On this day in 1967, Colonel Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu declared the independent republic of Biafra.

The declaration spurned the Nigerian Civil War, which began on July 6, 1967, and ended on the 15th of January, 1970.

Biafra represented nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government.

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Over the two and half years of the war, there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died from starvation.

In fear of being assassinated, General Odumegwu-Ojukwu in 1970 handed over power to his second in command, Major-General Philip Effiong and traveled to Ivory Coast where he was in exile for 13 years.

In 1982, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari granted an official pardon to Odumegwu-Ojukwu and opened the road for a triumphant return for him.

See the photo from his declaration below.

Col. Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu