Midwest State’s Non-Igbo Minorities’ Responses to the Biafran Occupation and Federal Liberation in the Nigerian Civil War, 1967–1970
During the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970), the secessionist state of Biafra overran Midwest State and occupied it for six weeks under the guise of liberation of the Midwest from the Northern Nigerian military junta domination. Biafra secessionists later declared the Midwest as the new Republic of Benin. But the predominantly minority ethnic groups that make up the Midwest Region celebrated neither the “liberation” nor their new republic. Rather, the minorities of the Midwest later joined the federal army in routing Biafran troops and carried out revenge killings of the Igbos. This chapter argues that both the Igbo and the non-Igbo peoples were victims of Biafran atrocities and post-occupation killings, which were spontaneous, being neither planned nor organized. It further argues that the non-Igbo peoples’ attitude towards Biafra and Igbos during and immediately after the occupation was influenced by pre-existing tensions over inter-ethnic relations in the former Midwest Region and the collaboration of the Igbo minority of Midwest State in the invasion and occupation. The chapter will substantiate this argument with both primary and secondary source materials from documents and newspapers of the period.