Isaac Jasper Boro, a young under-graduate with an extraordinary vocation for revolution, came in to national prominence and a figure in history that dominates minorities lives more that any other person to shape the course and destiny of this nation. Yet, he remains a controversial figure, enigmatic and elusive: to some a hero, to others an arch villain, a radical to many, a rebel to others; in fact, he was a dragon in his depths. A radical young nationalist who led a revolt against the oppressors to change the environment of the Niger Delta so that man can be man. On 23rd of February 1966, he landed at Tontonbau in the Riverrine areas of the former Eastern region with one hundred and fifty nine comrades to lauch a guerrilla war against the Federal Military Government of Major-General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi. Earlier in January, 1966, Boro had proclaimed the Niger Delta Peoples Republic of Nigeria with himself as the Head of State. His mind had vaulted to the battle fields.
He engaged the Nigeria Police Force in a bloody battle and defeated them. The Armed Forces of Nigeria went into the war and Boro and his men held up the Federal troops for a quite a while. He was, however, defeated by the Federal troops and eventually he was captured, tried and sentenced to death.
At the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War, in June 1967, Boro was pardoned by the Head of State-Lt-Col. Yakubu Gowon. He later joined forces with the Federal troops. He was however betrayed and killed by a fake Commando from the West. Boro, fought for the cause he had once so bitterly opposed, that is the preservation of the Nigerian nation.
Boro's skill in guerrilla warfare and soldiering were enormous, his courage unquestioned, his endurance of the sailor who knows the winds and could brave the storm and recognize the tide. He was a brave soldier of 30 who could plot an eclipse, survey a field, plan an edifice, break a horse, play the violin, and dance the minuet. He was intelligent, quick-witted, disciplined and brave.
Isaac was born in 1938 of a humble and extremely cultured family which was highly respected in their own community. He died on May 16, 1968. But even in death and defeat, he was victorious. His death was mourned throughout the nation. He was pure in action, earnest in ambition and fond of study but heaven did not grant him a longer life. He did not achieve many of the ambitions he had when alive.
Nevertheless, he had awakened his people for action against the exploiters. His revolt against the Federal Government led to the creation of the 12 State in 1967. The tree of political and economic freedom of the oil producing people has been planted by Boro and it needs from time to time the blood of the oppressors and the oppressed to make it grow. It is its natural manure. He had devoted his whole life and strength to the most beautiful thing in the world, the struggle for the liberation of mankind.
He was a patriot too precious to lose or be forgotten. If others forget him so soon, Posterity will not. The Izons remember him not only today, but always. His noble achievements have been recounted in every village and hamlet and has thus become house hold knowledge through-out the length and breadth of the Niger Delta. If tears could build stairway and heartache a lane, we would walk a path to heaven and bring him home again. Today he is a martyr, acknowledge in death than when he was alive.
The anger and the sorrow remain. The joy too, even vivid joy to illuminate the loss, that such a man existed, worked to such great effect, changed to realities the problems of the Niger Delta.
Farewell, dear Major Boro. Your cause will be continued with the deeds of our people. May your soul continue to rest in perfect peace.
Monday, May 26, 2003
Boro the Man
Last night, I was telling my sister Amaebi (who is not a subscriber to Ijawnation) about all the write-ups on this forum about Isaac Adaka Boro and we started reminiscing about the man we knew and sometimes lived with when we were children. In honor of the Boro Day celebrations, I decided to share a little bit of what I remembered about the man, Isaac Boro.
Isaac Adaka Jasper Boro lived downstairs and we lived upstairs at our house on Kadiri Road, Surulere, Lagos before he went away on the 12-day revolution. He was loud, jovial and very boisterous. He would always have a lot of young people over and there was a lot of boisterous camaraderie and horseplay around his apartment. We knew his father Pepple, (he was a relation of our grandmother’s from Kilegbeghawari in Kaiama), his stepmother and his sisters Margaret (Ekpo) and Comfort (I think?). One day, Isaac moved out and our 15 year old auntie, Deigha, disappeared too. Our mom looked everywhere for her and eventually found out that she had eloped with Isaac Boro and was with him in what has now gone down in history as the 12 day revolution. When they were captured, my auntie was released to my mother’s care.
