Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna is remembered as a conspirator and participant in the failed 1966 Nigerian coup d’état. He is also remembered as one of executed victims of the Nigerian Civil War.
He is often described as a villain for his attempt to agree a ceasefire with Nigeria and overthrow Emeka Ojukwu during the struggle for Biafra.
Long before Emmanuel Ifeajuna became a War Villian, he was a celebrated athlete in the country. An Old 2B Olympics exercise book bears witness to the feat of young boy from Onitsha who went on to become the first Black African to win a gold medal at an international sports event when he won at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.
After his success as an athlete, Ifeajuna enrolled at the University College Ibadan in 1954 where he became actively involved in the institution’s student politics movement.
He was credited to have organised the protests prompted by the manslaughter trial of the then student union president.
After a stint with teaching, Ifeajuna joined the army in 1960. During the First Nigerian Republic under Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Ifeajuna became a conspirator in an Igbo-led plot to overthrow the government.
Following Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi’s move against the coup, Ifeajuna escaped to Dahomey, now Republic of Benin. He later came back to Nigeria after assurances from Emeka Ojukwu that his life would not be at risk.
During the struggle for Biafra, Ifeajuna, Victor Banjo, Phillip Alale and Sam Agbam began negotiating with the federal Nigerian officials, via British agents, hoping to bring about a ceasefire and overthrow Ojukwu.
They plot was later uncovered by Ojukwu and they were all executed.
Trini Studios is set to release a short film titled The Encounter, the movie details the events surrounding the period of Ifeajuna’s execution.
The short film captured what transpired during a fictional conversation between Ojukwu and Ifaejuna.
Produced by Ekene Mekwuye and directed by Tolu Ajayi, the film went back to 1967 during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
Based on the short story by Henry Onyema, the movie detailed a last encounter that changed history.
During a Press Conference, the Director, Tolu Ajayi explained that the film was thoroughly researched and the actors were handpicked to ensure they deliver the very best.
Gregory Ojefua who played General Emeka Ojukwu disclosed that becoming a man of such importance wasn’t easy.
He said “Becoming a man of such importance wasn’t easy, I had to research, he spoke pure queen’s English, certain motions, his mannerisms. I also got one or two pointers which helped me to deliver. It was a bit challenging but it was fun.”
Mekwuye also emphasised the importance of remembering history. He said “It is important that people see the movie to bring people’s mind back to what we went through that period. Short films are made to tell a story.”
The Short Film was shot at two locations with a three man cast and 25 extras in four days. The set of Ojukwu’s office was built at Trino Studios.