A High Mass was held in honour of the ten Italian oilmen killed in Biafra.?
A High Mass was held in honour of the ten Italian oilmen killed in Biafra. The ceremony took place yesterday (6 June) in Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, before the bodies of the dead men were flown out to Italy.
The Mass was conducted by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Archbishop Aggey. It was attended by the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Vittoriano Manfredi, Italians resident in Lagos and their chidlren.
The Nigerian Government was represented by the Chief of Staff, Army Headquarters, Brigadier Ekpo, and the Federal Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, Dr. O Arkipo.
After the Mass, the bodies of the ten men were taken to Lagos airport where an Italian aircraft was waiting to fly them to Milan. They are to be buried on Sunday night in a solemn ceremony to be attended by Italian Prime Minister Mariano Rumor and other ministers. Today, doctors were carrying out a post mortem in Milan.
The men, working for the Italian state-controlled E.K.L. group of oil companies, were killed at Okpai, near Kwale, in the Mid-Western State of Nigeria, where they were prospecting. The ten Italians and a Jordanian were killed during a Biafran command raid on 9 May.
Eighteen other oilmen, 14 Italians, three West Germans and a Lebanese, were captured in the raid and later sentenced to death by firing squad after a special tribunal found them guilty of anti-Biafran activities.
On Thursday, following intense diplomatic activity. Radio Biafra announced that the men had been reprieved by the Biafran leader, General Ojukwu, and would be repatriated. They were flown to Italy today, and met by the Italian President, Giuseppe Saragat. They went straight to the Vatican to see Pope Paul, who made one of the principal appeals for their liberation. It was announced that several of the men have decided to adopt Biafran child.