We laughed as we remembered his quick, hot temper. One day, after Gowon had pardoned him, Isaac Boro walked into our living room at the same time Kojo Etete (another relation of ours) was paying us a visit. The two had been very good friends but were now sworn enemies because Isaac considered the latter a traitor. They sat opposite each other in our living room and glared at each other. Both men were livewires, literally, and the tension in the room rose with each glare, like full power current from NEPA. All of a sudden, they both rose up simultaneously and beer bottles started flying. It was a big messy fight scene and my mother was so mad, she made them leave and warned them never to come back. (Isaac never stepped foot in our house again).
When he joined the Nigerian Army, he moved to No.1 or No.2 Wilmer- it was the house right opposite Wilmer Bus Stop along Kirikiri Road. Nottingham Dick and his wife, Ebiegberi and Samuel Timinipre Owonaru and his wife, Nora, were also there. It was always fun there- my sisters and I spent a lot of weekends there, keeping the women company while the men were at war. When Isaac came home on a visit from the war front, the whole house would light up. He commanded and demanded respect from all and sundry. He was a romantic and I remember one of the very first things he always did was, give his wife a long passionate kiss, scoop her up in his arms, take her in their bedroom and shut the door (we girls used to get quite a kick from that). He was bold and quick-witted and always spoke his mind regardless of whose ox is gored. He did not suffer fools gladly and had no time for cowardice. He loved to win at al l times and could strike you for distracting him and making him lose at a game of WHOT. One time, we almost got a good spanking from him. He had brought home some grenades and had explained to us what they were. He warned us not to go near the box but a few hours or minutes later, (I’m not sure now); he caught us sneaking in the room to take a closer look. He turned really red and yelled at us so hard we started crying and our auntie begged him to forgive us.
I remember the day he died- someone came to our church and told my mom to come
to the house because my auntie had had the baby. I remembered how devastated
my auntie was. The baby, Woyengidinipre Deborah Boro was born in June, 1968,
a couple of weeks or so after his death. I am writing this piece to let everyone
know that, though, he was/is our hero, he was a man who lived and loved and
died. His wife, children, sisters and family are still alive. Let us celebrate
the man, Isaac Adaka (tiger) Jasper Boro’s life and thank God for a life(
brief though it was), that was spent fighting for justice and the liberation
"Today is a great day, not only in your lives, but also in the history of the Niger Delta. Perhaps it will be the greatest day for a very long time. This is not because we are going to bring heaven down, but because we are going to demonstrate to the world what and how we feel about oppression. Before today, we were branded robbers, bandits, terrorists or gangsters but after today, we shall be heroes of our land.
"For this reason, and for the good name of the Ijaws, do not commit atrocities such as rape, looting or robbery. Whatever people say, we must maintain our integrity. Moreover, you know it is against Ijaw tradition to mess about with women during war. You have been purified these many days. Be assured that if you do not get yourselves defiled within the period of battle, you shall return home safe even if we fail".
The men of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force each took the following oath before
the revolution: "I...a Niger Delta citizen from the town of...today herein
sworn in at the Revolutionary Camp of the Niger Delta Volunteer Service, as
(an officer, warrant officer, non- commissioned or a serviceman) do solemnly
declare to uphold the natural rights and integrity of the Niger Delta peoples
and fight with my life for the restoration of same. So help me God."
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
I also remember the wake keeping for Major Boro that lasted weeks at his father's
residence at Olowojeunjeje Street in Ajegunle, Lagos. I remember the crowd,
the wailing, the sense of loss of a hero. It was a loss not only to Ijaws but
to all Nigerians because the crowd was made up of all tribes. I remember some
of the speeches because references were made at getting the truth about his
death from the federal authorities. I was there, almost every night because
it was just one street over from my parents house. Most importantly, I remember
the quizzical look in the faces of a lot of people. The rumour about the circumstance
of the firefight was very strong in the air. And the question that a lot of
people wanted answered was the truth about how exactly did this man die?
Akpobulokemi B. Oborokumo.
Fierce battle over oil .... the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF)
Fierce battle over oil .... the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), a militia set up by a rebel officer, Major Isaac Boro, in 1966.
