This ‘Briefing on Biafra’ has been prepared for the United States audience but may be used as a general reference point wherever the matter of Biafra arises.
The details are as follows:
Nigeria is an oil-rich country and a regional power in West Africa. It is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country with a population of about 180 million people.
There are three major ethnic groups, the Igbo (also known as Ibo), the Yoruba, and the Hausa-Fulani; and 250 other smaller ethnic groups. The Hausa-Fulani are predominantly Muslims,
And live in the Northern (Sahelian) part of Nigeria; the Yoruba who lives in the Southwest are split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians.
Yoruba Muslims profess a moderate form of Islam, as opposed to the more fundamentalist Sunni practice observed in Northern Nigeria, and from which the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen
Islamic terrorists emanated. There is a small Shia minority amongst the majority Sunni Muslims that are ruling Nigeria.
The Biafrans (the centerpiece of this submission) inhabit the Southeastern part of Nigeria with a population of over 70 million. About 50 million of them – the Igbos – speak the Igbo language and are predominantly Christians, but with a rapidly growing Jewish minority. Their land is blessed with human and mineral resources including hydrocarbons. Biafrans are very commercially-inclined, industrious and are given to scholarly and professional pursuits. They had an established democratic institution even before colonization by the British. They are very republican and egalitarian in nature, and coexisted peacefully with their neighbours prior to colonization and their amalgamation with the rest of Nigeria in 1914.
In 1966, soon after the world commemorated the 21st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and made the customary solemn declaration of ‘Never, Never Again’, Nigeria defiled that season of reflection, commiseration and hope. Its military officers, the police, Hausa-Fulani emirs, Muslim clerics and intellectuals, civil servants, journalists, politicians and other public figures planned and executed the Biafran (aka Igbo) genocide – the foundational genocide of post-European conquest Africa. This is also Africa’s most devastating genocide of the 20th century. A total of 3.1 million Igbo people were murdered between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970. And had Biafran not unilaterally declared its independence in order to protect itself, the massacre would have been incalculable.
Most Biafrans, especially the Igbos were slaughtered in their homes, offices, businesses, schools, colleges, hospitals, markets, churches, shrines, farmlands, factories/industrial enterprises, children’s playground, town halls, refugee centres, cars, lorries, and at bus stations, railway stations, airports, etc.
In the end, the genocide was enforced by Nigeria’s simultaneously pursued land, aerial and naval blockade and bombardment of Biafraland, Africa’s highest population density region outside the Nile Delta. In other words, even in their own heartland where they had taken refuge, they were pursued and eventually subdued. The excuse then, as it were, was that Nigeria was prosecuting a war of ‘reunification’. On the contrary, there is quantum evidence that the war was provoked in order to accomplish the genocide that had begun against Biafrans – generally and Igbos – particularly. The difference this time was to take it to their homeland where they had fled and taken refuge under the defunct Republic of Biafra.
The following excerpt from recently declassified US Embassy diplomatic dispatches of the era on the pogroms and the war that followed states that: