Nigerian Civil War

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Nigerian Civil War
Biafra independent state map-en.svg
The independent state of the Republic of Biafra in June 1967
Date 6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970
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Location Southeastern Nigeria

Nigerian victory

  • Biafra rejoins Nigeria

Egypt (air support)[1]
Supported by:[1][2]

 United Kingdom
 Soviet Union
France France
 Saudi Arabia
Bulgaria Bulgaria[4]
 United States


Supported by:[5]
France France
Portugal Portugal[6]
 South Africa
Gabon Gabon
Ivory Coast Ivory Coast
Commanders and leaders
Nigeria Yakubu Gowon
Nigeria Murtala Mohammed
Nigeria Benjamin Adekunle
Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo
Nigeria Theophilus Danjuma
Nigeria Ibrahim Babangida  (WIA)
Nigeria Isaac Adaka Boro  
Biafra Odumegwu Ojukwu
Biafra Philip Effiong
Biafra Alexander Madiebo
Biafra Maj. Chudi Alaoma
Biafra Tim Onwuatuegwu 
Biafra Victor Banjo Skull and crossbones.svg
Biafra Rolf Steiner
Biafra Joseph Achuzie
Biafra Taffy Williams
Carl Gustaf von Rosen
120,000 (1970) 30,000 (1970)
Casualties and losses
25,000 - 50,000 Military casualties[citation needed] 10,000 - 25,000 Military casualties[citation needed]

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, 6 July 1967 – 15 January 1970, was a war fought to counter the secession of Biafra from Nigeria. 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, capturing coastal oil facilities and the city of Port Harcourt. The blockade imposed during the ensuing stalemate led to severe famine—accomplished deliberately as a war strategy.[citation needed] Over the two and half years of the war, about two million civilians died from starvation and diseases.[citation needed]

This famine entered world awareness in mid-1968, when images of malnourished and starving children suddenly saturated the mass media of Western countries. The plight of the starving Biafrans became a cause célèbre in foreign countries, enabling a significant rise in the funding and prominence of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Britain and the Soviet Union were the main backers of the Federal Military Government in Lagos, while France and some independent elements supported Biafra. France and Israel provided weapons to both combatants.


Ethnic division

Like most other African countries, British Nigeria grouped people together for governance without respect for their religious, linguistic, and ethnic differences.[12] Nigeria, which gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, had at that time a population of 60 million people consisting of nearly 300 differing ethnic and cultural groups.

More than fifty years earlier, the United Kingdom had carved an area out of West Africa containing hundreds of different ethnic groups and unified it, calling it Nigeria. Although the area contained many different groups, the three predominant groups were the Igbo, which formed between 60–70% of the population in the southeast; the Hausa-Fulani, which formed about 65% of the peoples in the northern part of the territory; and the Yoruba, which formed about 75% of the population in the southwestern part. Although these groups have their own homelands, by the 1960s they were dispersed across Nigeria, with all three ethnic groups represented substantially in major cities. When the war broke out in 1967 there were still 5,000 Igbos in Lagos.[13]

The semi-feudal and Islamic Hausa-Fulani in the North were traditionally ruled by a feudal, conservative Islamic hierarchy consisting of Emirs who, in turn, owed their allegiance to a supreme Sultan. This Sultan was regarded as the source of all political power and religious authority.

The Yoruba political system in the southwest, like that of the Hausa-Fulani, also consisted of a series of monarchs, the Oba. The Yoruba monarchs, however, were less autocratic than those in the North, and the political and social system of the Yoruba accordingly allowed for greater upward mobility based on acquired rather than inherited wealth and title.

The Igbo in the southeast, in contrast to the two other groups, lived mostly in autonomous, democratically organised communities, although there were monarchs in many of these ancient cities such as the Kingdom of Nri. In its zenith the Kingdom controlled most of Igbo land, including influence on the Anioma people, Arochukwu (which controlled slavery in Igbo), and Onitsha land. Unlike the other two regions, decisions among the Igbo were made by a general assembly in which men could participate.[14]

The differing political systems among these three peoples reflected and produced divergent customs and values. The Hausa-Fulani commoners, having contact with the political system only through a village head designated by the Emir or one of his subordinates, did not view political leaders as amenable to influence. Political decisions were to be submitted to. As with other highly authoritarian religious and political systems, leadership positions were taken by persons willing to be subservient and loyal to superiors. A chief function of this political system was to maintain Islamic and conservative values, which caused many Hausa-Fulani to view economic and social innovation as subversive or sacrilegious.

In contrast to the Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo often participated directly in the decisions which affected their lives. They had a lively awareness of the political system and regarded it as an instrument for achieving their own personal goals. Status was acquired through the ability to arbitrate disputes that might arise in the village, and through acquiring rather than inheriting wealth.[15] Igbos were substantially victimized in the Atlantic slave trade; in the year 1790 it was reported that of 20,000 people sold each year from Bonny, 16,000 were Igbo.[16] With their emphasis upon social achievement and political participation, the Igbo adapted to and challenged colonial rule in innovative ways.

These tradition-derived differences were perpetuated and perhaps even enhanced by the British system of colonial rule in Nigeria. In the North, the British found it convenient to rule indirectly through the Emirs, thus perpetuating rather than changing the indigenous authoritarian political system. As a concomitant of this system, Christian missionaries were excluded from the North, and the area thus remained virtually closed to European cultural imperialism, in contrast to the Igbo, the richest of whom sent many of their sons to British universities. During the ensuing years, the Northern Emirs thus were able to maintain traditional political and religious institutions, while reinforcing their social structure. In this division, the North, at the time of independence in 1960, was by far the most underdeveloped area in Nigeria, with an English literacy rate of 2% as compared to 19.2% in the East (literacy in Ajami (local languages in Arabic script), learned in connection with religious education, was much higher). The West enjoyed a much higher literacy level, being the first part of the country to have contact with western education in addition to the free primary education program of the pre-independence Western Regional Government.[17][18]

In the South, the missionaries rapidly introduced Western forms of education. Consequently, the Yoruba were the first group in Nigeria to adopt Western bureaucratic social norms and they provided the first African civil servants, doctors, lawyers, and other technicians and professionals.

In Igbo areas, missionaries were introduced at a later date because of British difficulty in establishing firm control over the highly autonomous Igbo communities.[19] However, the Igbo people took to Western education actively, and they overwhelmingly came to adopt Christianity. Population pressure in the Igbo homeland combined with aspirations for monetary wages drove thousands of Igbo to other parts of Nigeria in search of work. By the 1960s, Igbo political culture was more unified and the region relatively prosperous, with tradesmen and literate elites active not just in the traditionally Igbo South, but throughout Nigeria.[20] Therefore, by 1966, the ethnic and religious differences between Northerners and Igbos had combined with additional stratification of education and class.[21]

Politics and economics of federalism

The British colonial ideology that divided Nigeria into three regions—North, West and East—exacerbated the already well-developed economic, political, and social differences among Nigeria's different ethnic groups. The country was divided in such a way that the North had a slightly higher population than the other two regions combined. On this basis the Northern Region was allocated a majority of the seats in the Federal Legislature established by the colonial authorities. Within each of the three regions the dominant ethnic groups, the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo, respectively formed political parties that were largely regional and based on ethnic allegiances: the Northern People's Congress (NPC) in the North; the Action Group in the West (AG); and the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in the East. These parties were not exclusively homogeneous in terms of their ethnic or regional make-up; the disintegration of Nigeria resulted largely from the fact that these parties were primarily based in one region and one tribe. To simplify matters, we will refer to them here as the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo-based; or Northern, Western and Eastern parties.

The basis of modern Nigeria formed in 1914, when Britain amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates. Beginning with the Northern Protectorate, the British implemented a system of indirect rule according to which they exerted influence through alliances with local forces. This system worked so well, colonial governor Frederick Lugard successfully lobbied to extend it to the Southern Protectorate through amalgamation. In this way, a foreign and hierarchical system of governance was imposed on the Igbos (along with many other smaller groups in the South.)[22] Intellectuals began to agitate for greater rights and independence.[23] The size of this intellectual class increased significantly in the 1950s, with the massive expansion of the national education program.[24] During the 1940s and 1950s the Igbo and Yoruba parties were in the forefront of the fight for independence from Britain. They also wanted an independent Nigeria to be organised into several small states so that the conservative North could not dominate the country. Northern leaders, fearful that independence would mean political and economic domination by the more Westernized elites in the South, preferred the perpetuation of British rule. As a condition for accepting independence, they demanded that the country continue to be divided into three regions with the North having a clear majority. Igbo and Yoruba leaders, anxious to obtain an independent country at all costs, accepted the Northern demands.

However it would be wrong to state that the two Southern regions were politically or philosophically aligned and there were already discordance between the two Southern political parties. Firstly, the AG favoured a loose confederacy of regions in the emergent Nigerian nation whereby each region would be in total control of its own distinct territory. The status of Lagos was a sore point for the AG which did not want Lagos, a Yoruba town which was at that time the Federal Capital and seat of national government to be designated as the Capital of Nigeria if it meant loss of Yoruba Suzerainty. The AG insisted that Lagos, a Yoruba city which was situated in Western Nigeria must be completely recognized as a Yoruba town without any loss of identity, control or autonomy by the Yoruba. Contrary to this position, the NCNC was anxious to declare Lagos, by virtue of it being the "Federal Capital Territory" as "no man's land" - a declaration which as could be expected angered the AG which offered to help fund the development of other territory in Nigeria as "Federal Capital Territory" and then threatened secession from Nigeria if it didn't get its way. The threat of secession by the AG was tabled , documented and recorded in numerous constitutional conferences, including the constitutional conference held in london in 1954 with the demand that a right of secession be enshrined in the constitution of the emerging Nigerian nation to allow any part of the emergent nation to opt out of Nigeria, should the need arise.(Author(s): Tekena N. TamunoSource: The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Dec., 1970), pp. 563-584 [25] ) This proposal for inclusion of right of secession by the regions in independent Nigeria by the AG was rejected and resisted by NCNC which vehemently argued for a tightly bound united/unitary structured nation because it viewed the provision of a secession clause as detrimental to the formation of a Unitary Nigerian state. In the face of sustained opposition by the NCNC delegates, later joined by the NPC and backed by threats to view maintenance of the inclusion of secession by the AG as treasonable by the British, the AG was forced to renounce its position of inclusion of the right of secession a part of the Nigerian constitution. It should be noted that , had such a provision been made in the Nigerian constitution, later events which led to the Nigerian/Biafran civil war would have been avoided. The pre-independence alliance between the NCNC and the NPC against the aspirations of the AG would later set the tone for political governance of independent Nigeria by the NCNC/NPC and lead to disaster in later years in Nigeria.