The Ijaws are in dispute with the federal government. ......... After declaring a short-lived "Delta Republic", Major Boro narrowly escaped execution and was given the job of setting up amphibious units (by the Federal Government). In exchange he was promised that three states would be set up with an Ijaw majority. Towards the end of the civil war he died in mysterious circumstances - the young militants now claim he was killed by the federal authorities.
Once peace was restored the promises were forgotten. The minorities in the Delta were hoping at least to profit from the oil boom in the 1970s even if they could not win political recognition, but again they were disappointed. In 1978 General Olusegun Obasanjo, then Nigeria's military ruler (now its civilian president-elect), issued a decree giving the federal government exclusive rights to underground and offshore resources on condition it then allowed the rest of the country to benefit from them through a complex redistribution arrangement which is one of the most original features of Nigerian federalism.
But the egalitarian aims of this system were never fully realised. The Ogoni writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, one of its most vociferous critics, said that it was "like stealing a shirt and giving the owner one button back".....
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Roy Tomo-Spiff' Recalls
You recently wrote a referenced account of Major Isaac Adaka Boro's death and went further in the same text to ask members what they know about the true circumstance of his death. Even though you quoted your late cousin Jones and another unnamed Ijaw officer as the main source of what you have all this time believed to be how Boro died, it seems you still have some doubts about those accounts. Hence, you asked members to tell you how it all happened. And that is good.
Remember in my very first posting on this forum I briefly mentioned my service in the Nigerian Army from 1967-1973. But since you asked to know how Boro died, I am going to tell you and other members all what I know about the whole saga because I knew Boro, was in a theater close to where he died, and the aftermath of his death.
First, I was among the hundreds of young and not so young Ijaw army of soldiers recruited and put under Boro's command that was sent to Bonny after some commando type training in Ogidigbe on the Escravos River. Boro left us soon after as he was sent to the Calabar theater. But before he left, he advised us not to commit atrocities nor loot from liberated towns and villages. And that was a very sobering advise and his greatest parting present to us. And it stuck with most of us.
Thereafter we did not see Boro until our 15th brigade's rendezvous with his in and around Bodo, Ogoni, during our advance to Port Harcourt. Before then the15th brigade had suffered a humiliating defeat in Onne where many of our boys including some in the newly deployed Federal Guards were killed. Among the Federal Guards survivors are Willie Ifiti of Korokosei and Amakoromo of I believe, Oporoma or Sabagrea. Both are still alive and well in Port Harcourt.
When news of Boro's death came, I was in Okirika, specifically in the grammar school area, with our brigade after capturing the refinery under the command of then Lt.Col and later Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade; and it shocked everybody both Ijaws and non Ijaws. We had purposely isolated the Biafran forces in Onne for tactical reasons. And more so because we knew that Boro's 16th brigade was coming from the flank and that would mean no chance of escape for the isolated Biafran troops. But that may have been a huge error in our battle plan for Port Harcourt because realizing that they had been isolated the enemy forces resorted to ambushes as a means to break free. I believe it was in one of those ambushes that took Boro's life and not any unit under Brig. Benjamin Adekunle. In fact, there was only one incident of friendly fire. And that was from west, the Port Harcourt direction, of the refinery far from where Boro was and before even the refinery was captured.
As I said before, the news of his death shocked everybody not only because of his chivalry and popularity, mostly among us the Ijaws, but also because it exposed the inadequacy of the war plan. And so Akinrinade had to personally lead a company of soldiers to go and destroy the remnants of the rebels. Every Biafran soldier in the area was taken out and that made our march into Port Harcourt a cake walk. Yet it was wildly rumored among Ijaws that Boro had been killed by Adekunle.
Now I want you to know that Adekunle was nowhere close to Ogu where Boro died, nor was he a commander of any particular unit or units as your brother told you. Adekunle, the Scorpion, was a Division Commander with a lot of Majors, Lt. Cols. and Cols. under him and he loved brave soldiers, so Maj. Boro couldn't have been his adversary. The worst he could have done if Boro was insubordinate was to demote him or Court Marshall him. But Maj. Boro was a very brave soldier and was respected by all.
