the Nigerian party was staying. He left behind a jacket, his passport and personal papers.
The Nigerians denied that he had defected to the Biafran side and Chief Anthony Enahoro, the leader of the Nigerian delegation, announced that he had insisted on getting clearance from the Federal government before continuing with the talks.
The Ugandan police offered a reward of $2,400 for information on his whereabouts. A nationwide hunt was declared and Uganda sealed its borders.
During the search, the police had questioned an Israeli citizen, one Jehuda Potok, an engineer with the Israeli Water Development Corp. ("Jehuda" is the Nordic spelling of "Yehuda").
Hotel records showed that Banjo had telephoned Potok shortly before his disappearance. Potok, who worked for 3 years in Ibadan, denied any knowledge of his disappearance.
Banjo's body was discovered in a swamp on the outskirts of Kampala on June 7, 1968 by a helicopter search party.
The identification needed confirmation given the state of human decomposition and it was not until early September 1968 that the Ugandan authorities announced that the body found was definitively that of Banjo who was 35-years-old at the time of his murder.
The mystery of his kidnap and murder has yet to be resolved.
© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).
Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.