Annal Of Coups In Nigeria – A Fundamental History Lesson 

                                                 Bleeding Coup of January 1966

History Of Coups In Nigeria

By:Cajetan Chinaemerem Callistus

In the Nigerian Army's authentic history of the Civil War, Major General IBM Haruna (rtd), stated: "The predominance of the NPC and the apparent strength of the North in the inside resembled a danger to the assumed increasingly illuminated and better instructed Southerners who trusted they were the foundation of the development for Nigerian freedom yet did not succeed the pilgrim capacity to run the issues of the state. So with that foundation one can now establish the framework of the view of the military battle in Nigerian governmental issues." 

Intelligent, in this manner, of certain more than once enunciated perspectives in areas of the Press, the conclusion developed among a little growing council of as of now politically slanted officers after freedom, that each military organization for interior security in help of the common expert whose political introduction they didn't share, regardless of whether protected, was simply one more incitement. 

These include: 

1. 'Task Banker', a joint Army-Police activity in the Western district, driven by then CO, fourth regiment, Lt. Col. Maimalari, supposedly at the command of the master NPC provincial Premier (Akintola) coming full circle in the revelation of a highly sensitive situation in May 1962 after a fracas in the House of Assembly and the arrangement of an executive. Strikingly, the General Staff Officer 

(2) at the Army HQ accountable for Intelligence was none other than Captain PPatrick Chukwuma Nzeogwu who, as a Major, was later to assume a key job in the overthrow of January 1966 in which Maimalari lost his life.2. The capture on September 22, 1962 and resulting detainment of the restriction head, Chief Awolowo, on doubt of arranging a regular citizen topple of the administration. It was claimed that 300 volunteers were sent to Ghana for 3 weeks local army preparing. Certain records speculate two separate plots, one by Dr. Maja and the other by Awo himself. 

However, there is a group of proof that demonstrates that Dr. Maja was really working together with the legislature. The genuine plotters wanted to abuse the nonappearance from the nation of three out of the five Army brigades to seize key focuses in Lagos and capture driving figures of the administration. The missing regiments were in or on their approach to and from the Congo. One accessible military separation at Abeokuta was out on military preparing works out, while the recently framed government protect in Lagos was basically stylized. 

In this way, there was an inside security vacuum which the plotters planned to abuse. Court records likewise show that an endeavor was made to select Brigadier Adesoji Ademulegun for the plan yet he would not coordinate with the plotters, picking rather to stay faithful to the conventional military chain of importance and government, which had quite recently advanced him from Lt. Col. to Brigadier. Regardless of whether this later assumed a job in his ensuing death in January 1966 is obscure. 

3. Armed force Stand-by amid the sharp responses to the National Census of 1962/63 aand 1963/64. 

4. Armed force Stand-by amid the Midwest choice of 1963. 

5. Activation of the Army to give basic administrations amid the General Strike of 1964. Indeed, even this evidently harmless organization in help of the common expert pulled in analysis from a portion of the eventual plotters of the January 1966 upset. 

Commander Nwobosi (rtd), for instance, has said that as a youthful officer sent to the railroads as an escort, he was disturbed by the way that the Prime Minister left Lagos for the place where he grew up in Bauchi amid the strike, leaving critical issues of state to partners in Lagos just as the Army which was completely assembled. I have not possessed the capacity to autonomously confirm the legitimacy of this allegation against Balewa, however it provides bits of knowledge into the desires for fighters of their non military personnel aces when they are drafted by common specialists to balance out the nation. 

An impression of absence of a "hands on" approach, regardless of whether false, can undermine expert and the way of life of admiration. 

6. Tiv Crises: As far back as April 1960 and July 1961 the Army had been set on backup in Tiv land. This wound up essential again in February 1964. Be that as it may, on November 18, 1964 the third legion under Lt. Col James Pam which was simply coming back from Tanzania was conveyed in full for interior security activities there. The decision of Pam's unit was a deft move since he was of center belt source and the force had been out of the nation preparing another Army, and along these lines protected from rancor. The Nigerian Army really rose up out of this task with high mmarks in light of the fact that the nearby individuals saw Pam's unit as more impartial than the Mobile Police. Strikingly, Major Anuforo of the Recce unit at Kaduna was conveyed in help of Pam for this task. This is the officer who later shot him amid the January 1966 overthrow. Other would-be plotters who served in Tiv land were Ademoyega and Onwatuegwu. 

7. Protected emergency of January 1965: 

Following the questionable Federal Election of December 1964, stately President Azikiwe of the NCNC, asked by radical intellectual elite, would not welcome Prime Minister Balewa of the NPC to shape a legislature and issued orders preparing the Army to implement his power to suspend the legislature, cancel the races and name an impermanent interval head to direct races. Be that as it may, the promise of faithfulness of the officer corps was not exclusively to the Commander in Chief yet additionally to the legislature of Nigeria. 

The Army Act (#26 of 1960) and the Navy Act (#9 of 1960) were likewise clear on lines of power and control.While the Army and Navy were "under the general expert" of the Defense Minister in issues of "direction, order and organization", the specialist for operational utilize and control was vested in the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister. President Azikiwe and the administration boss were so prompted by the Chief Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. 

Consequently the Navy Commander, Commodore Wey courteously told the President that the Navy (under him), the Army (under Major General Welby-Everard) and the Police (under Louis Edet) had chosen to reject his requests. Following seven days of precipice hanging pressure, in which the military stood aside, a political trade off was in the long run come to and a legislature of "national solidarity" shaped under Prime Minister Balewa. 

In the US Diplomatic Archives: Nigeria 1964-1968, the circumstance was portrayed thusly: "Very muddled African governmental issues, in which clans, religions and financial matters all have an impact, are associated with the circumstance. The Northern Premier is inconsistent with the Eastern Premier in whose area substantial oil stores have been found. In the warmth of the race battle, there have been dangers of withdrawal by the east; dangers of savagery "that would make Congo resemble a drop in the bucket" from the north.." in the meantime, solid gossipy tidbits about an approaching Army overthrow purportedly anticipated the yearly Army Shooting rivalry were likewise heard in political circles. In any case, the norm held, yet briefly. 

8. Armed force Stand by amid the ethnic initiative emergency among Yorubas and Igbos at the University of Lagos in March 1965. 

9. Armed force Stand-by amid the Western territorial Election of October 1965 which prompted an infringe upon down of lawfulness. Political weights and recrimination coming about because of this presentation at long last broke the façade of political impartiality among a few officers uncovering profound individual, ethnic, provincial and political factions all the while. To cite Captain Nwobosi once more, "When I was in Abeokuta, my fighters were being nitty gritty to go some place towards Lagos from Abeokuta to monitor polling booths that were not opened. They were not opened but rather someone had just been announced the champ. Ordinary, they would go and return and simultaneously, I lost one of my corporals. You realize officers are warriors and some of the time like kids, you have your most loved ones and this was close to home." 

10. A consequent claimed arrangement to acquire the circumstance the West leveled out by the NPC controlled government in help of its territorial partner, utilizing the Army as had been done in 1962, purportedly presented the date of the January 15 upset. The overthrow was composed by dominatingly Eastern officers thoughtful to the UPGA coalition of ideological groups that had lost the 1964 government races and the October 1965 territorial decisions in the West. Most of setbacks were Northern legislators and senior military officers from the equivalent institute of matriculation every one of whom were esteemed to speak to the NPC or its interests. Others were government officials and officers from the western area saw as being in coalition with the NPC authority. 

The upset neglected to bring the "youthful turks" who drove it to control yet it resulted, through an intricate and dubious arrangement of occasions, in the rise of a military routine driven by General Ironsi.There is a sad post-content to the broadly held (however false) assumption that the January 15 overthrow pre-empted an inescapable military activity to split down in the West. This assumption depends on an announced gathering between key NPC and NNDP political pioneers just as certain senior military officers said to have happened in Kaduna on January 14. 

Be that as it may, the last meeting conceded to the magazine 'West Africa', by the late Prime Minister Balewa on January 14, a couple of hours to his demise, went this way: 

Question: Do you see the arrangement as appearing as an alliance government in the West? 

Balewa: Yes, it would need to be that … The Action assemble has acknowledged my intervention, yet the NNDP has requested additional time. In the event that I utilize genuine power in the West – and no doubt about it, I haven't yet – at that point I could push the general population to the brink of collapse. In any case, I would prefer not to utilize compel that way. Power can' t convey harmony to individuals' hearts.Question: Would you consider the arrival of Chief Awolowo as a feature of a political arrangement of the West's inconveniences? Balewa: I imagine that may be a piece of it; indeed, clearly we would need to see." 

This meeting was not distributed until January 29, 1966. 


Until the upset of 1966, common military relations after autonomy fundamentally pursued the great model. Troopers were once in a while found out in the open in their outfits except if there was an official occasion. Dormitory were generally isolated and remote from groupings of non military personnel lodging. Political discourse making, composing articles in the lay press without endorsement, or political battles in sleeping enclosure by or at the command of troopers were not permitted. Moreover, partially in light of the fact that there was no critical outer danger, yet in addition on account of the prevalence of British officers at the best until 1965, the military order assumed almost no job in security strategy making. The major outside arrangement choices of that time were made by the political class. Indeed, even in its inside security job the Army did not make approach. It did them. 

In any case, the socialization procedure that made this relationship conceivable appeared to be bound to the highest echelons of the military where officers who had invested the longest measure of energy working specifically with British officers previously freedom were to be found. Incidentally, certain key officers at these dimensions imparted certain social sources to key political pioneers. Officers at lower and center rungs of the stepping stool, be that as it may, did not share huge numbers of those characteristics in light of the fact that the progress from decolonization to democratization was hurried, driven by ideas of enthusiasm. 

From October first 1960 until May first 1965 when he passed on normally of a sickness Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, the second Vice President of the Northern Peoples Congress, filled in as Minister for Defense. From May 1965 until January 1966 his place was taken by Alhaji Inua Wada, likewise an individual from the NPC. They were the two regular people with no earlier military administration. Ribadu (otherwise called "Intensity of Powers") was an extremely compelling and profoundly respected legislator with broad associations over the political gap. His sudden demise in April 1965 is said by some to have genuinely undermined the compromise of the frayed political connection between the NPC and the NCNC after the January 1965 emergency which may have kept the January 1966 upset. Undoubtedly, dynamic plotting for upset really started after his passing that year. 

Ribadu directed a quick development of the Army and Navy just as the formation of the Nigerian Air Force. The foundation of the Defense Industries Corporation, the Nigerian Defense Academy, a second Recce Squadron (situated at Abeokuta) and two new Artillery batteries happened on his watch. He got basically the entirety of his budgetary demands through parliament including endorsement to burn through 19.5 million pounds on protection from 1962-66 as contrasted and 5.5 million pounds amid the former multi year time frame. Safeguard costs as a level of Federal repetitive spending from 1958-1966 ran from 7.7 to 9.9%. Guard costs as a level of Federal capital spending amid a similar period ran from 1.5 to 12.1%. 

Strain to grow the military did not begin from inside the military. It originated from the political class. Protection from extra guard spending did not originate from the assembly or the general population. It began in 1962 and 1964 from different Ministers just as financial analysts in the Ministry of Finance worried about inability to meet national monetary targets. Ribadu lost the Chairmanship of the Economic Committee of the government bureau in 1964, a position he had utilized skillfully to secure and administer his protection allotments. Subsequently regular citizen oversight of military planning in the primary republic was aggregate and selective. As I would like to think, the late Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu is presumably Nigeria's best Defense Minister since Independence – a point that misrepresents the inclination nowadays to imagine that regular people with no military experience can't run the Ministry of Defense. 

Notwithstanding Ribadu there were Ministers of State for the Army and Navy. From February 1960 until August 1961 Dr. Majekodunmi, a doctor, was the Minister of State for the Army. At that point Jacob Obande held the situation from August 1961 until December 1962. From January 1963 until January 1966 the position was held by Ibrahim Tako Galadima – an identity (dissimilar to Ribadu) whose grip of military undertakings and convention was not regarded inside the military. Mr. M. T. Mbu was Minister of State for the Navy from 1960 to 1966. Mr. AA Atta was the changeless secretary from 1960-64 while Alhaji Sule Kolo held the situation from 1964-66. Like the substantive pastors of that period, both were northerners. 

One territory in which there was immediate political impedance from the political class as a gathering in military expert arrangement was in the topic of shares for Army enrollment, which all things considered reflected administrative weights in a multiethnic culture. Such political weights to apply the government character standard have discovered their way into resulting Nigerian constitutions. Other than a couple of supposed cases, lawmakers by and large avoided absolutely military expert issues. Notwithstanding when the leaving GOC General Welby-Everard, (for an assortment of reasons going back to occasions in 1951 and 1961), prescribed either Brigadier Ademulegun or Ogundipe as his successor, the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister stayed with the rule of position and picked Ironsi rather – maybe aware of NCNC sensitivities coming as it did, after the established emergency in January and around the season of the bitter battle about the Vice Chancellorship of the University of Lagos. 

The writing reports that Brigadier Ademulegun campaigned for the situation of GOC through his companion the Sardauna, however no doubt the political administration of the Ministry opposed every single such weight. Until just before the breakdown, in this manner, the connection between the Army authority and the political class was for the most part formal and suitable. Albeit casual contacts existed based on place of graduation and other shared qualities, these did not ascend to the dimension of the customer systems, (for example, "IBB Boys" or "Abacha Boys") that came to portray future military routines in the nation. By and by, in a nation where ethnic characters were and are regularly more grounded than expert personalities, any apparent occurrences of contacts with the ethnic, political and security guide of the nation will undoubtedly incite doubt among officers who thought about themselves outside those systems. 

The last intercession of overwhelmingly eastern junior and center positioning military officers came about because of the slow decrease in the union and authenticity of non military personnel foundations, indications of which were at that point obvious from the season of the December 1959 government decisions before freedom. 

Certain long standing frontier military arrangements, intensified by the irritable idea of Nigeria's political structure set against Nigeria's remarkable history gave a scenery to antagonistic common military relations after freedom. As the job of the autonomous armed force developed from outer missions and its investment in inside security extended, political threats toward components of the political class were intensified as it wound up making decisions and dispensing values. 

Idle societal cleavages started to undermine esprit d'Corps. It was from among the individuals who enrolled between 1957 (when the FDC assumed control from the British Army gathering and brought standards into the majority) and 1961 (when portions were brought into the officer corps) that the most profound factions showed up, empowered by other political inclinations in bigger society. As the Roman military essayist, Vegetius (De Re Militari), wrote in 378 B.C.: 'A military raised without legitimate respect to the selection of its volunteers was never made great by time allotment.' 

In the last examination, driven by severe battles for political control, absence of solidarity in the common class between the alliance accomplices, NCNC and NPC, alongside disappointment of some partners in the Action Group (who kept on being faithful to the imprisoned Chief Awolowo) assumed a urgent job in undermining whatever sorted out obstruction (with or without British help) the political class may have set up to spare majority rule government when a few fighters came bringing in January 1966. In fact, military mediation may have been looked for by wronged components of the political class. 

As the Police Special Branch report put it: " some point amid August 1965, a little gathering of armed force officers, disappointed with political advancements inside the league, started to plot as a team with a few regular folks, the topple of what was then the Government of the Federation of Nigeria." 

Dreadful of certain foreseen political choices which may have included the utilization of the Army to commandingly reestablish request in the Akintola-drove Western district and pack the consequences of the dubious October 1965 decision down the throats of voters, the upset was at long last propelled on January 15, 1966. However, as I have noted already, the oddity about this supposed NPC plan to "pummel" the West is that the late Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, in his last meeting just before the upset was really considering a political answer for the impasse in the Western district, one that may even have included an alliance government and the arrival of Chief Obafemi Awolowo from prison. 

At the last gathering just before H-hour in Major Ifeajuna's home in Lagos, the Police report says "Major Ifeajuna tended to the gathering regarding the matter of the falling apart circumstance in Western Nigeria to which, he fought, the legislators had neglected to discover an answer. He included that thus the whole nation was making a beeline for turmoil and fiasco". One of the key members in the upset, Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi has additionally as of late communicated the feeling that there was "data" that the NPC overwhelmed Federal Government would announce a highly sensitive situation in the NCNC commanded Eastern district in a joint effort with a disturbance for the formation of Rivers state. 

In the Army's Official history of the Civil War, Nwobosi stated: "Adaka Boro was positioned in the Rivers region to begin off some rebellion and the East would have been pronounced a zone under a highly sensitive situation like was done in the West under Dr. Majekodunmi." Nwobosi additionally said that this data "isn't something you will hear and rest". Such observations – some of which were obviously false-among officers with feelings toward (or sees incidental with) the United Progressive Grand Alliance, set against the NPC-NCNC-Army sacred emergency of January 1965 and the foundation pressures acquired at autonomy, gave fuel to the occasions of January 1966. 

Commander Emmanuel Nwobosi (rtd) who drove tasks in the West amid the upset, holds the conclusion that President Nnamdi Azikiwe was advised about the overthrow plot by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna in Lagos – yet calls attention to that his own sub-bunch was not in on Ifeajuna's trickery. He has likewise said that one of the expectations of the plotters was to discharge Chief Awolowo from prison – a to some degree peculiarly incidental arrangement to what Prime Minister Balewa was thinking about before he was slaughtered. 

In the mess that ruled after the Prime Minister's snatching on January 15, refusal of the President of the Senate (Nwafor Orizu, an easterner from the NCNC – who was likewise acting President) to acknowledge the arrangement by the NPC ruled bureau of a between time Prime Minister (Dipcharima, a northerner) shut whatever choice stayed to formally welcome British Troops in (with or without an agreement). With no protected arrangement for such a move, Orizu and the rear end bureau gave "over" to the Army Chief, Major Gen Ironsi, (himself an easterner) purportedly to give him required specialist to put down the overthrow endeavor which had just fell in the south. 

It shows up from declaration given by previous President Shagari that the British would almost certainly have reacted to a welcome from Acting Prime Minister Dipcharima similarly as they did in East Africa two years sooner. To be sure, different sources guarantee that a British Battalion was at that point on backup. Strangely, as of late declassified American State division files likewise demonstrate that American mediation was additionally examined in Nigerian government hovers before the rear end bureau was encouraged to "hand over" to General Ironsi to "stay away from fiasco". 

Alongside the merciless and territorially lopsided killings that went with the upset, this portentous choice, which Orizu later protected as "enthusiastic", introduced an exceptionally ridiculous section in Nigerian history. In any case, enduring officers of the January 15 plot (like Nwobosi and Ademoyega) appear to be joined in their conviction that it was General Ironsi's 'mismanagement', as opposed to their appalling activities that night, that drove Nigeria to mayhem in the months ahead 

Spilled [Police] Special Branch Report: 

"Military Rebellion of fifteenth January 1966" 

Part I 

By Nowamagbe Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC 


This is the Police Report on the official examination concerning the upset of 15 January 1966. It was set up by Police Special Branch Interrogators dependent on meetings with warriors, different positions and a few officers who had been captured after the insurrection. 

None of the fighters and officers included had come to formal preliminary in a court-military as of the season of the July 29 1966 "counter-overthrow". Without a doubt the reality they were not court-martialed was one of the complaints recorded by those officers who did the shocking activities of July 28-August 1, 1966. 

The overthrow report was discharged to not many people in Nigeria and certain outside governments toward the beginning of August 1966 – and after that spilled. The rest of the report which supposedly embroiled certain different people has evidently never been discharged broadly right up 'til the present time. It exists, we are on its trail – and will distribute it without hesitation. 


1. Because of unanticipated situation it has not been conceivable, up until now, to illuminate the country completely of occasions which occurred in the Federation on fifteenth January 66 at Lagos, Ibadan, and Kaduna, occasions which were specifically in charge of further military activity on the 29th July 66. 

2. It will be valued that occasions of this nature require drawn out, careful examination. It is understood that the nonattendance of real data regarding this matter has created a surge of bothersome bits of gossip and hypothesis. It is, be that as it may, called attention to that without careful examination, the insight of any untimely discharges, unsupported by reality, was sketchy. 

3. Examinations have not yet been finished but rather it is currently conceivable to put the country, and the world, possessing the actualities so far gathered. The regular citizen inclusion and impact in the entire undertaking isn't beyond what many would consider possible, incorporated into this report. 

4. It has been built up that at some point amid August 1965, a little gathering of armed force officers, disappointed with political advancements inside the league, started to plot as a team with a few regular citizens, the topple of what was then the Government of the Federation of Nigeria. The arrangement which in the end rose up out of their thoughts was that out on the town not yet chose at the time, the accompanying move would be made by troops from chosen units, driven by the instigators of the plot: 

a). The capture of driving government officials at Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Enugu and Benin. The arrangement stipulated that wherever opposition was experienced, the people concerned were to be executed. 

b). The control of key focuses, for example, radio and TV stations, phone trade and other open utilities, police central command and flag establishments, via cautiously chosen troops who were not, notwithstanding, to be educated ahead of time of the genuine idea of their activities. 

c). The development of troops and protected battling vehicles to Jebba and Makurdi to hold the Benue and Niger Bridges with the end goal of keeping the development of any troops, contradicted to the plotters' points, to and from the North. 

d). The death of all senior armed force officers known to be in a situation to thwart, effectively, the backstabbers' endeavors to topple the administrations of the organization. 

e). The inevitable assume control of the apparatus of government by the dissidents. 

5. Despite the fact that the first arrangement stipulated that the activity planned by the plotters should happen, at the same time, in all the Regional capitals, no game plans were made to execute these goals in Benin and Enugu. 

6. The date on which the plot was to be put into execution was chosen by a few components. These incorporate the arrival of the Premier of Northern Nigeria from Mecca and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting held at Lagos between the eleventh and thirteenth January 66. An extra factor was the likelihood that subtleties of the plotters aims may have spilled out, requiring early usage of the plot. As such, the evening of fourteenth to fifteenth January was at last chosen. 

7. The activity which was very much arranged and led like a military task was, in its first stages proficiently completed. 

8. Preceding "H" hour, which has been set for 2am on the fifteenth January, various junior officers were taken into the certainty of the instigators of the plot. It is realized that some of these were hesitant to consent to the desires of the plotters. Affirmed data shows that it was clarified to these lesser officers that the individuals who were not with the plotters would be viewed as being against them and might endure demise as an outcome. 

9. Non appointed positions associated with the night's exercises at Lagos, Kaduna and Ibadan, were given no past data of the genuine idea of the activity in which they were going to be locked in. 

10. The exercises of the agitators, starting at 2am on fifteenth January 66, brought about the passings of the accompanying identities: 


a. Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of the Federation of Nigeria. 

b. Boss F. S. Okotie-Eboh, Finance Minister of the Federation. 

c. Brigadier Z. Mai-Malari, Commander of the second Brigade NA 

d. Colonel K. Mohammed, Chief of Staff Nigerian Army 

e. Lieut-Colonel A. C. Unegbe, Quartermaster General. 

f. Lieut-Colonel J.T. Pam, Adjutant General, Nigerian Army 

g. Lieut-Colonel A. Largema, Commanding Officer fourth Battalion Ibadan 


h. S. L. Akintola, Premier of Western Nigeria 


I. Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Nigeria 

j. Brigadier S. Ademulegun, Commander of the first Brigade NA 

k. Colonel R. A. Shodeinde, Deputy Commandant, Nigerian Defense Academy 

l. Ahmed Dan Musa, Senior Assistant Secretary (Security) toward the North Regional Government 

m. Sergeant Duromola Oyegoke of the Nigerian Army 

n. The senior spouse of Sir Ahmadu Bello 

o. The spouse of Brigadier Ademulegun 

11. Notwithstanding the prior, four individuals from the Nigeria Police, one junior NCO of the Nigerian Army, and an expected number of six regular people lost their lives amid the night's occasions. One noteworthy of the Nigerian Army was coincidentally shot and murdered at Ibadan on the seventeenth January 66, conveying the all out death toll to twenty-seven. 

12. Aside from the previously mentioned killings, various political pioneers and government employees were captured by the plotters and confined in military foundations at Lagos and Kaduna. These included: 

a. Sir Kashim Ibrahim – at the time Governor of Northern Nigeria 

b. Alhaji Hassan Lemu – Principal Private Secretary to the Premier of Northern Nigeria. 

c. Aba Kadangare Gobara – Assistant Principal Private Secretary to the Premier of Northern Nigeria. 

d. B. A. Fani-Kayode – at the time Deputy Premier of Western Nigeria. 



13. In August 1965, three officers, Major Okafor, Major Ifeajuna and Captain Oji who were at that point disappointed with political advancements in the Federation and the effect of these improvements on the Army, had arrangement of talks between them about the issue and set about the errand of hunting down different officers who held perspectives like their very own and who could, in the long run, be trusted to go along with them in the endeavor of organizing a military overthrow. 

