Nigerian soldiers during the civil war were 10times more equipped, funded, and experienced against the Biafra soldiers. At the beginning of the war, General Yakubu Gowon called it a police action and not a war envisaging that it will be over in a few days, but to their surprise, the Biafra squad held it down for three brutal years.
One of the secrets of the war was in the calibre of soldiers they had, their determination and their tactfulness. Here are some of the brave soldiers that fought during the war.
1. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
Chukwuemeka “Emeka” Odumegwu-Ojukwu was a Nigerian military officer, statesman and politician who served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966 and the leader of Biafra from 30 May 1967 – 8 January 1970.
The war rested on his shoulder, he was the leader, the grand commander, the president, the strategist, the crooner and alot more. He was said to be a highly educated man, intelligent and a stern leader. His contributions to the war cannot be underemphasized.
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. Major Joseph Achuzie
Achuzie had been a soldier in the Nigerian Army before he became a major of the Biafran Army.
He, alongside Major Steiner laid the biggest ambush in the war that captured 6000 Nigerian troops, 350mm ton of equipment, 60 vehicles, 102 lorry with a chance mortar bomb that hit an 8,000 gallon of petrol that exploded backwards 400 yards. He was also the soldier that invited the federal troops to Amichi for the Biafran troops to surrender.
4. Major Taffy Williams
He was a lean man, born south African who cheerfully admitted being half mad and had a famous habit of proving he was bulletproof.
Williams will stand amid a hail of bullet fire while men beside him will be shot down, he moves with a walking stick which he keeps waving at the Nigerian soldiers. This drives them mad, no Nigerian infantry wanted to find themselves with Wiliams.
5. Gen Philip Effiong
He was the first Vice President and the second President of the Republic of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970. Efiong assumed leadership in the situation of turmoil, starvation, and collapse. He became acting Head of State of Biafra on 8 January 1970 and on 12 January announced surrender.
6. Major Stener
Rolf Steiner is a retired professional German mercenary, The British journalist A. J Venter described Steiner as “a ruthless, demanding taskmaster” who was very “hard” on his troops, but who was respected, though not loved by the men under his command. Steiner was revealed in the war and was well known for his eccentricities such as pulling out his Browning Hi-Power handgun and firing into the air whatever he wanted people to pay attention to him.
7. 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 with other commands held, Kalu was made commander of the Biafran 14th division with 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.”
8. 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 Borno state and retired as a Colonel of the Nigerian Army in 1999.
9. 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.
10. 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.
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