Adekunle Benjamin

Benjamin Adekunle
Benjamin Adekunle. Source: Getty Images Audio is an eulogy of him in song by Ebenezar Obey

Benjamin Adekunle, nicknamed Black Scorpion, was a soldier who served during the Nigerian Civil War as commander of the 35,000 man strong marine commando. Adekunle, born in 1936 to an Ogbomoso man, went to the Government College Okenne before joining the Nigerian army in 1958. As a man of flamboyant, outspoken and temperamental personality, he was deservedly surrounded by myths. Without formal approval from the army headquarters, he had bequeathed with a fierce name, the Third Marine Commando division which he led. Such was the least among his assertive actions, some accounted as insubordination. In the session in which Adekunle was commandant; the whole south front from Lagos to the border of Cameroon, he did not tolerate the Red Cross, Caritas Aid, or UN delegation, therefore stopping many thousands tons of food that were stored in Lagos from getting to the refugee camps.



Adekunle commanded the brave Bonny Island Landing on 26 July 1967. He captured Escravos, Forcados, Burutu, Urhonigbe, Owa and Aladima, Bomadi and Patani, Youngtown, Koko, Sapele, Ajagbodudu, Warri, Ughelli, Orerokpe, Umutu and Itagba, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Aba and Owerri before it was recaptured. The news of Owerri re-capture, apparently blamed on his resistance of the Head of State, Gowon’s delegations, made it imperative for him to be relieved of the post. With Adekunle’s commando division, Olusegun Obasanjo would go ahead to win the war for Nigeria. Benjamin Adekunle was promoted to Brigadier-General in 1972. On August 20, 1974, he was compulsorily retired from the Army. Adekunle’s exploits as a military man were recounted in a biography written by his son; The Nigeria-Biafra Letters: A Soldier’s Story.