I wonder which army your brother served. In the Nigerian Army that I served, and in any modern army, there is a strict chain of command. Neither a private nor major can have direct communication with Army Head Quarters no matter howbrave, popular, or agrieved. The proper channel must be followed. So your brother's story that Boro was dealing directly with Gowan at Head Quarters is not true. Remember Gowan was then Head of State and there was a Chief Of Army staff too, who was even Adekunle's boss. Besides, for Boro to be promoted to the rank of a Major, which is an senior rank, it must be at the recommendation of his immediate boss whether he was Adekunle or other senior officer in the brigade.
So, the story that Adekunle planned the killing or killed Major Boro is false as it was only a rumor. And we all know that rumors appeal only to lunatics.
It is now up to you to believe your brother or the account I have spent all this time to narrate to you and others who have allowed themselves to be enamoured with the false account some people invoked superstition in their attempt to gain credibility.
Remember this: Men who borrow their opinions can never repay their debts.....Marquess
Isaac Jasper Boro was born to a Kaiama family in present day Bayelsa State of Nigeria, in 1938 and died in mysterious circumstances on May 16, 1968 while fighting to unite Nigeria. [1,2]
Boro was he who shortly after the Jan. 1966 coup declared the first Republic within Nigeria called the Niger Delta Republic that lasted for 12 days. It was an attempt to liberate the Niger Delta people from the socio-economic oppression by the then eastern regional govenment. He was a chemistry undergraduate and the president of the students' union of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a police officer and at his death, a commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army. See  for more details about this aspect of his life as I concentrate on the subject matter of this piece.
It is no use to repeat that Isaac Boro who was jailed by the Maj. Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi government on recommendation by the supreme court of Nigeria was pardoned by Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon's government and later commissioned by the Nigerian Army as an officer to help liberate southern territories under Biafran control. He recruited Rivers men who volunteered to serve under him and gave them brief training at Escravos. According to Obasanjo on page 47 of , Boro's one-thousand Rivers men were "hurriedly and poorly trained with little or nothing in the way of training facilities and resources". His group was then attached to the 3 Marine Commando Division (then 3 Marine) under the command of Col. Benjamin Adekunle. Adekunle's post-war political ambition was captured aptly by Obasanjo in his book "My Command" thus:
"Col. Adekunle, at this point saw the war not only in terms of crushing a rebellion, but also as a means of building himself up for any future political position or responsibility which he might wish to seek, I knew of people of Western State origin who had felt politically victimized and who saw in Col. Adekunle a saviour and told him so, and he believed them."
Is it possible that Adekunle planned the events that led to Boro's death as a scheme to take all the credits of the successes of the division at the time and permanently disconnect Boro's relationship with Federal headquarters?
Hear Obasanjo again: "At the entrance to my office (Adekunle's former office) there was a warning signboard ' Enter at the pain of Death'... I removed the notice and flung it some fifty metres..."
If you are following the foregoing, you will notice that the 3 Marine was not making progress at the time Boro and his men joined them. This informed the "hurried" training. But the fortunes of the group was changed by Boro's men and again Obasanjo who showed some disdain towards Boro in the style of his writing about Boro in his book, probably because he did not want to give too much credit to a commissioned officer who did not receive formal military training in order to protect the millitary instutution, captured it this way (page 50 of ):
"Eket. Here, Isaac Boro and his Rivers men of 'Sea School Boys' had become a significant factor in the operations of the Division. Their knowledge of the riverine areas, their understanding of the local languages, their ability to live off the land and their SWIFT though tactically less accomplished (?) movement accounted for their HUGE success in areas around Opobo, Andoni, Obodo, Opolom, Oranga, Buguma, etc"
The "etc" in the above statement is Obasanjo's which I take to mean that the list of areas where Boro's men recorded HUGE SUCCESSES was endless. If you recollect that the then Col. Obasanjo was the head of a division at Ibadan at the time and eventually replaced Col. Adekunle as head of 3 Marine Commando, you will take his words seriously. The gravity of his words weighed heavily on me as I realized (by reading the book) that he was not a fan of Boro. Boro and his men were responsible for the huge success of the 3 Marine Commando for which Adekunle took the initial credits.