14. In September 1965, Major I. H. Chukwuka of Nigerian Army Headquarters Lagos was induced to join the gathering of backstabbers, followed in October 1965 by Major C. I. Anuforo, likewise of the Army central station. Real C. K. Nzeogwu was acquired around that time through the endeavors of Major Anuforo, an old companion of the two Majors Nzeogwu and Okafor. Major Nzeogwu thusly verified the help for the arrangement of Major A. Ademoyega who had worked with him in the Nigerian Army Training College Kaduna. 

15. By early November the selecting exercises of the gathering were finished and an inward hover of backstabbers developed, comprising of the accompanying officers: 

Major CK Nzeogwu 

Major A. Ademoyega 

Real EA Ifeajuna 

Significant CI Anuforo 

Major IH Chukwuka 

Significant D. Okafor 

Commander O. Oji 

Making arrangements for the execution of the plot began vigorously toward the beginning of November 1965 at a gathering of the internal circle which occurred in Major Ifeajuna's home in Lagos. 

16. The arrangement which in the long run rose up out of their thoughts was comprehensively as pursues: 

a. The capture of VIPs at Kaduna, Ibadan, Lagos, Enugu and Benin. The arrangement stipulated wherever protection from capture was experienced, the people concerned were to be murdered 

b. The control of helpless focuses, for example, Radio and TV stations, phone trade, police signals establishments, landing strips and regular citizen regulatory foundations, via cautiously chosen troops who were not, in any case, to be educated ahead of time of the reason for their tasks. 

c. The development of troops to Jebba and Makurdi to hold the Niger and Benue spans against any development of troops contradicted to the plotters' points, to and from the North. 

d. The slaughtering of all senior armed force officers who were in a situation to thwart effectively the backstabbers endeavors to topple the Governments of the Federation and who dwelled in the zones of activities. 

e. The possible assume control of the apparatus of Government by the Army.

17. Amongst the civilian VIPs scheduled for arrest, the following have been named:

a. The Prime Minister of the Federation

b. The Federal Finance Minister

c. The Premiers of Northern, Western, Midwestern and Eastern Nigeria.

18. Additional personalities scheduled to be arrested in Lagos were the following:

a. K. O. Mbadiwe

b. Jaja Wachuku

c. Inua Wada

d. Shehu Shagari

e. T. O. Elias

f. Ayo Rosiji

g. M. A. Majekodunmi

h. Mathew Mbu

i. Richard Akinjide

j. Waziri Ibrahim

19. Other ranking politicians were to be placed in house arrest pending a decision as to their disposal and eventual fate.

20. Events have shown that other political figures including the Deputy Premier of Western Nigeria, the Finance Minister and the Governor of Northern Nigeria were scheduled to be arrested.

21. The conspirators further decided that the following senior army officers represented a threat to their plans and must be killed during the first hours of the rebellion:

Brigadier Z. Mai-Malari – Lagos

Brigadier S. Ademulegun – Kaduna

Colonel K. Mohammed – Lagos

Colonel R. A. Shodeinde – Kaduna

Lt. Col. A. Largema – Ibadan

Lt. Col. A. C. Unegbe – Lagos

Lt. Col. J.T. Pam – Lagos

NOTE: Lt. Col. Largema was the CO of 4th Battalion NA stationed at Ibadan. On 15th January 66, however, this officer was on temporary duty at Lagos, staying at the Ikoyi Hotel

22. For the actual execution of the plan, three commanders were nominated, namely:

a. Northern Nigeria Major C.K. Nzeogwu

b. Lagos Area Major E. A. Ifeajuna

c. Western Nigeria Captain E. N. Nwobosi

23. The latter officer was not a member of the inner circle and was not approached until either the 13th or 14th January 66. He was, however, well known to the conspirators who were certain that when the time came he could be relied on to cooperate.

24. The execution of the plan was to take place in three areas only, i.e. Kaduna, Ibadan and the Lagos area, although many of the participants believed the insurrection to be nation wide. It is a matter of established fact that no violent action took place in either Benin City or Enugu. It has been suggested that these areas were spared because the plotters found it impossible to recruit reliable co-conspirators in these regions. None of the officers has indicated under interrogation that any efforts to recruit collaborators in either Benin or Enugu were made. Indeed subsequent action of some of the leading officers indicated collaboration with the then Premier of Eastern region.

25. For the purposes of this report, the execution of the plan is dealt with in three main sections, namely Lagos Area, Ibadan and Kaduna. Each section is divided into incidents, showing the identities of officers and men involved.


26. The execution of the plan commenced by the calling of a meeting late on 14 January 66 of the Lagos members of the inner circle and, for the first time, of junior officers previously selected to take an active part. A number of those present had attended a cocktail party that very evening in the house of Brigadier Mai-Malari in Ikoyi. The following attended this meeting which was held in the Apapa House of Major Ifeajuna:

a. Major EA Ifeajuna

b. Major CI Anuforo

c. Major D Okafor

d. Major A. Ademoyega

e. Major IH Chukwuka

f. Captain O Oji

g. Captain GS Adeleke

h. Lt. G. Ezedigbo

i. Lt. BO Oyewole

j. 2/Lt. ES Nweke

k. 2/Lt. BO Ikejiofor

l. 2/Lt. NS Wokocha

m. 2/Lt. Igweze

27. Major Ifeajuna tended to the gathering regarding the matter of the disintegrating circumstance in Western Nigeria to which, he battled, the government officials had neglected to discover an answer. He included that subsequently the whole nation was making a beeline for disarray and debacle. He next familiar the lesser officers with the internal circle's arrangements and inquired as to whether they were set up to help to put a conclusion to this situation. Major Ifeajuna claims that all present swore their help for his arrangements except for Captain Adeleke who was, in any case, later influenced to join. It was clarified to these lesser officers that the individuals who were not with the backstabbers would be viewed as being against them and might endure demise as an outcome. 

28. At the point when, toward the finish of the gathering, unmistakably all present were in help of the resistance, assignments and targets were issued as pursues: 

a. Kidnapping of the Prime Minister and the Federal Finance Minister: Major Ifeajuna, 2/Lt. B. Oyewole, 2/Lt. Ezedigbo 

b. Slaughtering of Colonel Mohammed and Lt. Col. Unegbe: Major CI Anuforo, 2/Lt C. Ngwuluka 

c. Murdering of Brigadier Mai-Malari: Major D. Okafor, Capt. O. Oji, 2/Lt. C. Igweze 

d. Murdering of Lt. Col. Pam: Major IH Chukuka, 2/Lt. G. Onyefuru 

e. Control of the Control Room at FT Police HQ Lion Building: 2/Lt NS Wokocha 

f. Control of P and T Telephone Exchange: , Lt. PM Okocha, 2/Lt. CC Anyafulu 

g. Control of N.E.T. Building: 2/Lt DS Nweke 

Be that as it may, there were evident a minute ago difference in the plans as will be appeared in this paper. 

29. Troops chose for these different assignments were to be drawn from the accompanying units (all positioned or suited at Apapa and Dodan sleeping quarters, Ikoyi): 

a. No. 1 Signal Squadron 

b. Camp – HQ 2 Brigade NA 

c. Lagos Garrison Organization 

d. The Federal Guard Unit 

30. The Federal Guard Officers Mess at Ikoyi was named as the encouraging point for all groups on finishing of their undertakings. 

31. Every single other officer and different positions to be included, either deliberately or unknowingly in the activities were gotten out for supposed Internal Security tasks among midnight and 0100 hours to permit time for the issue of arms and ammo and the arrangement of the vital transport. Except for different positions of the Federal Guard, they were altogether requested to answer to Headquarters of No. 2 Brigade NA in fight request, with their arms. Ammo was issued to them by Lt. Okaka, helped by Major Ifeajuna, RSM Ogbu of Camp 2 Bde and others. 

32. Officers and men got off to their different assignments at around 0200 hours as arranged. 


33. The gathering accused of the kidnapping of the Prime Minister (PM) left HQ 2 Bde at around 0200 hours. The accompanying have been recognized as individuals from that gathering: 


a. Significant EA Ifeajuna (in order) 

b. 2/Lt. G. Ezedigbo (Federal Guard Unit) 

c. 2/Lt. Oyewole (2 Brigade Transport Company) 


NA 84254 Cpl C. Madumelu 

NA 18149591 L/Cpl . O. Achi 

NA 18159447 S/Sgt. A. Ogbogara 

NA 18150401 Sgt. L. Onyia 

NA 500147 Sgt. BS Odunze 

NA 18150392 Sgt. F Impete 

NA 18150400 Sgt. I Ndukaife 

NA 1856 Sgmn. S. Onwuli 

NA 18149817 Cpl. P. Okoh 

NA 18149084 Cpl. U Eduok 

NA 18150345 Cpl. Z. Chukwu 

NA 18150206 L/Cpl FI Okonkwo 

NA 3775 Sgmn FN Chukwu 

NA 18150443 L/Cpl RC Amadi 

NA 18159121 WO II J Onyeacha 


NA 3339 Pte NA Evulobi 

NA 18150137 L/Cpl S. Kanu 

NA 502724 WO II L. Okoye 

NA 124643 WO I (RSM) J. Ogbu 


NA 504299 Sgt. J. Nwakpura 

NA503865 Sgt. B. Iberesi 

NA 149820 Sgt. E. Okonkwo 

NOTE: The above named were not all, of need, specifically engaged with the snatching of the PM. Various them worked on the premises of the Federal Finance Minister, neighboring the habitation of the Prime Minister 

34. The little escort achieved the Onikan indirect at around 0230 hours and ended close to the PM's home. Major Ifeajuna requested all troops to leave their vehicles and separated them into three gatherings with focuses as appeared: 


Real EA Ifeajuna – in direction 

Sgt. B. Iberesi 

Sgt. J. Nwakpura 

Sgt. BS Odunze 

Cpl. P. Okoh 

Cpl C. Madumelu 

Sgmn FN Chukwu 

Sgmn. S. Onwuli 

2/Lt. Oyewole 


2/Lt. G. Ezedigbo – in direction 

WO I (RSM) J. Ogbu 

L/Cpl FI Okonkwo 

Cpl. Z. Chukwu 

Cpl. U Eduok 

Sgt. F Impete 

S/Sgt. A. Ogbogara 

Sgt. I Ndukaife 

WO II L. Okoye 


WO II J Onyeacha – in direction 

L/Cpl RC Amadi 

Pte NA Evulobi 

L/Cpl S. Kanu 

Sgt. E. Okonkwo
35. The last gathering was given the assignment of halting and turning back all vehicles drawing nearer Onikan street. There is no record concerning their guidelines with respect to what move they were to make in case of any of the drivers declining to comply with the request to turn back. 

36. The Major thumped on the door and was replied by a policeman who was alert inside. The Major recognized himself as an Army Officer whereupon the PC (Police Constable) allowed them get to. The Major asked the PC what number of men were wary with him and was informed that there were six. The Major at that point requested the PC to demonstrate where they could be found. 

The PC concurred whereupon the Major grabbed his rifle and passed it to one of his men. The PC at that point drove the gathering to round up the rest of the individuals from the Police protect. At the back of the house, ie. at the spring side, they found a PC furnished with a rifle and joined by a Police hound. The Major arranged the PC to surrender his rifle, which he would not do. He was then smacked in the face by Sgt. Odunze whereupon he gave in and surrendered his gun. 

Major Ifeajuna requested Sgt Odunze and Cpl. Okoh to stand protect over the PC and his pooch with requests to shoot both on the off chance that they made an endeavor to slip off or raise the caution. The various individuals were incapacitated and taken to the primary door where they stayed protected by Sgt Iberesi and 2 others. They were altogether educated that they would be shot on the off chance that they endeavored to escape or raise the caution. 

37. Major Ifeajuna and few of his men at that point moved toward the back access to the Prime Minister's habitation having verified the police deliberate, and the stewards in custody, and broke into the parlor and thus to the Prime Minister's room. A voice from within asked who was there. The Major answered by kicking the entryway open, going into the room and pointing his weapon at the Prime Minister and from that point drove out the PM wearing a white robe with white pants and shoes. The PM was then driven away by Major Ifeajuna along Awolowo Road where Ifeajuna had left his vehicle contiguous the Onikan pool. 


38. On landing in the Onikan indirect, at around 0230 hrs on 15 Jan 66, Major Ifeajuna separated his power into three gatherings as appeared in para 34 of this report. Major Ifeajuna and his gathering continued towards the PM's home and 2/Lt Ezedigbo took his men to the compound of the Finance Minister. When they touched base at the front door, they discovered this bolted and were constrained to obtain entrance by hopping over the divider. Inside they found various non military personnel watches, around 5, who were outfitted with bows and bolts. These offered no obstruction and were incapacitated and set under watchman. Somewhere around one policeman was experienced in the compound. He also was incapacitated and escorted to the 3-Ton truck by RSM J. Ogbu. 

39. 2/Lt Ezedigbo then endeavored to open the front entryway yet observed this likewise to be bolted. He broke one of the sheets of glass in the entryway with his SMG yet even neglected to open the entryway which he at long last separated by kicking it with his boot. He at that point entered joined by the accompanying different positions: 

WO II L Okoye 

Sgt. I Ndukaife 

Sgt. E. Okonkwo 

Cpl. U. Eduok 

Sgt. F. Impete 

Prior to entering 2/Lt Ezedigbo requested his men to walk discreetly and to make no commotion, a fairly unnecessary alert considering the clamor which more likely than not been made when the entryway was torn open. They mounted the stairs to the primary floor. Having touched base there, the 2/Lt posted one man on the gallery and 3 on the arrival. 

40. The officer at that point yelled twice "Okotie-Eboh", turn out". At the point when this met with no reaction he entered a room where he found the Minister dressed just in an undergarment. He requested the Minister to go before him down the stairs, and the Minister was escorted to the 3-Ton lorry. Bits of gossip that the Minister was beaten and generally abuseed while in transit to the vehicle have been forcefully denied by all who participated in the activity. 

41. While the Finance Minister was being stacked into the 3-Tonner, the PM was escorted from his home and set into Major Ifeajuna's vehicle. 2/Lt Ezedigbo joined Ifeajuna while the ORs (different positions) returned their separate vehicles. The escort at that point got off to the Federal Guard Officers' Mess, ceasing in transit at a point in Ikoyi where Major Ifeajuna and 2/Lt. Ezedigbo executed Brig. Mai-Malari. (editors remark: Maimalari had gotten away from the group that had been sent to slaughter him at home) 


42. In the interim Major CI Anuforo, helped by 2/Lt. C. Ngwuluka and the accompanying different positions: 

NA 173629 WO II B. Okugbe – No. 1 Signal Sqn 

NA 18149383 Sgt. J Oparah – No. 1 Signal Sqn 

NA 1641 Cpl. C. Egwim – No. 1 Signal Sqn 

NA 18149792 Cpl. E. Nwoke – No. 1 Signal Sqn 

NA 18150530 L/Cpl. J Nwankpa – No. 1 Signal Sqn 

NA 18151259 Pte C. Unegbu – Military Hospital, Yaba 

continued in the two private autos of Anuforo and Ngwuluka to No. 1, Park Lane Apapa, the living arrangement of Colonel K. Mohammed. This was then being watched by unarmed nursing orderlies of a Field Ambulance positioned in Apapa. 

43. On landing Major Anuforo requested all his gathering to leave the autos, which had prevented some separation from the house. They at that point progressed towards the house driven by Major Anuforo. They were tested by Pte L. Onyegbule, at that point on sentry-go. Major Anuforo advised the sentry to "shut up" and to set up his hands. The Major at that point gave requests that the sentry and the other 3 individuals from the gatekeeper be united together in one spot in the authority of Pte. C. Unegbu, who despite the fact that an individual from a restorative unit, was then carrying weapons. 

44. Major Anuforo then went to the front entryway of the house and thumped. No doubt he got an answer, since he was heard yelling "You initially turned out and see who is thumping". With the Major at this stage was WO II B. Okugbe. When he got no further solution to his thumping, Anuforo requested his men to chicken their weapons. He at that point kicked open the entryway and entered joined by Cpl. E. Nwoke, WO II Okugbe and Cpl Egwim. 

45. The house was sought until the Colonel was found, in night clothing, in his room. The Colonel was constrained out of the house by Major Anuforo and alternate positions who had went with him, and put into Anuforo's vehicle. It is trusted that before being put into the vehicle, the Colonel's wrists were tied with a rifle sling which was still set up when later, his dead body was found along the Abeokuta street. 

46. Prior to leaving, Major Anuforo taught the Colonel's watchman to come back to their unit and not to examine what they had seen with anybody. Sgt. J Oparah and Cpl. E. Nwoke couldn't get into the vehicle of Major Anuforo due to the nearness of the Colonel and were odered to pursue by walking to the place of Lt. Col. Unegbe, arranged on Point street, Apapa, not exceptionally far away. 

47. On landing in Lt. Col. Unegbe's home, Major Anuforo went into the house alone. They heard SMG fire inside the compound and were later arranged to draw out the dead body of the Lt. Col. 

48. While the men were inside gathering Lt. Col. Unegbe's body, Col. Mohammed was constrained to leave the vehicle by Major Anuforo. The last advised the Colonel to state his petitions as he would have been shot. The Colonel did not argue for kindness or criticize in some other way, however discreetly asked until he was shot in the back by Major Anuforo, utilizing his SMG. 

49. Colonel Mohammed's body was stowed into the boot of Major Anuforo's vehicle while the collection of Lt. Col. Unegbe was put on the floor in the back of the vehicle. Anuforo and his men at that point entered the vehicle which was driven directly to the Federal Guard Officers' Mess. At the Mess the two bodies were emptied on the ground. 

Proceeded in Part Two 

Spilled [Police] Special Branch Report: 

"Military Rebellion of fifteenth January 1966" 

Part II 

By Nowamagbe Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC 


This is the Police Report on the official examination concerning the upset of 15 January 1966. It was set up by Police Special Branch Interrogators dependent on meetings with troopers, different positions and a few officers who had been captured after the rebellion. 

None of the warriors and officers included had come to formal preliminary in a court-military as of the season of the July 29 1966 "counter-upset". In reality the reality they were not court-martialed was one of the complaints recorded by those officers who did the lamentable activities of July 28-August 1, 1966. 

The upset report was discharged to not many people in Nigeria and certain remote governments toward the beginning of August 1966 – and after that spilled. The rest of the report which supposedly ensnared certain different people has evidently never been discharged broadly right up 'til today. It exists, we are on its trail – and will distribute it immediately. 



50. Major Chukuka helped by 2/Lt G Onyefuru and alternate positions 

NA 160152 Sgt. NN Ugongene – No. 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 18150196 Sgt. H. Okibe – No. 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 154544 Sgt. B. Anyanwu – Camp – HQ 2 Bde NA 

NA 403298 Sgt. L. Egbukichi – Army HQ (LGO) 

NA 18150416 Sgt. P. Iwueke – HQ 2 Bde NA 

had by then achieved the capture of Lt. Col. JY Pam and was being protected inside a landrover in the Mess premises. Majors Chukuka and Anuforo had a concise discourse after which the two Majors entered the Landrover. The driver was arranged to continue to Ikoyi. 
51. At a point inside Ikoyi the landrover was halted and the two Majors dropped. Major Anuforo requested Lt. Col. Pam to leave the vehicle, which he did. Major Anuforo then addressed him and revealed to him that he would have been slaughtered and would do well to say his supplications first. Lt. Col. Pam argued however Major Anuforo stayed inflexible, expressing that he was doing orders. At that point without notice Major Anuforo terminated a burst from his SMG into Lt. Col. Pam's body slaughtering him on the spot. 

52. Major Anuforo then arranged the NCOs in the landrover to descend and stack the dead body into the vehicle. The men, who were stunned and startled by the murdering were hesitant to agree to this request and wouldn't leave the vehicle until Major Anuforo pointed his SMG at them and compromised to slaughter them except if they did as they were told. They at that point obeyed and stacked the cadaver. The gathering at that point drove back to the Federal Guard Officers Mess where the body was off-stacked and put nearby the groups of Col. Mohammed and Lt. Col. Unegbe. 


53. The death of Brigadier Z. Mai-Malari as initially considered in the backstabbers Master plan fizzled. 

54. Major DO Okafor and Captain Oji were available at HQ 2 Bde when troops were being assembled and issued with arms and ammo. At the point when these courses of action had been finished these two officers entered Major Okafor's own vehicle joined by the accompanying ORs from No. 1. 

Flag Squadron: 

NA 500611 L/Cpl B Okotto 

NA 18150074 L/Cpl P Esekwe 

55. They drove direct to the Federal Guard Unit in Dodan Barracks, Ikoyi, where, meanwhile, Lt. Ezedigbo and 2/Lt. Igweze had awakened extra troops and masterminded the issue of arms and ammo. When the troops were prepared for the affirmed IS tasks, Major Okafor and Captain Oji had landed at the military quarters and were at the Unit guardroom. Major Okafor requested that troops mount into 2 Federal Guard Landrovers nitty gritty for the task by Ezedigbo 

56. Government Guard work force point by point for this activity were the accompanying: 

NA 3785 Sgt. SA Umch 

NA 18150997 Sgt. N. Ibundu 

NA 18149870 L/Cpl N. Noji 

NA 3995 L/Cpl HH Okeke 

NA 18149870 L/Cpl P. Nnah 

NA 1706 Pte. J. Ogu 

NA 18149723 Pte. S. Squeeze 

NA 18141571 Pte. I. Onoja 

NA 18148787 Pte. JF Enunehe 

NA 18149970 Pte. J Abaye 

NA 3695 Pte. CS Dede 

NA 18151261 Pte. S. Adekunle 

57. The accompanying vehicles were utilized: 

Landrover NA 773 – driven by Pte. I Onoja 

Landrover NA 957 – driven by L/Cpl N. Noji 

58. The gathering drove direct to the place of Brigadier Z. Mai-Malari at 11 Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi. This is a corner house and arranged at the point where Brown street keeps running into Thompson Avenue. On landing in their goal, the troops were gotten off and partitioned into three areas directed as appeared: 

No. 1 Section – Captain Oji 

No. 2 Section – 2/Lt C Igweze 

No. 3 Section – Sgt. SA Umch (available for later)
59. The save segment under Sgt. Umch was requested to take post in a dull spot inverse the house. The three officers, trailed by their men at that point entered the compound which was monitored by NCOs and men of the 2 Battalion NA. Major Okafor requested the Sentry to call the Guard Commander whom he educated that the circumstance was awful and that he, Okafor, had come to assume control over the gatekeeper. He educated the Guard Commander to collect his men and to take them back to his unit. The Guard Commander, as per a portion of the ORs grilled, answered that he couldn't comply with this request as he had gotten no directions with that impact. Major Okafor and Captain Oji overruled the Guard Commander's complaints and entered the compound 

60. While Major Okafor was pre-busy with the gatekeeper the phone in the ground floor parlor of the Brigadier's home began to ring. A portion of the men present, including 2/Lt. Igweze, have expressed that the Brigadier came down the stairs to pick up the phone. No sooner had he gotten the collector than a burst of SMG fire was heard in the compound. This was Captain Oji terminating at an individual from the Brigadier's Guard, a L/Cpl of 2 unit. The L/Cpl was slaughtered and his body later set into Major Okafor's Landrover. In the meantime, L/Cpl Paul Nwekwe of 2 Brigade Signal Troop who was on gaurd in the front of the principle entryway to the compound, was hit in the neck by a shot, thought to be a richochet. 

61. Brigadier Mai-Malari, alarmed to the nearness of Major Okafor's power in his compound by Captain Oji's blasted of flame dropped the phone and, trailed by his better half, was watched running into the kid's quarters. From that point he got away into the street, and it is thought, endeavored to advance toward the Federal Guard Barracks. 

62. As indicated by the ORs cross examined, Major Okafor flew into a wrath when he found that the Brigadier had gotten away and sharply accused the men of the Federal Guard for not shooting the Brigadier when they saw him running towards the kid's quarters. He at that point requested all present that the Brigadier must be shot without hesitation. 

63. Major Okafor then hopped into the landrover driven by L/Cpl Noji. He educated 2/Lt Igweze that he would get "that man" and to organize more troops to go to the Brigadier's House. He drove around the territory for quite a while however neglected to discover the Brigadier. When he came back to 11 Thompson Avenue, Major Ademoyega and Captain Adeleke had touched base there in a landrover driven by L/Cpl D. Omeru. 

Major Ademoyega had effectively educated Captain Oji that the Brigadier had been executed and that he had seen his body at the Federal Guard. Chief Oji was caught disclosing to Okafor that "the Jack had been slaughtered". It is assumed that by "the Jack" Oji implied the Brigadier. Major Okafor then educated the troops with him that Brigadier Mai-Malari had been executed by men from another unit. 