[26] Northern–Southern tension manifested on 1 May 1953, as fighting in the Northern city of Kano.[27] The political parties tended to focus on building power in their own regions, resulting in an incoherent and disunified dynamic in the federal government.[28]

In 1946, the British divided the Southern Region into the Western Region and the Eastern Region. Each government was entitled to collect royalties from resources extracted within its area. This changed in 1956 when Shell-BP found large petroleum deposits in the Eastern region. A Commission led by Jeremy Raisman and Ronald Tress determined that resource royalties would now enter a "Distributable Pools Account" with the money split between different parts of government (50% to region of origin, 20% to federal government, 30% to other regions).[29] To ensure continuing influence, the British promoted unity in the Northern bloc and discord among and within the two Southern regions, as well as the creation of a new Mid-Western Region in an area with oil potential.[30] The new constitution of 1946 also proclaimed that "The entire property in and control of all mineral oils, in, under, or upon any lands, in Nigeria, and of all rivers, streams, and water courses throughout Nigeria, is and shall be vested in, the Crown."[31] Britain profited significantly from a fivefold rise in Nigerian exports amidst the postwar economic boom.[32]

First Republic

Nigeria's First Republic came into being on 1 October 1960. The first prime minister of Nigeria, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was a northerner and co-founder of the Northern People's Congress. He formed an alliance with the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons party, and its popular nationalist leader Nnamdi "Zik" Azikiwe, who became Governor General and then President. The Yoruba-aligned Action Group, the third major party, played the opposition role.[33]

Workers became increasingly aggrieved by low wages and bad conditions, especially when they compared their lot to the lifestyles of politicians in Lagos. Most wage earners lived in the Lagos area, and many lived in overcrowded dangerous housing. Labor activity including strikes intensified in 1963, culminating in a nationwide general strike in June 1964. Strikers disobeyed an ultimatum to return to work and at one point were dispersed by riot police. Eventually, they did win raise increases. The strike included people from all ethnic groups.[34] Retired Brigadier General H. M. Njoku later wrote that the general strike heavily exacerbated tensions between the Army and ordinary civilians, and put pressure on the Army to take action against a government which was widely perceived as corrupt.[35]

The 1964 elections, which involved heavy campaigning all year, brought ethnic and regional divisions into focus. Resentment of politicians ran high and many campaigners feared for their safety while touring the country. The Army repeatedly deployed to Tiv Division, killing hundreds and arresting thousands of Tiv people agitating for self determination.[36][37]

Widespread reports of fraud tarnished the election's legitimacy.[36] Westerners especially resented the political domination of the Northern People's Congress, many of whose candidates ran unopposed in the election. Violence spread throughout the country and some began to flee the North and West, some to Dahomey.[38] The apparent domination of the political system by the North, and the chaos breaking out across the country, motivated elements within the military to consider decisive action.[39]

Britain maintained its economic hold on the country, through continued alliance and reinforcement of the Northern bloc. In addition to Shell-BP, the British reaped profits from mining and commerce. The British-owned United Africa Company alone controlled 41.3% of all Nigeria's foreign trade.[40] At 516,000 barrels per day, Nigeria had become the tenth biggest oil exporter in the world.[41]

Military coups

On 15 January 1966, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna and other junior Army officers (mostly majors and captains) attempted a coup d'état. The two major political leaders of the north, the prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the Premier of the northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello were executed by Major Nzeogwu. Also murdered was Sir Ahmadu Bello's wife and officers of Northern extraction. Meanwhile, the President, Sir Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo, was on an extended vacation in the West Indies. He did not return until days after the coup. There was widespread suspicion that the Igbo coup plotters had tipped him and other Igbo leaders off regarding the impending coup. In addition to the killings of the Northern political leaders, the Premier of the Western region , Ladoke Akintola and Yoruba senior military officers were also killed. The coup, also referred to as "The Coup of the Five Majors", has been described in some quarters as Nigeria's only revolutionary coup.[42] This was the first coup in the short life of Nigeria's nascent second democracy. Claims of electoral fraud were one of the reasons given by the coup plotters.

This coup was however seen not as a revolutionary coup by other sections of Nigerians , especially in the Northern and Western sections and latter revisioninsts of Nigerian coups, mostly from Eastern part of Nigeria have belatedly maintained to widespread disbelief amongst Western and Southern Nigerians that the majors sought to spring Action Group leader Obafemi Awolowo out of jail and make him head of the new government. From there, they would dismantle the Northern-dominated power structure. However, their efforts to take power were thwarted by Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo and loyalist head of the Nigerian Army, who suppressed coup operations in the South. The majors surrendered, and Aguiyi-Ironsi was declared head of state on 16 January.[43][44]

Aguyi-Ironsi suspended the constitution and dissolved parliament. He then abolished the regional confederated form of government and pursued unitary like policies heithero favoured by the NCNC, having apparently been influenced by some NCNC political philosophy. He however appointed Colonel Hassan Katsina, son of Katsina emir Usman Nagogo, to govern the Northern Region, indicating some willingness to maintain cooperation with this bloc.[45] He also preferentially released northern politicians from jail (enabling them to plan his forthcoming overthrow).[46] Aguyi-Ironsi rejected a British offer of military support but promised to protect British interests; however … Britain participated in overthrow?[47]

Ironsi fatally did not bring the failed plotters to trial as required by then-military law and as advised by most northern and western officers,rather, coup plotters were maintained in the military on full pay and some were even promoted while apparently awaiting trial. The coup, despite its failure and since no repercussion was meted out to coup plotters and since no significant Igbo political leaders were affected was widely perceived as having benefited mostly the Igbo. Most of the known coup plotters were Igbo and the military and political leadership of Westerrn and Northern regions had been largely bloodily eliminated while Eastern military/political leadership was largely untouched. However Ironsi, himself an Igbo, was thought to have made numerous attempts to please Northerners. The other event that also fuelled the so-called "Igbo conspiracy" was the killing of Northern leaders, and the killing of the Colonel Shodeinde's pregnant wife by the coup executioners. Despite the overwhelming contradictions of the coup being executed by mostly Northern soldiers (such as John Atom Kpera, later military governor of Benue State), the killing of Igbo soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Unegbe by coup executioners, and Ironsi's termination of an Igbo-led coup, the ease by which Ironsi stopped the coup led to suspicion that the Igbo coup plotters planned all along to pave the way for Ironsi to take the reins of power in Nigeria.

Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu became military governor of the Eastern Region at this time.[48] On 24 May 1966, the military government issued Unification Decree #34, which would have replaced the federation with a more centralized system. The Northern bloc found this decree intolerable.[49]

In the face of provocation from the Eastern media which repeatedly showed humiliating posters and cartoons of the slain northern politicians, on the night of 29 July 1966, northern soldiers at Abeokuta barracks mutinied, thus precipitating a counter-coup, which have already been in the planning stages. The counter-coup led to the installation of Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon as Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Gowon was chosen as a compromise candidate. He was a Northerner, a Christian, from a minority tribe, and had a good reputation within the army.

It seems that Gowon immediately faced not only a potential standoff with the East, but secession threats from the Northern and even the Western region.[50] The counter-coup plotters had considered using the opportunity to withdraw from the federation themselves. Ambassadors from Britain and the United States, however, urged Gowon to maintain control over the whole country. Gowon followed this plan, repealing the Unification Decree, announcing a return to the federal system.[51]

Persecution of Igbo

From June through October 1966, pogroms in the North killed tens of thousands of Igbos and caused millions to flee to the Eastern Region.[52][53] 29 September 1966, was considered the worst day.[54]

Ethnomusicologist Charles Keil, who was visiting Nigeria in 1966, recounted:

The pogroms I witnessed in Makurdi, Nigeria (late Sept. 1966) were foreshadowed by months of intensive anti-Ibo and anti-Eastern conversations among Tiv, Idoma, Hausa and other Northerners resident in Makurdi, and, fitting a pattern replicated in city after city, the massacres were led by the Nigerian army. Before, during and after the slaughter, Col. Gowan could be heard over the radio issuing 'guarantees of safety' to all Easterners, all citizens of Nigeria, but the intent of the soldiers, the only power that counts in Nigeria now or then, was painfully clear. After counting the disemboweled bodies along the Makurdi road I was escorted back to the city by soldiers who apologized for the stench and explained politely that they were doing me and the world a great favor by eliminating Ibos.

The Federal Military Government also laid the groundwork for the blockade of the Eastern Region which would go into full effect in 1967.[55]


On 27 May 1967, Gowon proclaimed the division of Nigeria into twelve states. This decree carved the Eastern Region in three parts: South Eastern State, Rivers State, and East Central State. Now the Igbos, concentrated in the East Central State, would lose control over most of the petroleum, located in the other two areas.[56][57]

On 30 May 1967, Ojukwu declared independence of the Republic of Biafra.

The Federal Military Government immediately placed an embargo on all shipping to and from Biafra—but not on oil tankers.[55][56] Biafra quickly moved to collect oil royalties from oil companies doing business within its borders.[56] When Shell-BP acquiesced to this request at the end of June, the Federal Government extended its blockade to include oil.[58] The blockade, which most foreign actors accepted, played a decisive role in putting Biafra at a disadvantage from the beginning of the war.[59]

Although the very young nation had a chronic shortage of weapons to go to war, it was determined to defend itself. Although there was much sympathy in Europe and elsewhere, only five countries (Tanzania, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia and Haiti) officially recognised the new republic. Britain supplied amounts of heavy weapons and ammunition to the Nigerian side because of its desire to preserve the country it created. The Biafra side on the other hand found it difficult to purchase arms as the countries who supported it did not provide arms and ammunition. The heavy supply of weapons by Britain was the biggest factor in determining the outcome of the war.

Several peace accords, especially the one held at Aburi, Ghana (the Aburi Accord), collapsed and the shooting war soon followed. Ojukwu managed at Aburi to get agreement to a confederation for Nigeria, rather than a federation. He was warned by his advisers that this reflected a failure of Gowon to understand the difference and, that being the case, predicted that it would be reneged upon. When this happened, Ojukwu regarded it as both a failure by Gowon to keep to the spirit of the Aburi agreement, and lack of integrity on the side of the Nigerian Military Government in the negotiations toward a united Nigeria. Gowon's advisers, to the contrary, felt that he had enacted as much as was politically feasible in fulfillment of the spirit of Aburi.[60] The Eastern Region was very ill equipped for war, outmanned and outgunned by the Nigerians. Their advantages included fighting in their homeland, support of most Easterners, determination, and use of limited resources.

The UK-which still maintained the highest level of influence over Nigeria's highly valued oil industry through Shell-BP-[61] and the Soviet Union supported (especially militarily) the Nigerian government.


Shortly after extending its blockade to include oil, the Nigerian government launched a "police action" to retake the secessionist territory.[62] The war began on 6 July 1967 when Nigerian Federal troops advanced in two columns into Biafra. The Nigerian Army offensive was through the north of Biafra led by Colonel Mohammed Shuwa and the local military units were formed as the 1st Infantry Division. The division was led mostly by northern officers. After facing unexpectedly fierce resistance and high casualties, the right-hand Nigerian column advanced on the town of Nsukka which fell on 14 July, while the left-hand column made for Garkem, which was captured on 12 July.

