Chukwuma Osakwe, Lawrence Okechukwu Udeagbala


The town of Owerri was inadvertently so important to the Federal and Biafran forces during the civil war so much so that the battle of Owerri has been acknowledged as one of deadliest in the civil war. This was evident in the way the town changed hands between the Federal and the Biafran forces as many as three times. While the Biafran forces saw Owerri as the last major town under their control, they believed that its effective defence would go a long way to ensure the safety of the Uli airport. They were therefore ready to defend it to the last man. The Federal army on the other hand though initially did not consider the town important but when they were committed to attack the town by Colonel Adekunle, they saw it as the key that held their victory. They hoped also to enter Uli, where the last major airstrip under Biafran control was cited, through Owerri to prevent ColonelOjukwu from escaping. They therefore fought with vigour. The study reveals that the Federal 3rd Marine Commando Division which almost conveniently overwhelmed the Biafra forces in the South East met its waterloo at Owerri and this led to removal and replacement of its commander. It further reveals that the recapture of Owerri by the Biafran forces reinvigorated the already waning fighting spirit of the Biafran army. It concludes that the recapture of Owerri by the Federal forces gave a fatal and irrecoverable blow on the strength of the Biafran army hence the Republic of Biafra ceased to exist barely five days after the conquest of Owerri.

Key Words: Biafra, Owerri, OgbugoKalu, Benjamin Adekunle, Third Marine Commando, Utuk, Obasanjo

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