64. The time, by at that point, was almost 0400 hrs. commander Oji was arranged by Major Okafor to continue to second Battalion in Ikeja to check the circumstance there. The Captain left in landrover NA 773 joined by Sgt. H. Irundu, L/Cpl H Okeke, Pte. S. Adekunle and Pte. I Onoja. 

65. As expressed somewhere else in this report, Major Ifeajuna and his escort, after the snatching of the PM and the Finance Minister, drove towards the Federal Guards Officers mess where he made a short stop and after that continued toward Ikoyi Hotel, still with the PM in the vehicle. At a point in the Golf course, neighboring an oil station Brigadier Mai-Malari was strolling towards Dodan Barracks when he saw Major Ifeajuna's vehicle. The Brigadier perceived his Brigade Major Ifeajuna and yelled and coaxed him to stop. At that point Ifeajuna ceased the vehicle and joined by 2/Lt Ezedigbo went towards Brig. Mai-Malari and slaughtered him. 

66. After the Brigadier had been executed, his body was stacked into the 3-Tonner and headed to the Federal Guard Officers' Mess. 


67. Despite the fact that not at first alloted to Major Ifeajuna as an objective for death, Major Ifeajuna continued to Ikoyi Hotel to murder Lt. Col. Largema. On landing in the lodging Major Ifeajuna told the secretary on obligation that he had an earnest message for Lt. Col. Largema of Room 115. 

The time was somewhere in the range of 0330 and 0400. He at that point requested that the inn assistant supply him with the ace key which can open all entryways in the lodging yet was informed this was not accessible. He at that point requested the secretary to lead him to the room in which Lt. Col. Largema was staying, cautioning the secretary in transit that he would be shot on the off chance that he wouldn't consent to whatever he may be requested to do. 

68. On their entry on the primary floor Major Ifeajuna, joined by 2/Lt Ezedigbo trained the inn secretary to thump on the entryway of Lt. Col. Largema and to advise him that he was needed on the phone. It ought to be called attention to here that rooms in this lodging have no phones. There are arranged in little niches in the passageways. On account of Room 115, the phone recess is just a couple of paces away. 

69. Lt. Col Largema reacted and turned out wearing night robe and somewhat bewildered by rest. Meanwhile the two furnished warriors had ventured once again into the corner close to the lifts from where they couldn't be seen by Lt. Col. Largema when he left his entryway. The Lt. Col. at that point got the collector, which was free. As of now both the officers close to the lift started shooting with their SMG. Lt. Col. Largema tumbled down and kicked the bucket. 

70. The executioners went ground floor and called the third man to come up. Among them they at that point conveyed the dead body down the stairs and stored it on the floor. They at that point called one more trooper from the Mercedes vehicle who helped the other three to convey the body to the vehicle. The entire party at that point drove off. 

71. At the point when Major Ifeajuna and gathering came back to the Federal Guards Officers' Mess he discovered that the GOC was around the local area and was sorting out second Battalion NA at Ikeja to assault the renegades. He was then joined by Major Okafor and they drove off together in Major Ifeajuna's vehicle. 

At the Yaba Military Hospital they dropped 2/Lt Ezedigbo who had been injured in the experience with Brigadier Mai-Malari. The time was around 0400 hrs. Major Ifeajuna headed out on to the Abeokuta street. In transit they ceased and Ifeajuna solicited the PM out from the vehicle whence he shot and slaughtered him. When he and Okafor turned into sure that the PM was dead they left the body in the shrub at a point past Otta on the Lagos to Abeokuta street. They at that point opened the boot of the vehicle and dropped the collection of Lt. Col. Largema close to that of the PM. 

They at that point drove on to Abeokuta. In transit after Abeokuta two different fighters in the vehicle were dropped and advised to discover their way back to Lagos while Ifeajuna and Okafor continued to Enugu. They arrived Enugu at around 1415 hours and continued to the Premier's Lodge where they had exchange with Dr. MI Okpara, at that point Premier of Eastern locale, after which they isolated and sought total isolation. Ifeajuna in the end disappeared to Ghana where he was gotten by the previous President Kwame Nkrumah who sent him to Winneba to remain with SG Ikoku. 

72. At the Federal Guard Officers' Mess the cadavers of Brigadier Mai-Malari, Col. Mohammed, Lt. Col. Pam and Lt. Col. Unegbe were stacked into a 3-tonner lorry in which was sitting Chief Okotie-Eboh still alive. The time was then around 0330 hours. 

73. At this point Major A. Ademoyega and Major CI Anuforo were available on the Mess premises. Major Ifeajuna having left, these two officers took order of his men and vehicles. They mounted into Major Anuforo's Peugeot vehicle joined by 2/Lt Igweze. Major Ademoyega entered the landrover. 

74. On the directions of Major Anuforo, the little caravan got off with Anuforo driving. They navigated Lagos and came Abeokuta street. At a given point, unidentifiable by the men examined, Major Anuforo ceased the guard and he, 2/Lt Igweze and Major Ademoyega left their vehicles. They went to the tailboard of the 3-Ton truck and point by point various men to take position in front and to the back of the guard with guidelines to stop and turn back all moving toward traffic. 

75. Major Anuforo then arranged the four bodies to be emptied onto the street. The bodies were then conveyed into the bramble on the left hand side of the street. Major Anuforo then watched FS Okotie-Eboh still situated in the truck and made the inquiry: "Who is that man"?, which prompts the conviction that, up to that point, Anuforo was ignorant of the nearness of Okotie-Eboh in the truck. The Finance Minister answered "I am Okotie-Eboh". 

Major Anuforo then arranged the Minister to venture down. The last went along, whereupon Major Anuforo educated him that he would have been shot. The Minister started to argue for his life. This met with practically zero reaction from Anuforo who is accounted for as having limited himself to expressing that he was acting compelled. The Minister was then compelled to go into the shrub, pushed along by Major Anuforo and Major Ademoyega and pursued by 2/Lt Igweze and Sgt. Ndukaife to the spot where the collections of the 4 senior officers had been kept. Touching base there, decisively, Major Anuforo executed Okotie-Eboh with a short burst from his SMG. 

77. Major Anuforo then came back to the street pursued by the others however leaving 2/Lt Igweze, Cpl. Egwim, L/Cpl Nwankpa and Cpl. Nweke on gatekeeper over the five bodies. 

78. The guard drove off and returned later, joined by 3 Ferret scout vehicles which had been acquired from 2 reconnaisance Squadron at Abeokuta. Four spades were brought out from the landrover and used to burrow graves for the entombment of the carcasses. The graves were burrowed by Cpl. C. Egwim, Cpl Z Chukwu, L/Cpl J Nwankpa and private N.A. Evulobi. At the point when this undertaking had been finished, they all boarded their separate vehicles and drove off to Lagos. 


79. These three cases have been dealt with mutually as they are of lesser significance and in light of the fact that the officers and men included left Apapa together in a similar vehicle 

80. Despite the fact that it is plausible that the officers worried in the control of these powerless focuses were completely mindful of the reason for their exercises of that night, they have all denied this. It is sure that none of the ORs included got any development data regarding this matter. 


81. After the conveyance of arms and ammo at HQ 2 Brigade, 2/Lt PN Okocha and 2/Lt OC Anyafulu were apportioned a Landrover and 3 Ors and trained to continue to the P and T Exchange by Major A. Ademoyega and to hold up there until he, Ademoyega, went along with them 

82. They drove there and, in the wake of sitting tight for an extremely brief time, Major Ademoyega touched base in another Landrover joined by different officers and men. The Major went directly to the principle entryway and thumped. The entryway was opened by one of the representatives and Major Ademoyega, 2/Lt Okocha and 2/Lt Anyafulu entered, joined by the Ors. The Major sent the 2/Lieutenants upstairs with requests to cut down every one of the specialists from the Exchange, while the 3 warriors were requested to watch the three passage entryways of the building. 

83. At the point when every one of the laborers were gathered, Major Ademoyega tended to them and requested them not to pass any calls. He consoled them that there was no risk and prompted them not to freeze. He revealed to them that he was leaving the two 2/Lts and the troopers at the Exchange to guarantee that his requests were complied. In the wake of addressing the officer responsible for the trade, Major Ademoyega taught the 2/Lts not to attack any of the laborers leaving directions that they should not leave there until he, Ademoyega, came back to gather them. 

84. Neither of these officers have conceded that they found a way to guarantee that the programmed trade would stop to work. A programmed trade does not rely on any human office to keep working and it must, in this manner, be acknowledged that one of these officers meddled with the establishment. 

85. At 0500 hours 2/Lt Okocha grumbled that he was unwell and left in the landrover that had brought them there. 2/Lt Anyafulu and the 3 ORs stayed in the trade until around 0645 hours. Seeing no indication of Major Ademoyega, Anyafulu wound up stressed. The laborers of the day move started to arrive yet were kept from entering by the troopers. He at that point chose to come back to his unit. He gave the fighters some cash to empower them to go back to Apapa by transport. He also came back to Apapa in a business transport and stayed in his office until captured. 


86. After the dispersion of arms and ammo at HQ 2 Brigade, Major A. Ademoyega requested the accompanying officers and ORs to enter with him into a landrover driven by L/Cpl Umoru:
Chief GS Adeleke 

2/Lt NS Wokocha 

2/Lt ES Nweke 

NA 18149089 Sgt. E. Ogbu – Army HQ (LGO) 

NA 18150419 Cpl. H Nwegu – 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 504344 Cpl. B Nwuogu – Army HQ (LGO) 

NA 18150320 L/Cpl R Ejimkonye – 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 504221 Sgt. F Agonsi – 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 18151015 Sgt. F. Squeeze – 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 18150647 Cpl. JC Iroegbulam – 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 1810641 Cpl. Esonu – 1 Signal Squadron 

NA 18150599 Cpl. D. Oharuzike-1 Signal Squadron 

87. From Apapa the gathering drove directly to Lion Building where 2/Lt ES Nweke, Sgt. E Ogbu, Cpl. H Nwegu, Cpl B Nwuogu and L/Cpl B Ejimkonye left the vehicle and entered the building. Major Ademoyega addressed the officer in control and requested him to stop accepting or transmitting all messages. He presented 2/Lt Nweke as the officer who might make sure that his requests were complied. Major Ademoyega and Capt. Adeleke then headed out. 

88. 2/Lt. Nweke posted his men in key positions to counteract anybody entering or leaving the building and stayed inside the working with L/Cpl Ejimkonye to guarantee that no messages were gotten or transmitted. The gathering stayed there until 0820 hours when, without any further directions, 2/Lt Nweke and his men ventured out to the Federal Guard Barracks in Ikoyi by taxi. On entry there they were captured. 

89. There is no uncertainty that 2/Lt Nweke was completely mindful of the way that his control of the NET was associated with the defiance of which he was educated at the gathering of officers late on 14 Jan 66 in Major Ifeajuna's home in Apapa. 



90. As appeared in section 85 of this report, Major Ademoyega, joined by 2/Lts Wokocha and Nweke left HQ 2 Brigade at Approximately 0200 Hours in a landrover driven by LCpl Umoru, which likewise contained 9 ORs 

91. They touched base at Lion Building around 0220 hours where Major Ademoyega, 2/Lt Wokocha, Sgt. F Agonsi, Sgt. F. Squeeze, Cpl Iroegbulam, Cpl S. Esonu and Cpl. D. Ohazurike left the vehicles and entered the building. Cpls Ohazurike and Esonu were posted down the stairs at the security work area. Major Ademoyega addressed the policemen on obligation there and revealed to them that they were locked in on military activities. He requested them not to pick up the phone nor transmit any phone messages. The two corporals were told to guarantee that the police complied with the Major's requests. 

92. Major Ademoyega, 2/Lt Wokocha and the others at that point continued upstairs to the Police Control Room. Here they discovered 4 PCs and one WPC on obligation. A SPO, rank not distinguished was additionally on obligation there. Major Ademoyega addressed the police and requested them not to get or transmit any phone or radio messages. He educated the SPO that they were occupied with military tasks and that the troopers were there to secure the Police. 

93. At roughly 0320 hours. The GOC, Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi landed at Lion Building in a Jaguar vehicle. He entered the hall grasping a gun and asked the two fighters on obligation what they were doing there. They answered that they didn't have even an inkling why they were there and that they had been brought by Major Ademoyega. They additionally told the GOC that 2/Lt. Wokocha and some others were upstairs. The GOC at that point requested Cpl. Esonu to go up and to cut down the 2/Lt. Esonu agreed however couldn't discover the control room. He descended again and educated the GOC of his disappointment. 

94. The GOC, in the wake of having asked the men to which unit they had a place, at that point requested them to come back to their garisson huts quickly. He included that he didn't have even an inkling what was going on yet that he was turning out 2 Battalion to assault the men at that point connected on unlawful activities in Lagos. After this, the GOC left. 

95. Cpl. Ohazurike then arranged Esonu to go upstairs once more, joined by a PC, to discover 2/Lt Wokocha and to let him know of the visit of the GOC. Esonu went along and passed the message to 2/Lt Wokocha. The last at that point concluded that it is savvies to conform to the GOC's requests. He gathered every one of his men and went to the Ministry of Defense where he prevailing with regards to acquiring transport to take the whole back to Apapa where they touched base around 0430 hours. 




96. As has just been illustrated, Captain E. Nwobosi, OC 2 Field Battery NNA, was taken into the certainty of the plotters either on 13 or 14 Jan 66, while he was going to a Brigade Training Conference at Apapa. Amid the evening of 14 Jan 66, he was given a lot of composed guidelines by Major Ifeajuna. 

It is likely that these guidelines incorporated the capture of the Premier and Deputy Premier of the West and a request to convey these VIPs to the Federal Guard Officer's Mess. The guidance likewise presumably incorporated a request to make game plans for a 105 mm Howitzer to be conveyed to Lagos after the activity. This composed guidance has not been recouped and was most likely demolished by Capt. Nwobosi after his capture. 

97. Capt. Nwobosi was additionally educated by Major Ifeajuna to remain by his phone in Abeokuta to anticipate a message giving the all reasonable and "H" hour. 

98. Capt. Nwobosi came back to Abeokuta, where he landed around 1800 hrs. Since the battery which he instructed was being shaped and had not, so far, been provided with vehicles, Capt. Nwobosi went to 2 Recce Squadron, additionally positioned at Abeokuta, where he addressed Capt. Remawa and 2/Lt. Orok. 

He gave them a message indicating to have originated from Major OBIENU, CO 2 Recce Sqn, educating these two officers to supply him, Nwobosi, with one 3-Ton truck and a landrover. Capt. Remawa concurred and game plans were made for the vehicles to answer to Nwobosi at midnight, with drivers. Later that night, Capt. Nwobosi got a phone call from Major Ifeajuna giving him the all unmistakable and giving "H" hour as 0200 hours. 

100. Around midnight, Capt. Nwobosi, woke up 2/Lt. A. A. O. Egbikor of his unit and Sgt. T. Ibolegbu, the acting Battery Sergeant Major (BSM). He requested the last to turn out 25 men for IS tasks and to tell the Battery Quartermaster Sergeant (BQMS), Ambrose Chukwu, to set up all the Unit's load of little arms and ammo for prompt issue to the men. Despite the fact that Capt. Nwobosi claims that he gave no hint to anybody about the night's activities, the cross examination of the ORs included has clarified that around 1930 hours he taught certain key NCOs to remain by for IS tasks. 

101. After the men had been energized, they were issued with arms and ammo by the BQMS. A sum of 15 SLRs and 12 Sterling SMGs were issued. The two officers drew SLRs. Whenever issued, each SLR magazine contained 20 rounds of ammo, while each SMG magazine contained 28 rounds. 

102. After the issue of arms, the men currently walked to the procession ground where they were tended to by Capt. Nwobosi who educated them that they were continuing to Ibadan for I.S activities. The men were then arranged to enbus. At the point when this was finished the vehicles contained the accompanying staff:
(1) Landrover 

Capt: E.Nwobosi 

NA 504197 BQMS A. Chukwu 

NA 2630 Gnr. D. Odiachi 

NA 3330 Gnr. I. Ajao 

NA Gnr. S. Adefi 

NA 5117 Lbdr E. Uloh 

NA 5479 Gnr. R. Nwabuisi 

NA 5145 Gnr. B. Akau 

Driver: NA 2215 Tpr. A. Itodo (2 Recce Sqn) 

(2) 3-Ton Truck 

2/Lt. A.A.O. Egbikor 

NA 502193 Sgt. T. Ebelegbu {acting BSM) 

NA 18147640 Sgt. M.E. Ogaga 

NA 4175 Gnr. G. Njeku 

NA 4266 Gnr. B. Ifezue 

NA 18144875 Lbdr. A. Aghar 

NA 5792 Gnr. (lllegible) 

NA 3208 Gnr. J. Echenim 

NA 4195 Gnr. O.Onyekwe 

NA 4337 Gnr. S. Ukelenye 

NA 18151782 Gnr. B. Mba 

NA 5498 Gnr. R. Gbongbo 

NA 3094 Gnr. D. Ugbemoiko 

NA 5789 Gnr. 0. Dasheet 

NA 5675 Gnr. J. Gwaske 

NA 4338 Gnr. s. Anukam 

103. At the point when all were situated, the caravan got off to Ibadan. While still in Abeokuta, Capt. Nwobosi halted to get a pregnant lady in labor and take her to the closest clinic. After this occurrence, the guard proceeded on its way continuous, achieving Ibadan around 0200 hours as arranged. 

104. They drove directly to the P and T programmed phone trade in Agodi, where Capt. Nwobosi and 2/Lt. Egbikor requested every one of the workers to leave the building, trusting this would stop all phone correspondence all through Ibadan. In the occasion, this was not the situation, as the programmed trade kept on working and phone correspondence proceeded healthy for the duration of the night. 

105. From the P&T the power headed to the Eleyele ECN Power Station. Here the representatives were requested to stop the generators and to leave the building. Some of the workers won on Capt. Nwobosi to give them a lift into the town. He obliged and dropped them close Dugbe Market, on his way to the place of R.A. Fani-Kayode. 

106. Touched base at the Deputy Premier's living arrangement, the 3-Tonner stayed outside and the landrover crashed into the compound. Of two policemen on gatekeeper at the entryway, one got away and the other was overwhelmed and put into the landrover. Various people accepted to have been hooligans were found in the compound, however these stole away when they got a quick look at the equipped fighters. 

107. Every one of the men were requested to take up cautious positions around the house. Capt. Nwobosi then yelled "Fani-Kayode: Come down you are for legitimate capture by the military". A voice from upstairs answered certifiably to the Captain's summons, however nothing blended. Nwobosi rehashed his call on more than one occasion and in the long run terminated a round from his SLR into the ground. At the point when this neglected to deliver any response from Fani-Kayode, the Captain requested the accompanying to go with him into the house: 

(1) 2/Lt. A.A.O. Egbikor 

(2) BQMS A. Chukwu 

(3) Gnr. I. Ajao 

(4) Gnr. S. Adefi 

(5) Sgt. T. Ibelegbu 

108. To get access, Capt. Nwobosi was constrained to break a glass board in the entryway with his SLR. He came to in, turned the key and opened the entryway. The little party at that point entered and mounted the stairs where they discovered Fani-Kayode in a room. He raised his hands over his head and said "I surrender". Capt. Nwobosi answered "you have squandered a great deal of time – we could have shot you. This is a legitimate capture by the military". Fani-Kayode was then escorted first floor and put into the landrover after his hands had been bound together, with a rifle sling. From upstairs a-lady's voice was heard yelling "Don't murder him". 

109. Every one of the men were then amassed and mounted into their individual vehicles. They drove directly to Premier's Lodge, coordinated by Fani-Kayode. When they arrived, they needed to overwhelm the police watch comprising of 1 Corporal and 5 PCs. These were put into the 3-Tonner under gatekeeper. The landrover at that point drove in and was stopped confronting the primary passage yard. Right now the security lights were consuming and the hotel crisis generator was running. 

110. The men were arranged around the working in vital positions while Capt. Nwobosi went to the generator space to turn off the lights. While he was there as indicated by the landrover driver, Tpr. A. Itodo, a shot was discharged. It was trusted this was the shot discharged by Capt. Nwobosi, which murdered the generator specialist. His body was later found with a projectile injury in the back of the head. 

111. It is realized that when S.L. Akintola had been educated by the spouse of R.A. Fani-Kayode of what had occurred by phone. Akintola had come back from Kaduna just a brief timeframe before the entry of Nwobosi and his men. He had been toward the North to welcome the Sardauna when the last touched base from Mecca. Akintola more likely than not been additionally alarmed by the upheaval brought about by the overwhelming of the police monitor and the murdering of the generator specialist. 

112. The sum total of what demeanors having been taken, Capt. Nwobosi remained amidst the patio and yelled "Akintola descend – you are for legal capture by the military on requests from HQ 2 Brigade. A voice from upstairs, apparently that of Akintola, answered "Indeed, I am coming" Nothing further occurred. Capt. Nwobosi rehashed his gathers various occasions without response from Akintola. He at that point terminated from his SLR one round at the building. At the point when this delivered no outcome, the Captain requested the accompanying to go with him into the hotel: 

(1) 2/Lt. A.A.O. Egbikor 

(2) BQMS A. Chukwu 

(3} Gnr. S. Adefi 

(4} Gnr. I. Ajao 

{5) Gnr. B. Akau 

(6) Gnr. J. Gwaske 

(7) LIBdr E. Uloh 

113. To get access, Captain Nwobosi was constrained to drive the principle way to the hotel. They all entered and mounted the stairs. On the primary floor they looked through various rooms without experiencing anybody, until they came to S.L. Akintola's room which was bolted. At the point when Nwobosi was going to compel this entryway, Akintola started shooting from inside the live with a SMG, shooting through the shut entryway. This previously burst of flame quickly injured Gnr. S. Adefi in the hand, 2/Lt. Egbikor in the head and Capt. Nwobosi on the left cheek. None of the wounds were adequately genuine to obstruct them. Nwobosi and his men quickly restored the flame while withdrawing down the stairs. They at that point went out in a rush and looked for spread among the flowerbeds confronting the back building. 

114. Two of the men, L/Bdr. Uloh and, Gnr. Ajao stayed upstairs and looked for shelter in one of alternate rooms. Akintola went to the room covering the passage yard and kept on terminating at his aggressors with his SMG without, notwithstanding, hitting anybody. Capt. Nwobosi requested his men to restore the flame which they did, hugely. Akintola kept terminating until he came up short on ammo. 

115. Around this time R.A. Fani-Kayode was heard yelling from the landrover to Akintola asking him to surrender. Akintola, presently unprotected, chose to surrender and was next observed leaving the receiving area, by Gnr. Ajao. At the point when Akintola saw Ajao and Uloh he brought his hand up in surrender and went ground floor. Capt. Nwobosi meanwhile, was heard yelling over and again "bring him out, bring him out". 

116. Capt. Nwobosi then arranged 2/Lt. Egbikor and BQMS A. Chukwu to shoot the Premier. These two started shooting at Akintola with their SLRs, joined, in no time a while later, by Nwobosi himself. S.L. Akintola tumbled down dead or kicking the bucket with a few slugs in his body. 

117. After the slaughtering of Akintola, Capt. Nwobosi amassed his men, discharged the caught policemen and drove off. This time he was participated in the landrover by 2/Lt. Egbikor. They ceased at a circuitous close to the Central Police Station, where Capt. Nwobosi requested Sgt. T. Ibelegbu to continue freely to Abeokuta with requests to gather a 105 mm Howitzer from the battery firearm park together with a group of 12 heavy weapons specialists, and to drive to 2 Battalion, Ikeja. There, Ibelegbu and his gathering were to anticipate the entry of Capt. Nwobosi. 

118. In transit out of Ibadan, R.A. Fani-Kayode asked Capt. Nwobosi to be discharged. The Captain rejected this demand and educated Fani-Kayode that he had requests to convey him to the Federal Guard Officers' Mess in Lagos. 

119. The gathering drove direct to Dodan Barracks where they landed around 0700 hours, having left Ibadan at roughly 0400 hours. On their landing they were altogether captured.
120. The gathering going in the 3-Tonner with the 105 mm Howitzer was captured on landing in 2 Battalion lines, Ikeja. 

Proceeded in Part Three 

Spilled [Police] Special Branch Report: 

"Military Rebellion of fifteenth January 1966" 

Part III 

By Nowamagbe Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC 


This is the Police Report on the official examination concerning the upset of 15 January 1966. It was set up by Police Special Branch Interrogators dependent on meetings with troopers, different positions and a few officers who had been captured after the revolt. 