Biafran offensive

The Biafrans responded with an offensive of their own when, on 9 August, the Biafran forces moved west into the Mid-Western Nigerian region across the Niger river, passing through Benin City, until they were stopped at Ore (in present day Ondo State) just over the state boundary on 21 August, just 130 miles east of the Nigerian capital of Lagos. The Biafran attack was led by Lt. Col. Banjo, a Yoruba, with the Biafran rank of brigadier. The attack met little resistance and the Mid-West was easily taken over.

Flag of the Republic of Benin.

This was due to the pre-secession arrangement that all soldiers should return to their regions to stop the spate of killings, in which Igbo soldiers had been major victims.[17][63] The Nigerian soldiers that were supposed to defend the Mid-West state were mostly Mid-West Igbo and while some were in touch with their eastern counterparts, others resisted. General Gowon responded by asking Colonel Murtala Mohammed (who later became head of state in 1975) to form another division (the 2nd Infantry Division) to expel the Biafrans from the Mid-West, as well as defend the West side and attack Biafra from the West as well. As Nigerian forces retook the Mid-West, the Biafran military administrator declared the Republic of Benin on 19 September, though it ceased to exist the next day. (The present country of Benin, west of Nigeria, was still named Dahomey at that time.)

Although Benin City was retaken by the Nigerians on 22 September, the Biafrans succeeded in their primary objective by tying down as many Nigerian Federal troops as they could. Gen. Gowon also launched an offensive into Biafra south from the Niger Delta to the riverine area using the bulk of the Lagos Garrison command under Colonel Benjamin Adekunle (called the Black Scorpion) to form the 3rd Infantry Division (which was later renamed as the 3rd Marine Commando). As the war continued, the Nigerian Army recruited amongst a wider area, including the Yoruba, Itshekiri, Urhobo, Edo, Ijaw, etc.

Nigerian offensive

Four battalions of the Nigerian 2nd Infantry Division were needed to drive the Biafrans back and eliminate their territorial gains made during the offensive. Nigerian soldiers under Murtala Mohammed carried out a mass killing of 700 civilians when they captured Asaba on the River Niger. The Nigerians were repulsed three times as they attempted to cross the River Niger during October, resulting in the loss of thousands of troops, dozens of tanks and equipment. The first attempt by the 2nd Infantry Division on 12 October to cross the Niger from the town of Asaba to the Biafran city of Onitsha cost the Nigerian Federal Army over 5,000 soldiers killed, wounded, captured or missing. Operation Tiger Claw (17–20 October 1967) was a military conflict between Nigerian and Biafran military forces. On 17 October 1967 Nigerians invaded Calabar led by the "Black Scorpion", Benjamin Adekunle while the Biafrans were led by Col. Ogbu Ogi, who was responsible for controlling the area between Calabar and Opobo, and Lynn Garrison a foreign mercenary. The Biafrans came under immediate fire from the water and the air. For the next two days Biafran stations and military supplies were bombarded by the Nigerian air force. That same day Lynn Garrison reached Calabar but came under immediate fire by federal troops. By 20 October, Garrison's forces withdrew from the battle while Col. Ogi officially surrendered to Gen. Adekunle.

Control over oil production

Control over petroleum in the Niger Delta was a paramount military objective during the war.

Towards the end of July 1967 Nigeria captured Bonny Island in the Niger Delta, thereby taking control of vital Shell-BP facilities.[64] Operations began again in May 1968, when Nigeria captured Port Harcourt. Its facilities had been damaged and needed repair.[65] Production and export continued at a lower level. The completion in 1969 of a new terminal at Forçados brought production up from 142,000 barrels/day in 1958 to 540,000 barrels/day in 1969. In 1970, this figure doubled to 1,080,000 barrels/day. The royalties enabled Nigeria to buy more weapons, hire mercenaries, etc. Biafra proved unable to compete on this economic level.[66]

International involvement


The British planned to maintain and expand their supply of cheap high-quality oil from Nigeria. Therefore they placed a high priority on maintenance of oil extraction and refining operations. They backed the Federal Government, but when the war broke out cautioned them not to damage British oil installations in the East. These oilworks, under the control of Shell-BP Petroleum Development Company (jointly owned by Shell and British Petroleum), controlled 84% of Nigeria's 580,000 barrels per day. Two-thirds of this oil came from the Eastern region, and another third from the newly created Mid-West region. Two-fifths of all Nigerian oil ended up in Britain.[58]

Shell-BP therefore considered carefully a request by the Federal Government that it not pay the royalties demanded by Biafra. Its lawyers advised that payment to Biafra would be appropriate if this government did in fact maintain law and order in the region in question. The British government advised that paying Biafra could undermine the goodwill of the Federal Government. However, the payment was made, resulting in a blockade on oil.[58] Forced to choose a side, Shell-BP and the British government threw in their lot with the Federal Government in Lagos, apparently calculating that this side would be more likely to win the war.[67] As the British High Commissioner in Lagos wrote to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs on 27 July 1967:

Ojukwu, even victorious, will not be in a strong position. He will require all the international help and recognition he can get. The Federal Government would be much better placed both internationally and internally. They would have a cast iron case for the severest treatment of a company which has subsidized a rebel, and I feel fairly convinced they would press their case to the lengths of cancelling the Company's concessions and nationalizing their installations. I conclude, therefore, if the company does change its mind and asks the British Government for advice, the best that could be given is for it to clamber hastily back on the Lagos side of the fence with cheque book at the ready."[67]

Shell-BP took this advice.[67] It continued to quietly support Nigeria through the rest of the war, in one case advancing a royalty of £5.5 million to fund the purchase of more British weapons.[68]

During the war, Britain covertly supplied Nigeria with weapons and military intelligence and may have also helped it to hire mercenaries.[69] After the decision was made to back Nigeria, the BBC oriented its reporting to favor this side.[70] Supplies provided to the Federal Military Government included two vessels and 60 vehicles.[71]

In Britain, the humanitarian campaign around Biafra began on 12 June 1968, with media coverage on ITV and in The Sun. The charities Oxfam and Save the Children Fund were soon deployed, with large sums of money at their disposal.[72]


France provided weapons, mercenary fighters, and other assistance to Biafra and promoted its cause internationally, describing the situation as a genocide. Charles de Gaulle referred to "Biafra's just and noble cause".[73] However, France did not recognize Biafra diplomatically.[74] Through Pierre Laureys, France had apparently provided two B-26s, Alouette helicopters, and pilots.[75] France supplied Biafra with captured German and Italian weapons from World War II, sans serial numbers, delivered as part of regular shipments to Côte d'Ivoire.[76] France also sold Panhard armored vehicles to the Nigerian federal government.[77]

French involvement in the war can be viewed in the context of its geopolitical strategy (Françafrique) and competition with the English in West Africa. Nigeria represented a base of British influence in the predominantly French-aligned area. France and Portugal used nearby countries in their sphere of influence, especially Côte d'Ivoire under President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, as waystations for shipments to Biafra.[73][78] To some extent, also, France repeated its earlier policy from the Congo Crisis, when it supported the secession of the southern mining province Katanga.[79]

Economically, France was significantly incentivized by oil drilling contracts for the Société Anonyme Française de Recherches et d'Exploitation de Pétrolières (SAFRAP), apparently arranged with Eastern Nigeria in advance of its secession from the Nigerian Federation.[80][81] SAFRAP laid claim to 7% of the Nigerian petroleum supply.[58] In the assessment of a CIA analyst in 1970, France's "support was actually given to a handful of Biafran bourgeoisie in return for the oil."[82] Biafra, for its part, openly appreciated its relationship with France. Ojukwu suggested on 10 August 1967, that Biafra introduce compulsory French classes in secondary, technical and teacher training schools, in order to "benefit from the rich culture of the French-speaking world".[83]

France led the way, internationally, for political support of Biafra.[81] Portugal also sent weapons; Czechoslovakia sent weapons until its priorities were adjusted by the 1968 Soviet invasion. These transactions were arranged through the "Biafran Historical Research Centre" in Paris.[84] French-aligned Gabon and Côte d'Ivoire recognized Biafra in May 1968.[85] On 8 May 1968, De Gaulle personally contributed 30,000 francs to medicine purchases for the French Red Cross mission. Fairly widespread student-worker unrest diverted the government's attention only temporarily. The government declared an arms embargo but maintained arms shipments to Biafra under cover of humanitarian aid.[86] In July the government redoubled its efforts to involve the public in a humanitarian approach to the conflict. Images of starving children and accusations of genocide filled French newspapers and television programs. Amidst this press blitz, on 31 July 1968, De Gaulle made an official statement in support of Biafra.[87] Maurice Robert, head of Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage (SDECE, the French foreign intelligence service) African operations, wrote in 2004 that his agency supplied the press with details about the war and told them to use the word "genocide" in their reporting.[88]

France declared "Biafra Week" on 11–17 March 1969, centered on a 2-franc raffle held by the French Red Cross. Soon after, de Gaulle terminated arms shipments, then resigned on 27 April 1969. Interim president Alain Poher fired General Jacques Foccart, the lead coordinator of France's Africa policy. Georges Pompidou re-hired Foccart and resumed support for Biafra, including cooperation with the South African secret service to import more weapons.[89]

United States of America

The United States officially declared neutrality, with US Secretary of State Dean Rusk stating that "America is not in a position to take action as Nigeria is an area under British influence",[61] but nevertheless provided military assistance to the Nigeria government.[61] Formally, the United States was neutral in the civil war. Strategically, its interests aligned with the Federal Military Government. The US also saw value in its alliance with Lagos, and sought to protect $800 million (in the assessment of the State Department) worth of private investment.[90]

This had not been publicized, while Senator Ted Kennedy led a movement for relief to the millions dying.[citation needed]

On 9 September 1968, United States presidential candidate Richard Nixon stated:

Until now, efforts to relieve the Biafra people have been thwarted by the desire of central government of Nigeria to pursue total and unconditional victory and by the fear of the Ibo people that surrender means wholesale atrocities and genocide. But genocide is what is taking place right now – and starvation is the grim reaper.[73]

Gulf Oil Nigeria, the third major player in Nigerian oil, was producing 9% of the oil coming out of Nigeria before the war began.[58] Its operations were all located offshore of the federally controlled Mid-Western territory; therefore it continued to pay royalties to the federal government and its operations were mostly undisrupted.[67]

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union strongly backed the Nigerian government, emphasizing the similarity with the Congo situation. It consistently supplied Nigeria with weapons, with the diplomatic disclaimer that these were "strictly for cash on a commercial basis". In 1968, the USSR agreed to finance the Kainji Dam on the Niger (somewhat upriver from the Delta). Soviet media outlets initially accused the imperialist British of cynically supporting the Biafran secession, then had to adjust these claims later when it turned out that Britain was supporting the Federal Government.[91]