The fortunes of the 3 Marine Commando dwindled after Boro's deathwhich led to the replacement of Adekunle with Obasanjo. Hear again Obasanjo:  " The morale of the soldiers at least of 3 Marine Commando Division was at its lowest ebb. Desertion and absence from duty without leave was rife in the Division. The despondence and general lack of will to fight in the soldiers was glaringly manifest in the large number of cases of self-inflicted injuries thoughout the formation..."
The preceding captures the result of the absence of a winning unit after Boro's death. It is glaring that the division commander did a miscalculation of thinking he could hold it together without Boro.
Getting back to why I suspect that Boro might have been killed in a conspiracy organized by Col Benjamin Adekunle, the then commander of the 3 Marine Commando division, it is noteworthy that a good number of the men of Boro's Brigade had similar suspicion which made them uncontrollable after his death and subsequent dissolution by the powers that-be. Hear Obasanjo: 
"It was here in Okrika that Maj. Isaac Adaka Boro was killed, APPARENTLY (emphasis mine) by a fleeing rebel soldier whom he encountered during a private visit. His death led almost immediately to the dissolution of 19 Brigade which became uncontrollable without him"
I took proper notice of the word "apparently" used by a very senior officer who later became a military head of state before writing the book. In Obasanjo's mind therefore, the true circumstances leading to death is unknown.
Despite basing my theory on official record of a senior officer of Obasanjo's calibre, some informal account that give credence to this exist. In an article recorded on the web in , one Mr. Akpobulokemi B. Oborokumo has the following to say:
"My cousin Jones, a Regimental Sergeant Major during the Nigerian civil war told me over and over again that Major Boro did not die in the heat of battle with the Biafran forces. He said the area had already been captured and secured by his company and Major Boro was on an inspection tour when they came under fire. My cousin swore by the Ijaw gods that it was an ambush by one of Brigadier Adekunle's units under the scorpion's direct command."
There is enough reason for the government of Bayelsa and the legislators from Bayelsa to get the appropriate federal institition to do a fresh investigation to establish true situation that led to his death. All related documents captured in the course of investigation will become useful for further research by interested persons in future.
At the time of putting this together, my copy of Benjamin Adekunle's new book had not arrived and since Boro's death anniversary of May 16 is past, I thought it timely to give this opinion now and rekindle public interest on the need to answer the question of "Who Killed Adaka Boro". I will update this after reading Adekunle's book.
Late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro was as original as heros come.
Not too long ago, in a response to an Article on Awo, I posited that one man's hero, could be another man's devil. I went further then, to wonder whether Awo played any role in the death of our desecrated hero, late Isaac Boro.
Today, I was reflecting on the excerpt quoted from OBJ's book which stated that "apparently" Late Boro was killed by a withdrawing rebel soldier. OBJ took over from Colonel Adekunle, who most liberating Ijaw soldiers perceived as hateful of Ijaw officers, and especially their most popular and disciplined Commander Isaac Boro. Could there have been a conspiracy/agenda to eliminate Boro then? How about a conspiracy today to eliminate any genuine Ijaw leadership that shows promise?
As a young child, I could remember Port Harcourt after Boro's death and the tension that existed, including running street battles between "mingi suku" or Riverine soldiers of possibly 15, 16, and 19 brigades of the 3rd Division, popularly referred to as 3rd Marine Commandos, and fresh Yoruba "military police" soldiers, whose behavior appeared to be to kill or subdue any resistance from the PH inhabitants and the "renegade" Ijaw soldiers. It was a scary time as looted "pre-war" Port Harcourt property were systematically carted away in military transport trucks to God knows where in Yoruba and Hausa land by these rear occupation officers.
Then, most Rivers men were mistreated under the guise of searching for "run away" Ijaw soldiers, some of who were summarily shot to death on the streets, as some Ijaw soldiers resisted the armored vehicles of these machine gun totting MPs. Specifically, when my family moved back to PH after the liberation of Abonnema, some units were supposed to be moving towards Imo River to Asa and Aba and then Owerri. The brave Riverine Ijaw soldiers have had enough and had refused to "advance" for the following reasons: (1) Their Commander had been believed to be murdered and they were being sent to their deaths without the needed military leadership and equipment and their remaining officers wanted to know who killed their Commander, Major Isaac Adaka Boro. (2) When they were being recruited, their promised deal was to liberate the swampy Niger Delta from the occupying Ibos who then controlled all the Niger Delta region. (3) They fought for their ideals without adequate compensation- mostly receiving reduced partial bush allownace, poor food rations and inadequate rest inbetween engagements. (4) The 3rd Division had achieved more than the other two Divisions- 1st and 2nd put together. Infact, it was the success of these Ijaw soldiers that kept Nigeria One and provided the oil terminal resources needed for generating the funds to fight the Biafrans.