None of the troopers and officers included had come to formal preliminary in a court-military as of the season of the July 29 1966 "counter-overthrow". Without a doubt the reality they were not court-martialed was one of the complaints recorded by those officers who did the appalling activities of July 28-August 1, 1966. 

The upset report was discharged to not many people in Nigeria and certain outside governments toward the beginning of August 1966 – and after that spilled. The rest of the report which purportedly embroiled certain different people has evidently never been discharged generally right up 'til the present time. It exists, we are on its trail – and will distribute it immediately. 



121. Major C.K. Nzeogwu of the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) at Kaduna was named by the "internal hover" as the administrator of the insubordination in the North. The way in which this was to be sorted out seems to have been left completely to him. 

122. The record does not demonstrate that any officers, other than Major Nzeogwu, in the North were taken into the certainty of the internal circle. It is, be that as it may, plausible that some time before the resistance Major Nzeogwu acquired the co-task of Major T. Onwatuegwu and Captain G. Ude, both of the NMTC. 

123. Though in the West and in the Lagos territory military developments by night were not uncommon because of the irritated conditions at that point winning, this was not the situation at Kaduna. It was, subsequently, important that a spread be accommodated the proposed insubordinate exercises, in the meantime making an explanation behind bringing troops out of sleeping shelter by night without alarming the senior officers of 1 Brigade to Nzeogwu's goals. 

124. It has been built up that Military night practices in the Kaduna territory, sorted out by the NMTC, at that point under the order of Major Nzeogwu initiated toward the beginning of December 65, paving the way to Exercise Damissa on 13 and 14 Jan. 66. By then the number of inhabitants in Kaduna and the Police were acclimated with troop developments after dim. 

125. The ground breaking strategy of the inward circle made arrangement for the capture of various driving political identities who were not to be slaughtered except if they offered opposition. This may well have been valid to the extent the West, Mid-West and the East were concerned. In perspective on Major Nzeogwu's exercises at the Premier's Lodge in Kaduna, in any case, it is felt that this officer had no goal of complying with these choices however was resolved, from the begin, to murder the Premier of the North at any expense. 

Section 111-EXECUTION: 

126. The subtleties of activity DAMISSA are not important to this report. Get the job done it to state that the night exercise of 13 Jan 66 occurred in the zone of the Ministers' quarters in Kaduna, though that of 14 Jan 66 was held in the shrubbery somewhere in the range of 5 or 6 miles outside Kaduna along the Zaria street. 

Units included 

l27. On 14 Jan 66 troops from the accompanying units partook in Exercise DAMISSA: 

(1) third Battalion NA - "C" Company 

(2) N.M.T.C. 

(3) No. 1 Field Squadron NAE 

(4) No.2 Field Squadron NAE 

(5) 1 Brigade Transport Company NASC 

(6) lst Field Battery NAA 

Arms and Ammunition 

128. Troops continuing on military preparing practices by night or by day were regularly issued with their arms, either without ammo or with spaces. 

129. To the extent can be built up, this training was first strayed from on Jan 13 66 when, at roughly 0900 hours Major Nzeogwu gave the Acting RQMS of the NMTC, Ssgt. J. Daramola, a rundown of live ammo required for Exercise DAMISSA. This NCO gave the rundown to Cpl. E. Aiyikere, the arms storeman, with guidelines to draw this ammo from the NMTC Magazine at Kawo. This was done and the ammo was issued in mass at roughly 1730 hours on 14 Jan 66 by Ssgt. Daramola and CMS Oko (likewise of NMTC). 

130. This rundown of ammo issued isn't accessible yet it has, in any case, been built up that no less than 6 x 84 mm shots for the Carl Gustav Anti-Tank weapon were issued to Sgt. Yakubu Adebiyi, a teacher in the Tactical Wing of the NMTC. These were stacked into a landrover while the main part of the little Arms Ammunition drawn was stacked into a 3-Tonner driven by NA/18266054 Pte. Lenient Agbe of 1 Bde. Transport Coy. This driver in this manner transported the ammo to the DAMISSA practice region. 


131. Exercise DAMISSA ended at roughly 0130 hours on 15 Jan 66. Around that time all officers occupied with the activity except for the officers of first Field Battery NAA, were called by Major Nzeogwu to go to an "O" Group in the bramble at which, they trusted, the achievement or generally of the activity was to be examined. Distinguished as present at this discourse are the accompanying: 

(1) Major C.K. Nzeogwu )NMTC 

(2) Major T. Onwatuegwu )NMTC 

(3) Captain G. Ude ) NMTC 

(4) 2/Lt. S. R. Omeruah )third Bn NA – "C" Coy 

(5) 2/Lt. D.K. Waribor ) 

(6) Capt. B. Gbulie )at the time in direction of lst and second Field Squadron NAE 

(7) 2/Lt. Ileabachi ) 

(8) 2/Lt. Kpera ) lst Field Sqn NAE 

(9) 2/Lt. P. Ogoegbunam Ibik ) 

(10) Lieut. E. Okafor ) 

(11) 2/Lt. Ezedima ) second Field Sqn NAE 

(12) 2/Lt. H.O.D. EGHAGHA ) 

132. The officers of first Field Battery NAA were not called to the "O" Group for reasons which are not inside and out clear. No immediate use regarding the resistance was made of this Battery that night. 

133. At the point when every one of the officers were collected, Major Nzeogwu tended to then regarding the matter of the quickly breaking down political and security circumstance in the Federation. He asserted that a phase had been come to at which the government officials ought to be advised to stop. To achieve this, he reported, the military had chosen to assume control by power of arms. 

He contrasted the livelihoods of the government officials and those of Nigerian specialists and encouraged the officers to help the disobedience. He further declared that the revolt was occurring at the same time in every single provincial capital and at Lagos and that, hence, they need dread no repercussions because of the exercises in which they were going to take an interest that night. No doubt none of these present raised a contradicting voice. Indeed, their resulting activities appeared, as a rule, energetic help for the arrangement. 

134. Major Nzeogwu then continued to issue set errands to each officer present. Occasions have appeared, accordingly, a minute ago changes in these plans were made. The assignments apportioned have been set up as pursues: 

Control of Vulnerable Points 

135. The officer in by and large charge of this piece of the task was Capt. B. Gbulie. He professed to have dispersed errands as appeared on the off the cuff:
(1) Ammunition Service Depot (ASD) - 2/Lt. Ileabachi 

(2) P and T Telephone Exchange - 2/Lt. P. Ogoegbunam Ibik 

(3) N.B.C. House - 2/Lt. Kpera 

(4) BCNN Radio and TV Station - 2/Lt. Ezedima 

(5) State House - 2/Lt. Okafor 

(6) Road Blocks on Kachia Road close PMF Barracks - 2/Lt. Eghagha 

136. Likewise, Capt. Gbulie was told to stir the accompanying officers to educate them of what was occurring and to request support: 

(1) Capt. P. Anakwe – 1 Bde Staff Capt. "A" 

(2) Major A.A. Keshi – Brigade Major 

(3) Capt. L. Dillibe – 1 Bde Staff Capt. "Q" 

(4) Lieut. J.C. Ojukwu – 1 Recce Squadron NA 

(5) Lieut. Ikeachor 

(6} Lieut. Mohammed Eandiya 

Capt. Gbulie has expressed under cross examination that he conformed to this request and made these officers foregather at HQ 1 Bde where he educated them of the circumstance. 

137. To the extent has been set up, the accompanying officers were then nitty gritty for assignments as appeared: 

(1) Assassination of Alh Sir Ahmadu Bello 

Major C.K. Nzeogwu 

2/Lt. K.D. Waribor 

2/Lt. S.E. Omeruah 

Capt. G. Ude 

(2) Assassination of Brigadier S. Ademulegun 

Real T. Onwatuegwu 

(3) Assassination of Colonel R.A. Shodeinde 

2/Lt. K.D. Waribor 

(4) Abduction of Sir Kashim Ibrahim 

Significant T. Onwatuegwu 

(5) Abduction of Makaman Bida – Regional Finance Minister 

Major C.K. Nzeogwu 

138. After the officers had been advised they were sent to join their men and to continue quickly with the execution of the errands designated to them. It isn't evident regardless of whether Major Nzeogwu educated the officers to illuminate their men of what was in the air. It is sure that the men of third Battalion who were to be utilized for the assault of the Premier's Lodge were not advised. It is similarly sure that Capt. Gbulie tended to every one of the men of the Engineers under his direction and addressed them along the lines in which Major Nzeogwu had advised the officers. 

139. Following the "O" Group, senior NCOs of all units spoke to were sent to the 3~Tonner containing the ammo and request to draw ammo for their men. On account of the "C" organization this raised an issue. The men trusted the activity to be done and various them questioned the motivation behind why they ought to be issued with live ammo. This was disclosed to them by 2/Lt. Waribor who revealed to them that they were continuing on Internal Security Operations. 

140. After the issue of ammo had been finished, the whole power left the activity region and continued to its assigned targets. 

141. The accompanying officers and ORs have been distinguished as having been engaged with the assault on the Premier's Lodge: 


(1) Major C .K. Nzeogwu – NMTC 

(2) 2/Lt. K.D. Waribor – "C" Coy, third BN NA 

(3) 2/Lt. S.E. Omeruah – " 

(4) Capt. G. Ude 

Different positions 

(1) NA 18147406 Sgt. Husa Kanga – NMTC 

(2) NA l8149900 Sgt Yakubu Adebiyi – NMTC 

(3) Sgt Duromola Oyegoke . NMTC 

(4) NA 5888 Pte. Ogbole Agwu – third Bn NA 

(5) NA 2405 Pte Bello Mbulla – third Bn NA 

(6) NA 18151763 L/Cpl . Samuel Amajo – third Bn NA 

(7) NA 18151319 L/Cpl Danyo Mbulla – third Bn NA 

(8) NA 5684 Pte. Abu Odiedier – third Bn NA 

(9) NA 18148998 Pte Lekoja Gidan-Jibrin – third Bn NA 

(10) NA 163287 Cp1. Bako Lamundo – third Bn NA 

(11) NA 5860 Pte. Joseph Wadu Goji - third Bn NA 

(12) NA 1982 Pte. Alexander Agbe – third Bn NA 

(13) NA 18151864 Pte Lagwin Goshit – third Bn NA 

(14) NA 18266006 Pte Augustine Oguche Agbo – third Bn NA 

(15) NA 634212 Pte Effiong Atkinson – third Bn NA 

(16) NA 18147284 Cpl. Tunana Bangir – third Bn NA 

(17) NA 18l49368 Cpl. Abibo Elf – third Bn NA 

(18) NA 18151873 Pte. Uguman Monogi – third Bn NA 

(19) NA 1562 Pte Felako Kwa – third Bn NA 

(20) NA 18149363 Cpl. Reuben Nwagwugwu – third Bn NA 

(20) NA 502542 Cpl. Yakubu Kaje – third Bn NA 

(21) NA 505092 L/Cpl. Mamis Hundu – third Bn NA 

(22) NA 18151861 L/Cpl Thaddens Thamyil Tsenyi1 – third Bn NA 

(23) NA l8148269 L/Cpl Issna1m Tayapa – third Bn NA 

(24) NA 18148272 L/Cpl Ali Shendam – third Bn NA 

(25) NA 18151771 Pte. Usuman Gabure – third Bn NA 

(26) NA 18149613 Pte Emmanue1 Ekwueme – third Bn NA 

(27) NA 4887 Pte Erastus Nakito – third Bn NA 

(29) NA 3659 Pte Jonathan Anahiri – third Bn NA 

142. At the point when this power left the DAMISSA practice zone, it was driven by Major Nzeogwu who was going in a landrover joined by a driver and two OR's. He was trailed by another landrover containing Sgts. Adebiyi, Manga and Oyegoke who were outfitted with two 84mm Carl Gustav Anti-Tank Guns and 6 shots. 

143. Following this were various different vehicles, landrovers and 3-Tonner containing 2/Lts. Waribor and Omeruah and troops from "C" Coy third BN NA. 

144. On landing in the primary entryway to the compound, Major Nzeogwu discovered 4 PCs on watchman before the door. They were the accompanying:

(1) No.8301 L/Cpl. Musa Nimzo

(2) No. 10674 PC. Akpan Anduka

(3) No. 18913 PC Hagai Lai

(4) No. 18920 PC Peter Attah

145. Major Nzeogwu, who was equipped with a sterling SMG, requested the constables to confront the divider. Attah consented to this request yet the three others cannot. Right away, Major Nzeogwu quickly started shooting at them with his SMG murdering each of the three on the spot.

146. Following the executing of the policemen, Major Nzeogwu requested the two men with the firearms and the 3 NMTC Sergeants to tail him into the compound, carrying with them the Carl Gustav firearms and the shots for these weapons.

147. Quickly inside the compound, Major Nzeogwu positioned the Carl Gustavs approximately 10 yards separated confronting the cabin. The heavy armament specialists were Sgts. Oyegeke and Manga, while Sgt. Adebiyi went about as ammo number. When the two weapons had been stacked, Major Nzeogwu requested the NCOs to start shooting at the Lodge. Both terminated their shots blasting inside the ground floor rooms of the building. Sgt. Adebiyi expressed that he at that point kept running towards Sgt. Manga to enable this NCO to reload.

While he was with Manga he heard Major Nzeogwu yelling over and over "Flame you knave, fire". Following this both Manga and Adebiyi heard a burst of SMG fire. They turned round and watched Sgt. Oyegoke drooped on the ground seeping from different injuries. It was obvious to both that their associate had been murdered by Major Nzeogwu either to will not obey or on the grounds that he endeavored to flee.

143. After the slaughtering of Oyegeke, Major Nzeogwu requested Sgt. Adebiyi to assume control over Oyegeke's weapon and to keep shooting at the house. Both Adebiyi and Manga, startled by Oyegoke's murdering, kept on terminating as requested. They utilized a sum of 5 shots. Therefore the building burst into flames.

149. While this was occurring, 2/Lst. Waribor and Omeruah had touched base with the men from third BN who were quickly sent around the external edge mass of the cabin. Despite the fact that these men heard the blasting of the Carl Gustav shots, the SMG and SLR shoot and the shouting of ladies and kids inside the compound, they were in no situation to see what was going on.

150. 2/Lt. Waribor, while conveying his men, educated them to shoot anybody they watched endeavoring to leave the compound. Various regular people, including ladies, be that as it may, were seen running and crying and Major Nzeogwu terminating at them with his SMG.

151. NA 502342 Cpl. Yakubu Kaje of third BN NA reports that, at a given minute, he watched a non military personnel leaving the Lodge outfitted with a sword. The corporal and the men with him halted the non military personnel and requested him to drop the sword. Right now, as per the corporal, Major Nzeogwu touched base on the scene and asked the regular citizen, in Hausa, for the whereabouts of the "ace of the house". The man answered that he didn't have even an inkling, whereupon Major Nzeogwu compromised to murder him except if he drove him to his lord. The man at that point concurred and drove Major Nzeogwu to the back of the building. A shortwhile a while later, the corporal states, he heard various shots discharged. Expecting that Kaje is coming clean, it is likely that the Sardauna of Sokoto kicked the bucket right then and there.

152. Cpl. Kaje has additionally revealed that when the terminating stopped, Major Nzeogwu originated from the compound and was met at the door by 2/Lt. Waribor, who asked the Major: "Did you get the man?", to which Nzeogwu replied, "Yes". At the point when Major Nzeogwu left the compound he expressed for all to hear, happily, "I have been effective, he is dead".

153. It has not been conceivable to build up the conditions in which the senior spouse of the expired Premier was slaughtered. The equivalent applies to the passing of one Zaruni, the Premier's own body-watch. It is assumed that they passed on in the meantime as the Premier.

154. With respect to the slaughtering of Ahmed Ben Musa, Senior Assistant Secretary (Security) before the Lodge, none of the men examined has confessed to having seen this. Ahmed Ben Musa was shot dead in his vehicle by various unidentified officers, having landed at the Premier's Lodge in the wake of being cautioned by the police. Apparently the fighters had arranged Musa to head out however he couldn't do as such for some unexplained reason. They at that point murdered him.


155. The accompanying have been distinguished as having been engaged with the killing of this senior officer and his significant other at No.1, Kashim Ibrahim Road, Kaduna at roughly 0200 hours on 15 January 1966:-

(1) Major Timothy Onwatuegwu (NMTC)

(2) NA 18265005 Spr. Yakubu Dungo 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(3) NA 18266079 L/Cpl . Lawrence Akuma 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(4) Spr. Raphael O1atunde 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(5) James Aluta 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(6) Emmanuel Udo 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(7) Simon Agi 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(8) Felix 0. {Snu) 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE {now NMTC)

(9) L/Cpl . Mu1i {Snu) 2 Fd. Sgn. NAE {now NMTC)

(10) NMT Cp1. Yakubu Bako 1 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(11) Spr. Mathew Asanya 1 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(12) Joseph Odion 1 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(13) Spr. Henry Va1ia 1 Fd. Sgn. NAE

(14) NA 18149929 Pte. Geofrey Eborendu 1 Bde. Tpt Coy NASC

156. After the preparation at the DAMISSA "O" Group by Major Nzeogwu at 0130 hours l5 Jan 66, Major Onwatuegwu entered a landrover driven by No. NA 18149929 Pte. G. Eberandu of Bde. Tpt. Bashful. Except for L/Cpl. Lawrence Akuma every one of the men referenced were made to enter this vehicle and another landrover.

157. Before leaving the activity region these men drew ammo from the 3-Tonner as of now alluded to in this report. They had just been informed as what was normal from them that night by Capt. Gbulie, the OC. The two vehicles at that point got off to the intersection of the Lagos Zaria streets where they ceased. Here the men from one of the landrovers were exchanged to a 3-Tonner while the vacant landrover containing just the driver and L/Cpl. Muli was despatched to the Air Force Base by Major Onwatuegwu.

158. Whenever L/Cpl. Muli restored, the escort, presently comprising of 2 landrovers and one 3-Tonner, continued to the habitation of Brigadier Ademulegun. At some separation from the house, differently assessed at somewhere in the range of 100 and 400 yards, every one of the three vehicles halted. Major Onwatuegwu requested a segment of men under L/Cpl. Muli to go with him towards the house.

159. The Brigadier's home was protected by L/Cpl. Lawrence Akuma and three sappers of 2 Field Squadron NAE. At the point when the Major and his gathering arrived, L/Cpl. Akuma and the two sappers were on the verandah of the house while one sapper was watching the grounds. The last tested Major Onwatuegwu when he drew closer. He was incapacitated and escorted to the house where he was made to join the gatekeeper authority and the other two individuals from the watchman. They were altogether put in the guardianship of various officers.

160. Major Onwatuegwu, joined by various troopers went into the house. A brief time after this, the watchman heard a few shots discharged upstairs after which the Major and his men returned. The gatekeeper were put into the 3-Tonner truck and headed to HQ 1 Brigade where they stayed until discharged in the first part of the day.


161. The main people decidedly recognized as having been engaged with the homicide of this senior officer are the accompanying:-

(l) Major C.K. Nzeogwu – NMTC

(2) Major T. Onwatuegwu – NMTC

(3) Lieut. G.E. Nwokedi – NMTC

162. It will be reviewed that at the preparation by Major Nzeogwu, it was 2/Lt. Waribor who was dispensed the errand of murdering the Colonel, after the assault on the Premier's Lodge 2/Lt. Waribor has expressed that after the finish of his errand at the Premier's Lodge, he was arranged by Major Nzeogwu to impact the capture of Makaman Bida before continuing to Col. Shodeinde's habitation. He was not able do as such, in light of the fact that he didn't know the location of the Colonel, and along these lines, came back to Brigade Headquarters.

163. Mrs. Shodeinde has expressed that at roughly 0300 hours on Jan 15. 66 she heard the sound of three vehicles ceasing before her home. Quickly a while later she heard a voice which she recognized as that of Major Nzeogwu, calling her significant other's name. The Colonel was sleeping soundly. She left her bed and exchanged on the lights. As she did as such, the men outside began to shoot at the entryways and windows of the house and she was promptly injured in the left hand. The entryway at that point flew open and around ten officers hurried into the room. Among these she recognized Major Nzeogwu, Major Onwatuegwu and Lieut. Nwokedi.

164. At this point the Colonel was conscious and sitting up in bed. Mrs. Shodeinde began to cry and ask for her life. Nzeogwu guaranteed her that they had not come to execute her but rather her better half the Colonel. When she kept yelling, alternate officers shot at her legs, injuring her multiple times.

165. Major Nzeogwu and the others at that point started terminating at the Colonel while still in bed, who tumbled down dead or biting the dust by the side of the bed. Mrs. Shodeinde then fled from the room and kept running for asylum to the hireling's quarters where she stayed until the aggressors left.


Legislative leader OF NORTHERN NIGERIA

166. This snatching was cultivated by the people associated with the death of Brigadier S. Ademulegun. Their names are, in this way, not rehashed here.

167. Subsequent to executing the Brigadier, Major Onwatuegwu requested his men to reemerge their vehicles and drove directly to the Governor's habitation. On landing various men were conveyed around the house while the Major entered joined by various unidentified officers.

168. The house was then being monitored by the accompanying police constables:-

(1) No.11258 PC Benson Sihindatiya

(2) No.185 " Yohana Garkawa

(3) No.1391 " Johnson Lamurde

(4) No.18909 " Warzar

169. At roughly 0245 hours Major Onwatuegwu and his gathering achieved the living arrangement, as per PC Lamurde. The Major was then in the landrover. The principal landrover containing somewhere in the range of 7 men ceased. The man hopped out and overwhelmed the PC on obligation. The Major at that point entered the building.

170. While the Major and his gathering were inside, the military work force who stayed outside the building heard a burst of SMG fire. It is sure that this blasted of SMG fire murdered PC Yohana Garkawa. PC Sihindatiya was incapacitated by 4 warriors and hauled to the police monitor room where he saw the dead collection of PC Garkawa. The officers pointed at the body and said "Do you see your sibling?". They at that point taught him to lead them to the room of the Governor. When he expressed that he didn't have even an inkling where the Governor was resting they undermined to murder him. At that point, in any case, the Governor had been found by different troopers achieving the living arrangement. He was brought out and made to enter the 3-Tonner and was headed to HQ 1 Brigade.

171. At the same time with the Governor, his two ADC's Messrs. Noman Dikwa and Garba Lango, were kidnapped and headed to 1 Bde HQ in the landrover containing Major Onwatuegwu.

Kidnapping OF MAKAMAN BIDA –


172. This endeavored kidnapping (or death) fizzled on the grounds that the Minister was not in his home that night, having headed out to Bida, the place where he grew up, the earlier day. The occurrence is, nonetheless, worth revealing, in light of the fact that amid the hunt of the Minister's home one man, Ahmadu Pategi, a Government driver, was executed by Lieut. Waribor who confused him with the Minister.

173. Among those taking a functioning part in this occurrence the accompanying have been recognized:-

(1) 2/Lt. Waribor – NMTC (different names are messy)

174. After the fulfillment of the task at the Premier's Lodge, 2/Lt. Waribor met Major Nzeogwu close to the principle access to the Lodqe. The Major had been injured amid the assault and had bloodstains on the correct side of his face and his shirt. The Major arranged Waribor to take his company to the place of Makaman Bida, to capture the Minister and to take him to Brigade Headquarters.

175. Waribor consented to the request, and drove directly to the Minister's home. On entry he conveyed his men around the house and brought in a noisy voice upon the Minister to surrender. This brought no response so he constrained open the entryway with the expectation of looking through the house. Right now Major Nzeogwu arrived. The Major arranged Waribor to look through the ground floor while he, joined by various men from third Brigade NA went upstairs.

176. Waribor's pursuit ground floor demonstrated pointless. He gathered around 3 house hirelings and addressed them with regards to the whereabouts of their lord. They guaranteed that the Minister had headed out to Bida and was returning toward the beginning of the day. While he was scrutinizing the workers outside the house, Waribor watched a man running from the house with his face secured.

Trusting this to be the Minister, Waribor terminated at the man and executed him. He at that point went to the body, and in the wake of expelling the fabric from the man's face, found that he was mixed up. It was later settled that the body was that of Ahmadu Pategi, a Government driver appended to the Minister.

177. Major Nzeogwu, having neglected to discover the Minister upstairs at that point descended and enquired from Waribor why he had terminated his SMG. Waribor clarified after which Nzeogwu requested him to go with him to the place of Colonel Shodeinde, who as per the arrangement was to be slaughtered that night. The Major at that point drove off before Waribor got an opportunity to amass his men and to mount into the vehicles. Since Waribor did not know Col. Shodeinde's location and the Major had withdrawn without him, he had no real option except to come back to Brigade Headquarters.


