A History of the Republic of Biafra: Law, Crime, and the Nigerian Civil War

“On May 30th 1967, Sir Louis Mbanefo brought a new country into the world. Mbanefo was a widely respected judge, known to the Nigerian public as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. To his peers in the judiciary he was a formidable moralist – a “black Englishman” who “did not mix well at parties” as one would recall.2 A Cambridge education, a successful law practice, a knighthood, and a term on the International Court of Justice were all behind him.3 Ahead of him was an uncertain future. A photo taken that day shows Mbanefo, weighed down under his robes and wig, taking an oath from a man thirty years his junior, clad in military fatigues and an unruly beard. The country established that day through a series of decrees and legal rituals was the Republic of Biafra, and the soldier being sworn in to lead it was Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The Republic of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in the name of making law and order. It promised to be a new model for Africa, and to “fulfill the decolonising mission which the ‘still-born’ Nigeria failed to do,” as the first issue of its state newspaper announced.4 Biafra’s government would be moderate and modern, guided by humanism and the gospel of prosperity. But in the war of secession that followed, it came to look very different from the country its founders envisioned. As Chief Justice of the Biafran Court of Appeal, Mbanefo had a prime position to watch things fall apart. Presiding over cases in the dwindling territory that the Biafran Army controlled, he heard accounts of violence that surpassed what he thought people were capable of. Mbanefo came to believe that everyone was lying to him, even his fellow judges. He presided over the expansion of martial law, which went against all his moral instincts, and he came to fear privately that the new country he had thrown in his lot with was actually a “bandit state.””–

Title: A History of the Republic of Biafra Law, Crime, and the Nigerian Civil War
ISBN: 1108840760,9781108840767
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Genre: History / General
Date Published:
Pages: 300
Preview Link: Google Preview Link

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