CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1 Background of The StudyThe Nigerian civil war took place from 2nd July 1967 to 15th January 19701. The war was fought between the then Eastern Region of Nigeria and the rest of the country2. The unfortunate war erupted as a result of bad leadership 1966. The immediate cause of the civil war itself can be identified as the coup and counter coup of 1966, which altered the political equation and destroyed the fragile trust existing among the major ethnic groups. There were retributive and sporadic-massacre of the people of Eastern Region, especially the Igbo and the pogrom on them was indiscriminate. As a means of holding the country together, the Federal military government created twelve states from the original four regions in May 19673.The former Eastern Region under Lt. Col. Ojukwu saw the State creations by a decree without consultation and the massacre of the Igbo as the last straw, and therefore declared the Region an Independent State of Biafra. The Federal Government saw this as an act of secession and also an illegal act. Several meetings were held to resolve the issue peacefully without success. To avoid disintegration of the country, the central government had no other option of bringing the Region back to the main fold other than the application of force. The war could therefore be said to have been fought to reunify the country. According to Njuko, while the Federal forces expected a quick win, the Biafran forces saw the war as that of survival and were prepared to fight to the last man4. By August 1967, Biafra extended the war to the Mid-Western Region with the aim to relief pressure on its northern front and to threaten the Federal Capital, Lagos. Both sides employed political, diplomatic and psychological strategies to prosecute the war. By the end of April 1969, after almost two years of bloody and destructive war, the envisioned quick recovery had eluded the Federal side but the rebel enclave had been drastically reduced in number though Biafra still exist.Peace conferences were held but none achieved a cease-fire and an end to the war. By end of 1969, it was obvious that the end of the civil war was near5. Lt. Col. Ojukwu realizing the hopelessness of the situation fled the enclave with his immediate family members and officials on the 10th of January 19706. The commander of the Biafran armed forces who took over the administration of the remaining enclave – Major Gen. Philip Effiong surrendered to the Federal Government on 14th January 1970, thus bringing an end to the war7. The war which started gradually engulfed other parts of the then Eastern Region.Like other communities in the then Eastern Region, Ikot Afanga community was affected by the civil war. Ikot Afanga is situated in the North Western Part of Akwa Ibom State. They trace their migratory history to the Bantu speaking tribes in Southern and Equatorial Africa. The people engaged in several economic and social activities such as yam cultivation and marriages respectively before the civil war. Trade and intermarriages facilitated inter-relations between her and her neighbours as wars were largely unheard of.Biafran forces through Arochukwu came into Ikot Afanga and established a camp. Between 1967 – 1970, the community faced the occupation of either the Federal forces or the Biafran Forces for about 5 times8. This resulted in destruction of houses, bridge and also disintegration due to people fleeing their homes for safety.The establishment of Biafran camp at Chief Dan Akpan Essien Etar’s compound brought the Biafran forces in close relationship with the people of Ikot Afanga; a relationship described as a soar one due to the inhumane way the Biafran forces treated them9.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMBefore the civil war, indigenes of Ikot Afanga community in Essien Udim Local Government Area enjoyed relative peace as they engaged in various socio-economic activities which engendered growth and ensured living. However, with the outbreak of the war and subsequent settlement of the Biafra forces in the community specifically in Chief Akpan Essien Etor’s compound,10 economic growth was retarded as indigenes fled their homes and houses were razed and destroyed by the soldiers. Roads leading to and out of the community were also blocked thus retarding inter-community trade. The bridge connecting the community with other areas was also destroyed thus obstructing contact with the outside communities. This brought serious economic setback which affected the people within the community.The outbreak of the war led to social disintegration. Families were separated in the course of seeking for survival. They fled their homes to other communities in the course of this. Sadly some families were not united again. Ikot Afanga also faced criminal activities perpetuated by the soldiers settling in the community. Such activities included extortion of personal belongings, rape amongst others. The community also witnessed inhumane treatment from the Biafran troops who dealt without mercy with any indigene who showed any measure of allegiance to the Nigerian Government. Also, many youths in the community were forcefully conscripted into the Biafran military; some of those conscripted were well below sixteen years.There were also severe cases of malnutrition and starvation as there was scarcity of food and water. This resulted in the outbreak of diseases ranging from kwashiorkor to cholera and diarrhea during the war. The situation was further aggravated when the community became a battle ground as the Federal forces tried to push the Biafran forces out of their enclaves. This resulted in the death of many indigenes of the community. This was as a result of stray bullets and bomb explosions.