It happened on the afternoon of 14 September last year, 2017.
I had come back to visit my family home in Biafra a few weeks earlier from Germany, where I now live. I call it Biafra because Biafra is my country, not Nigeria.
My mother and father, my older brother Nnamdi Kanu and I were in the house, along with friends. It was my son’s thirteenth birthday. I had just been on the phone congratulating him when the first gas canisters were thrown over the fence followed by gunfire. It was 4pm. The house was surrounded by Nigerian soldiers.
I found it hard to breathe. Everyone was panicking. I was witnessing a full on military attack on my parents’ home. I saw a soldier jump over the high fence that surrounds our house and open our main gate. He started shooting at the young men inside. That was when I realised if I didn’t escape now I would die.
There were soldiers and guns everywhere. How I got out only heaven knows. I remember I had to jump two walls. There was sporadic firing from the soldiers and one of the people who tried to follow me, a good family friend, was killed. My youngest brother, Emmanuel, had left a few minutes before and was only a few metres away. Since that afternoon, I’ve heard nothing from my mother and father and my brother Nnamdi.
The only explanation for my family being targeted by the Nigerian government is that we believe in an independent Biafra. People may remember the Biafran War fifty years ago. For a few years, between 1967 and 1970 we were a free state. I was born during the war in December 1969. My family had to leave our home in Umuahia to escape the invasion by the Nigerian army then. My mother was pregnant with me and it was no longer safe. There was fighting just behind our house.
Biafran people were shot and bombed and starved to death; millions of them. Our experience was genocide. My parents lost most of their relatives.
So I grew up in an occupied country, an unhappy country. We were forced to be part of a state manufactured by colonial rule: Nigeria. I remember my father, like everyone else, was given the equivalent of £20 in recompense, to start again.