But, this policy of neutrality changed with the rebel invasion.
The rebel occupation force instituted a government headed by Major (Dr.) Albert Nwazu Okonkwo who was appointed administrator on August 17, 1967 by the secessionist leader colonel Odumegwe Ojukwu, Okonkwo administration lasted six weeks from August 9 to September 20, 1967 during which period the policies and activities of the rebel army deeply antagonized the non-Igbo speaking people of the state. The Midwest was renamed ‘‘Republic of Benin’’ in the early hours of September 20,1967 by Governor Okonkwo.But the Midwest as the’’ Republic of Benin’’ lasted a few hours before it was liberated by the federal troops led by late Col. Murtala Mohammed. The federal government immediately appointed Major Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia as Administrator and later as the military governor of the state. He embarked on the process of reconciliation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation aimed at ameliorating the ill feeling and mistrust that had been sown amongst the non-Igbo of the state by the rebel invasion.