General Gowon Welcomes Biafra’s Surrender

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Broadcast at midnight on 12 January 1970 (Federal Ministry of Information Press Release No. 31\1970).

My Dear Compatriots:

We have arrived at one of the greatest moments of the history in our nation. A great moment of victory for national unity and reconciliation. We have arrived at the end of a tragic and painful conflict.

Thirty months ago we were obliged to take up arms against out brothers who were deceived and misled into armed rebellion against their fatherland by the former Lieut-Col. Ojukwu. Our objective was to crush the rebellion; to maintain the territorial integrity of our nation; to assert the ability of the blackman to build a strong, progressive and prosperous, modern state and to ensure respect, dignity and equality in the comity of nations for our posterity.

I salute you once again for the courage, loyalty and steadfastness of our fighting troops, and the loyal support and sacrifice of all Nigerians. I pay tribute to the courage and resourcefulness of those who have fought so long against lawful troops, as victims of Ojukwu’s vicious propaganda and the machinations of certain foreign Governments.

You will have heard the broadcast of Lieut.-Col. Effiong asking the remnants of the secessionist troops to lay down their arms. This is in accord with our appeal. I accept in good faith Lieut.-Colonel Effiong’s declaration accepting the OAU resolutions supporting the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria. I urge all the secessionist troops to act honorably and lay down their arms in an orderly manner. Instructions have been issued to all field commanders of their Nigerian Army to put into immediate effect to contingency arrangements for the mass surrender of secessionist forces. The officers of the secessionist troops are urged to send emissaries to Federal field commanders at once to work out detailed arrangements for orderly surrender. All field commanders will take all necessary measures to give full protection to surrendering troops. Field commanders are instructed to push and establish effective Federal presence in all areas remaining under secessionist control. Federal troops in carrying out this directive will be accompanied by Police units and will exercise all care and shoot only if they encounter resistance. I appeal to all remaining secessionist forces to co-operate with Federal troops to avoid any further loss of life. All Federal troops must continue to observe the letter and spirit of the code of conduct issued at the beginning of the military operations.

We reiterate our promise of a general amnesty for all those misled into the futile attempt to disintegrate the country. Federal troops, East-Central State officials and authorized relief workers in the field will take adequate care of all civilians in the liberated areas. We must all demonstrate our will for honourable reconciliation within a united Nigeria.

Fellow countrymen, with your continued loyalty and dedication to the national cause, we shall succeed in healing the nation’s wounds. We must all welcome, with open arms, the people now freed from the tyranny and deceit of Ojukwu and his gang.

Long live one united Nigeria.

We thank God for His mercies.

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