The Nigerian civil war officially ended on this day after almost 2 and half years of fighting when the Republic of Biafra disbanded and rejoined Nigeria.
The Nigerian Civil War, was a three-year bloody conflict between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra that resulted in the death of more than one million people.
The conflict commenced exactly seven years after Nigeria gained independence from Britain, and began with the secession of the southeastern region of the nation on May 30, 1967, when it declared itself the independent Republic of Biafra.
The inhabitants of Biafra were mostly Igbo, who led the independence movement due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. Other ethnic groups included the Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Ejagham, Eket, Ibeno and the Ijaw.
Less than two months after Biafra declared its independence, efforts to resolve the crisis fell apart. Which led to the federal government of Nigeria launching a full-scale invasion into Biafra on July 6, 1967.
Expecting a quick victory, the Nigerian army surrounded and bartered Biafra with aerial and artillery bombardment that led to large scale losses among Biafran civilians. The Nigerian Navy also established a sea blockade that denied food, medical supplies and weapons, again impacting Biafran soldiers and civilians.
After two-and-a-half years of war, during which almost two million Biafran died from starvation caused by the total blockade of the region by the Nigerian government, Biafran forces under Nigeria’s motto of “No-victor, No-vanquished” surrendered to the Nigerian Federal Military Government on January 15,1970.
The surrender was facilitated by Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu’s second in command, Major General Philip Effiong, who assumed leadership of the Republic of Biafra after the original President, Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, fled to Ivory Coast on exile.
After the surrender of Biafra, some Igbos who had fled the conflict returned to their properties but were unable to claim them back from new occupants. This became law in the Abandoned Properties Act (28 September 1979).
The war cost the Igbos a great deal in terms of lives, money and infrastructure. Although the Federal government has never given an official death toll, quoted figures range from one million to as high as six million deaths due to the conflict, most from diseases and famine imposed deliberately through blockade throughout the war.
The International Committee of the Red Cross in September 1968 estimated 8,000–10,000 deaths from starvation each day.
The war was the most reported conflict in contemporary African literature until the recent genocide in Rwanda.