The Nigerian Civil War was initially between the Eastern Region and the Northern Region, although it was billed as a war between Biafra and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
That is why after Colonel Ojukwu declared the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967, the Federal Military Government initiated their ‘police action’ from Northern Nigeria, with Northern troops, on July 6, 1967, when Colonel Mohammed Shuwa attacked Biafra from present-day Kogi State, and took Nsukka on July 14, 1966.
The other Southern Regions publicly declared neutrality. However, despite their publicly stated stance, Colonel Ojukwu, rather than face them, chose to attack the Midwest Region on August 9, 1967. After conquering the Midwest, and appointing an Igbo Governor named Major Albert Nwazu Okonkwo, the Biafrans subjected Midwesterners to brutal military rule and killed several Midwesterners they accused of being saboteurs, as well as looting the Central Bank of Nigeria in Benin, after dynamiting the vault.
This lie that the CBN Benin was looted by Murtala Muhammed came about from Radio Biafra because it was Murtala Muhammed’s Second Infantry Division that flushed the Biafrans out of the Midwest. Some Itsekiris, as well as Urhobos, Ijaws, Edos, and other ethnic nationalities in the then Midwest, were executed like goats without trial by the invading Biafrans, while Igbo speaking Midwesterners were given preferential treatment.
That may have been responsible for the crime against humanity Murtala Muhammed and troops under his command committed in Asaba. But this is just my opinion. There may have been other reasons for that. Not content with conquering the Midwest, the Biafrans advanced into the Western Region, invading Ore, in present-day Ondo state, killing many local residents.
That action forced the Western Region to become actively involved in the war, and many Yoruba officers and men of the Nigerian Army rallied to Ore to defend their region.
The Nigerian Army has refused to disclose how many people died at Ore, but it was a lot. Even today, the Yoruba have a popular proverb, ‘Oleku Ija Ore’.
Funny enough, although they were invaded by the Biafrans, after Biafra’s defeat on January 15, 1970, the Midwest forgave their invaders and accepted them back in their region. And unlike what happened in Rivers state, they did not seize their property as abandoned property.