178. This was done by the officers named in passage 135 of this report without creating any occurrence important to this enquiry. 2/Lt. H.O.D. Eghagha whose assignment it was to set up a barrier on the Kachia Road close to the Police Mobile Force Barracks was told to keep the PMF from going into Kaduna. This, it is thought, suggested that he and his men were to assault the PMF should they move out in quality. It has been set up, be that as it may, that 2/Lt.

Eghagha taught his men not to attack the PMF as these were excessively very few to influence really the defiant activities of that night. Most of the Northern PMF were, around then, serving in Western Nigeria.


179. In spite of the fact that not specifically engaged with any of the episodes investigated in this record, there is no uncertainty that the Nigerian Air Force assumed a nearly imperative job in the insubordination under the direction of 2/Lt. Godfrey Ikechukwu Amuchienwa of the Military Training and Security Squadron NAF at Kaduna.


In the early long periods of January 15, 1966, refering to a clothing rundown of objections against the political class, there was a military insubordination in Nigeria against the principal republic. Led by a gathering of Majors who were overwhelmingly of eastern cause, the Prime Minister, a government serve, two territorial premiers, alongside best Army officers were severely assassinated.A number of regular people were likewise killed.

The upset prevailing in Kaduna, the northern district capital, flopped in Lagos, the government capital, and in Ibadan, the western local capital, however scarcely occurred in Benin the midwestern capital, and Enugu the eastern capital.

Most of those killed were northerners, joined by a few westerners and two Midwesterners.No easterner lost his or her life.On January 16, as opposed to endorse the arrangement of Zanna Bukar Dipcharima, a lawmaker of northern root, as acting Prime Minister, the acting President, Nwafor Orizu, himself of eastern cause, gave over capacity to Major-General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, the GOC of the Nigerian Army, likewise of eastern birthplace. This was purportedly at the command of the backside bureau, supposedly to empower Ironsi put down the revolt which, starting at that point, had just flopped in southern Nigeria.Until it ended up clear as of late in isolated declaration by Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Richard Akinjide, it had dependably been openly expected in the lay Press that the hand-over was intentional albeit unlawful – since no such arrangement existed in the Nigerian constitution.However, it seems that as far back as 1969, Martin Dent brought up the automatic idea of the alleged hand-over in a scholastic paper, in view of a meeting with Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno.

In July 2000, at an open book propelling service in Nigeria, Chief Richard Akinjide expressed:

"Chatting on the principal upset, when Balewa got missing,

we knew Okotie-Eboh had been held, we knew Akintola

had been executed. We, the individuals from the Balewa bureau

begun meeting. In any case, how might you have a bureau

meeting without the Prime Minister acting or Prime

Priest managing. Along these lines, consistently, we selected

acting Prime Minister among us. At that point we proceeded

holding our gatherings. At that point we got a message that we

should all gather at the Cabinet office. All the

Priests were asked for by the G.O.C. of the Nigerian

Armed force, General Ironsi to collect. What was astonishing at

that time was that Ironsi was going all over Lagos

unarmed. We gathered there. Having selected ZANA

Diphcharima as our acting Prime Minister in the

nonappearance of the Prime Minister, whose whereabout we

didn't have a clue, we moved toward the acting President,

Nwafor Orizu to swear him in light of the fact that he can't

really go about as the Prime Minister aside from he is

sworn-in. Nwafor Orizu won't. He said he expected to

contact Zik who was then in West Indies.

Under the law, that is, the Interpretation Act, as

acting President, Nwazor Orizu had every one of the forces of

the President. The GOC said he needed to see all the

bureau clergymen. Thus we collected at the bureau

office. All things considered, I have perused in numerous books saying that we

given over to the military. We didn't hand-over.

Ironsi disclosed to us that "you either hand over as men of honor

or then again you hand-over by power". Those were his words. Is

that deliberate hand-over? So we didn't hand-over. We

needed an Acting Prime Minister to be set up however

Ironsi constrained us, and I utilize the word drive thoughtfully,

to handover to him. He was controlling the troopers.

The acting President, Nwafor Orizu, who did not

collaborate with us, participated with the GOC. Dr. Orizu

what's more, the GOC arranged discourses which Nwafor Orizu

communicate giving over the administration of the nation

to the military. I here state again completely as a

individual from that bureau that we didn't hand-over

deliberately. It was an overthrow. "

Substantiating Akinjide's record, as per Shehu Shagari, in his Book "Allured to Serve",

"… … .… .At about 7.00 am, I come back to Dipcharima's habitation to meet with some NPC priests who had assembled there. Dipcharima was then the most senior NPC serve accessible. We got the most recent reports on the circumstance, first from Alhaji Maitama Sule, Minister of Mines and Power, who had visited the PM's living arrangement by bike! We at that point got notification from Alhaji Ibrahim Tako Galadima, the acting Minister of Defense, who had carried alongside him Chief Fani-Kayode.

Boss Fani-Kayode said he had been gotten from Ibadan early that morning by dissidents and bolted up at the Federal Guard Officers Mess in Dodan Barracks, where the double-crossers at first made their base camp. Masked in armed force uniform, faithful troops gave him over to Alhaji Galadima, who had brought in at the military enclosure, which was a short distance of his home… … .The acting Minister of Defense guaranteed us that Major-General Ironsi was doing his best to capture the circumstance.

Maitama Sule and I were independently nitty gritty to investigate with our missing NPC and NCNC associates the likelihood of naming somebody to remain in for the PM. I was counseling with NCNC clergymen at Dr. Mbadiwe's habitation when we heard that the Northern and Western premiers, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Akintola individually, had been killed. Thus I hurried back to Dipcharima's living arrangement, where I found my associates in a condition of stun and franticness.

Be that as it may, we chose to perceive Dipcharima, a Kanuri from Bornu, as our interval chief; and to ask the acting President, Dr. Orizu (President Azikiwe was away on leave), to designate Dipcharima acting Prime Minister. We likewise called Major General Ironsi and gave him full expert to utilize each power available to him to stifle the resistance. He moved his central station briefly to the police home office at moloney road to encourage simple correspondence with armed force units in the areas.

While at Dipcharima's living arrangement, we reached the British High Commission and asked for military help with the occasion that our faithful troops ought to require any. The reaction was certain, however the British demanded that the demand must be composed by the PM; or, in his nonappearance, by an appropriately named agent. We, in this way, headed to the habitation of Dr. Orizu, and asked for him to delegate Dipcharima acting head administrator. Dr. Orizu asked for to see our NCNC associates to affirm whether they bolstered our recommendation, and they went along with us soon subsequently. They had evidently been caucusing at Dr. Mbadiwe's living arrangement. He (Mbadiwe) was their decision of acting Prime Minister. This was normally unsuitable to us since the NPC was the real overseeing gathering.

While we were at Orizu's living arrangement, Major-General Ironsi, who had apparently verified Lagos, came in with some furnished escorts. He asked for a heartfelt chat with Orizu. The two had a 40 minutes exchange in another room, while we held up tensely in the parlor, with the outfitted officers standing and gazing at us. At the point when Major-General Ironsi at long last rose, he conversed with Dipcharima sotto voce; and after that drove off with his troops. Dr. Orizu then gone along with us, lamented his powerlessness in the conditions to oblige our demand. He recommended we as a whole come back to our homes and hold up until we were required. All endeavors to get any elucidation fizzled, and we left in absolute edginess.

I was going to break the Ramadan quick on Sunday sixteenth January, when all pastors were approached to answer to the Cabinet Office at 6.30 pm. The entire premises was encompassed by troopers in fight request that a few of us at first delayed to enter. In the Cabinet chamber were Major General Ironsi, Bukar Dipcharima and Ibrahim Tako Galadima. There were no authorities present.

Significant General Ironsi admitted to us that he had been not able smother the resistance, which he said was escaping hand. He expressed that the double-crossers were responsible for Kaduna, Kano and Ibadan, and had murdered two provincial premiers, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Akintola. They had likewise killed some of his best officers, including Brigadiers Maimalari and Samuel Adesujo Ademulegun, the Commander first Brigade Headquarters in Kaduna. Ironsi was loaded with feeling and even shed a few tears. When we got some information about the whereabouts of Sir ABubakar and Chief Okotie-Eboh, he said despite everything he didn't have the foggiest idea however affirmed endeavors were being made to find them. At this stage Mbadiwe separated and continued crying: "Please where is the Prime Minister?"

When we reminded Major-General Ironsi in the event that he expected to profit himself of the British promise of help, he answered it was past the point of no return as the military was squeezing him to accept control. In fact, he admitted his own hesitance to assume control in view of his obliviousness of government; yet demanded the young men were resolved and restlessly holding up outside. He prompted it would be to our greatest advantage, and that of the nation, to briefly surrender capacity to him to turn away debacle. As needs be, we agreed to his demand since we had no better option. Ironsi then demanded that the comprehension be composed.

Shockingly, there was no stationery to compose the understanding; and every one of the workplaces were bolted while no authority was near. Alhaji AGF Abdulrazaq the Minister of State for the Railways (previous NPC lawful counsel), figured out how to verify a piece paper on which he drafted an announcement, which we embraced. That was the alleged intentional hand-over of intensity by the Balewa Government to Major General Ironsi! It was concurred that the announcement would be composed and Dipcharima would sign it for our benefit. We were then encouraged to return home and anticipate further guidelines. I just got the opportunity to break my Ramadan quick around 9:30 pm.

Later at 11.50 pm, Dr. Orizu made a brief across the nation communicate, reporting the bureau's willful choice to exchange capacity to the military. Significant General Ironsi then made his own communicate, tolerating the "welcome". He suspended certain parts of the constitution; set up a national military government, with the workplace of military governors in every area; and quickly plot the strategy goals of his routine. Nigeria's first fair examination was viably finished. Furthermore, in spite of the fact that the rebellion had by then for all intents and purposes fallen, military principle had arrived. It was a reality.

The next morning, 17 January, Alhaji Kam Salem, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (at that point likewise multiplying for the Inspector-General, Mr. Louis Orok Edet, while traveling), called at my home to trust that both the PM and Chief Okotie-Eboh had been affirmed executed. He at that point indicated that Major General Ironsi was all the while consulting with the revolutionaries in Kaduna, driven by Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu"

At that point Lt. Col. (later General) Gowon, who was not physically introduce when the back end bureau was giving over, says he was later told by Ironsi and different officers (who were outside the bureau office chambers, and along these lines did not themselves witness the event)that it was voluntary.He approached three separate occasions to be sure, however at this point says that had he realized it was not, he would have acted contrastingly on that day as the Commander of the second Battalion at Ikeja which upheld Ironsi in putting down the Ifeajuna-Nzeogwu revolt.

The substantive President, Nnamdi Azikiwe, likewise of eastern starting point, had left the nation in late 1965 first for Europe, at that point on a wellbeing voyage to the caribbean, after supposedly being tipped off by his cousin, Major Ifeajuna, one of the geniuses of the overthrow and, some state, by and large leader.Interestingly, (expecting reports that he had foresight are valid) Azikiwe did not inform his collusion accomplice, the Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, with whom he had conflicted over control of the military amid the Constitutional emergency of January 1965, after the disputable December 1964 government elections.

Truth be told President Azikiwe's own doctor, Dr. Humphrey Idemudia Idehen, surrendered him abroad when he became weary of the "wellbeing trip", having come up short on his own estacode stipend, uninformed that there may have been a valid justification why Azikiwe did not have any desire to come back to Nigeria, after their unique arranged return date in December 1965 passed.Not even the Commonwealth Leaders' Conference facilitated out of the blue by the nation toward the beginning of January was motivation enough for the President to return, for evident reasons of protocol.However, after the upset, in an announcement to the Press in England on January 16, in addition to other things, Azikiwe did not censure the overthrow in essence, however stated:

"Savagery has never been an instrument utilized by us, as establishing fathers of the Nigerian Republic, to take care of political issues. … .I think of it as most appalling that our 'Young Turks' chosen to present the component of vicious upheaval into Nigerian legislative issues. Regardless of how they and our overall population may have been incited by tenacious and maybe getting a handle on legislators, it is an incautious strategy… … ..As far as I am concerned, I respect the killings of our political and military pioneers as a national disaster… ."

Major Ifeajuna was later to be charged by Major Patrick Nzeogwu, pioneer of northern activities, of blundering or overlooking an evident comprehension to kill General Ironsi in Lagos – an oversight, or "misinformed thought" (to utilize Nzeogwu's words)that caused the disappointment of the coup.Indeed, Nzeogwu obtusely proclaimed openly that the execution of the upset in the South was tribalistic.Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi (rtd), pioneer of tasks in the Western district, has since supported the view that tasks in Lagos were undermined by nepotism.For this and different reasons, throughout the years, a few examiners have come to see Nzeogwu, who was enrolled two entire months after the plot was at that point in advancement, as an apparatus in a plot he never completely understood.Indeed, in offering sympathies for the demise of the Sardauna of Sokoto, ex-Senate President Nwafor Orizu told Alhaji Shehu Shagari that Major Nzeogwu was "an obscure element among the Ibos (sic) in the Eastern locale."

The individuals who have protected the January rebellion as being propelled by nationalistic, as opposed to inborn impulses, state Ironsi got away in light of the fact that he hosted gone for a get-together on a Boat along the Marina that night and was not at home when double-crossers supposedly came calling. Dubious clarifications exist for why the Igbo speaking Premiers of the Midwest and Eastern districts were saved and no Igbo instructing or staff officer was explicitly targetted. January theological rationalists likewise state that there were a couple non-Igbo officers included (albeit none were endowed with key targets and most were acquired at last). It is contended that the predominantly Igbo talking plotters planned to discharge Chief Obafemi Awolowo (a westerner) from prison in Calabar to make him pioneer. Others decipher a similar data, joined with the exceptionally explicit example of killings, to imply that the overthrow was done by officers thoughtful to the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), in spite of the fact that commandeered by the GOC of the Nigerian Army, perhaps supported by Senate President Nwafor Orizu, and asked on by officers like Lt. Col. Victor Banjo, Lt-Col. Francis Fajuyi, Lt. Col. H. Njoku, Lt. Col. C. O. Ojukwu and Major Patrick Anwunah.

On January 17,Major General Ironsi built up the Supreme Military Council in Lagos and reported Decree No. 1, viably suspending the constitution, in spite of the fact that it was not formally declared until March.Later that day MajorPCK Nzeogwu, the pioneer of the revolt in the northern area arranged a contingent surrender in which Ironsi concurred not to convey the rebels to military trial.The following day, military governors were selected for every one of the four areas (Major Hassan Katsina – North, Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Ojukwu – East, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi – West, and Lt. Col. David Ejoor, Midwest).

Colonel Adeyinka Adebayo was quickly brought once again from the Imperial Defense College where he was experiencing a course.Brigadier Babatunde Ogundipe, recent Chief of Staff, Nigerian Defense Forces, was made Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters.Lt. Col. Yakubu Chinwa Gowon, the most senior enduring northern officer, who was expecting direction of the second Battalion at Ikeja on January 14/15, a unit which demonstrated basic to rebuilding of request in Lagos, was made Chief of Staff (Army).

Other early military arrangements include:

Head of Staff (NAF),Lt. Col.George Kurubo (East, non-Igbo)

Boss, 2 Bde, Lt. Col. H. Njoku (East, Igbo)

Boss, 2 Bn, Major H. Igboba (Midwest, Igbo)

Boss, Abeokuta Garrison, Major G. Okonweze (Midwest, Igbo)

Boss, 4 Bn, Major Nzefili (Midwest, Igbo)

Boss, Federal Guards, Major Ochei (Midwest, Igbo)

Boss, 1 Bn, Major D. Ogunewe (East, Igbo)

Boss, 1 Bde, Lt. ColW. Bassey (East, non-Igbo)

Boss, 3 Bn, Major Okoro (East, Igbo)

Boss, Depot, Major F. Akagha (East, Igbo)

Boss, 5 Bn,Major M. Shuwa (North)

It is said that there was starting rapture by general society, even in the far north, against old ministers.However, there were some early issues as well, which, to observing eyes, were pregnant with foreboding.In his book "Long stretches of Challenge", Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia (rtd) reviews:

"Prior to January 15, 1966, I had felt that the Nigerian trooper was not savage, consequently discounting the likelihood of a bleeding upset. Occasions refuted me and constrained me to change my feeling about the Nigerian soldier.Although the normal man in the city respected the difference in government, celebrated and moved away in euphoric celebration, the environment was damp."

For instance, in the West, AG/UPGA supporters settled scores against supporters of previous Premier Akintola's NNDP, making a noteworthy emergency which developed into a universal displaced person problem.It is said that 2000 outcasts fled over the outskirt to neighboring Dahomey before the fringe was shut from January 16-26.No not exactly a thousand people were executed in the skirmish before Lt. Col.FA Fajuyi, the new military representative, kept enduring NNDP supporters supposedly for their own protection.In the North, there were some quelled early indications of a force among regular citizen first class, while distress stewed in the Army.The net outcome was that Ironsi rapidly felt undermined by Nzeogwu's supporters on one hand, and upset northern troops on the other.


In his book, "No Place to Hide – Crises and Conflicts inside Biafra", Bernard Odogwu, at that point a Nigerian ambassador, however bound to wind up Chief of Biafran Intelligence,reveals that not long after the upset of January 15, 1966 he and a kindred representative called Adamu Mohammed at the Nigerian mission to the United Nations in New York had a candid discourse about it.Odogwu composed that "we were both in understanding that the alleged 'progressives' had performed very gravely, in perspective on the one sidedness of the task and the particularity of the killings."Following this talk Odogwu made a section on January 23, 1966 into his own journal:

"With every one of the profits in, we presently appear to have a total image of the overthrow, the plotters, and the casualties.Reading through the papers, one gets the feeling that this national calamity which is named an "unrest" is being blown enormously out of proportion.It appears to me however, that we have all run wild with celebration in respecting the supposed 'day break of another time' without stopping to consider the conceivable chain responses that may before long pursue… … .I shiver at the conceivable consequence of thisthis imprudence submitted by our young men dressed in khaki.; and what has held ringing a bell since the evening is the entry in Shakespeare's MACBETH – 'And they state blood will have blood'.

First I make this inquiry; 'What will be the situation when the present mass happiness in respecting the 'insurgency' in the nation blurs away?' There is as of now some gossip here inside conciliatory circles that January 15 was a fabulous Igbo configuration to exchange all restriction so as to clear a path for Igbo control of the entire country.What then is the Igbo man's resistance to this charge in light of the sectional and particular technique embraced by the upset plotters?

Albeit, staying here alone as I compose this, I am enticed to state that there was no such Igbo stupendous plan, yet the inevitable truth is that the Igbos are now as a gathering being denounced by the rest for the exercises of a bunch of eager Igbo armed force officers; for here I am, with whatever remains of my Igbo partners, around a huge number of miles from home, yet being put on edge for such activities that we were neither counseled about, nor endorsed of.Our Northern associates and companions presently look on us Igbos here as outsiders and potential foes. They are presently more secluded than any time in recent memory. Their pride is harmed; and who might accuse them?

Furthermore, I put forth the inquiries presented to me this evening by my partner; What might I do on the off chance that I were set in the situation of the Northerner?What do I do?How do I respond to the situation?Do I simply lament and censure those barbarities or do I plan a revenge?I don't reprimand the Northern chaps for feeling so sore since the occasions of the most recent couple of days. They unquestionably have my compassion, for it more likely than not been stunning most definitely, for one to get up one fine morning to discover almost the entirety of one's venerated pioneers gone overnight.But they were not just Northern pioneers accordingly, and I am as much oppressed at their misfortune as some other Nigerian, Northern or otherwise.I am especially stunned at the news that Major Ifeajuna by and by shot and murdered his guide, Brigadier Maimalari.My God!That probably been Caesar and Brutus woken up, with the Brigadier certainly saying 'Et tu Emma' before falling… … "

"… … .As for the new man in charge of undertakings, Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi, he too like most of the Majors is an Igbo, and that has not improved the situation either. … .."

"… … .Granted that he is such a decent trooper as he is rumored to be, the inquiry is: 'Are altogether great fighters essentially great statesmen? Again how very much arranged is he for the errand he has quite recently acquired?' I do trust that he is additionally as astute as he is presumed to be intense, in such a case that you ask me, I think the General is perched on a period bomb, with the breaker nearly consumed out.We will watch out for what comes next straightaway, however from my perceptions, I know the current situation won't keep going long. A northern counter-activity is certainly around the bend, and God spare all of us when it detonates."

Misconception AND SUSPICION

In reality, mistaken assumptions and doubts in Ibadan and Kaduna prompted the passings ofMajor S. A. Adegoke (who was blamed for running a checkpoint yet was really slaughtered on doubt of coordinating with the rebels) and 2/Lt. James Odu separately, a few days after the Nzeogwu-Ifeajuna January uprising had just been put down.In the fourth Battalion at Ibadan, northern troops drove Igbo officers out of the military quarters and would not coordinate with Major Nzefili, a midwesterner from Ukwuani and the 2ic to late Lt. Col Largema, for no other explanation than he was 'Igbo speaking'.Nzefili had literally nothing to do with the January upset and, incomprehensibly, first knew about it through early morning telephone calls to the sleeping quarters from the American and British international safe havens in Lagos searching for information.Nevertheless, after a month, he must be supplanted by Lt. Col Joe Akahan, a Tiv officer from the North, just to assuage the soldiers.In trade, Nzefili was madethe General Manager of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, where had recently worked in the days before joining the Army.

In Kaduna, when Odu was killed by troopers, a few northern officers really fled from the military enclosure, afraid for their lives.In the Federal Guards Company in Lagos, northern general population seething over the job of their leader, Major Donatus Okafor, in the upset, would not acknowledge Major Ochei as their new boss except if Captain Joseph Nanven Garba was redeployed from Brigade HQ and selected his second in command.While this was going on, around 32 officers and 100 different positions were at first kept at KiriKiri jail on doubt of complicity in the overthrow. Skipper Baba Usman, General Staff Officer (II) Intelligence, was selected military contact to the Police and was in charge of transporting them every day to Force Headquarters Moloney where most were interrogatedby a Police group on their part in the coup.This group included Isa Adejo, MD Yusuf, and Mr. Trout, an ostracize who was then Head of Special Branch. At the point when the cross examinations were finished in March the prisoners were dispersed far from one another to different detainment facilities, which were all in the South, yet transcendently in the East – which turned out to be another wellspring of doubt. The report was then submitted to the administration and a board assigned to court-military the prisoners, led by Lt. Col Conrad Nwawo, the midwestern Igbo talking officer and close companion of Nzeogwu who had arranged Nzeogwu's surrender in January.However, even this board found that each time it needed to sit, the date was delayed by orders from Supreme HeadQuarters, a procedure that rehashed itself and again until surpassed by occasions in July.

On Friday January 21, following up on a tip off, the disintegrating carcass of the killed Prime Minster, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and others were found by Police at Mile 27 on the Lagos-Abeokuta road.The just indication that gave away the character of the late Prime Minister's body was the 'frog and harness design' of the white outfit he had worn when captured by Major Ifeajuna.The following day, harmonizing with the moslem celebration of Id-el-fitr, the Prime Minister's passing was authoritatively reported and he was covered in Bauchi.However, the Ironsi government chose not to freely declare the passings of other people who had been killed in the upset, including all the best military officers, leaving space for bits of gossip and innuendos.Indeed their demises were not formally openly declared until Ironsi was toppled.

The state of Ironsi's warning group turned out to be clear as time went on.Chief among them was Francis Nwokedi, previous lasting secretary in the service of outside undertakings, who had turned out to be near him amid his days in the Congo.Others were Pius Okigbo (financial consultant) and Lt. Col Patrick Anwunah who was later Chairman of the National Orientation Committee.However, the greater part of General Ironsi's counselors were nondescript civilians.The most regular objection was that, albeit very qualified and recognized, they were either all Igbos or Igbo speaking.I have no chance to get of checking or disproving this allegation.Knowing how different governments in Nigeria have acted (and keep on carrying on), it is difficult to realize what to mention of these observable facts, however they were recorded by eyewitnesses crosswise over ethnic and local limits.

On February 12, Ironsi took his most touchy choice to date when he made Nwokedi the sole chief forthe foundation of a managerial apparatus for a bound together Nigeria – despite the fact that he officially delegated a different Constitutional Review Panel under Rotimi Williams which had not presented a report.Four days after the fact he declared the Suppression of Disorder Decree offering leniency for military councils and military law.About this time as well, he annulled thecompulsory Hausa language test for passage into the northern common administration – a choice which claimed to non-Hausa talking northerners as well as to southerners looking at northern open administration professions as well.Ironsi additionally approved a counter-revolt crusade against Isaac Boro's "People groups Republic of the Niger Delta".The inner security task in the Kaiama region of present day Bayelsa express that caught Boro was driven by Major John Obienu of the Recce regiment bolstered by infantry components of the first force in Enugu, conspicuous among whom was then Lt. YY Kure.Boro, (alongside Samuel Owonaru, Nottingham Dick and Benneth Mendi) was in the end indicted for treachery and condemned to death just to be discharged by the resulting Gowon routine and kick the bucket battling amid the common war.