One explanation for Soviet sympathy with the Federal Military Government was a shared opposition to internal secessionist movements. Before the war, the Soviets had seemed sympathetic to the Igbos. But Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin stated to their chagrin in October 1967 that "the Soviet people fully understand" Nigeria's motives and its need "to prevent the country from being dismembered."[92]

Reportedly, the war substantially improved Soviet-Nigerian diplomatic and trade relations, and Moskvitch cars began to make appearances around Lagos. The USSR became a competitive importer of Nigerian cacao.[91]


From early on, Israel perceived that Nigeria would be an important player in West African politics, and saw good relations with Lagos as an important foreign policy objective. Nigeria and Israel established a linkage in 1957. In 1960 Britain allowed the creation of an Israeli diplomatic mission in Lagos, and Israel made a $10 million loan to the Nigerian government. Israel also developed a cultural relation with the Igbos based on possible shared traditions. These moves represented a significant diplomatic success given the Muslim orientation of the northern-dominated government. Some northern leaders disapproved of contact with Israel and banned Israelis from Maiduguri and Sokoto.[93]

Israel did not begin arms sales to Nigeria until after Aguyi-Ironsi came to power in January 1966. This was considered an opportune time to develop this relationship with the federal government, because Aguyi-Ironsi was Igbo. Ram Nirgad became Israeli ambassador to Nigeria in January. Thirty tons of mortar rounds were delivered in April.[94]

The Eastern Region began seeking assistance from Israel in September 1966. Israel apparently turned down their requests repeatedly, although they may have put the Biafran representatives in contact with another arms dealer.[95] In 1968, Israel began supplying the Federal Military Government with arms—about $500,000 worth, according to the US State Department.[96] Meanwhile, as elsewhere, the situation in Biafra became publicized as a genocide. The Knesset publicly debated this issue on 17 and 22 July 1968, winning applause from the press for its sensitivity. Right-wing and left-wing political groups, and student activists, spoke for Biafra.[97] In August 1968, the Israeli air force overtly sent twelve tons of food aid to a nearby site outside of Nigerian (Biafran) air space. Covertly, Mossad provided Biafra with $100,000 (through Zurich) and attempted an arms shipment. Soon after, Israel arranged to make clandestine weapons shipments to Biafra using Côte d'Ivoire transport planes.[98]

Other countries

Biafra appealed unsuccessfully for support from the Organisation of African Unity, whose member states generally did not want to support internal secessionist movements.[99]

Nigeria received support from Egypt, which provided pilots to fly the aircraft procured by the Soviet Union.[100]

Biafra surrounded

A makeshift airport in Calabar, Nigeria, where relief efforts to aid famine victims were deployed by helicopter teams.

From 1968 onward, the war fell into a form of stalemate, with Nigerian forces unable to make significant advances into the remaining areas of Biafran control due to stiff resistance and major defeats in Abagana, Arochukwu, Oguta, Umuahia (Operation OAU), Onne, Ikot Ekpene, etc.[101] But another Nigerian offensive from April to June 1968 began to close the ring around the Biafrans with further advances on the two northern fronts and the capture of Port Harcourt on 19 May 1968. The blockade of the surrounded Biafrans led to a humanitarian disaster when it emerged that there was widespread civilian hunger and starvation in the besieged Igbo areas.[102]

The Biafran government reported that Nigeria was using hunger and genocide to win the war, and sought aid from the outside world. Private groups in the US, led by Senator Ted Kennedy, responded. No one was ever held responsible for these killings.

In September 1968, the federal army planned what Gowon described as the "final offensive." Initially the final offensive was neutralised by Biafran troops by the end of the year after several Nigerian troops were routed in Biafran ambushes. In the latter stages, a Southern FMG offensive managed to break through. However in 1969, the Biafrans launched several offensives against the Nigerians in their attempts to keep the Nigerians off-balance starting in March when the 14th Division of the Biafran army recaptured Owerri and moved towards Port Harcourt, but were halted just north of the city. In May 1969, Biafran commandos recaptured oil wells in Kwale. In July 1969, Biafran forces launched a major land offensive supported by foreign mercenary pilots continuing to fly in food, medical supplies and weapons. Most notable of the mercenaries was Swedish Count Carl Gustav von Rosen who led air attacks with five Malmö MFI-9 MiniCOIN small piston-engined aircraft, armed with rocket pods and machine guns. His Biafran Air Force consisted of three Swedes: von Rosen, Gunnar Haglund and Martin Lang. The other two pilots were Biafrans: Willy Murray-Bruce and Augustus Opke. From 22 May to 8 July 1969 von Rosen's small force attacked Nigerian military airfields in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Benin City and Ughelli, destroying or damaging a number of Nigerian Air Force jets used to attack relief flights, including a few Mig-17's and three of Nigeria's six Ilyushin Il-28 bombers that were used to bomb Biafran villages and farms on a daily basis. Although the Biafran offensives of 1969 were a tactical success, the Nigerians soon recovered. The Biafran air attacks did disrupt the combat operations of the Nigerian Air Force, but only for a few months.

In response to the Nigerian government using foreigners to lead some advances, the Biafran government also began hiring foreign mercenaries to extend the war.[103] Only German born Rolf Steiner a Lt. Col. with the 4th Commandos, and Major Taffy Williams, a Welshman would remain for the duration.[104] Nigeria also deployed foreign combatants, in the form of Egyptian pilots for their air force MiG 17 fighters and Il 28 bombers. The Egyptian conscripts frequently attacked civilian rather than military targets, bombing numerous Red Cross shelters.[105]

Humanitarian crisis

A child suffering the effects of severe hunger and malnutrition as a result of the blockade. Pictures of the famine caused by Nigerian blockade garnered sympathy for the Biafrans worldwide. It was regarded in the Western press as the genocide of 2 million people, half of them children and fund raising for relief was carried out at the time, with the help of Senator Ted Kennedy.

Awareness of a mounting crisis rose in 1968. Information spread especially through religious networks, beginning with alerts from missionaries. It did not escape the notice of worldwide Christian organisations that the Biafrans were Christian and the northern Nigerians controlling the federal government were Muslim.[106]

Many volunteer bodies organised the Biafran airlift which provided blockade-breaking relief flights into Biafra, carrying food, medicines, and sometimes (according to some claims) weapons.[105] More common was the claim that the arms-carrying aircraft would closely shadow aid aircraft, making it more difficult to distinguish between aid aircraft and military supply aircraft.[105]

One of the interesting characters assisting Count Carl Gustav von Rosen was Lynn Garrison, an ex-RCAF fighter pilot. He introduced the Count to a Canadian method of dropping bagged supplies to remote areas in Canada without losing the contents. He showed how one sack of food could be placed inside a larger sack before the supply drop. When the package hit the ground the inner sack would rupture while the outer one kept the contents intact. With this method many tons of food were dropped to many Biafrans who would otherwise have died of starvation.

Bernard Kouchner was one of a number of French doctors who volunteered with the French Red Cross to work in hospitals and feeding centres in besieged Biafra. The Red Cross required volunteers to sign an agreement, which was seen by some (like Kouchner and his supporters) as being similar to a gag order, that was designed to maintain the organisation's neutrality, whatever the circumstances. Kouchner and the other French doctors signed this agreement.

After entering the country, the volunteers, in addition to Biafran health workers and hospitals, were subjected to attacks by the Nigerian army, and witnessed civilians being murdered and starved by the blockading forces. Kouchner also witnessed these events, particularly the huge number of starving children, and when he returned to France, he publicly criticised the Nigerian government and the Red Cross for their seemingly complicit behaviour. With the help of other French doctors, Kouchner put Biafra in the media spotlight and called for an international response to the situation. These doctors, led by Kouchner, concluded that a new aid organisation was needed that would ignore political/religious boundaries and prioritise the welfare of victims. They formed le Comité de Lutte contre le Génocide au Biafra which in 1971 became Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).[107][108]

The crisis brought about a large increase in prominence and funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).[109][110]

Media and public opinion

Media and public relations played a central role in the war, due to their influence on morale at home and the dynamics of international involvement. Both sides relied heavily on external support.[59][99]

Media campaigns focused on the plight of the Biafrans intensified internationally in the summer of 1968.[72][87] By the Biafran leadership and then around the world, the pogroms and famine were classified as genocide and compared to the Holocaust; hypothetical Judaic origins of the Igbos were used to bolster comparisons with Jews in Germany. In the international press, Igbo refugee camps were compared to Nazi extermination camps.[111]

Humanitarian appeals differed somewhat from place to place. In Britain, humanitarian aid used familiar discourses of imperial responsibility; in Ireland, advertisements appealed to shared Catholicism and experiences of civil war.[112] Both of these appeals channeled older cultural values into support for the new model of international NGOs.[113] In Israel, the Holocaust comparison was promoted, as was the theme of threat from hostile Muslim neighbors.[114]

The Biafran war bombarded Western culture with the trope of the starving African child. The Biafran famine took media coverage of disaster to a new level, enabled by the proliferation of television sets.[115] The televised disaster and the rising NGOs mutually enhanced each other; NGOs maintained their own communications networks and played a significant role in shaping news coverage.[116]

Biafran elites studied Western propaganda techniques and released carefully constructed public communications in an intentional fashion. Biafran propagandists had the dual task of appealing to international public opinion, and maintaining morale and nationalist spirit domestically. Political cartoons were a preferred medium for publicizing simple interpretations of the war. Biafra also used push polling to insinuate messages about Nigeria's inherent bloodthirstiness.[117] Novelist Chinua Achebe became a committed propagandist for Biafra, and one of its leading international advocates.[21]

On 29 May 1969, Bruce Mayrock, a student at Columbia University, set himself ablaze at the premises of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, to protest the genocide against the nation and people of Biafra.[118][119][120][121] He died of his injuries the following day.[119]

Kwale oilfield incident

In May 1969 a company of Biafrian commandos raided an oil field in Kwale and killed 11 Saipem workers and Agip technicians. They captured three Europeans unhurt and then at a nearby Okpai Field Development Biafrian commandos surrounded and captured 15 more expatriate personnel. The captives included 14 Italians, 3 West Germans and one Lebanese. It was claimed that the foreigners were captured fighting alongside Nigerians against Biafrian troops and that they assisted Nigerians in constructing roads to aid them in their operations against Biafra. They were tried by a Biafrian court and sentenced to death.

This incident caused an international uproar. In the month that followed Pope Paul VI, the governments of Italy, UK and USA mounted concerted pressure on Biafra. On June 4, 1969, after receiving a personal direct mail from the Pope, Ojukwu pardorned the foreigners. They were released to the special envoys sent by the governments of Ivory Coast and Gabon and left Biafra.[122][123]

End of the war

With increased British support the Nigerian federal forces launched their final offensive against the Biafrans once again on 23 December 1969 with a major thrust by the 3rd Marine Commando Division the division was commanded by Col. Olusegun Obasanjo (who later became president twice) which succeeded in splitting the Biafran enclave into two by the end of the year. The final Nigerian offensive, named "Operation Tail-Wind", launched on 7 January 1970 with the 3rd Marine Commando Division attacking, and supported by the 1st Infantry division to the north and the 2nd Infantry division to the south. The Biafran town of Owerri fell on 9 January, and Uli fell on 11 January. Only a few days earlier, Ojukwu fled into exile by flying by plane to the Ivory Coast, leaving his deputy Philip Effiong to handle the details of the surrender to General Yakubu Gowon of the federal army on 13 January 1970. The war finally ended a few days later with the Nigerian forces advancing in the remaining Biafran held territories with little opposition.

