Fall of Enugu
|Fall of Enugu|
|Part of Nigerian Civil War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Theophilus Danjuma||Alexander Madiebo|
|Casualties and losses|
The Fall of Enugu, (October 1–4, 1967), was a military conflict between Nigerian and Biafran forces. Enugu was invaded after the Biafran retreat from the Mid-Western Region only 14 days earlier after the Nigerian 2nd and 3rd Marine Division cleared them of the area.
When Nsukka fell to the Nigerian 1st and 2nd Brigades the Biafran President, Odumegwu Ojukwu, knew that his capital would be the Nigerian's next target. After a failed invasion of Nsukka on July 30, 1967 resulted in the death of Major Kaduna Nzeogwu President Ojukwu began drawing up plans for an invasion of Nigeria's Mid-Western Region in an attempt to divert attention away from Enugu. The invasion of August 9 was a tremendous success for the Biafrans and was followed by a sort of 44-day stalemate, before it was broken by the Nigerian 2nd Division's invasion of Ore. Biafran soldiers retreated from the region on September 20, 1967 and fled back to their homeland, pursued by Nigerian soldiers. The commander of Nigerian troops stationed in Nsukka, General Obasanjo, was relieved of his command and replaced with Lt. Col. Theophilus Danjuma.
Due to a flank attack by Biafran units at Ebe, the Nigerian 22nd battalion found itself pursuing retreating Biafran soldiers to Abor, which was already occupied by the Nigerian 5th battalion and almost led to a "friendly fire" incident. The sector commander altered the original plan and ordered both battalions to advance on Nine Mile corner using Abor as launchpad. It was no longer necessary for the 22nd battalion to jump from Eke and arrangements were made for Eke to be shelled by artillery from Abor.
As Nigerian soldiers advanced down the Nine Mile there was a stampede of Biafran vehicles that struggled to get away from the impending federal forces. There was a three-day delay by federal forces at Abor in order to reorganize. Sector commander Lt. Col. Theophilus Danjuma sent a wireless message to Nigerian President Yakubu Gowon that stated he had begun shelling Enugu from Ukena. The message was intercepted by Biafran units who began shelling Danjuma's position a few minutes later, narrowly escaping death.
As Nigerian forces made their way closer towards the capital the Biafran 53rd Brigade under Gen. Alexander Madiebo were assigned to defend the Enugu. Against armored vehicles and MiGs, Biafran President Odumegwu Ojukwu ordered Eastern provinces to send all able-bodied men to defend Enugu. About 10,000 men arrived in Enugu without weapons, food, or tents. The plan was to arm the men with machetes, move them through Eke, and swarm federal troops at Abor. What happened instead was a preoccupation with feeding and administering them as the military, government structure collapsed that same day as soldiers, policemen, and government officials were evacuated to Umuahia.
After Enugu fell to Danjuma President Ojukwu moved his capital to Umuahia and surrounded it with defenses. On October 5 thousands of civilians in Asaba were massacred by the Nigerian 2nd Division under General Murtala Mohammed after being forced to attend a public dance, known as the Asaba massacre. The 2nd Division attempted numerous invasions of Onitsha but all were repulsed, before it was finally captured by the 2nd Division on March 20, 1968.