The crevices in the commonwealth were winding up progressively glaring.For model, from one viewpoint, Peter Enahoro (Peter Pan) scrutinized Ironsi's hesitation with national issues. On the other, the homicide of northerners in January and absence of arraignment of those dependable was the focal point of progressively strident reviews in Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, a Hausa newspaper.In the foundation, expanding nourishment costs because of the deferred impact of 1965 emergencies in the west on planting was start to influence the costs of sustenance stuffs all over.

Anyway, on February 21st, General Ironsi reported a striking change policy.A few days after the fact on the 25th the previous President, Nnamdi Azikiwe, discreetly came back to the nation, possibly to end up the focal point of contention when in this manner rejected by Lt. Col Ojukwu as Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

On March 7, detecting some warmth, previous driving lawmakers in the Western and Eastern locales were kept, however those of the northern area were disregarded as a result of political sensitivities coming about because of the coup.Indeed, Ironsi tried – eventually lacking – to stroll on eggs with the North.The way his consultants saw it, he had designated and advanced the child of the Emir of Katsina as the new military Governor, discharged NPC pastors who were confined by Nzeogwu in Kaduna,reappointed Sule Katagum to the Public Service Commission and put Malam Howeidy responsible for the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria.In May, among different advancements, he advanced three substantive northern Captains (Ibrahim Haruna of Ordnance, Murtala Muhammed of Signals and Mohammed Shuwa of Infantry) who were then acting Majors to the positions of impermanent Lt. Cols.But he missed the mark on more socially touchy matters.For example,the military legislative leader of the northern district, at that point MajorHassan Katsina, was disheartened by the Ironsi government from going to the memorial service of the late Prime Minister Balewa in Bauchi.Proper funerals were not took into account alternate casualties of the January upset.

On March 31st, military governors were approached to join the bureaucratic official board, in this way amplifying its membership.On April 14, local expert gatherings andlocal government elements in the North were dissolved.By then the idea of unification was earning questionable attention.Mustafa Danbatta and Suleiman Takuma composed solid open letters against unification in April 7 and 19 respectively.Takuma was captured, partially in light of the fact that he raised the touchy issue of attempting the January plotters.

On 12May, proposed Decrees 33 and 34 were talked about by the SMC.Decree No. 33 was a rundown of 81 political social orders and 26 innate and social affiliations that should have been dissolved.Decree No. 34 separated Nigeria into 35 areas and made every single government worker part of a brought together considerate service.It is said that there was restriction and that the last form was watered down.Even at that point, althoughIronsi did not lawfully require endorsement of the SMC for choices, there keeps on being question about whether Ironsi completely valued the profundities of resistance which Decree 34 would make in the North.How vivaciously did Katsina, Kam Salem, and Gowon, for instance, admonish him of consequences?Had he by then moved toward becoming prisoner to a kitchen cupboard outside government?

The appropriate response may have been given by two sources.According to Brigadier Ogbemudia (rtd) who was then Brigade Major at the first Brigade, amid a visit to Kaduna, first Brigade Commander Lt. Col Bassey attempted to encourage General Ironsi to back off from the dubious declaration, yet a non military personnel guide who joined the General answered saying:"Colonel, the General comprehends Nigerians more than you here. You will find that the general population will before long consider him to be the much looked for deliverer of our dreams.Do not stress. Everything is under control."It was asserted that national studies had been done to demonstrate that the declaration was welcome everywhere throughout the country.More as of late General Gowon has said the issue was all the while being examined in the SMC when the legislature abruptly proclaimed the decree.That stated, Eastern district Governor Lt. Col.Ojukwu did not improve the situation for the General when, the following day after declaration on May 24, he freely reported in Enugu that based on rank, Igbo government employees would be exchanged to different locales and Lagos.Needless to state, he accidentally sent shudders through the northern common administration since that district was instructively distraught as well as customarily paid the most minimal pay rates in the league, naturally consigning northerners to the base of any bound together polite administration.

Gotten between radical (master January 15) and moderate (hostile to January 15) polarities, Ironsi could be said to have proclaimed the 24th May announcements to fulfill the extreme scholarly people in the southernpress while anticipating vision, expert and control.But sufficiently amusing the main representative for the January upset, Major Nzeogwu, was later cited amid his last meeting in April 1967 (with Ejindu) as saying the Unification declaration might have been "superfluous, even silly".It is additionally on record that a gathering of instructors at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka contradicted unification.So it would appear Ironsi was reacting to different motivations.

As indicated by Norman Miners, the unitary idea progressed by Ironsi's consultants was almost certain inspired by ideological, individual and financial agendas.In the book "The Nigerian Army 1956-66", he communicates the feeling that the hypothetical establishments go back to the 1951 party congress of the NCNC. In fact, the idea of federalism which we now all sing about, was respected by writers in the West African Pilot in the fifties as a pilgrim "gap and guideline" contraption concocted by Britain as an admission toward the North after the April 1953 uproars in Kano.The second board whereupon unification was constructed was the cost argument.Unification was financially less expensive than different layers of organization in the nation – a position that was contended by Dr. Sam Aluko, an eminent economist.The third board was the individual rationale factor.Unification offered southerners (counting Igbos) immense new business openings in the "northern outskirts". The other side of this was the incitement of dreary dread of control in the North, dread which joined until now opposing northern political bodies electorate.


While the majority of this was going on, grievances about "Igbo incitements", were increasing.Northerners documented reports about gatherings being called by their Igbo associates to celebrate what they called the "January Victory".Offensive photos indicating Major Nzeogwu remaining on the late Sardauna of Sokoto were said to be conveyed in the open including market places.Some Igbos were even asserted to have worn stickers with that impact and were energetic, in discussions with northerners, to point to Nzeogwu saying 'Shi ne maganin ku", signifying "he is the person who can thump sense into you".Grammophone records with automatic weapon sounds were discharged, to remind Northerners, it is stated, of the shots that felled their pioneers in January.Celestine Ukwu, a famous Igbo performer purportedly discharged a piece titled "Ewu Ne Ba Akwa"meaning "Goats are crying" in Igbo (in spite of the fact that there is a record that guarantees that this tune started from a non-Igbo artiste from Rivers).Derogatory comments about Northerners were apparently ordinary, even in Army Barracks.To compound issues, disdain started working against Igbo dealers who had supposedly raised the costs of their foodstuffsto coordinate the increments in the West.All of these components were keenly abused by a far-fetched alliance of disappointed legislators, frivolous contractual workers, promoting board and northern advancement corp debtors,civil hirelings and college understudies of northern inception dreadful of future profession prospects in general society service.As previous President Shehu Shagari place it in his life story "Allured to Serve", … '>From the northern perspective, the ramifications of this as far as appropriation of intensity, the assignment of open assets and conveniences, the possibility of Igbo and southern mastery, and the danger to standard northern lifestyles were unmistakable.'Opposition to unification specifically was initiated by northern understudies and government workers.


Following General Ironsi's communicated on Tuesday night May 24, making Nigeria a Unitary State, at first serene exhibits by government employees and understudies started on Friday May 27.On Saturday May 28 duplicates of the June version of Drum magazine touched base in the North , containing two provocative articles; "Why Nigeria Exploded" by Nelson Ottah which purportedly scorned northern leaders,and "Sir Ahmadu ascended in his covers and talked from the dead" by Coz Idapo, which supposedly highlighted an animation in which the revered late Premier was requesting absolution from Idapo.Some writers have reprimanded these articles for the resulting flare-up of wanton viciousness and barbarity on Sunday May 29 proceeding through to June 4-5 which prompted no less than 600 Igbo passings (as indicated by the London Telegraph), especially in northern areas like Kano, Bauchi, Sokoto, Katsina, and Zaria.Indeed the Hausa expression "A raba" signifying "Let us discrete" may initially have been utilized by Bauchi agitators in May.Interestingly, there were no May revolts in Borno, Ilorin and Makurdi.The riots were especially terrible in Gusau.But in Sokoto township the blend of mediation by the Sultan, the sending of an Igbo commanded portable Police Unit and the choice by Igbo merchants there not to battle back prompted fast adjustment of the circumstance.

One advancement amid the May riots which uncovered the military defenselessness of the Ironsi government was the dread to send troops for inside security duties.Back in March, progressively worried about unsettled northern troops, General Ironsi had issued a request that warriors were not to be issued ammo notwithstanding for target practice.During the May revolts in the north, as a result of the predominance of northerners in the majority of infantry units it was expected that fighters would not take requests to shoot against individual northerners with regards to Igbos.

The Ironsi routine, shaken by the uproars and frightened by its absence of trust in the state apparatuses of pressure, responded to the mobs by blaming outsiders. It expelled Major Boyle (rtd) alongside British correspondents Schwarz and Loshak, and took the placating position that the May orders were just transitional estimates pending the arrival of common rule.The government guaranteed gigantic help to instructively in reverse zones of the Country and sent crusade vans to account for itself in vernacular everywhere throughout the country.Unfortunately, one of the ousted British writers (Walter Schwarz) returned to Britain and composed an article in the Guardian on June 25, titled: "General Ironsi's trust in his companions drives Nigeria back to innate struggle".

On June first, General Ironsi issued orders that anybody showing provocative pictures or singing hostile melodies ought to be captured for affectation and would confront 3 months detainment or 50 pounds fine or both (Decree 40).Realizing the habit of up to this point overlooking customary lines of correspondence, he tried to enroll the help of the Emirs to quiet down the people.During a June 1 gathering of Northern Emirs and Chiefs with Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina, the routine even went similarly as saying that the May orders did not influence the regional divisions of the nation, and guarantee a constituent get together and choice on any new constitution.

On June 8, the routine rehashed its sacred position.After this, the Sultan of Sokoto communicate an intrigue for quiet on June 17 and asked the individuals who had left the North in dread to return.On June 24, the legislature declared that it would set up military courts to attempt nepotism and corruption.Simultaneously, nine (9) northerners were kept (counting the manager of gaskiya ta fi kwabo), and an Army organization was conveyed to Sokoto as a lasting battalion supposedly under an Igbo Major.This generally routine interior security move which came about because of knowledge reports following the May riots caused misgiving locally since no such military unit had been sent there for a long time going the whole distance back to the times of the British and the Satiru rebellion.The supervisor and sketch artist of the "Pilot" in the Eastern district were likewise confined for an animation which demonstrated the Ironsi government as a substantial Cock (which used to be the NCNC image) crowing 'One Country, One Nationality'.Subsequently, on June 26, the Brett council was selected to ask into the May unsettling influences – to the dismay of the North.

In any case, the issue of how to manage the January young men remained a sore point and shared doubt remained.On July 13, Ironsi reported military regents at neighborhood

level, and proposed rotation of military governors.Northerners translated this as implying that Ojukwu, as of now being seen with doubt for his open declarations about unification, was to be presented on Kaduna. There is, in any case, no proof this is what was planned.

Meanwhile, other than one exploratory gathering with Lt. Col Hassan Katsina, old NPC government officials like previous Defense Minister Alhaji Inua Wada (who was likewise an uncle to Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed) and Aliyu Makaman Bida may have had unhindered access to unaudited NPC reserves. Wada is asserted by some to have charmed irritated NEPU and UMBC pioneers like Aminu Kano and Joseph Tarka to share a typical northern political vision compromised by the new order.However, Military and Police knowledge totally missed the pontoon when, in view of just his own association with the late Prime Minister and Premier, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was welcome to Lagos in late July for 3 days of addressing about air of certain NPC assets amid the first republic.The insight network was yelping up the wrong rear way – in spite of the fact that it is likewise obvious that the places of Inua Wada, Daggash and others were sought.

This was not to be the main asserted disappointment of insight in building up the non military personnel linkages to and sponsorship of the occasions of May and ensuing overthrow in July.Ojukwu claims that he gave a tape of a discussion made in Kano about the arranged July 29 upset to Ironsi who at that point passed it on to acting Police IG Kam Salem (a northerner), who by suggestion, covered it. Madiebo refers to a whirlwind of other insight disappointments in the North including a supposed hole from an informant called Alhaji Suya who was probably a cousin of the late Sardauna.


Very separated from the trickery that prompted General Ironsi's supposition of intensity (otherwise called "non military personnel hand over"), the crucial emergency of certainty inside the military was a result of the inability to attempt the January plotters as indicated by the manual of military law.General Ironsi progressed toward becoming prisoner not exclusively to radical sentiment in the southern Press that hailed them as legends yet additionally to the inquisitive five point understanding he had consulted with Nzeogwu in Kaduna back on January 17.Meanwhile strain and doubt was ascending in officers wrecks and barracks.Placatory visits were made to Barracks by Lt. Col. Gowon to engage northern troops to excuse and forget.Based on dialogs and affirmations by Ironsi, other northern officers like Major Danjuma likewise attempted to quiet down the troops and guarantee that the January double-crossers would be attempted at the appointed time since the C-in-C had portrayed them as rebels.On his part, every time he was asked, General Ironsi would react by saying "Equity will be done".On one event he offered an increase in salary to troops.

In the years since the finish of the Ironsi routine it has been claimed by reporters and disseminators that Ironsi actually entrusted Gowon to examine the January overthrow. Gowon implicitly denies this.The overthrow had just been explored by the Police.That report, as per then Captain (presently Brigadier) Baba Usman (rtd), Ironsi's contact with the Police, was prepared in March 1966.In actuality, as per Professor Elaigwu, a board was set up under Col. Nwawo to catch up the Police report with formal charges yet it never sat.Meanwhile, as is articulately depicted in the book "Why we Struck" by Major Ademoyega, each time the issue was raised for talk at the SMC, Colonel Fajuyi, Governor of the West, was against any trial.(Funny enough, as will be seen later, when attempting to contain the revolt in Lagos on July 29, Brigadier Ogundipe endeavored to move a sham by telling Captain JN Garba that the give an account of the January young men had just barely contacted him that morning)!

In the interim bits of gossip were swirling.It was affirmed that the rebels were being dealt with extraordinarily in jail, wrongfully accepting full pay alongside a jail stipend, some getting advanced, and conceded access to their families.Some of these gossipy tidbits would now be able to be affirmed to have been false.The debate about their compensation can undoubtedly be settled by alluding to Sections 149 and 150 of the Military Forces Ordinance No 26 of 1960.Part VII on Pay Forfeitures and Deductions expresses that compensation should continue before the verdict.At the season of the Ironsi routine that law was in force.However, what was not permitted under the law was a self-assertive postponement in continuing with preliminary, any type of jail recompense or counterfeit division from other political detainees.

As to boundless reports around seven of the plotters being advanced in Jail, that also is untrue.Only one officer among those captured, 2/Lt Ojukwu, no connection of the Colonel, was advanced Lt – and it might have been an error.As respects a 'Noteworthy Okafor' being advanced, Major DC Okafor/N74 was the one advanced, not Major DO Okafor/N73.Major DO Okafor was the January plotter.

Another wellspring of doubt in the Army was the advancement practice done in May.There were three grumblings about it.First that it ought not have occurred at all in light of the fact that there was a ban on advancements in power at the time.Second that it "favored" Igbo officers and solidified their control of the military.Third, that northerners were likewise "favored" alongside Igbos while Yoruba officers were "marginalized".The wellsprings of every one of these lines of reasoning is anything but difficult to guess.Eleven (11) Majors were advanced substantive Lt. Cols while fourteen (14) Majors were made transitory Lt. Cols.Of these, 19were Igbo or Igbo talking easterners and midwesterners, 5 northerners (Katsina, Akahan, Shuwa, Muhammed, Haruna) and one Yoruba (Olutoye).On the surface, it looked a rough endeavor to support Igbo or Igbo speaking officers.But as a general rule no Igbo or Igbo talking officer was advanced who was not due for advancement, taking into account that somewhere in the range of 1955 and 1961 most by far of officer initiates were of Igbo or Igbo speaking origin.There was no share framework for officers around then and the individuals who joined at that point had ascended to center dimension positions by 1966.However, the presence of a sudden unbalanced "master Igbo" advancement practice did by a purportedly "Igbo routine" when there was a ban in power and pressure in the sleeping enclosure was an advertising debacle, especially since there were many Yoruba officers (Obasanjo, Sotomi, Adekunle, Ayo-Ariyo and Rotimi) who were unmistakably bypassed.There is a body of assessment that, obscure to the public,three Igbo Majors (Obienu, Aniebo and Chude-Sokei) were additionally avoided, however pursued not long after by the Unification order, the imagery of the advancement exercise removed all questions about winning fear inspired notions.

Northern regular citizen disseminators utilized the apparatuses of mental fighting and worked energetically to induce the northern military.In the Army's authentic history, General Gowon said "The northern government officials invaded the Northern warriors and officers, attempting to persuade them that there was a requirement for them to retaliate."General Babangida put it this way:"There was an extremely determined and unobtrusive however proficient and successful teaching of the Northern officers by regular folks. They continued pounding on it that our pioneers had been murdered and we were doing nothing; that we were cowards."General Shuwa (rtd) portrayed archives go around Kaduna implying to demonstrate plans for senior Igbo officers to meet at Hamdala Hotel to plan the liquidation of staying northern officers after January.But Babangida additionally said:"… there was a risk that the Igbos needed to bring revenge.Now taking a seat and taking a gander at it, genuinely all things considered, I think we utilized that in order to pick up help, to get individuals submitted with the goal that you didn't get captured. It was preemptive."Indeed the bits of gossip were detailed to the point that operational code names utilizing creatures were even attributed to parts of the supposed fantastic Igbo plot to proceed with Operation Damisa (Leopard) which had officially occurred on Jan 15 .These were Operation Kura (Hyena) to wipe out specific boss, Operation Zaki (Lion) to take out residual boss lastly Operation Giwa (Elephant) to cut the nation up into individual regions directed by Igbos.This sort of groundless over the top disinformation is the thing that educated the apprehension with which certain customary rulers moved toward the gathering of conventional rulers in Ibadan on July 28.

Anyway abnormal they were, non military personnel specialists provocateur were accidentally supported by awkward treatment of advertising by the Ironsi routine and genuine incitements by some Igbo regular people and soldiers.In his memoir titled"Power with Civility" by Oleka and Ofondu (Neskon 1998), Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, an Igbo easterner who later battled in the Biafran Navy, states:"That Igbos, incorporating fighters in the sleeping enclosure, prodded their Northern partners about what they viewed as swapping of fortune, served to shred tempers.It was not some time before Northerners expressed their anger on their Igbo visitors. A bash of executing of Igbos all through all alcoves and corners of the Northern Region kicked off."In his book, "Upset in Nigeria, Another View" late General Garba portrays how his officers in the Federal Guard separated in tears in Jankara showcase in Lagos when they heard the collection "Automatic rifle" .General Danjuma (rtd) says even the spouses of Igbo warriors were provoking the wives of Northern fighters.

The majority of this was enhanced not just by the genuinely vicious nature of the January assume control, however by a murmuring effort of very provocative yet doubtful anecdotes about the odd way in which a portion of the northern government officials and troopers had been slaughtered in January.There are northern officers I have addressed who still say Prime Minister Balewa had his phallus cut off and set in his mouth by Majors Ifeajuna and Okafor.Another story had it that a kola nut was set in his mouth in the wake of being shot to insult the northern custom of eating kola nuts – an inquisitive story thinking about that every Nigerian clan, particularly the Igbo, esteem kola nuts in their custom.Yet another story had it that he was approached to pivot and implore and that while he was supplicating he was shot from behind making an expansive hole.All of this was adorned by the story that he reviled all Igbos previously he died.On cautious idea, such a huge opening could have been a leave wound, which means he was almost certain shot from the front – in spite of the fact that a passage twisted from a concentrated burst of SMG discharge can be big.But if any given northern NCO had trusted that he was so abused, one can perceive how Major Okafor was singled out for extraordinary treatment.

Same goes for Lt. Col Largema, Commander of the fourth Battalion,who was shot outside his room at Ikoyi Hotel.As late as the year 2000, previous Army Chief Lt. Gen Danjuma (rtd) was still of the conclusion communicated in the Army's legitimate history – which he has presumably held throughout the years - that Largema's carcass was tossed out of the eleventh floor window at Ikoyi Hotel by Ifeajuna to the ground.However, I visited Room 115 in the old wing of Ikoyi Hotel myself to physically welcome the setting in which that fine officer was killed.The room, directly alongside a stairwell, is on the first floor.The building has no eleventh floor.His body was more probable hauled one story down the means to the holding up Mercedes vehicle in the leaving lot.It is sufficiently awful and reprehensible that he was killed without blinking yet in the event that his cadaver had truly been tossed out the window from the eleventh floor, Ifeajuna is fortunate Ojukwu got to him before northern troops from Largema's fourth brigade did.

In like manner, Nzeogwu's decimation of the Premier's cabin utilizing an enemy of tank weapon and executing of his significant other insulted the sensibilities of numerous officers and men of honor including some Igbo talking officers I have addressed who shared Nzeogwu's Sandhurst background.For precedent, in a phone discussion, Lt. Col. Alphonsus Keshi (rtd) at that point Brigade Major of the first Brigade, portrayed late Major Nzeogwu to me as a "murderer".Onwatuegwu then again, shot Brigadier Ademulegun as well as killed his pregnant spouse – an evil entity in african tradition.For a little while after the upset one could get a guided voyage through Ademulegun's blood splashed room in Kaduna with the correct associations at 1 Brigade HQ.Those who went for the visit did not rise up out of it with any sentiments that leniency ought to be appeared if the culprit was ever caught.These were the sorts of feelings that loved ones and expert partners of the killed officers and lawmakers were managing in the months prompting July.For the military setbacks specifically, the average inquiry was, "If your fight was with government officials for what reason did you kill our cherished relations, associates and senior officers in the military?"

In a meeting back in the mid eighties with Radio Kaduna, at that point Brigadier (later Major General) Mamman Vatsa, presently expired, is cited by Elaigwu as saying:

"The July upset was propelled by the activities in January 1966 whereby an illicit activity was legitimized.If you do that, you anticipate a counter response. July 29, 1966 was a response to an inaction against an illicit activity… .Right from the earliest starting point, the GOC, Nigerian Army viewed these individuals as 'rebels'.If that was acknowledged, the quick thing was to make the vital move to get them restrained lawfully. On the off chance that this was not done, at that point the GOC was supporting indiscipline or treason.Rather than rebuff men from his military who were on rebellion, he was currently requesting that the regular citizen government hand over to him before he could keep up control in an association of which he was in control… .In the primary example, he shouldn't have assumed control over the power… … "

In the last examination, however, certain occasions plotted to push northern troops over the edge.In July, numerous northern enlisted people were gotten some distance from the Army terminal in Zaria and inclination purportedly given to southerners.For precedent, the whole clump from

Sokoto area wasrejected.It is totally conceivable that such dismissals depended on guideline however in the overarching condition of doubt the suggestions were alarming.Secondly, General Ironsi told the fourth contingent seven days before the rebellion that they would turn with first force in Enugu, which happened to be Governor Fajuyi's previous unit which he had directed for three years.Unfortunately for Ironsi the declaration caused tensions for the most part connected with change as well as played directly into an unwarranted gossip that had been making the rounds that a train conveying the fourth legion was to be wrecked by Igbo sappers among Makurdi and Otukpo.All of this for a legion that lost three previous bosses in January (Maimalari, Kur Mohammed and Largema) and was a completely politicized star Akintola outfit, shaped in the heater of Ibadan politics.When, thusly, officers of the fourth legion were approached to give protect obligation to Ironsi and Fajuyi at the Government House Ibadan on July 28, 1966 it resembled requesting that the Fox watch the Hen House.On July 29, 1966, mutinous troopers, taking a prompt from their associates somewhere else encompassed the premises, captured the General and his host and in the long run abducted them both, taking them to mile 8 on Iwo street where they were shot and covered.

When the July 1966 revolt had run its course, no under 213 prevalently Igbo officers and different positions had been killed.An untold number of regular people additionally lost their lives.


There is no uncertainty that reasonably not long after January 15, the intention in a northern counter-upset otherwise called "return coordinate" was established.What remained were the methods and the chance. In Kaduna, the Platoon Commanders Course at the NMTC gave a chance to youthful northern subalterns to meet up to share thoughts and vent frustration.These officers included Lts. Shelleng, Hannaniya, Muhammadu Jega, Sani Abacha, Sali, Dambo and others.They held mystery gatherings and even composed a letter of challenge to the Chief of Staff (Army)- Lt. Col. Gowon – transparently expressing that if senior northern officers did not make a move inside a specific time allotment, they would, and that senior northern officers would have themselves to fault for the catastrophe.Indeed, the Ironsi government was adequately frightened that on somewhere around two events the course was suspended.For a concise period, from there on, things were moderately peaceful, however not for long.Matters started to mix in Lagos.