In this sector of the Ijaw soldiers engagement, the Ibos had retreated under the fear of the dreaded Major Adaka Boro Brigade into Igbo Land and had fortified for their survival. It was now the turn of the always rear flanking Yoruba and Hausa soldiers to go into battle as the advancing units, if they wanted to conquer the Ibos. The Ijaws units had done their duty by liberating their people and the oil installations and should not have to be expended unnecessarily for the liberation of a bent-on-seceding Ibos. They deserved the rest anyways. But that was not to be. They were hounded, dissolved and shoved into other poor fighting brigades and forced into battle at Aba, Owerri and other Ibo strongholds were most were killed in ambush by both Biafrans and scary Yoruba units that opened fire on anything that moved without recognizing which side they belonged. Their battered vehicles and wounded returned to Port Harcourt to narrate these deliberate sabotages. Hence, their resolve not to return to battle. OBJ never left PH until Biafra was beaten in the Asaba and Nsukka sectors and their defences crumbled after sabotage and distrust wrecked havoc among the Ibo military officers. Biafrans requested surrender to OBJ command via a Niger Deltan, General Effiong, Ojukwu's second in command.
If one could describe the soldiers that liberated Abonnema, I would say, they were very swift, couragious, tactical, and very empathetic. They overran Abonnema, like they did most Ijaw towns, within minutes and took strategic positions as if to prepare for any counter offensive from the enemy, who always hurriedly evacuated and ran, as it was in Abonnema and Degema, with as much human and property loot as their vessels could carry to the Oguta port. When Biafran soldiers were captured, the Ijaws did not summarily shoot them unless, the natives had complaints of atrocity against that particular rebel soldier or Biafran collaborator.
Boro's Ijaw fighters lived among the liberated for R and R while designated guard units put up machine gun nests in strategic positions around newly liberated towns for vigilance and their defenses. And three days before advancement, they disengaged from mixing, especially with women. On the eve of their ordered advancement, they raved the community into a frenzy singing Ijaw battle songs, drumming natively, play-acting battle tactics and discharging bullets into the sky, as all members of the host community in joyful tears turn out admiringly to wish them safe journey. If you wanted to join them, you were quickly trained, issued battle fatigues and blended into their company. I remember being taught to quickly load bullets into magazines as quickly as they were spent, and even taught and allowed to fire a Mark 3 rifle at my then tender pre-teen age, by a very loving and protective Patani-Ijaw Staff Sargeant. It was very exciting to watch them sing in various Ijaw dialects, and evacuate into landing crafts on the day they left Abonnema forward for destination: Oguta. They hurried to Oguta because Biafrans had fled with many Ijaw intelligentia and Chiefs to that port. Some said "they were always the advancing soldiers., and they have to go." Them all, dark, handsome and fearless Ijaw young men, some with "tribal marks" on their cheeks, from Bomadi, Patani, Warri, Escravos, Membe, Joinkrama, Bonny, Opobo, Okrika, Kalabari, and other liberated Ijaw communities too numerous to recall. They represented the gallantry of the 3rd Marine Commandos, the fighting prowess of their ancestors and the pride of their Commanders, Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, Captain Opusunju, Captain LongJohn, to mention a few, and other disciplined junior staff officers who were always in the battle trenches with them.
These were fighters who never ran from battle, or surrendered any gained territory in their short military history. I still in my minds eye, remember them. I wished, then, that I was old enough to be one of them.
God willing, Ijaw offsprings shall one day form a standing Army for the defence of the Ijaw Nation and the Niger Delta. Yes, God willing.
Late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro was as original as heros come. May his soul, NEVER rest.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Akpobulokemi B. Oborokumo
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