Biafra over the years has represented the nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people whose leadership felt they could no longer co-exist with the Northern-dominated federal government.
The Nigerian Civil War (1967- 1970), was an ethnic and political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the South-eastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed republic of Biafra.
Although quite a number of Nigerian Army officers left to support the Eastern Nigeria but shortly after the war they returned to the federal troops.
However, their brilliant performance helped the Biafran army in the war that lasted till 1970. Here are list of Nigerian soldiers that pulled out to support Ojukwu’s breakaway.
1. Ogbugo Kalu
Ogbugo Kalu, who died in February, 2004 was a former army officer who served in both the Nigerian Army and Biafran Army. Along other commands held, Kalu was made commander of the Biafran 14th division with a strict orders in a letter written to him by Odumegwu Ojukwu.
In the letter Ojukwu states: “Your role in the Port Harcourt disaster is still fresh in the minds of people. You must clear the enemy from Obinze in 24 hours or submit your resignation from the army.”
2. Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu
Nzeogwu’s Hausa colleagues in the Nigerian Army gave him the name “Kaduna” because of his love with the town. He was an ambitious young military officer but this rebellious attitude led to his arrest after a failed plotted coup.
After his release in 1967, he was asked to go into battle on the side of the Biafrans where he was promoted to the rank of a Biafran Lt.colonel but he got killed in an ambush.
3. Joseph Achuzie
Prior to being a Biafran Army in May, 1967, Achuzie had been a soldier in the Nigerian Army. As a Biafran Army is was a Major and he commanded Biafran 11th division,11 battalion and Biafran S division respectively.
Achuzie is a prominent figure in Nigerian politics, even though he was arrested along side with some other Biafran soldiers who broadcasted their final surrender to General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1970.
4. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu
Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state to be known as “BIAFRA” after the Nigerian military leadership peace conference hosted by General Joseph Ankrah in January, 1967, in Aburi, Ghana. Ojukwu who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian Army then became the General of the Biafran army.
Despite his breakaway action, Ojukwu was accorded the highest military accolade and a funeral parade in Abuja. Ojukwu died after a brief illness at age 78 in November, 2011.
5. Augustine Ifeanyi Aniebo
Col. Aniebo was also one of the Biafran soldiers in 1967. He commanded the Biafran 58 Brigade at Uyo. He was detained by Ojukwu until the end of the war following the fall of Uyo in 1968. He was military administrator of Bornu state and retired as a Colonel of the Nigerian Army in 1999.
6. Chris Ugokwe
Colonel Chris Ugokwe commanded the Biafran 52 Brigade which was stationed in the Owerri sector. He retired as a Lt Col in the Nigerian Army around 1985 and later became chairman of the National Population Commission, Abuja.
7. Lambert Ihenacho
Lambert Ihenacho, is known as a brilliant and resourceful officer in the Nigerian Army. As a Biafran soldier, he commanded the Biafran 63 Brigade in the Owerri sector. And he had the distinction of having held out against all odds for 15 months in the face of furious onslaughts by federal troops. He retired as a full Colonel of the Nigerian Army in the 1980s.
8. Robert Akonobi
Colonel Robert Akonobi commanded the Biafran 57 Brigade. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Nigerian Army and he retired in the mid-1990s.
7. Colonel Godfrey Nebo
Colonel Godfrey Nebo was an exceptionally tenacious commander. As a young officer, he commanded the Biafran 54 Brigade stationed at Onitsha. He also saw action in the Port Harcourt sector and ultimately rose to the rank of Colonel in the Nigerian Army, he retired in the 1980s.
10. Conrad Dibia Nwawo
Nwawo is the most senior officer in the entire people’s army of Biafra, , he is also one of the most distinguished and highly decorated military officers in the country who died at 92 years of age.
Some of the positions he held in the Biafran Army include administrative officer, Biafran Army Headquarters and Commander, 11th and 13th Divisions of the Biafran Army, as well as the guerrilla commando unit.