Despite the fact that it is said that for all intents and purposes every single northern officer serving in Lagos, Abeokuta, Ikeja and Ibadan in the end wound up included, three officers shaped the deepest hover of the plot to topple Major General Aguiyi Ironsi.They were T/Lt. Col.Murtala Muhammed (Inspector of Signals), T/Major TY Danjuma (General Staff Officer II, SHQ) and Captain Martin Adamu (second Battalion, Ikeja).The overthrow pioneer was T/Lt. Col.Murtala Muhammed.

As indicated by late Major General Garba (rtd), others associated with arranging in the South incorporate Captain JN Garba, Lt. William Walbe and Lt. Paul Tarfa (Federal Guards), Lts. Muhammadu Buhari and John Longboem (second legion), Lts. Pam Nwatkon (Abeokuta army, Recce), Lts Jerry Useni,Ibrahim Bako and Garba Dada(4th brigade, Ibadan), and Lt. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua (Adjutant, first unit, Enugu).Air constrain plotters included Majors Musa Usman and Shittu Alao.However, different officers were unmistakably included on the grounds that Muhammed compartmentalized the arranging and furthermore urged officers to enroll extra nearby schemers and tempest troopers.Examples incorporate Lts. Nuhu Nathan and Malami Nassarawa at Ikeja, IS Umar in Abeokuta, Abdullai Shelleng, Haladu, Magoro, Obeya and Onoja in Ibadan and Captains Jalo and Muhammadu Jega in Enugu, among others.
Dynamic getting ready for the overthrow started after the proclamation of the Unification decree.In truth there was a short panic in Kaduna when bogus bits of gossip about Lt. Col.

Hassan Katsina's capture in Lagos by Ironsi after the May riots lease the air.Katsina had gone to Lagos for a gathering at which unproductive endeavors were made to

get the announcement repealed.When he in the end came back to Kaduna he found the airplane terminal encompassed by incensed northern troopers.

Skipper Garba was selected in Lagos by being informed that northerners were arranging an upset to "pre-empt" a normal one by Igbo officers.This supposed

expected Igbo upset was otherwise called "Plan 15? – section 2 of the supposed last answer for the northern issue maybe (as the publicity went) made all the

increasingly dire by the killings of Igbos in the North amid the May riots.Lagos backstabbers, who were as a rule intently viewed, met in different areas,

counting their private vehicles, Muhammed's home, Garba's home, and amid diversions at Abalti dormitory.

At Ibadan, Lt. Col.Muhammed would regularly crash into town from Lagos, get Ibrahim Bako and Abdullai Shelleng at a pre-masterminded area and drive around

ceaselessly while they talked about.

The Kaduna bunch was not as formally sorted out as the Lagos-Ikeja-Abeokuta-Ibadan pivot at this stage despite the fact that it later combined and was in the propensity for

having gatherings at Lugard Hall with northern regular folks. Be that as it may, Capt. Ahmadu Yakubu was the contact who might drive from Lagos to Kaduna with messages from

Lt. Col. Muhammed for Lts ADS Wya, Ibrahim Babangida, Garba Duba, BS Dimka, Dambo, Sani Abacha,Hannaniya, Salihi and others. Messages were additionally passed to the

fifth legion in Kano under Lt. Col Shuwa fundamentally for reasons of coordination. Be that as it may, Lagos was to be the support.

So as to monitor what was happening inside the administration, Lt. Col Murtala Muhammed kept up contact with northern government workers in Lagos (like

Muktar Tahir), while Captain Baba Usman of military knowledge gave experiences into what the Army knew and did not know. In any case, the Ironsi

government had different instruments of data assembling outside authority channels.For model, no less than one officer, Lt. Jasper, at that point the knowledge

officer at the fourth unit in Ibadan, was associated with passing data specifically to Supreme HQ and maybe even to Ironsi himself, bypassing the

Army.All sorts of self selected regular citizen witnesses were likewise known to process all through Army arrangements passing bits of gossip to Igbo leaders who might at that point

discover approaches to get it to Ironsi.Major Danjuma, around then a staff officer, was connected to General Ironsi as a military copyist, obediently taking notes at his

open hearings.

At the start of getting ready for the overthrow, late General Garba says in his book '"Revolution in Nigeria", Another View', that "We proposed expressly to execute no

one. The points were, right off the bat, to get Decree No. 34 annulled; besides, to bring the upset creators of January 15 to preliminary; thirdly, to accord due respect to the

military and political pioneers – particularly the Prime Minister – who had been executed."

Notwithstanding, as we currently know, the defiance was definitely not bloodless as different plans became the overwhelming focus when all damnation broke loose.Garba demands that there was

no particular intend to demolish all Igbo officers and warriors – despite the fact that it showed up so to nonpartisan onlookers from the way numerous northern NCOs (helped by a few

officers and regular people) were continuing with total surrender and all out dismissal forever and property.Garba himself concedes that they went "berserk".The

late General says, however, that had there been such a formal arrangement, explicit Igbo officers would have been focused on and "nobody would have gotten away".

In my view, it is difficult to recognize what to make of this remark, seeing as it implies small thinking about the size of killings. By and by, fortunately to God,

albeit numerous passed on, most Eastern officers, by far most being totally honest of any association either to the January 15 overthrow or to the Ironsi

government, endure the July 29 rebellion.Unfortunately, a large number of blameless regular citizens were killed in blow-outs of purposeful and careless carnage that

started in May and proceeded until September.There can be no support for what unfolded, in spite of the fact that the conditions have been clarified and the

affectability of the issues included better comprehended with the progression of time. Strikingly, by far most of those warriors kept for the January

upset got away principally in light of the fact that they had been kept in prisons situated in the eastern area.

As arranging grew, free as it seemed to be, it was affected (similar to all overthrows) by issues of timing and opportunity.It is said that no less than four designs were

discussed.The first was to seize State House and spot the Head of State under arrest.However, this would have involved much gore in view of the

security set up inside the State House grounds, bristling with weapons.In any case the General was likewise partial to leaving without notice to rest on a Boat

along the Marina which, now and again, would set for sea.A choice was, hence, made to organize the upset when he was outside Lagos to limit gore. The

second was when beginning designs were being considered for the exchange of the first force at Enugu to Ibadan in return with the fourth contingent. Lt. Shehu

Yar'Adua was to be the facilitator of that arrangement. He would make some sort of disarray as a flag for the upset. This also was put off, likely on the grounds that the

choice to trade the two legions likewise continued being put off and was not formally reported until late July.In any case, bits of gossip (once more, without establishment)

before long had it that the routine may have known about a "contingent switch plot" and that the fourth legion would be wrecked by Igbo sappers.

On July 14, be that as it may, the legislature declared plans for General Ironsi to embrace a Nationwide visit. The visit would take him first through Abeokuta,

Ibadan, Kano, Kaduna, Zaria, Jos, and Benin.He would come back to Ibadan from Benin for a gathering of customary rulers on July 28, go through the night, come back to

Lagos on July 29 and afterward continue his visit toward the beginning of August toward the East.The third arrangement, in this manner, was to snatch General Ironsi amid a visit toward the North on

July 19th.It also was put off, some state in respect to northern customary pioneers, while others state it was for reasons of military coordination.For one,

Ironsi barely rested outside Lagos hence decreasing the lucky opening to gethim, and also, at that point Captain Garba, who was for all intents and purposes in direction of the

Government Guards organization in Lagos was booked to be in Fernando Po for a ball game and would not be on the ground to help grab the capital.

The fourth arrangement, in this way, was to happen on July 28/29 amid Ironsi's visit to Ibadan for the National meeting of customary rulers when he would

be captured by troops from the fourth battalion.His choice to go through the night there, watched by the fourth contingent, gave an ideal opportunity.The code

word for the upset was "Aure", a Hausa word for "marriage".Conspirators in southern Nigeria made coded reference to it by discussing "Paiko's wedding",

Paiko being the moniker for (and main residence in Niger Province of) one of the northern subalterns at the fourth unit who was to be the spearhead.But even

this arrangement was put off by Lt. Col.Muhammed when it wound up evident to him and Captain Martin Adamu that it had released, likely through Lt. Jasper.This is the reason

Major Danjuma did not go to Ibadan with his battle dress.

A harsh arrangement for early August when Ironsi would be in the East was therefore talked about however not concluded. In any case, Captain Baba Usman (GSO II, Int) had left

for Enugu to arrange with Lt. Yar-Adua when news of what occurred in Abeokuta on July 28 came through, taking him by surprise.He isn't the special case who

was taken by surprise.Difficulty in getting the message of dropping crosswise over to all parts of the nation and all schemers without utilizing ordinary Army

signals (at that point ruled by southerners) prompted a few inconveniences somewhere else, including Kaduna, where Lt. BS Dimka was captured on July 27/28by Major

Ogbemudia for endeavoring to break into the ordnance, though drunk.As will be clear later, a blend of frenzy, impromptu fortuitous events and mishaps

in the end activated off the July 29 disobedience when northern NCOs at Abeokuta brought issues into their hands.


In the blink of an eye before 2300 hours on July 28, 1966, Lt. Col. Gabriel Okonweze, Commander of the Abeokuta Garrison was tipped off by Lt. Col. Patrick Anwunah, General

Staff Officer (1) for Intelligence at Army HQ in Lagos, that the since quite a while ago foreseen Northern counter-upset was planned to start that night.What Anwunah did

not know for beyond any doubt was that the couphad actually, by and by, been put off by its main organizers by virtue of a break.

Prior that night Anwunah had gone up against Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed in Yaba, Lagos with data that he was behind an arranged counter-overthrow, prompting a

cowardly (some state rough) trade between them. Anwunah at first idea this showdown would in actuality discourage the plot from going ahead, and

intended to do nothing. Be that as it may, having been incited by Lt. Col. Alexander Madiebo to make some prudent strides, and maybe being in receipt of extra

data, he willingly volunteered alarm some unit leaders, one of whom was Okonweze.(An elective record says Okonweze was additionally cautioned by Njoku)
Lt. Col. Okonweze, therefore, called a meeting in the mess of all available officers (Igbo and non-Igbo) at the Abeokuta Garrison where he made the following


“Gentlemen, I have just been informed that there is going to be a coup tonight.Anyone of you who knows anything about the coup should please tell us.You may

know the beginning but you never know the end.I am not ambitious.My only ambition is to become a full Colonel.If you know anything, please let me know; I am

not going to report anyone.What we are going to do is to avoid what happened in January where officers were taken unawares.We are going to wake up all

soldiers, ask them to go to the armoury to get issued with arms and ammunition.”

Officers present included Okonweze himself, Major John Obienu (Recce Commander), Lt. Gabriel Idoko, Lt. DS Abubakar (“Datti Abubakar”, Recce), Lt. IS Umar,

and Lt. AB Mamman (Arty). Lt. E.B. Orok (Recce) later came in his Volkswagen. Captains M. Remawa (Recce 2ic) and Domkat Bali (Artillery Battery Commander)

were at the Abeokuta club. Captain Ogbonna (Infantry company commander) was also in town.

Thereafter, an Igbo NCOwent around the barracks, waking soldiers excitedly and saying “Come out, come out, there is trouble; go to the armoury and collect

your armour.”

This alert woke up Sergeant Sabo Kole, an NCO from the Bachama area of Adamawa State.In the charged atmosphere of prevailing rumors at that time, Kole

wrongly interpreted the Igbo NCO’s actions as an attempt by Okonweze to selectively wake up Igbo soldiers who would thus have an advantage in what was

alleged to be an effort to finish what they did not finish in January.He, therefore, woke up another neighbor, Corporal Maisamari Maje, also Bachama, who

happened to be the armourer of the unit.He told Maje to go to the armory and ensure that only northerners would be issued weapons.Meanwhile, assisted by

Corporal Inua Sara, he mobilized a small guard of northern soldiers to protect the armory against any attempt to dislodge them while he made arrangements to

disarm the quarter-guard.Having secured the armory, Sgt. Kole issued weapons and ammo to a section of assault troops.Assisted by Maje, and including Corporal

J. Shagaya, the group advanced to the Officers Messunder the direction of the duty officer,Lt. Pam Mwadkon, younger brother of the late Lt. Col James Pam who

was shot in Ikoyi by Major Christian Anuforo in January.

Once in the mess they ordered all officers present to raise their hands.When Okonweze challenged them, he was summarily executed right there and then.Major

John Obienu, Commander of the Recce Squadron, sitting next to Okonweze, was also shot dead.Lt. E Orok, driving in to join them, saw what was happening,

shouted at the soldiers, and was himself shot dead right under the tree where he parked his car.In the chaos, some northerners were shot too, notably Lt.

Gabriel Idoko, mistaken for Igbo because he was wearing an “English dress”.He was lucky to survive. Some Igbo soldiers (other ranks) in the garrison were

subsequently rounded up and shot.


Not all Igbo officers in the Abeokuta garrison were killed.Ogbonna escaped and was the one who initially made urgent informal phone calls to Lagos

(2ndBattalion), Ibadan (4th battalion)and much later to Enugu (to Lt. Cols Ogunewe – 1stBn – and Ojukwu at the State House).

Almost simultaneously, Lt. Pam phoned Lt. Garba Dada (Paiko), the Adjutant of the 4th Battalion in Ibadan at Mokola Barrackssaying “Look, we have done our

own oh! If you people just siddon there, we have finished our own…….We have finished the Igbo officers here. We liberated our unit.”He was wrong, though,

because Ogbonna was alive.Lt. John Okoli also survived.

When Captains Remawa and Bali returned to the Barracks from town, they met the dead bodies of Okonweze, Obienu and Orok in or around the mess.They changed

quickly into combat dress and got themselves armed.

Captain Remawa then contacted Army HQ in Lagos to notify Lt. Col. Gowon of events. Gowon ordered Remawa to collect the corpses, secure the garrison, and

await further instructions.This order from Gowon to Remawa sent shivers down the spines of the junior northern officers at Abeokuta like Lt. DS Abubakar who

feared that they would all be arrested for the killings in the Mess.Therefore, they decided that come what may, they would fight to finish to ensure the end

of the Ironsi regime.The impulse was primarily self preservatory.

Gowon then contacted Brigadier Ogundipe, then Chief of Staff, SHQ and got orders to mobilize Army units in Lagos.Both Ogundipe and Gowon initially tried to

reach Ironsi directly in Ibadan and failed.(It was when Gowon was trying to get Col. Njoku at the guest house that he spoke to Major Danjuma).Ogundipe then

notified the Police hierarchy, including the Commissioner in Ibadan,whose first attempt to investigate events at the 4th battalion was strongly rebuffed by

the Battalion adjutant who told him to steer clear.“Flying Policeman” Mr. Joseph Adeola eventually got through to Government House Ibadan, sometime around 1

am (some say 0030), to notify General Ironsi of events.(Adeola replaced Timothy Omo-Bare as the Commissioner of Police in the Midwest and was one of those

kidnapped by Biafran forces to Enugu in August 1967.)

By this time Major Danjuma, Lt. James Onoja and elements of the 4th battalion were in process of arriving to cordon off the building.

Before he was finally arrested shortly before8am, Ironsi had made requests for a Police helicopter from Lagos and made other efforts, as are described

elsewhere in this essay, to mobilize loyal units.By the time a helicopter arrived, though, he and Colonel Fajuyi had been taken away.General Ironsi’s last

formal military contact was with Kaduna to mobilize the 1st Brigade.The commander, Lt. Col. Wellington “Papa” Bassey was not around so he spoke to Major

Samuel Ogbemudia, then the Brigade Major, telling him “All is not well.” Unfortunately, the Brigade was too far away to be of immediate tactical value, even

if it wanted to be.

Ogbonna’s call to Lt. Col. Igboba at the 2nd battalion in Ikeja preceded Remawa’s call to Army HQ. Unfortunately, it was intercepted by Lts. Nuhu Nathan and

Malami Nassarawa.Nathan was the duty officer and had been contacted earlier by Murtala Muhammed about the postponement of the coup.When Ogbonna gave him the

message to deliver to Igboba about events at Abeokuta, he immediately contacted Murtala Muhammed instead, who, having just gotten off the phone with the boys

at Ibadan, finally realized that events were moving faster than he thought initially.Muhammed gave the go ahead to Nathan and Nassarawa to mobilize northern

troops at Ikeja and launch operations to pre-empt predictable efforts by the establishment to regain control.They secured the armoury, distributed weapons

selectively, and got busy rounding up Igbo soldiers. Northern NCOs and ordinary soldiers later went wild. If their officers did not explicitly give an order

for an Igbo soldier to be shot they would shoot him anyway and shout “accidental discharge, sah!”

Meanwhile, Muhammed began making rounds of Army units all over Lagos to see things for himself and wake up other coupists in the Lagos area asking them to

“adjust to the new situation”.Two of those he woke up himself were Captain JN Garba and Lt. Paul Tarfa at the Federal Guard.As they were dressing up, the

call from Gowon came in.By the time Muhammed got to Ikeja, Captain Martin Adamu, Lts. Nathan, Nassarawa, Muhammadu Buhari, Alfred Gom, Longboem and a bunch

of NCOs were already in control of the battalion, having executed several Igbo soldiers and officers (including Major B Nnamani, one of the company

commanders) and arrested many others by cordoning off the quartermaster section of the barracks or grabbing soldiers as they came out for morning PT.The

battalion commander, Lt. Col. Henry Igboba, narrowly escaped a dragnet deployed around his house by Lt. Longboem and got away.

Muhammed reportedly gave orders to stop the killing, and focus instead on securing the perimeter as well as approach roads and taking measures to ensure the

eventual success of their activities.Captain Martin Adamu went to Army HQ and placed himself in the intelligence center to monitor information and

disseminate disinformation.Muhammed then contacted Abeokuta garrison directly and asked Lts. DS Abubakar and Pam Nwadkon to fuel up, arm a troop each of

armoured vehicles (ferrets) and head out for Lagos and Ibadan respectively, accompanied by a section of assault troops to provide support in case of any

shoot out with loyal troops being mobilized by Lt. Col. Gowon, Lt. Col. Anwunah, Major Mobolaji Johnson and Brigadier Ogundipe from SHQ.Sergeant Paul

Dickson, a fearsome Idoma NCO who was later to acquire a reputation as a bloodthirsty savage, was despatched to take Ikeja Airport.A typical example of a

coded order (in Hausa)for the murder of an Igbo captive was:”Take him to the house of chiefs.”

Later that morning, after Abubakar and Pam had left for Lagos and Ibadan, northern NCOs from the Abeokuta garrison set up check points in town and decided to

pay a visit to the Abeokuta Prison where Major DO Okafor, former Federal Guards Commander, January 15 co-conspirator and alleged co-executioner of the late

Prime Minister was held.He was tortured and killed in the courtyard, some say buried alive.The soldiers did not stop there.At one of the checkpoints, 2/Lt

A.O. Olaniyan, oblivious of events, was stopped.As he tried to identify himself, he was summarily shot dead.The situation was clearly out of control.

LAGOS, JULY 29, 1966

After being alerted, first by Lt. Col. Muhammed, then Lt. Col. Gowon, Captain Garba and Lt. Tarfa secured the Federal (then known as ‘National’) Guards

Barracks at Obalende, better known as ‘Dodan Barracks’. It is named after a town called Dodan in the Arakan peninsula in Burma where Nigerians fought back in

World War 2.They rounded up all Igbo soldiers and locked them up in safety.Not a single Igbo soldier in that unit lost his life.Garba and Tarfa overcame a

challenge by a northern soldier called Adamu Lamurde who emotionally threatened to kill them both if he was not allowed to avenge the death of Brigadier

Maimalari by liquidating the Igbo soldiers in the unit. Indeed, this achievement was one of the very few successes of northern officers against northern NCOs

seeking revenge.Garba later got a letter of commendation and appreciation fromCol Hilary Njoku, his erstwhile Brigade Commander, when all the Igbo soldiers

including Sergeant Vidal, Private Oligbo, Private Calistus Chukwu and others in the unit eventually arrived back safely in the east.

After Lt. Col. Gowon completed the first round of calls to Army commanders in Lagos early that morning, a decision was made to establish an operations room

at the Police HQ on Moloney Street in Lagos.Brigadier B. Ogundipe, then Chief of Staff, SHQ,was joined by acting Police IG Kam Salem, Commodore Wey of the

Navy, Lt. Col. Gowon (Army COS), Lt. Col. Anwunah (PSO I), and Major Mobolaji Johnson.Although he had previously served as DAQMG at the 2nd Brigade in Apapa

under late Brigadier Maimalari, on this day Johnson was a fish out of water because he was supposed to be the second-in-command to Lt. Col Akahan at the 4th

battalion 100 miles away in Ibadan where junior officers had run amock.However, he had long since settled down as Lagos military administrator.The commander

of the 2nd battalion at Ikeja could not be reached.

Meanwhile, Lt. DS Abubakar had arrived from Abeokuta with his troops of ferrets, only to run into an ambush mounted by troops from the 2nd battalion under

Lt. Longboem at Ikeja from which he was very lucky to escape.Longboem had recognized him at the last minute when he stuck his head out of the hatch.

Apparently Lt. Nassarawa had forgotten to alert the boys that Abubakar was coming with ferrets on Muhammed’s orders.Anyway, once this misunderstanding was

resolved, Muhammed deployed DS Abubakar to Abalti Barrracks for “mopping operations”.This essentially meant that Muhammed was now in control of Ikeja, Dodan

and Abalti Barracks as well as the airport. Indeed, Sergeant Dickson’s boys took control of two BOAC VC10 aircraft at the airport and ordered the Captains to

fly northern families of soldiers back to Kano before returning to Lagos to pick commercial passengers. The soldiers involved had been completely taken in by

frivolous rumors of a “second Igbo coup” and, like northern civil servants, wanted to get their families away.

After a quick appreciation, a decision was made by Brigadier Ogundipe to scrap together a fighting force from Army HQ elements commanded by an Igbo Captain.

They were to go to Ikeja and try regaining control of the airport, by then under the control of Sergeant Paul Dickson of the 2nd battalion.This group

advanced right into an ambush of machine gun nests along Ikeja road, losing about 30 soldiers in the process.In the confusion, two expatriates (including the

General Manager of Bata Shoes in Lagos) were killed in cross-fire.

Lt. Col. Gowon volunteered to go to Ikeja Barracks to negotiate with the rebellious troops. By this time he and Brigadier Ogundipe were already aware from

reports coming from Ibadan that General Ironsi and Colonel Fajuyi had been snatched from Major Danjuma and were probably dead. When he arrived at Ikeja some

reports say he was initially detained, but there is no corroborative evidence that this really occurred. Aghast at what he saw, he was, however, said to have

issued orders in support of Muhammed’s earlier orders that there should be no more shooting.This order was quickly sidelined by northern soldiers who

proceeded to use other methods, not firearms, to slaughter their victims. Daggers and other more primitive contraptions for ritual murder became weapons of

choice.In one illustrative case, northern soldiers at Ikeja airport took Captain Okoye, then based at Abalti Barracks but enroute to the US on a course, tied

him to an Iron cross, whipped him unconscious and then left him to die in the guardroom.Okoye was suspected of being an informant for the Igbo underground

network in Lagos.

About this time, first Major Johnson and then Brigadier Ogundipe himself gave an order to a northern NCO deployed to the Federal Guards Company. The soldier

blatantly said he would not take orders from the Brigadier unless approved by Captain JN Garba. So, Captain Garba was sent for and came to the Police HQ.He

was initially interrogated by Lt. Col. Anwunah, searching for information about what was happening in the country.Garba then aggressively confronted Anwunah

with the grievances of northern soldiers and why they had struck.When Anwunah reported Garba’s intransigence to Ogundipe, Ogundipe told Garba:

“I wish you boys had waited.I have just received the report about the January coup this morning and it’s on my table right now.Try to talk to your friends in

Ikeja, and I am sure we can settle this matter, even at this stage.”

Capt. Garba, now placed in a difficult position,went back to his office to make a call toMurtala Muhammed in Ikeja and brief him about what had just

transpired.Muhammed endorsed Garba’s actions and instructed him to maintain contact.Garba says he later discovered that Ogundipe had been bluffing about the

report.Indeed, at the Military Leaders Meeting at Aburi, a full six months later, Commodore Wey said:

“A decision has been taken on the boys of 15th January……….They were to be dealt with in August but later on it was shifted to October.”

