If you’re reading this, that means you must have read Part One and find this series really interesting. Let us continue our journey.
Some of the other early key actors in the Midwest invasion by Biafran forces were Lt. Col Emmanuel Ifeajuna (one of the 5 Majors that plotted January 15, 1966, coup) as the Divisional Chief of Staff of the ‘Midwest Expeditionary Force’ and Joe Isichie who was its Quartermaster general.
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Lt. Col. Festus Akagha headed the Biafran 12th Battalion that moved west to Benin City. Major Humphrey Chukwuka 18th Battalion made its way into Warri, Sapele and Ughelli. The 13th Battalion commanded by Col. Mike Inveso continued northward towards Agenebode and Auchi where they also succeeded in taking Okene, Iloshi and Atanai.
Such was the progression of the Biafran forces beyond the Eastern region.
However, a series of events would change the early victories recorded by the Biafran forces unit led by Victor Banjo.
Emeka Ojukwu, the Biafran leader, had sent a clandestine team to the government residence of Mid-Western Region to capture military governor David Ejoor dead or alive. It was expected that Banjo would not be cool with David Ejoor’s capture as Ejoor had clearly stated his resolve earlier to be on either side of the Nigerian government or Biafra’s.
For Ejoor, he was fortunate to escape the attack as Quartermaster General in the Midwest, Lt. Col. Samuel Ogbemudia changed his guards overnight. The guards resisted the attacking Biafrans and this gave Ejoor enough time to escape to Lagos.
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This was how the Biafran forces were able to take control of the entire Mid-Western Region within 12 hours of the initial invasion as soon as they captured the seat of government in the Midwest.
As a Yoruba, Banjo also preferred to hesitate on Ojukwu’s choice of marching further West to take Lagos and Ibadan as soon as they seize the crucial town of Ore. The choice of whom to appoint the governor of the Midwest after David Ejoor had fled the state also caused a lot of tension between the two idealistic soldier buddies.
Albert Okonkwo, a Midwest Igbo medical officer was eventually appointed governor while Banjo preferred a non-Igbo westerner from the Midwest in order to reduce the brewing tension between Midwestern Igbos and the Edo, Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw and Itsekiri people.
On August 12, Banjo eventually resumed the delayed advance of the 12th Brigade (newly upgraded from his previous 12th Battalion) to make its way to the town of Ore but without the zeal to attack Ibadan or Lagos until further notice.
Another of the 5 Majors who led the January 15, 1966 coup, Major Adewale Ademoyega, had earlier been put in charge of Biafra’s recently formed 19th Battalion after he was released from Warri prison by Major Humphrey Chukwuka.
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