After the war Gowon said, "The tragic chapter of violence is just ended. We are at the dawn of national reconciliation. Once again we have an opportunity to build a new nation. My dear compatriots, we must pay homage to the fallen, to the heroes who have made the supreme sacrifice that we may be able to build a nation, great in justice, fair trade, and industry."[124]

Reckoning and legacy

The war cost the Igbos a great deal in terms of lives, money and infrastructure. It has been estimated that up to three million people may have died due to the conflict, most from hunger and disease caused by Nigerian forces.[125][126][127] More than two million people died from the famine imposed deliberately through blockade throughout the war. Lack of medicine also contributed. Thousands of people starved to death every day as the war progressed.[128] (The International Committee of the Red Cross in September 1968 estimated 8,000–10,000 deaths from starvation each day.)[129] The leader of a Nigerian peace conference delegation said in 1968 that "starvation is a legitimate weapon of war and we have every intention of using it against the rebels". This stance is generally considered to reflect the policy of the Nigerian government.[130][131] The federal Nigerian army is accused of further atrocities including deliberate bombing of civilians, mass slaughter with machine guns, and rape.[130]

Some scholars including Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe continue to argue that the Biafran war was a genocide, for which no perpetrators have been held accountable.[132] Critics of this position suggest that Igbo leaders had some responsibility, but acknowledge that starvation policies were pursued deliberately and that accountability has not been sought for the 1966 pogroms.[130][133] Arguments that this war did not strictly constitute "genocide" focus on political aspects of the war which differ from prototypical genocide, such as the objective to keep Igboland within the Nigerian Federation, and improved conditions for Igbos after the Federal Military Government achieved its political objectives.[134] Despite the high death toll and widespread application of the label "genocide" while the war was taking place, the Nigeria–Biafra war is frequently omitted from lists of genocides. In 1969, Biafra made a formal complaint of genocide against Igbos to the International Committee on the Investigation of Crimes of Genocide, which concluded that British colonial administrators were complicit in the process of fomenting ethnic hatred and violence, dating back to the Kano riots of 1953. With special reference to the Asaba Massacre, Emma Okocha described the killings as "the first black-on-black genocide".[129] Ekwe-Ekwe places significant blame on the British.[135]

Severely malnourished woman during the Nigerian-Biafran war of the late 1960s.

Reconstruction, helped by the oil money, was swift; however, the old ethnic and religious tensions remained a constant feature of Nigerian politics. Accusations were made of Nigerian government officials diverting resources meant for reconstruction in the former Biafran areas to their ethnic areas. Military government continued in power in Nigeria for many years, and people in the oil-producing areas claimed they were being denied a fair share of oil revenues.[136] Laws were passed mandating that political parties could not be ethnically or tribally based; however, it has been hard to make this work in practice.

Igbos who ran for their lives during the pogroms and war returned to find their positions had been taken over; and when the war was over the government did not feel any need to re-instate them, preferring to regard them as having resigned. This reasoning was also extended to Igbo-owned properties and houses. People from other regions were quick to take over any house owned by an Igbo, especially in the Port Harcourt area. The Nigerian Government justified this by terming such properties abandoned. This, however, has led to a feeling of an injustice as the Nigerian government policies were seen as further economically disabling the Igbos even long after the war. Further feelings of injustice were caused by Nigeria changing its currency, so that Biafran supplies of pre-war Nigerian currency were no longer honoured. At the end of the war, only N£20 was given to any easterner regardless of the amount of money he or she had had in the bank. This was applied irrespective of their banking in pre-war Nigerian currency or Biafran currency. This was seen as a deliberate policy to hold back the Igbo middle class, leaving them with little wealth to expand their business interests.[137]

On 29 May 2000, The Guardian reported that President Olusegun Obasanjo commuted to retirement the dismissal of all military persons who fought for the breakaway state of Biafra during the Nigerian civil war. In a national broadcast, he said that the decision was based on the principle that "justice must at all times be tempered with mercy."

Biafra was more or less wiped off the map until its resurrection by the contemporary Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra.[138] Chinua Achebe's last book, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, has also rekindled discussion of the war.[21]


