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THE NIGERIA CIVIL WAR

Updated on February 18, 2016

Introduction

The most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria is on the western coast, just north of the equator. For decades, Nigeria was a British colony until declaring independence in 1960. Three years later, Nigeria became a republic within the British commonwealth.

The Federation of Nigeria, as it is known today, has never really been one homogeneous country, for it's widely differing peoples and tribes.

The former colonial master decided to keep the country one in order to effectively control her vital resources for their economic interests.
Thus for administrative convenience the Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914.

At independence Nigeria became a Federation and remained one country. Soon afterwards the battle to consolidate the legacy of political and military dominance of a section of Nigeria over the rest of the Federation began with increased intensity. It is this struggle that eventually degenerated into coup, counter coup and a bloody civil war.Throughout the power struggle, Mr. Ojukwu kept the eastern region running smoothly and mostly independent of federal rule.

History of Biafra Republic

Biafra, whose capital is in Enugu was formed on May 30, 1967 by its leader, Ojukwu. It was officially known as the Republic of Biafra and was a secessionist state in then southeastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra (the Atlantic bay to its south). The inhabitants were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. The creation of the new state that was pushing for recognition was among the causes of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War.

The state was formally recognised by Gabon, Haiti,Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Zambia, and the United States. Other nations which did not give official recognition but which did provide support and assistance to Biafra included Israel, France, Spain,Portugal, Rhodesia, South Africa and Vatican City.

Biafra also received aid from non-state actors, including Joint Church Aid, Holy Ghost Fathers of Ireland, Caritas International,MarkPress and U.S. Catholic Relief Services.
After two-and-a-half years of war, during which over three million civilians died in fighting and from starvation resulting from blockades, Biafran forces under the slogan 'no-victor, no-vanquish' surrendered to the Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG), and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.

The Motto of Biafra Republic is "Peace, Unity, and Freedom."

The Nigerian Armed Forces

The Nigerian Armed Forces are the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Its origins lie in the elements of the Royal West African Frontier Forcethat became Nigerian when independence was granted in 1960. In 1956 the Nigeria Regiment of theRoyal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF) was renamed the Nigerian Military Forces, RWAFF, and in April 1958 the colonial government of Nigeria took over from the British War Office control of the Nigerian Military Forces.

Since its creation the Nigerian military has fought in a civil war – the conflict with Biafra in 1967–70 – and sent peacekeeping forces abroad both with the United Nations and as the backbone of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Cease-fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia and Sierra Leone. It has also seized power twice at home (1966 & 1983).

In the aftermath of the civil war, the much expanded size of the military, around 250,000 in 1977, consumed a large part of Nigeria’s resources under military rule for little productive return.

Training establishments of the Nigerian Army include the prestigious officer entry Nigerian Defence Academy at Kaduna, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, and the National War College at Abuja.
The U.S. commercial military contractor Military Professional Resources Inc. has been involved from around 1999–2000 in advising on civil-military relations for the armed forces.

Nigeria Defence Academy trained 150 Armed forces personnels to Combat Insurgency

The Cause Civil War In Nigeria

In 1960, Nigeria gained independence from Britain. Six years later, the Muslim Hausas in northern Nigeria began massacring the Christian Igbos in the region, prompting tens of thousands of Igbos to flee to the east, where their people were the dominant ethnic group. The Igbos doubted that Nigeria’s oppressive military government would allow them to develop, or even survive, so on May 30, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu and other non-Igbo representatives of the area established the Republic of Biafra, comprising several states of Nigeria.

In September 1966, 20,000 Ibo were massacred in pogroms in the Muslim-dominated northern region. Mr. Ojukwu called the unprovoked aggression “organized, wanton fratricide.”

Mr. Ojukwu grew a thick, bushy beard “as a sign of mourning,” he said, for the injustice caused to the Ibo. He acceded to mounting demands of an Ibo-led secession of the eastern region, a total area of 30,000 square mile. He announced the birth of the Republic of Biafra during a radio address at 3 a.m. on May 30, 1967.

Odumegwu Ojukwu, who attracted international attention when he led the Republic of Biafra’s secession from Nigeria in 1967 and subsequently waged a civil war that left more than 1 million dead — many of them children who succumbed to starvation — has died in London. He was 78.

News accounts reported that he died Nov. 25 or 26. A cause of death could not be confirmed.

Mr. Ojukwu was an unlikely rebel leader. The son of a Ni­ger­ian millionaire knighted by the Queen of England, he grew up in a mansion and attended a private high school in Surrey, England, where he set a school record for the discus throw.

