The Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War and the Nigerian-Biafran War) was a civil war in Nigeria fought between the government of Nigeria headed by General Yakubu Gowon and the secessionist state of Biafra led by Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu from 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970. Biafra represented nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government.The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions which preceded Britain's formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963. Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included ethno-religious violence and anti-Igbo pogroms in Northern Nigeria, a military coup, a counter-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Control over the lucrative oil production in the Niger Delta also played a vital strategic role.

Within a year, the Federal Government troops surrounded Biafra, capturing coastal oil facilities and the city of Port Harcourt. The blockade imposed as a deliberate policy during the ensuing stalemate led to mass starvation.During 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 of starvation.

In mid-1968, images of malnourished and starving Biafran children saturated the mass media of Western countries. The plight of the starving Biafrans became a cause célèbre in foreign countries, enabling a significant rise in the funding and prominence of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union were the main supporters of the Nigerian government, while France, Israel and some other countries supported Biafra. On 25 November 1969, John Lennon sent back his MBE medal to the Queen in protest of Britain's involvement with the war in Biafra

The civil war can be connected to the colonial amalgamation in 1914 of Northern protectorate, Lagos Colony and Southern Nigeria protectorate (later renamed Eastern Nigeria), intended for better administration due to the close proximity of these protectorates. However, the change did not take into consideration the differences in the culture and religions of the peoples in each area. Competition for political and economic power exacerbated tensions.

Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, with a population of 60 million, made up of more than 300 differing ethnic and cultural groups. When the colony of Nigeria had been created, its three largest ethnic groups were the Igbo, who formed about 60–70% of the population in the southeast; the Hausa-Fulani of the Sokoto Caliphate, who formed about 65% of the population in the northern part of the territory; and the Yoruba, who formed about 75% of the population in the southwestern part.Although these groups have their own homelands, by the 1960s, the people were dispersed across Nigeria, with all three ethnic groups represented substantially in major cities. When the war broke out in 1967, there were still 5,000 Igbos in Lagos.

The semi-feudal and Muslim Hausa-Fulani in the North were traditionally ruled by a conservative Islamic hierarchy consisting of emirs who in turn owed their allegiance to a supreme Sultan. This Sultan was regarded as the source of all political power and religious authority.

The Yoruba political system in the southwest, like that of the Hausa-Fulani, also consisted of a series of monarchs, the Oba, The Yoruba monarchs, however, were less autocratic than those in the North. The political and social system of the Yoruba accordingly allowed for greater upward mobility, based on acquired rather than inherited wealth and title.

In contrast to the two other groups, Igbos and the ethnic groups of the Niger Delta in the southeast lived mostly in autonomous, democratically organised communities, although there were eze or monarchs in many of the ancient cities, such as the Kingdom of Nri. In its zenith the Kingdom controlled most of Igbo land, including influence on the Anioma people, Arochukwu (which controlled slavery in Igbo), and Onitsha land. Unlike the other two regions, decisions within the Igbo communities were made by a general assembly in which men and women participated

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