Just before the Nigerian Civil War commenced, residents of the then Mid-Western Region who were mostly mixed with different tribes attempted not to take any side and be neutral.
Some moments before the Odumegwu Ojukwu led Biafra announced its secession from Nigeria to become a republic, the heads in the Mid-Western Region called for a peace conference near Benin City, and officials refused to permit Nigerian federal troops to invade Biafra through the region.
On August 9, 1967, about 3000 Biafran forces crossed the Niger bridge, with one group making a go for Benin City and on the 14th of August, the region was conquered and the Biafrans appointed a Military Administrator who would be taking control of the government by installing Dr. Albert Okonkwo as Governor and the new head of government.
At first, the Igbos in the region welcomed the Biafran control, while the non-Igbos intelligently refused the urge to resist but had to wait for the restoration of federal control.
Although, there were peaceful relations between the new administration and non-Igbos, one would sense pretence, and in order to improve relations Governor Okonkwo's administration flooded homes and streets with news from the Biafran position.
The mass media began to carry stories around the state about how there was oppression of the Igbo people in Nigeria, and as days passed by, it only resulted in more ethnic division in the region.
The continuous public campaign of conspiracy against the Igbos destroyed non-Igbo sympathy and instead of converting them to support, most of the non-Igbo adopted neutral or pro-Nigerian sympathy
As the relationship between the government and non-Igbos continued to break down, Biafran President C. Odumegwu Ojukwu made out time to visit the Mid-Western Region to raise support by meeting with leaders of the banned National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC).
His visit however increased support among former NCNC partisans, but their former intra-party division and problems came back alive and further escalated into NCNC partisans clashing with supporters of other parties, and this further solidified the non-Igbo rejection of the invasion. REPUBLIC OF BENIN (1967)
As the administration of Dr. Albert continued to lose the support of the people of the Mid-Western Region, they became desperate...
On the 19th of September 1967, the Biafrans renamed the Mid-Western region, proclaiming it the REPUBLIC OF BENIN, an independent state (separate from Biafra).
This move of desperation was a last-ditch effort which Okonkwo and his men believed that even if they could not win the support of the non-Igbos, the newly created state might least divide Biafra from the Nigerian federal forces physically.
But for how long?
On seeing the deaths of citizens of the newly created republic in the northern riots and their support for a confederate government in Nigeria, Dr. Okonkwo declared that the Republic of Benin would support Biafra in all causes and would take part in organisations such as the Commonwealth of Nations and the Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U).
Despite the declaration, Okonkwo knew in his heart that the new state could not last. This was because two weeks earlier, on the 5th of September, 1967 he and other top officials had discussed an independence declaration without coming to an agreement, and the announcement was given while he and his military forces retreated in the face of a federal government military advance on the 20th.
In the evening of the same day, Nigerian military troops arrived Benin City, the capital of the newly created REPUBLIC OF BENIN, and were greeted by crowds who lined up in the streets to celebrate the region's reconquest and return to Nigeria.
IT BECAME THE SHORTEST REPUBLIC IN EXISTENCE. THE REPULIC OF BENIN, 19TH SEPT. 1967 TO 20TH SEPT. 1967.