The children of slain Chike Akunyili, the widower of the late Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, have revealed that their late father until his death on Tuesday had a bullet he sustained in the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil war in his skull.
They stated this in a tribute jointly authored and signed by six of them — Ijeoma Akunyili, Edozie Akunyili, Somto Akunyili Asuzu, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr, and
Describing their father’s death as brutal and senseless, they said their hearts broke twice over the development.
Their tribute read in part, “Death in any situation is painful, but when it is as brutal and senseless as murder, our hearts break twice.
“As a nation mourns a man known to many as the husband of late Professor Dora Akunyili, we as a family remember the man we call daddy.
“As a young man, he fought as a soldier in the Biafra war. A war that earned him a bullet that stayed lodged in his skull ever since. From this experience of violence and death, he went on to become a doctor saving thousands of lives — a powerful testament to his journey through life.
“He was a loving husband. It is no surprise that, on the day of his untimely death, he was on his way from a memorial lecture in honor of his late wife, who he cherished and honored even in death. At this event and always, he invited everyone to be like his wife Dora.
“He was a man of the people, loved by many for his wisdom and for his courage to always speak the truth. His counsel was sought far and wide.
“He is remembered for his ability to hold an audience captive with his words and stories. To hear him speak in Igbo was to be blessed by the wisdom of endless proverbs.”
The children said, “In his final days, his heart was heavy about the state of things in Nigeria. He lamented about the struggles of people unable to pay for treatment anymore and about the unfortunate state of unrest where human life had lost its value.
“His hope echoed that of his beloved wife and our mother, that Nigeria might lean on the forces of unity and shun disunity. That we might do the right thing, trusting that our potential lies in the goodness of the people and the greatness of the nation.
“What happens if we move closer to these ideals? His murder and death leave a gap which sorrow cannot fill.”