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2.[dead link]
  3. Biafra Revisited, 2006. Page 5.
  4. Nigeria Since Independence: The First Twenty-five Years : International Relations, 1980. Page 204
  6. Genocide and the Europeans, 2010. Page 71.
  7. Malcolm MacDonald: Bringing an End to Empire, 1995. Page 416.
  8. Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, 2001. Page 54.
  9. Africa 1960–1970: Chronicle and Analysis, 2009. Page 423
  10. There's A Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of '60s Counter-Culture, 2007. Page 213.
  11. The USSR in Third World Conflicts: Soviet Arms and Diplomacy in Local Wars 1945-1980, 1986. Page 91
  12. David D. Laitin. Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Religious Change among the Yorubas (1986). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  13. Olawoyin, "Historical Analysis of Nigeria–Biafra Conflict" (1971), pp. 32–33. "The Ibo like the Hausa and Yoruba, are found in hundreds in all towns and cities throughout the Federation. Even at the period of the Civil War they numbered more than five thousand in Lagos alone."
  14. Ijeaku,Nnamdi, p. 25, at Google Books
  15. Olawoyin, "Historical Analysis of Nigeria–Biafra Conflict" (1971), pp. 34–35. "In principle, authority in the local community was formerly exercised by a body of elders which met in council presided over by the head of the senior lineage and included heads of other lineage and sublineage. Councils were concerned mainly with offences, religion and public issues likely to break up the solidarity of the group, village or town. Men of influence, particularly men of wealth, who held titles, and members of local Ozo and Eze lodges, frequently dominated the lineage heads, but there was no formal concentration of authority in a single individual. Among the Ibo, even where there was no title taking, a man of wealth could attain considerable political power, apart from any authority derived from his place in a kinship system. […] New laws which affected the community required the consent of the community concerned as expressed at a public meeting."
  16. Olawoyin, "Historical Analysis of Nigeria–Biafra Conflict" (1971), p. 30. "Bonny, which became one of the principal slave markets on the coast, was largely peopled by Ibo. In 1790, according to Adams, 16,000 out of the 20,000 slaves sold there annually were Ibos. The last British slaver sailed from Bonny in 1808, though the trade continued until 1841."
  17. 17.0 17.1 Biafra Story, Frederick Forsyth, Leo Cooper, 2001 ISBN 0-85052-854-2
  18. Pierri, "A New Entry into the World Oil Market" (2013), p. 108. "The North had developed very differently from the rest of the country, for it lagged far behind the South in terms of European-educated population. Hence, Northerners feared that incorporation into an independent and unitary Nigerian State moulded according to European standards would cause their cultural and political submission to the South."
  19. Audrey Chapman, "Civil War in Nigeria," Midstream, Feb 1968
  20. Oliver, Roland and Atmore, Anthony. Africa Since 1800. 1994, page 270
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Biodun Jeyifo, "First, There Was A Country; Then There Wasn't: Reflections on Achebe's New Book", Journal of Asian and African Studies 48.6, 2013.
  22. Ejiogu, E. C. (2013). "Chinua Achebe on Biafra: An Elaborate Deconstruction". Journal of Asian and African Studies. 48 (6): 653–670. doi:10.1177/0021909613506457.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Olawoyin, "Historical Analysis of Nigeria–Biafra Conflict" (1971), pp. 53–73. "[...] there was a tendency for British officials to build social barriers between themselves and Westernized Nigerians which, on the one hand, gave strength to nationalistic paroxysms. The Westernized Nigerian was an isolated individual, possibly because he was seen as a potential rival. He thus became a creature left to seek his own salvation. All that was left for him then was to seek expression in nationalistic organizations."
  24. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), p. 17–18.
  26. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), p. 3. "On 31st March 1953, Anthony Enaharo of the Action Group (AG) tabled a motion in the House of Representatives in Lagos which called for independence in 1956. The National Congress of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), which had earlier committed itself to a 1956 independence date, during its annual party convention held in Kano in August 1951, supported the Enahoro motion, while the Northern People's Congress (NPC) rejected it out of hand. Instead, the NPC sought an amendment to the motion and advocated independence 'as soon as practicable.'"
  27. Kirk-Greene, The Genesis of the Nigerian Civil War (1975), p. 9. "It slipped several more notches after the vulgarity of the Laogs mob - con mutunci, personal humiliation through public abuse, is to the Hausa a worse offense than physical assault - and the Kano riots. If 1953 was to become one of the Biafran points of no return because of the slaughter of Ibos in Kano, it had never been anything less in the NPC demonology of the South because of their treatment by politicians and proletariat alike in Lagos."
  28. Kirk-Greene, The Genesis of the Nigerian Civil War (1975), p. 12. "Once (a) the principle of federalism (b) the quality of Nigerian federalism (loose and lopsided, the very negation of classic Whearism) had been agreed on by the Nigerian leaders, the direction from 1954 onwards was progressively towards the construction of impregnable bases of power within each Region. Nearly every move can be analysed in terms of increasing the rigidity of the Regional cores and inhibiting the effective extension of the central authority."
  29. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), pp. 115–116.
  30. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), pp. 116–117. "In the struggle over the national wealth, control depended on who dominated the government at the centre. With Southern Nigeria virtually split into two, the North, which was now by far the largest region, had the upper hand. British Colonial Officers also encouraged it to promote the philosophy of one North in order to maintain its political control. […] In an attempt to weaken the opposition the ruling coalition (NPC and NCNC) sponsored a crisis within the Western Region parliament culminating in the declaration of a State of Emergency in the Region in 1962. In 1963, the Western Region was further split into two. This effectively separated the core Yoruba group from the minorities. Interestingly, the new Mid-Western Region, dominated by minorities also had prospects for oil exploration."
  31. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), p. 11.
  32. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), pp. 19–20. "But Nigeria was still a British colony, with a political economy that existed principally to serve British interests. This was underlined by the fact that the gargantuan sum of £276.8 million, the preponderant chunk of the surpluses that accumulated from this unprecedented boom, was transferred to Britain between 1947–1960. This is not to mention British surpluses enjoyed by the corresponding increases in the value of Nigerian imports from (mainly) Britain at the time: £19.8 million in 1946, £136.1 million in 1955, and £215.9 million in 1960."
  33. Pierri, "A New Entry into the World Oil Market" (2013), pp. 109.
  34. Diamond, Class, Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria (1988), chapter 6: "The 1964 General Strike" (pp. 162–189).
  35. Nkoku, A Tragedy Without Heroes (1987), p. 4. "The general resentment against a corrupt and stagnant regime continued. The Army as part of the population was not sympathetic to the government. Workers were urging the soldiers, whom they saw guarding the strategic places, to overthrow the government. Some angry workers spat on the troops. / Markets close to Army barracks purposely raised prices of food-stuff in order to infuriate the troops. […] It was feared that the workers would overthrow the government. They could have very easily done it had they realized their strength and remained united. At the height of the strike, only one platoon – thirty men – was the Army reserve, and it had no transports and no wireless sets. The army was in a state of near mutiny."
  36. 36.0 36.1 Diamond, Class, Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria (1988), chapter 7: "The 1964 Federal Election Crisis" (pp. 190–247).
  37. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), p. 36. "In the middle belt, the Tiv were in open revolt against the NPC government in Kaduna. Well-organised groups of the opposition UMBC attacked opponents, and easily identifiable state officials and institutions, especially those associated with law and order. Scores of police, members of the judiciary and tax officials were killed, while several police posts, court houses and local government establishments were destroyed during the campaign. Altogether hundreds of civilians died during the emergency, many of whom had been killed by the police during a scorched earth counter-insurgency operation. While the deployment of the military ultimately suppressed the uprising, the political demands for Tiv self-government went unheeded."
  38. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), pp. 36–40. "A virtual state of civil war prevailed as rival political groups attacked each other, killing, maiming and burning. Thousands of people fled to the neighboring Benin Republic (then called Dahomey) into exile."
  39. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), p. 40. "There was now a popular and mass opposition to a regime which the majority of the west's electorate felt had been imposed on them by the NPC. / There were also rumblings in the military over the violence in the west, and most importantly the Balwea government's inability to deal with the situation. For quite a while, but particularly since the December 1964 bogus elections, sections of the middle-ranking officer corps had been extremely incensed by the larceny and absolutism of the NPC rule, some of whose features had also affected the military itself in various fundamental ways. The fact that Nigeria appeared to be stuck indefinitely in an NPC, north-dominated political quagmire provided the impetus for the military coup d'etat that occurred in the country in January 1966."
  40. "Thus northern privilege and political hegemony became the dual internal lever with which Britain used in reinforcing its control of Nigeria's economy in the early years of independence. On the eve of the coup, Britain's success story was phenomenal. Apart from South Africa, Nigeria was the site of Britain's highest economic and industrial investment in Africa with a total worth of £1.5 billion. The British government controlled a near-50 per cent shares in Shell-BP (the predominant oil prospecting company in Nigeria) and 60 per cent shares in the Amalgamated Tin Mining (Nigeria) Ltd., a major prospecting tin, cobalt and iron ore mining company. In the non-mining sector of the economy, John Holt and Company, Ltd., owned by a British family, was one of the two largest in the country, with branches located in the principal towns and cities. The United Africa Company (UAC), another British enterprise, accounted for about 41.3 per cent of Nigeria's entire import and export trade."
  41. Pierri, "A New Entry into the World Oil Market" (2013), pp. 116.
  42. Alexander Madiebo (1980) The Nigerian Revolution and the Nigerian Civil War; Fourth Dimension Publishers, Enugu.
  43. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), pp. 52–55. "In the end though, the majors were not in the position to embark on this political goal. While their 15th January coup succeeded in seizing political control in the north, it failed in the south, especially in the Lagos-Ibadan-Abeokuta military district where loyalist troops led by army commander Johnson Aguyi-Ironsi succeeded in crushing the revolt. Apart from Ifeajuna who fled the country after the collapse of their coup, the other two January Majors, and the rest of the military officers involved in the revolt, later surrendered to the loyalist High Command and were subsequently detained as a federal investigation of the event began."
  44. Nigerian Civil War; Fourth Dimension Publishers, Enugu.
  45. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), p. 55. "But perhaps, most importantly, Aguyi-Ironsi's choice of Colonel Hassan Usman Katsina, the son of the powerful emir of Katsina as the governor of the north, was the clearest signal to the north, and the rest of the country, that his government would not undermine the north's two decades of political hegemony in the federation. Aguyi-Ironsi had already said as much in a number of contacts he made with northern leaders, including the Sultan of Sokoto, soon after the failed majors' coup. Although he had no qualms regarding ignoring the West and leaving in jail the leader of the AG (Obafemi Awolowo), he was anxious to reassure the north of the good intentions of his regime, especially in the light of the deaths of Bello and Balewa during the coup attempt."
  46. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), pp. 55–56. "In fact to underscore Ironsi's goodwill to the north, the new head of state ordered the release of most northern politicians from detention by February (1966), without a reciprocal gesture to their southern counterparts. The released northerners took up positions in the various local government administration in the emirats and, ironically, had ample opportunity to plan and execute the massacre of Igbo civilians living in the north, first in May, 1966, and later in July 1966, which were coupled with the overthrow and murder of Aguyi-Ironsi himself (ironically enough, soon after Aguyi-Ironsi completed a conference with northern emirs), and scores of Igbo military personnel, and the September–October 1966 phase of the pogrom which brought the grisly tally of Igbo killed to 80,000 – 100,000 and the expulsion of 2 million others from the north and elsewhere in the federation."
  47. Ekwe-Ekwe, The Biafra War (1990), p. 56. "Britain had offered to send in troops to support Aguyi-Ironsi and his loyalist forces, after Nzeogwu threatened (on January 16) to march on Lagos and the south, from his Kaduna base, to enforce the control of the January Majors nationwide. While Aguyi-Ironsi discreetly turned down the British offer, he however informed London that its interests in Nigera, the primary British pre-occupation, would be preserved by his government. This meant that the radical reforms of the Nigerian economy envisaged by the revolting majors, now known by Aguyi-Ironsi and in diplomatic circles in Lagos, would not be implemented. But for the British, the very presence of the Aguyi-Ironsi administration, the fastidious circumstances of its origins notwithstanding, had already breached a cardinal tenet of the post-colonial political order in Nigeria which they had worked so assiduously between 1952-1960 to construct: that political leadership within the country to oversee these enormous British interests should come from the north."
  48. Pierri, "A New Entry into the World Oil Market" (2013), pp. 115.
  49. Pierri, "A New Entry into the World Oil Market" (2013), pp. 115. "Instead, many Northerners were alarmed that the military era would lead to an Igbo domination, especially when on May 24, 1966, the government issued Unification Decree No. 34, through which the federation was abolished and replaced with a unitary system. To Northerners this meant nothing but Igbo domination, facing the prospect of being occupied and ruled by Southern military and civil servants and lacking the safeguard of being involved in the government according to ethnic group divisions."
  50. Stevenson, "Capitol Gains" (2014), pp. 318–319.
  51. Pierri, "A New Entry into the World Oil Market" (2013), pp. 115–116.
  52. Chinua Achebe. There Was a Country (2012). New York: The Penguin Press. pp. 80–83, 122