At Lincoln College at the University of Oxford, he played on the rugby team and was known for his flashy clothes and red sports car. He graduated in 1955, then returned to Nigeria. He rebuffed his father’s offer to join the family transport business and enrolled in civil service, working on community projects building roads and digging culverts.

He later joined the military — partly to spite his father, he said, but also because he sensed that “Nigeria was headed for an upheaval and that the army was the place to be when the time came.”

Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Biafran head of state, addressing a joint session of the consultative assembly and house at Owerri, on Jan. 31, 1968. (Anthony Astrachan/The Washington Post)

The most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria is on the western coast, just north of the equator. For decades, Nigeria was a British colony until declaring independence in 1960. Three years later, Nigeria became a republic within the British commonwealth.

Mr. Ojukwu rose through the army ranks before the chaos he predicted arrived in January 1966. A gang of officers overthrew the government in a coup and assassinated the prime minister.

Although Mr. Ojukwu didn’t participate in the coup, he was made the military governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich eastern region, home to many ethnic Ibo Christians like himself.

A counter-coup followed a few months later that left Nigeria in disarray. Throughout the power struggle, Mr. Ojukwu kept the eastern region running smoothly and mostly independent of federal rule.

In September 1966, 20,000 Ibo were massacred in pogroms in the Muslim-dominated northern region. Mr. Ojukwu called the unprovoked aggression “organized, wanton fratricide.”

Mr. Ojukwu grew a thick, bushy beard “as a sign of mourning,” he said, for the injustice caused to the Ibo. He acceded to mounting demands of an Ibo-led secession of the eastern region, a total area of 30,000 square miles.

He announced the birth of the Republic of Biafra during a radio address at 3 a.m. on May 30, 1967.

The Nigerian Civil War was fought to reintegrate and reunify the country.

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, was a war fought to counter the secession of Biafra from Nigeria. it took place between July 6, 1967 – January 15, 1970 after diplomatic efforts by Nigeria failed to reunite the country. Ojukwu’s forces made some initial advances, but Nigeria’s superior military strength gradually reduced Biafran territory.

Biafra represented nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government. The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions which preceded Britain's formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963. Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included a military coup, a counter-coup, and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria.

Control over oil production in the Niger Delta played a vital strategic role.
Within a year, the Federal Military Government surrounded Biafra. The blockade imposed led to severe famine—accomplished deliberately as a war strategy. The state lost its oil fields–its main source of revenue–and without the funds to import food, an estimated one million of its civilians died as a result of severe malnutrition. It was estimated that up to 1,000 people a day died of starvation in Biafra. To combat a protein-deficiency disease, Mr. Ojukwu’s government told Biafrans to eat rats, dogs and lizards.

On January 11, 1970, Nigerian forces captured the provincial capital of Owerri, one of the last Biafran strongholds, and Ojukwu was forced to flee to the Ivory Coast. Four days later, Biafra surrendered to Nigeria.

Odumegwu Ojukwu, 78: Rebel leader who broke Republic of Biafra away from Nigeria

Brief History Of The Leader That Led Biafra Into Civil War

Odumegwu Ojukwu attracted international attention when he led the Republic of Biafra’s secession from Nigeria in 1967 and subsequently waged a civil war that left more than 1 million dead — many of them children who succumbed to starvation.

Mr. Ojukwu was an unlikely rebel leader. He is son of a Ni­ger­ian millionaire knighted by the Queen of England, he grew up in a mansion and attended a private high school in Surrey, England, where he set a school record for the discus throw.

He graduated in 1955, then returned to Nigeria. He rebuffed his father’s offer to join the family transport business and enrolled in civil service, working on community projects building roads and digging culverts.

He later joined the military — partly to spite his father, he said, but also because he sensed that “Nigeria was headed for an upheaval.

Mr. Ojukwu rose through the army ranks before the chaos he predicted arrived in January 1966. A gang of officers overthrew the government in a coup and assassinated the prime minister.

Mr. Ojukwu didn’t participate in the coup, he was made the military governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich eastern region home to many ethnic Ibo Christians like himself. A counter-coup followed a few months later that left Nigeria in disarray.

January 1970, he left in voluntary exile with his family and some close aides on an airliner packed with three tons of luggage and his white Mercedes-Benz. Biafra soon disintegrated. Only five countries — Gabon, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Zambia and Haiti — officially recognized Biafra during its existence.

In exile, Mr. Ojukwu lived for many years in the Ivory Coast before returning to Nigeria in the 1980s. Pardoned by the government, he attempted a second run at politics and was defeated in his presidential bids.

Mr Ojukwu died in London. He was 78.
He died Nov. 25 or 26. A cause of death could not be verified.

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