  53. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 173. "Repeated outbursts of violence between June and October 1966 peaked in massacres against Igbos living in the Sabon Gari, the 'foreigners' quarters' of northern Nigerian towns. According to estimates, these riots claimed the lives of tens of thousands. Whether representatives of the Nigerian state systematically organized the killings remains disputed. At the very least, the Nigerian government failed to halt the riots. This violence drove a stream of more than a million refugees to the Eastern Region, the 'homeland' of the Igbos' diasporic community."
  54. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), pp. 266. "Between May and September 1966, northerners murdered between 80,000 and 100,000 Igbos and other easterners resident in the Northern Region. The violence reached a climax with the massacres of 29 September 1966 ('Black Thursday'). These atrocities forced Ojukwu to deal with an influx to the east of between 700,000 and two million refugees. He responded by expelling thousands of non-easterners from the Eastern Region."
  55. 55.0 55.1 Stevenson, "Capitol Gains" (2014), pp. 314–315. "In fact, the Federation's first response to Biafran secession was to deepen the blockade to include 'a blockade of the East's air and sea ports, a ban on foreign currency transactions, and a halt to all incoming post and telecommunications.' The Federation implemented its blockade so quickly during the war because it was a continuation of the policy from the year before."
  56. 56.0 56.1 56.2 Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), p. 123. "The oil revenue issue, however, came to a head when Gowon, on 27 May 1967, divided the country into twelve states. The Eastern Region was split into three states: South Eastern State, Rivers State and East Central State. This effectively excised the main oil-producing areas from the core Ibo state (East Central State). On 30 May 1967, Ojukwu declared independence and renamed the entire Eastern Region 'the Republic of Biafra'. As part of the effort to get the Biafran leadership to change its mind, the Federal government placed a shipping embargo on the territory."
  57. Kirk-Greene, The Genesis of the Nigerian Civil War (1975), p. 6. "The final high water, and the greatest of floodtides, of this phase of Gowon's leadership came in May 1967 with his Decree - and only a no-nonsense, no-referendum military government could have effected overnight such a fundamental reversal of half a century of Nigeria's political history and administrative thinking - to replace the four Regions by twelve States. Whether Decree No. 14 was designed to forestall secession (would-be Biafra was now to consist of 3 states instead of the Eastern REgion, two of them mischievously emphasizing the East's long-contained minorities problem of Ibibio/Efik discontent and Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers separatism, and the third a landlocked, oil-less, overpopulated Ibo enclave) or whether it pushed Ojukwu into the final defiance of declaring a secessionist Republic remains a matter of argument. What remains unchallenged is the unequalled point of no return in Nigeria's history that the States Decree constitutes."
  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 58.3 58.4 Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), pp. 120–124.
  59. 59.0 59.1 Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 174. "The FMG's major strategic advantage was not its military force, but its diplomatic status: internationally recognized statehood. That the FMG could argue that it was a sovereign government facing an 'insurgency' was decisive. […] Nigeria's secured diplomatic status was also crucial for the most significant development in the war's early stages: the FMG's decision to blockade the secessionist state. To cut off Biafra's lines of communication with the outside world, air and sea ports were blockaded, foreign currency transactions banned, incoming mail and telecommunication blocked and international business obstructed. Even with its limited resources, Nigeria was able to organize a successful blockade without gaping holes or long interruptions--mostly because other governments or companies were ready to acquiesce to Lagos' handling of the matter."
  60. Ntieyong U. Akpan, The Struggle for Secession, 1966–1970: A Personal Account of the Nigerian Civil War.
  61. 61.0 61.1 61.2 Awoyokun, Damola (19 February 2013). "BIAFRA: The Untold Story of Nigeria's civil war". P.M. News. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  62. Kirk-Greene, The Genesis of the Nigerian Civil War (1975), pp. 6–7.
  63. Ethnic Politics in Kenya and Nigeria, by Godfrey Mwakikagile, Nova Publishers, 2001.ISBN 1560729678
  64. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), p. 131. "Within a month of full military conflict, the Nigerian government captured the important Island of Bonny from the Biafrans. The British High Commissioner articulated the importance of this capture at the time: 'This not only tightens the grip on the blockade and gives the Federal Government a first footing in the Rivers Province; it places in their hands the most valuable part of Shell-BP installations, for the storage tanks, the pumping station and the tanker terminal are all at Bonny.' At the time of the capture, the Nigerian government claimed that the Island was taken 'without any damage' to Shell-BP's installations there."
  65. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), p. 132. "Despite the return of Gray, and the interest of Shell-BP and the British government in getting the oil machines pumping again, the state of war and its attendant hazards ensured that this could not happen immediately. It was not until May 1968, when the Federal side captured Port Harcourt, that it was adjusted safe by Shell-BP to send an advance team to both Bonny and Port Harcourt to assess the state of their production facilities."
  66. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), pp. 133–134. "The problem was that the oil had to be shipped through Bonny, which at the time was not safe. Furthermore, silting of the approaches to the Bonny terminal during the early parts of the war reduced its unit tanker capacity from 70,000 tons to about 40,000 tons. Even with the use of smaller tankers, the short haul from Nigeria to Britain was still more profitable than the Cape route used for Gulf oil. Despite the prospects for Eastern Region oil, the civil war made the source unreliable. Luckily for Shell-BP, prior to the war, it had planned a second terminal off Forcados, which was in Federal territory. Construction of the terminal and the pipelines, which started during the war, took 18 months and was completed in the middle of 1969."
  67. 67.0 67.1 67.2 67.3 Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), pp. 125–127. "The Nigerian government subsequently made it explicit to Shell-BP that it expected the company to pay the outstanding oil royalty immediately. Once the oil flow stopped, sitting on a fence ceased to be an option for the British government. Britain subsequently decided to back Nigeria, partly because it was advised that, in the event of war, the odds were 'slightly in favour of the Federal Military Government'. Perhaps more importantly, the British government calculated that supporting Nigeria was its safest option if it were to preserve its oil interests in th ecountry, largely because the Cold War and the rivalry among some Western European states made it likely that other foreign powers would wade into the conflict."
  68. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), p. 132. "Given Shell-BP’s interest in Nigeria taking over the major oilfields still in Biafran hands, it was not surprising that they overtly supported the Nigerian military cause.99 A case in point was in December 1967 when the Nigerian government, frustrated by the slow pace of progress in the war, requested that Shell-BP pay its royalty of £5.5 million in advance, in order to enable it to purchase arms from Britain. Shell-BP promptly complied."
  69. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), p. 130. "In reality, however, the British government supplied many more arms than it was publicly prepared to admit. Apart from direct arms supplies, it provided military intelligence to the Nigerian government and may have helped it to access sophisticated arms and mercenaries through third parties."
  70. Uche, "Oil, British Interests and the Nigerian Civil War" (2008), p. 131. "Furthermore, once the war broke out and the British government decided to back the Nigerian side, the BBC swiftly shifted its reporting on the conflict, in Nigeria's favour. This was noticed and thankfully acknowledged by the Nigerian government."
  71. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), pp. 274.
  72. 72.0 72.1 O'Sullivan, "Humanitarian Encounters" (2014), p. 302. "It took time, however, for popular attention to focus on the crisis. In Britain that occurred only after 12 June 1968, when a film broadcast on ITV and a press campaign led by the Sun newspaper sparked the humanitarian response into life."
  73. 73.0 73.1 73.2 Olawoyin, "Historical Analysis of Nigeria–Biafra Conflict" (1971), pp. 137–139.
  74. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), pp. 114–115. "France, however, categorically refused to officially recognize Biafra, a possibility President Charles de Gaulle ruled out as early as 14 December 1967. At the same time it was well known that France was supporting Biafran leader General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu with covert military aid throughout the war, including mercenaries and weapons."
  75. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 119. Foccart says de Gaulle's decision to send military assistance to Biafra was made on 27 September 1967, when the General met personally with Houphouët-Boigny, who was Biafra's most important African ally throughout the war. On 26 September, the Biafran capital, Enugu, was shelled for the first time by Federal Nigerian forces. The problem with this date is that it appears that France had already supplied Biafra with two B-26 aircraft, Alouette helicopters and pilots in summer 1967 via the French arms dealer Pierre Laureys. In 1971, however, Ralph Uwechue, Biafra's envoy to France, wrote that "the helicopters had been purchases made by the Eastern Nigerian Regional Government from France for civilian purposes well before the war."
  76. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 122. "De Gaulle made the decision to begin regular French arms shipments to Biafra on 17 or 18 October 1967. De Gaulle was very reluctant to send weapons from French stocks, and only agreed when Foccart suggested sending captured German and Italian weapons from World War II with the serial number scratched off. The weapons would not be sent directly to Ojukwu, but would go through Houphouët-Boigny, so that it looked like France was replenishing the Ivory Coast's stocks as stipulated in the normal bilateral military assistance agreements."
  77. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), pp. 179. "France, too, pursued contradictory policies, selling Nigeria Panhard light armored cars and halting all arms transfers to Lagos only later that year, by which time it was supplying the Biafrans via the Ivory Coast and Gabon. Clapham notes that France's military aid to Biafra prolonged the war for about eighteen months."
  78. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015)
  79. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), pp. 116– 117. "The Katanga secession (1960–1963) was in many ways a precursor to the Biafran War for France. French mercenaries went to Katanga to support the Belgian intervention. The Belgians were helping Tshombé fight Congolese forces loyal to Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who was supported by the Soviet Union. […] The Katangan secession was ultimately unsuccessful, and thus it is a surprise that de Gaulle's government would support another secession in Biafra four years later. A number of other countries also drew a link between the two conflicts, and Ojukwu released a statement on 11 January 1969 called 'Biafra: the antithesis of Katanga', to reassure foreign powers. […] Katanga gave France experience in using mercenaries to fight a war in which the consequences of failure were minimal."
  80. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 118. "Nigeria, however, was very important for France due to its size as well as the oil in the Niger River Delta. Frane had no diplomatic relations with Nigeria after 1960, as Nigeria expelled the French ambassador, Raymond Offroy, following the third French nuclear test in Algeria on 27 December. The severing of diplomatic relatons did not halt commercial relations between the two cuntries, and in 1964, the French national oil company, SAFRAP, was given the rights to search for oil in parts of Eastern Nigeria that would later declare independence under the name of Biafra."
  81. 81.0 81.1 Olawoyin, "Historical Analysis of Nigeria–Biafra Conflict" (1971), pp. 135–136. "The French policy may be described as anti-British, anti-Nigerian and pr-Biafra. SAFRAP (a French oil company) is exploring for oil in Biafra as well as in Nigeria. Although France has leaned toward Biafra, SAFRAP has vast exploration rights in the Northern Region; this might have prevented France giving Biafra political recognition. […] The highlight of increasing world sympathy for Ojukiu was also motivated by the declaration by the French government that it endorsed the principle of Biafra's right to self-determination. Before the start of the Civil War, France had strengthened her economic ties with Biafra. On August 8th, F.G. showed some documents (photostat copies) to the foreign press showing that Biafra had sold oil concessions to France."
  82. "Telegram from the Central Intelligence Agency to the White House Situation Room," CIA, 20262, TDCS DB – 315/00173-70 (ADVANCE), 14 January 1970, in FRUS, Vol. E-5, 2005 (160); as cited in Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 120.
  83. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 119.
  84. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 122. "The most important dimension of French military assistance was the shipment of weapons to Biafra, which had severe shortages of not only heavy weapons, but also small arms and ammunition. Portugal also provided weapons to Biafra, as did Czechoslovakia, until the Soviet invasion in 1968. The Biafrans set up an office in Paris called the 'Biafran Historical Research Centre', which was Ojukwu's contact point with Mauricheau-Beupré, Falques and Denard. The Centre allowed Ojukwu to purchase arms directly from European arms dealers. Denard would purhcase arms from Czechoslovakia and ship them by sea to Biafra via Libreville. Starting in October 1967, there were also direct Czech arms flights, by a network of pilots led by Jack Malloch, a Rhodesian in contact with Houphouët-Boigny and Mauricheau-Beupré."
  85. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 123.
  86. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 124. "In May and early June 1968, protests and general strikes in France prevented de Gaulle, Foccart or any other French official from following the situation in Biafra. On 12 June, after the riots had subsided, a French ministerial council decided to impose an official arms embargo on both Nigeria and Biafra, and to start providing direct humanitarian aid to Ojukwu. Robert explains that the humanitarian aid provided a very effective cover for the secret French arms shipments, which began to increase."
  87. 87.0 87.1 Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 124–125. "The 31 July 1938 statement in favor of Biafra was preceded by a concerted campaign in the French press during the month of July to inform the French public about events in Biafra. […] The French government's next step after the 31 July statement was to launch a major campaign to gain public funding for humanitarian operations in Biafra. The campaign was coordinated at the highest levels of government, and the French Foreign Ministry files make it clear that the French television service and the French Red Cross were required to get governmental approval to ask for funds. The French public eventually contributed 12,600,000 francs. The French press continued a concerted campaign throughout August 1968 to alert the public to the humanitarian situation."
  88. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), p. 124. "Robert, in a surprising admission, stated that it was the SDECE that instructed the media to use the term 'genocide' in 1968. He says that the SDECE gave the French press precise precise information about Biafran casualties and civilian losses, and that Le Monde was the first to pick up the story. Rony Braumann wrote in 2006 that the SDECE paid the Biafran press service Markpress, located in Geneva, to introduce the theme of genocide to the general public."
  89. Griffin, "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War" (2015), pp. 127–128.
  90. Pierri, "A New Entry into the World Oil Market" (2013), pp. 105–106.
  91. 91.0 91.1 Angela Stent, "The Soviet Union and the Nigerian Civil War: A Triumph of Realism", Issue: A Journal of Opinion 3.2, Summer 1973.
  92. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), p. 273. "From 1967 to 1970, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Poland sold Nigeria twelve L-29 Delfin training aircraft, forty-seven MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighter jets, and five Ilyushin-28 bombers, two of which Egypt transferred to lagos. This constituted a virtual about-face in Soviet policy, because, until the secession, Moscow had evinced both admiration of the Igbos and sympathy for their plight. The Soviet Union chose pragmatism, in the form of alignment with federal Nigeria, over the ideological (if not idealist) alternative of support for Biafra."
  93. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), pp. 264–265. "Israel was certain that Nigeria, the most populous country on the continent (fifty- five million in 1960) and rich in oil, would have a great influence on African poli- tics. The Israeli foreign ministry was determined to establish full diplomatic relations upon that colony’s receipt of independence (1 October 1960). Ehud Avriel, ambassador to Ghana and a close confidant of both Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Foreign Minister Golda Meir, cautioned that were Israel to fail to establish ties with Nigeria, ‘all of our work in West Africa will have come to naught’."
  94. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), p. 266.
  95. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), p. 267. "By September 1966, an open arms race had developed between the East and the Federal Government. In mid August, Ojukwu sent two representatives from the Eastern Region on a clandestine visit to Israel in a bid to purchase military hardware. Biafran attention to Israel was a highly astute move, primarily because the secessionists knew well what associations the massacres evoked for the Israelis."
  96. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), p. 280.
  97. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), pp. 270–271. "Uri Avneri of HaOlam HaZeh—Koach Hadash ('This World—New Force', a far left-wing faction) called for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Biafra, while Aryeh Ben-Eliezer, of the right-wing herut party, lambasted Egyptian and Soviet support of Nigeria. The Israeli press praised the Knesset's attention to Biafra, pointing out that Israel's parliament was the first in the world both to devote a session to the issue and to declare its intention to help the victims."
  98. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), pp. 271–272.
  99. 99.0 99.1 Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), pp. 174–175. "Realizing their slim chances on the battlefield, the Biafran leadership moved the conflict into the propaganda domain. The situation did not look promising for Biafra's propagandists in the international sphere, either. Governments of the global south were particularly hesitant. As many of them faced separatist movements at home, they were adamantly opposed to what they understood as illegitimate secession rather than the legitimate exercise of the Biafran's right to self-determination."
  100. Susan Aurelia Gitelson, "The Linkage Between External and Domestic Policies: Israel's Experience with Ghana and Nigeria", Jewish Social Studies 42.2, Spring 1980.
  101. Nowa Omoigui (3 October 2007). "Nigerian Civil War File". Dawodu. Retrieved 27 October 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  102. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), pp. 175–176. "In early May 1968, Biafra's principal port town and remaining access to the sea, Port Harcourt, fell to federal forces. The secessionist state was turned into a landlocked enclave. With federal forces tightening the noose around the secessionist territory, the shrinking Biafran enclave soon encompassed only the heart of Igboland. At the same time, this territory had to absorb increasing numbers of people fleeing federal offensives. After a year of fighting, the rump state was overpopulated, its people impoverished, lacking supplies, food and medicine."
  103. Biafra 1966
  104. Steiner, Rolf (1978). The Last Adventurer. Boston: Little & Brown. ISBN 0-316-81239-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  105. 105.0 105.1 105.2 Shadows : Airlift and Airwar in Biafra and Nigeria 1967–1970, by Michael I. Draper (ISBN 1-902109-63-5)
  106. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 175. "In the first half of 1968, ever more religious groups and humanitarian organizations were alerted to the event, due in large measure to the presence of western missionaries. These religious ties were conduits for the transnational networks through which the conflict would be turned into an object of international humanitarian concern. For many Christian clerics and laypeople, the war seemed to be a cosmic drama fought between a vulnerable Christian Biafra and a northern Muslim-dominated federal Nigeria."
  107. Bortolotti, Dan (2004). Hope in Hell: Inside the World of Doctors Without Borders, Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55297-865-6.
  108. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 177.
  109. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 177. "The Biafran crisis was also connected to wider changes in the relief sector. In particular, it resulted in a massive spending increase through state funds and public donations, leading to the growth and proliferation of NGOs."
  110. O'Sullivan, "Humanitarian Encounters" (2014), p. 299. "The Biafran humanitarian crisis holds a critical place in the history of non-government organizations (NGOs). It prompted the creation of new agencies, like Africa Concern, and thrust existing ones, like Oxfam, into a spotlight they have left only rarely since. As part of a wider 'NGO moment', it focused public and official attention on the role of non-state actors and accelerated the emergency of an internationalized, professionalized aid industry that took center stage in the mid 1980s."
  111. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), pp. 178–179. "Further elevating the genocide reproaches, the eastern (later the Biafran) leadership frequently made comparisons to the Holocaust to draw attention to their cause. This analogy originated in ethnological genealogies that cast the Igbos as the 'Jews of Africa', even as one of Israel's 'lost tribes'. The Biafran leadership drew on this representation that many eastern Nigerians had adopted as their self-perception. This analogy, combined with the genocide charge, was used by the leadership to secure the support of the population, and to build loyalty to Biafra by emphasizing the threat from a common enemy. The 'Jews of Africa' envisioned their state like an 'African Israel', a new nation born of genocidal violence. / Soon, the growing cast of Biafra's supporters around the globe adopted this rhetoric, further elaborating it in the process. After the publication of images of starving Biafran children in the western media, analogies and comparisons with the Holocaust abounded internationally."
  112. O'Sullivan, "Humanitarian Encounters" (2014), pp. 304–305. "In Britain humanitarianism became a vessel through which society could construct a new sense of national purpose; it amounted, in essence, to a benign re-imagining of imperial compassion for a postcolonial world. When the Biafran crisis erupted, it offered an opportunity to renew this emphasis on the country's responsibilities […] On the surface, the Irish response to Biafra was built on something very different to the British: a shared religion (Catholicism), a common colonial experience and a narrative of humanitarian disaster. At the launch of the JBFA in June 1968, one speaker reminded the assembled that Ireland and Nigeria were united in their knowledge of 'the horror of famine and civil war'."
  113. O'Sullivan, "Humanitarian Encounters" (2014), pp. 305. "Yet the dominance of the decolonization paradigm suggests that the experiences of the British and Irish NGOs were much closer than they might at first appear. From different starting points, and with differing goals, NGOs in both states assumed the mantel of organized reactions and re-imaginings of their countries' roles for the postcolonial era. Where the British public used humanitarianism to negotiate the shift from formal empire to responsible power, the changing role of Irish Catholic missionaries reflected the need to re-articulate the Irish 'spiritual empire' for this new world."
  114. Levey, "Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war" (2014), p. 270. "Michal Givoni points out that after June 1967, Israelis viewed the Biafrans as a people threatened in a manner similar to Israel during the crisis period that pre- ceded the war.60 She also notes that Israel’s daily newspapers reported frequently and prominently on what they termed the ‘genocide’ taking place in Nigeria. The general public in Israel, in the wake of that intense press coverage, expressed revulsion at the world’s feckless response and the helplessness of the Biafran victims, which, for Israelis, recalled their own catastrophe."
  115. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 176.
  116. O'Sullivan, "Humanitarian Encounters" (2014), pp. 303–304. "As NGOs moved to centre stage in translating humanitarian concern into humanitarian action, they took on an equally important role in mediating between the lives of donors and life 'on the ground' in the Third World. Their advertisements, images and stories dominated the public narrative. In some cases, they did so in quite a direct fashion—Africa Concern, for example, established its own telex service to send up-to-date reports to the major Irish media outlets straight from west Africa, and in so doing had a considerable influence on the news agenda."
  117. Roy Doron, "Marketing genocide: Biafran propaganda strategies during the Nigerian civil war, 1967–70", Journal of Genocide Research 16.2–3, August 2014. "In order to organize a coherent policy, and to create a strategy to circumvent the obstacles of creating effective propaganda during wartime, the Biafrans created a series of plans, of which only one, 'Guide lines [sic] for effective propaganda' (also called Plan #4), remains. The plan's first part details the general purpose, aims, techniques, and strategies of the campaign. The second part explains how the Biafran 'propaganda man' was to deal with the unique challenges of operating in a war so close to home and a home front that was increasingly under siege, blockaded and teeming with refugees. / The authors of the guidelines studied propaganda techniques very carefully, and incorporated the lessons of Allied and Axis propaganda during World War II with strategies used in the advertising world. Thus, when the Biafrans discussed hate appeals as an effective propaganda tactic, they invoked Josef Goebbels' words, 'we are enemies of the Jews, because we are fighting for the freed of the German' alongside catchy advertising slogans such as 'Fresh up with Seven-up!'"
  118. "Student Dies Following Self Burning". El Paso Herald-Post. 30 May 1969. Retrieved 19 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  119. 119.0 119.1 Achebe, Chinua (2012). "Blood, Blood Everywhere". There was a country : a personal history of Biafra. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 9781846145766. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  122. The Kwale oilfield incident: Nigeria –Biafra War
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  128. Stevenson, "Capitol Gains" (2014), p. 314.
  129. 129.0 129.1 Chima J Korieh, "Biafra and the discourse on the Igbo Genocide", Journal of Asian and African Studies 46.6, 2013.
  130. 130.0 130.1 130.2 Carol Ijeoma Njoku, "A Paradox of International Criminal Justice: The Biafra Genocide", Journal of Asian and African Studies 48.6, 2013.
  131. Colin Campbell, "Starvation Was The Policy", New York Times, 29 March 1987.
  132. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 187. "The prolific independent scholar Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe is perhaps the most outspoken articulator of this paradigm, which also depicts the Nigerian state as a prison house of nations, especially for the Igbo."
  133. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 188. "Ekwe-Ekwe's critics admit that the perpetrators of the 1966 massacres were never brought to justice, and that the 'federal forces did indeed try to starve the Igbos into submission, a cruel weapon' (Caplan), yet they do not draw any consequences from these facts."
  134. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), p. 191.
  135. Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, "The Achebean Restoration", Journal of Asian and African Studies 48.6, 2013. "Britain was a central operative, along with the Nigerian state, in the planning and execution of the Igbo genocide right from its outset in 1966 to its concluding phases in 1969/1970. It was Britain's 'punishment' of the Igbo for its audacious lead of the struggle for the freeing of Nigeria from British occupation that began in the 1930s. Twice during that struggle, the occupation regime had casually watched two organized pogroms against the Igbo in north Nigeria – in 1945 and 1953. These murders, which also included the looting and destruction of tens of thousands of pounds worth of Igbo property and businesses, were carried out by pro-British political forces in the region who were opposed to the restoration of African independence but who Britain would hand over supreme political power of the country to on the eve of its so-called departure from Nigeria in 1960. The pogroms were clearly dress rehearsals for subsequent genocide. / Without British complicity, it was highly unlikely that the Igbo genocide would have been embarked on in its initial phase by the Nigerian state with such unrelenting stretch and consequences between May and October 1966. Without the massive arms support that Nigeria received from Britain especially, it was highly improbably the Nigera would have been in the military position to pursue its second phase of the genocide–namely, the invasion of Igboland – between July 1967 and January 1970. Harold Wilson, the British prime minister at the time, was adamant, as the slaughtering worsened, that he 'would accept' the death of 'a half a million' Igbo 'if that was what it took' the Nigerian genocidists on the ground to accomplish their ghastly mission (Morris, 1977:122)." See also: Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, "Britain and the Igbo genocide: Now for the pertinent questions", Pambazuka News, 30 July 2013.
  136. With reason. The pre-1966 tax-sharing agreements on mineral wealth was changed to okay favour the Federal government at the expense of the state. This agreement has, in the 1980s, been modified to further favour the Federal government.
  137. Ken Saro-Wiwa, On a darkling plain
  138. Heerten & Moses, "The Nigeria–Biafra War" (2014), pp. 189–190. "By contrast, 'Biafra' as an Igbo project of collective assertion and liberation was destroyed in 1970 and has been a taboo subject ever sense—at least until MASSOB placed it back on the agenda."


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External links




Military aspects