Meanwhile, Brigadier Ogundipe made a public broadcast on Radio Nigeria at 2:30pm which was repeated in 30 minute cycles until about 8:30pm:

“As a result of some trouble by dissidents in the army, mainly in Ibadan, Abeokuta and Ikeja, the National Military Government has declared a state of

emergency in the affected areas.Consequently, the following areas have been declared military areas under the Suppression of Disorder Decree of 1966: Ibadan,

Ikeja and Abeokuta.Military Tribunals have been considered and accordingly set up.Curfew has been declared in the affected areas from 6:30 pm.The National

Military Government wishes to state that the situation is under control and hopes to restore peace and tranquility very soon.The government appeals to the

public for cooperation in its effort to restore law and order in the affected areas.”

At about 3pm, though, Ogundipe sent for Garba again and instructed him to contribute a platoon to a second assault force which he was sending to dislodge the

boys at Ikeja.Garba notified Muhammed at Ikeja and then contributed a platoon to Ogundipe under one 2/Lt. Osuma (then known as “Usman”) with separate orders

that should he be ordered to shoot at fellow soldiers he was to refuse and return to base.2/Lt. “Usman” did exactly as he was toldbefore subsequently

escaping from Lagos on August 1st himself.When he got back to the east, he used his real name (Osuma) to request that his property be sent back to him there.

Needless to say that Ogundipe’s second attempt to establish military supremacy had failed.

Meanwhile phone calls and signals were coming in from other parts of the country, including Enugu (from Lt. Col. C. Ojukwu, the governor).At one point Ojukwu

was able to speak to Lt. Col. Gowon at Ikeja.It is said that Gowon told him that he was no longer a “free agent”.Ojukwu encouraged Ogundipe to keep fighting

even though he himself at one point escaped from Enugu to Onitsha from where he was calling Ogundipe.The rebels later made Brigadier Ogundipe aware that they

would only accept Captain JN Garba as his intermediary for negotiations.Meanwhile, angry about the phone calls from Ojukwu,Lt. Col. Muhammed began making

plans to march on Enugu – from which he was eventually restrained.


At about 0600 hrs, Capt. JN Garba was ordered back to Police HQ.Over the course of that day he made three trips back and forth to Ikeja on behalf of

Brigadier Ogundipe, including one trip in which his vehicle was even shot at by northern troops.Emotional demands were made back and forth, including initial

declarations that they no longer wanted to share barracks with Igbo soldiers, and demands that either the North be allowed to secede or that the Unification

decree be repealed with a return to the position before January 15 under a civilian government.As John de St. Jorre put it, “It was the northern soldiers,

roaming around outside the conference room in their dark, satanic mood, who were the ultimate arbiters of power”.

It was during this back and forth ado that Gowon is said to have been pressurized by the soldiers at Ikeja to participate in the discussions and lead them as

the senior northern officer. This may have been assisted by calls from Kaduna and Kano by Lt. Cols Hassan Katsina and Mohammed Shuwa. Having been alerted

overnight of goings on, Ojukwu had now joined the chorus of phone calls and signals coming in from other parts of the country seeking clarification.He was

even able to speak to Lt. Col. Gowon at Ikeja.It is said that Gowon told him that he was no longer a “free agent”.Ojukwu encouraged Ogundipe to keep fighting

even though he himself at one point escaped from Enugu to Onitsha from where he was calling Ogundipe.Angry about the phone calls from Ojukwu,Lt. Col.

Muhammed began making plans to march on Enugu – from which he was eventually restrained.

Another authority (Kirk-Greene) claims that Gowon’s change of status from government messenger to rebel representative occurred when Ogundipe declared that

he could not accept the proposals being put forward by northern soldiers and wanted to remove himself from the negotiation seeing as he could not exert his

authority over them. Indeed Captain Alfred Gom had bluntly told him that they no longer wanted to deal with him or the SHQ at all.More recently, Gowon has

revealed that main grouse the mutinous soldiers at Ikeja had against dealing with and accepting orders from Ogundipe was that he had sent two separate

assault teams to attack them. General Olusegun Obasanjo, however, thinks an additional reason was that Ogundipe “did not belong”. According to Biafran

propaganda, a northern flag was even flown at this point over the Ikeja Barracks, but no other independent source, local or foreign has ever confirmed this


Meanwhile Lt. DS Abubakar of the 2 Recce Squadron Abeokuta and his troops of Ferrets were ordered from Lagos to Ikeja Barracks. But he was first ordered to

secure Carter Bridge which was when he told the notorious Sergeant Lapdam to man the checkpoint while he left for Ikeja.Lapdam later shot Major Ibanga

Ekanem, Provost Marshall, who was on his way to SHQ, allegedly with a list of northern officers who were behind the revolt.[As a Captain, Ekanem survived

injuries sustained in combat as an officer in the 4QNR in Katanga during Congo Operations in 1961].Quite a few other soldiers (and possibly civilians) were

also killed on Carter Bridge and at least two southern airforce officers later rescued from him.When Lt. DS Abubakar got to Ikeja, as reported in the Army’s

official history, Col. DS Abubakar (rtd) recalls that one of those who was most strident about separation was Lt. Nuhu Nathan who reportedly told Gowon:

“Let us all leave now – we all go back if we cannot form a confederation”.Gowon replied:What is that word you mentioned”?Nathan said “Confederation”, to

which Gowon retorted:”What does that mean”?As Nathan proceededto explain, Lt. Malami Nassarawa said “I have an encyclopedia”.DS Abubakar explains that “They

brought an encyclopedia and Gowon saw the meaning of confederation in it. He was about to buy the idea – thank GOD the British High Commissioner and some of

the permanent secretaries advised against it.”DS Abubakar says ‘the British High Commissioner said:”If you dare do this kind of thing – confederation – that

is the end of you”.So that is why we came back to federalism.’

Others who were present include Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed, Major Shittu Alao and Captain Baba Usman.

While Captain Garba was away on his second visit to Ikeja,Federal Permanent Secretaries met with Brigadier Ogundipe at the Police HQ.He told them that the

soldiers at Ikeja were not willing nor ready to assume responsibility for running the country at that point.On his part he was not ready to do so either

unless he had both legal and military backing.Although he had suspicions that Ironsi was already dead he was not absolutely certain.To compound Ogundipe’s

position, the Attorney General , GC Onyiuke advised him that there was no provision for an acting Supreme Commander in the Constitution, as amended by Decree

No. 1 of 1966.Having rendered this advice, Onyiuke left Ogundipe at the Police HQ and then proceeded to depart Lagos for safety.Others did too, abandoning

him and Wey there with no clear answers.

During Garba’s third visit to the Ikeja Barracks he was accompanied by the delegation of senior civil servants including Musa Daggash, Abdul Aziz Attach, HA

Ejueyitchie, Yusuf Gobir, BN Okagbue, Ibrahim Damcida, Allison Ayida, Phillip Asiodu, along with Justice Adetokunbo Ademola, acting Police IG Kam Salem, Sule

Katagum, Muktar Tahir, Justice Mohammed Bello, and Ali Akilu.When Garba arrived at Ikeja with them, he confirms that Muhammed was the “leading personality”

in the room, doing most of the talking until he suddenly turned to Gowon and said:”You are the senior, go ahead.”This acquiescence may have been influenced

by other senior northern officers as noted previously, citing seniority.DS Abubakar recalls that there was certainly an argument about who should take over

and Major Abba Kyari was even briefly mentioned.However, after Gowon took over the discussions, Muhammed kept interrupting until Gowon had to turn to

Muhammed and say:”Look, it’s either you have deferred to me and will allow me carry on this discussion, or you have not, and you can continue.”Garba

pointedly recalls that Allison Ayida, permanent Secretary for Economic development, forcefully insisted that Nigeria not be broken up and kept repeating this

view “despite the fact that Murtala was from far from receptive to such a view; instead he was constantly telling Ayida, his eyes red with rage, in effect to

shut up.”

After complex informal negotiations brokered by Lt. Col. David Ejoor, Military Governor of the Midwest, involving Commodore Wey and Lt. Col Hassan Katsina,

Gowon was finally quietly sworn in late that day, Saturday July 30, 1966, at Ikeja but he did not make an announcement to the nation until Monday August

1st.He spent the time notifying senior Police officers like Kam Salem and Hamman Maiduguri, getting information and consolidating his ‘control’ over other

parts of the country – except, as later became apparent, the eastern region.In an interview with Elaigwu, Gowon described his emotions when he was anointed

as C-in-C as follows:

“Honestly, I felt as if I was under a battle.I had a feeling of death – virtually choking me.I felt my throat go dry immediately.I was cold and yet

sweating.If I could then I would have run away.But two things kept me on – one, a strong belief in God who had seen me through the Congo and two, a number of

questions I kept asking myself – ‘Are you not a man?Are you not a soldier? ‘What would people and history say of you?’……My first objective was to restore

discipline in the army and to prevent killings.I called the soldiers, and as I stood on the rostrum, tears were in my eyes.I was angry and at the same time

moved. I told myself that if I cried, the soldiers would have had me.I took courage and addressed them.I told them that if I heard of any more killing, they

should also remember that I was a soldier, and that I could and would, kill.”

In his speech to the nation on August 1st, Gowon said, among other things:

“This is Lt. Col. Y. Gowon, Army Chief of Staff, speaking to you……I have been brought to the position today of having to shoulder the great responsibilities

of this country and the armed forces with the consent of the majority of the members of the Supreme Military Council as a result of the unfortunate incident

that occcurred on the early morning of 29th July, 1966…..”

“………As a result of the recent events and the other previous similar ones, I have come to strongly believe that we cannot honestly and sincerely continue in

this wise, as the basis of trust and confidence in our unitary system has not been able to stand the test of time. I have already remarked on the issues in

question.Suffice to say that, putting all considerations to test – political, economic, as well as social – the base for unity is not there or is so badly

rocked, not only once but several times.I, therefore, feel that we should review the issue of our national standing and see if we can help stop the country

from drifting away into utter destruction….”

”All members of the armed forces are requested to keep within their barracks except on essential duties and when ordered from SHQ.Troops must not terrorize

the public, as such action will discredit the new National Military Government……”

“….I promise you that I shall do all I can to return to civil rule as soon as it can be arranged.I also intend to pursue most vigorously the question of the

release of political prisoners.Fellow countrymen, give me your support and I shall endeavour to live upto expectations.Thankyou.”

Shortly thereafter, on the same day, Lt. Col. Ojukwu, Military Governor of the East, made a counter-broadcast from Enugu.The next morning Gowon signed an

instrument of pardon for Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Anthony Enahoro, and others who had been convicted and jailed in September 1963 for treasonable felony,

conspiracy to commit a felony and conspiracy to effect an unlawful purpose in 1962 with the object of forcefully removing Alhaji Tafawa Balewa from office as

Prime Minister.

On August 3rd, Lt. Col. David Ejoor made a public speech as the Military Governor of the Midwest, in support of the new regime.Likewise, on August 4, Colonel

Adeyinka Adebayo, Military Governor of the West, broadcast his support for the new government as Gowon was addressing a press conference at the Lagos City

Hall, having earlier that day released Isaac Boro and others.Gowon was later to announce his plans for return to civilian rule four days later, followed the

next day by a meeting of delegates representing the Regional Military Governors.

However, Gowon or no Gowon, northern NCOs were still running amock killing people arbitrarily, even threatening northern officers who stood in their way. Lt.

DS Abubakar was very nearly shot at Ikeja airport in this manner by one Edward William allegedly for “hiding some Igbo people”.Lagos Garrison Commander, Lt.

Col. Eze, barely escaped a mob of northern soldiers on August 2nd but his staff officer, Captain Iloputaife, was not so lucky.Indeed, a few days after the

mutiny, a northern corporal at Ikeja summarized his own motives for the mutiny by telling Norman Miners: “The Ibos killed our leaders in January; they were

taking all the top jobs; we had to get rid of them. Now we have only got Northerners in this barracks; all the Southerners have run away.”In fact northern

NCOs and soldiers were in the habit of taking uniforms of dead Igbo officers and NCOs and wearing their ranks.On August 8, all Igbo soldiers at the Army

workshop in Yaba were expelled.But as the nation was to find out, the worst was yet to come.Colonel DS Abubakar (rtd) recalls:

“At that time, if an other rank does not like the face of another person he will just kill him like an animal and nobody will do anything.”

But it would be simplistic to presume that some northern officers did not take part in the killings in Lagos.Lt. Nuhu Nathan, for example, was later

personally credited in eastern publications with the execution of some Igbo soldiers at Ikeja.There were undoubtedly others.


The weekend of July 29, 1966 was not the first time northern soldiers had contemplated action in the North.As previously noted,quite aside from tensions

during the Platoon Commanders Course, when there were false rumors of Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina’s arrest by General Ironsi in Lagos after the promulgation of

Decree #34, northern soldiers surrounded the Kaduna airport waiting to see who would alight from his returning plane.Things were so tense that Hassan ordered

his ADC, then Lt. Ugokwe (Recce), not to step out of the plane before he did, lest he be shot because he was Igbo.

On June 15, there was a false alarm in Kaduna when the sound of planks being offloaded from a Goods Train at the Train Station was misinterpreted as rifle

shots.According to Madiebo, all hell broke loose as northern and southern officers and men at the Brigade HQ (including the commander, Col. Bassey) fled in

different directions asking themselves:“Who is doing it this time.?”

During Ironsi’s trip to Kano in July, Lt. Garba Duba of the 1st Recce Squadron had been tasked to take a troop of Ferrets from Kaduna to Kano to provide

security for Ironsi, only to find himself stopped and nearly arrested in Zaria, accused by furious northern infantrymen and civilians of betraying the North

by providing security for Ironsi in Kano.After much ado, he was allowed to proceed.Later on when Ironsi was scheduled to arrive at the Zaria Civil aerodrome,

enroute to Kaduna, there was an accidental discharge from an armored car in his receiving security detail.Therefore, upon finally arriving at the Officers

Mess at Kaduna, all Army officers were rigorously searched before being allowed entry to meet the C-in-C.The situation was anything but normal.

Anyhow, on July 29, Major General Ironsi telephoned the 1st Brigade HQ in Kaduna at about 0730 hrs to alert the Brigade about events in Ibadan and seek

help.He revealed that as of that time he had not been able to get a helicopter sent from Lagos.This was most likely because there were no night flying

helicopter capabilities in Nigeria then and certainly no night landing facilities at the government house, not to mention the fact that any such Police

helicopter would likely have been shot down by disloyal troops that had already ringed the premises.They were even armed with a 106 mm recoilless rifle which

could have destroyed any helicopter. As it were, a helicopter did eventually show up, but it was too late for the General although his son was smuggled out

of Ibadan by the Police in the third Class compartment of the Train to Lagos.

The substantive Brigade Commander, Lt. Col. W. Bassey, was on leave.The acting Brigade Commander, Lt. Col. Phillip Effiong was away, engaged in community

outreach.The Governor, Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina was also away on tour.Ironsi spoke to Major Samuel Ogbemudia, the Brigade Major, who in turn informed him of

prevailing tensions in Kaduna.Two nights before he had arrested Lt. Buka Suka Dimka in a drunken state trying to break into the armoury after he had earlier

been spotted going from house to house of northern officers passing messages.After checking with Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina, he locked Dimka up until he could

be sober enough to be interrogated.During interrogation Dimka denied any wrong doing and accused Ogbemudia of mistreating him because he was a northerner.He

was later released. Other northern officers and NCOs had also been spotted milling around army facilities apparently aimlessly, essentially “casing the

joints” and quite a few were briefly detained.Although it was not yet apparent, a few southern officers had already been kidnapped on the 28th and were later

killed “attempting to escape.”

Lt. Col Alexander Madiebo, Commander of Artillery Regiment, whose aircraft had departed Lagos 10 minutes before Sergeant Dickson’s boys seized the airport,

acting on Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed’s orders, was in Kaduna on July 29th.For some reason, Anwunah had failed to alert him of the mutiny when he found out

about it in Lagos at about midnight.Having been met at the Kaduna airport by one of the Brigade Staff Officers (Captain Dilibe) he was apprised of

developments in other parts of the country.Madiebo took charge as the senior officer on the spot and contacted Lagos.The person on seat at military

intelligence was none other than Captain Martin Adamu who denied that anything unusual was occurring.But Madiebo wasn’t fooled. He ordered Ogbemudia to order

all units to surrender their weapons and have them locked up in unit armouries which were then to be guarded by mixed combinations of northern and southern

troops.Some units refused, citing fear of being attacked.One notable example was the 3rd battalion under Lt. Col. I. C. Okoro (an easterner) whose Regimental

Sergeant Major, one Ahmadu Bello, a northerner, advised against the move.Okoro told Madiebo that he had extracted a pedge of loyalty from his troops at a

muster parade.He went further to say that Bello advised that the entire battalion be disarmed except a platoon specially selected by Bello himself.

Ogbemudia recalls that although the day started out well, things became increasingly tense as itprogressed and news began filtering in from the

south.Initially, it was not clear whether the coup was a northern counter-coup or the rumored so called radical “Plan 15” Igbo coup.Indeed even foreign news

media were not so sure initially.The New York Times reported that radical Igbo officers were leading a revolt against Ironsi.This confusion was later

clarified in Kaduna as signals poured in from Ibadan and Lagos.Madiebo recalls that T/Major C.C. Emelifonwu, DAQMG,openly condemned the apparently northern

inspired coup in the south to the hearing of Major Abba Kyari of the Artillery regiment who disagreed.Although subsequently accused in eastern publications

of chairing private tribunals to condemn Igbo soldiers to death, Kyari was, however,later to save the lives of many southern officers and men in Kaduna when

northern troops mutinied.

At this point, though, Madiebo contacted Lt. Col. Ogbugo Kalu, then Commandant of the NMTC to discuss options.At about 1330Lt. Col. Madiebo, Lt.

Col.Kalu,T/Major Emelifonwu,T/Major Ogbemudia and T/Major A.D. Ogunromet in Lt. Col. Effiong’s house.Unfortunately, the commander of the 3rd battalion, Lt.

Col. Okoro did not attend.He completely misjudged the threat, perhaps misled by his long service in that battalion and assumed bonds of loyalty forged in

combat, bonds which had long been shattered by the events of January 15.As far back as June 1961,then Captain Okoro served in the same 3rd battalion (then

called 3QNR) at Kamina in the Congo under then Lt. Col. ABM Kavanagh.In late July that year, the amiable Okoro was in charge of a regimental welcoming parade

forKatanga President Moise Tshombe.When they met, Tshombe was said to have spoken French to Okoro, who promptly replied in Igbo!

Later that night, at a pre-midnight party at the Brigade Officers Mess, a young officer who had just completed a course at the NMTC, T/Capt. I.U. Idika was

summarily executed, having refused all entreaties by Madiebo to leave.Following this ‘signal’,Lt. Col. Okoro was shot dead at midnight of July 29/30 in front

of the 3rd Battalion guardroom, allegedly by Lts. Dimka and Dambo, after being lured there by his RSM (Bello).After despatching a landrover to take his

corpse to the military hospital,the group – joined by others, including Lt. Saninegeria Abacha – disarmed the quarter guard, rallied the battalion for a

muster parade on the hockey pitch where easterners were separated, and then locked them up in the guard room (if they were lucky).Then they went hunting for

others at the Brigade HQ, NMTC, Engineer Unit, Recce Squadron and in their homes.

Initial arrests were guided by lists of so called “jubilators” who had allegedly taunted them or celebrated in the days after the assassination of the

Sardauna.Those northerners who had attended “January Victory” parties had used the opportunity to take names of their southern hosts.Many were shot

immediately, but six were taken to the undamaged Guest House at the late Northern Premier’s Lodge, wined and dined, given a visual tour of the damage wrought

by Major Nzeogwu’s 84 mm Carl Gustav anti-tank guns, then interrogated about the alleged “Plan 15 Igbo coup”, before being made to kneel in front of a

portrait of the Sardauna and bow in awe (“yi gaisuwa”).Then they were led out and executed before their corpses were then transported to locations along the

Jos, Lagos and Kachia roads and either left for hyenas to devour or shoddily buried.

After being hunted down, those who were spared the Premier’s Lodge ‘pre-operative’ treatment were simply trucked out to mile 18 on the Kaduna-Jos road where

they were shot (allegedly under Captain Ahmadu Yakubu’s supervision)and then reportedly robbed of personal belongings.The process was not totally successful,

however, because thankfully, some who feigned death were able to crawl away to safety.Interestingly, others were protected by Captain Swanton and the same

RSM Ahmadu Bello who had earlier set Okoro up for his execution at the outset of Kaduna operations.When guardrooms were too congested or unsafe, eastern,

(particularly Igbo) soldiers and officers were taken to the Kaduna Prison for safe keeping.

Madiebo, Kalu, Okon, Ogbemudia and many others eventually escaped back to their home regions from Kaduna, while some, like Major Olusegun Obasanjo were later

smuggled to Maiduguri for safe-keeping.But others were not so lucky.Asthe days progressed, however, it was clear that there was inconsistency in the degree

of discrimination being made between southerners or “jubilators”.T/Capt. L.C. Dilibe (Staff Officer, 1st Bde), T/Major Emelifonwu (DAQMG, 1st Bde) and

T/MajorOgunro (Chief Instructor, NMTC) were murdered.Major A. Drummond, half cast Igbo-Scot, was killed on Sunday July 31st.Major OU Isong(Commander, 1st

Recce Squadron) who had actually expressed scepticism about the January 15 coup, risking death at the hands of Major Nzeogwu, was also killed during the July

rebellion in Kaduna, among others.The details of his death have never been fully clarified but the young northern officers in his squadron at that time

include Lts. Ibrahim Babangida, Garba Duba, Sunday Ifere and others.

After hitchhiking with Igbo contacts across the North, Madiebo escaped across the Benue bridge at Makurdi by hiding in a water tank dressed in a firesuit,

avoiding capture by a detachment of the 3rd battalion commanded by T/Major Daramola during the penultimate leg of his relay race back home. Ogbemudia’s

escape from death at the hands of Lt. BS Dimka was partly made possible by Major Abba Kyari and Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina, as well as sheer luck.Hassan himself

had allegedly been briefly detained by mutinous troops and then released, only to be falsely accused of being behind the whole plot (along with Ali Akilu).It

was already known that Dimka was not happy that Ogbemudia had arrested him earlier, although Dimka did not know that it had been sanctioned by Hassan who had

his ears to the ground.When, therefore, Dimka was making plans to gather soldiers to seize him, and was talking carelessly about Ironsi’s phone call and its

implications, Ogbemudia was tipped off and advised in the nick of time to escape.A landrover was immediately provided which Ogbemudia jumped into (armed with

an SMG) and sped out of town (without bothering to pack) chased by a landrover load of northern soldiers led by the Lieutenant.Ogbemudia got a pass from

Governor Hassan Katsina as a form of protection but this proved to be useless.

Dimka’s group pursued him to Kontagora where he refueled, barely eluding them at the catering rest house.But they refused to give up, chasing him all the way

to Jebba, crossing the Niger Bridge behind him, sometimes shooting.They followed him all the way to Owo in present day Ondo State where he ran out of fuel,

abandoned his vehicle and scaled a six foot fence into dense jungle.At that point they gave up and began their journey back to Kaduna.Ogbemudia later hitched

hiked back to Benin City laying low for some time, moving from house to house until things cooled down.The strange thing is that Major Ogbemudia was

Nzeogwu’s deputy at the NMTC in January and had been asked by Nzeogwu totake leave so he would be out of station during the coup.Nzeogwu did not take him

into confidence.In fact, for a brief moment after discovering – at a road block – that there was a coup in progress led by his boss, Ogbemudia considered

moving against Nzeogwu but was stuck with his desperately ill daughter who had to be taken to hospital.But paradoxically, here he was in July barely escaping

death from Dimka, who was convinced that he was part of the so called“Plan 15”!

Indeed, Ogbemudia was not the only example of this paradox.There were many others.ThenMajorH. Igboba, who barely escaped death on July 29 (as a Lt. Col. and

CO of the 2nd battalion ), had led one of the companies from the battalion that helped in crushing the January mutiny along with Major Anago (a Camerounian)

both under Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon who was transitioning in to replace Hilary Njoku.Njoku, for unclear reasons, was still at his post even though already

posted out.But Igboba fully cooperated with Gowon, who in turn, was supporting Ironsi.In fact, according to Ben Odogwu, Chief of Biafran Intelligence, Col.

Igboba later met his death at the Benin Prison in September 1967 at the hands of ex-January 15 mutineers he had manhandled in detention after they were

arrested in Lagos.


The 5th battalion in Kano was under the command ofT/Lt. Col. M Shuwa, one of the two battalions in the country commanded by a northern officer – the other

one being the 4th battalion in Ibadan.On July 28, 29, and 30 the unit was deceptively quiet although Shuwa was abreast of events elsewhere.However, on the

night of July 31/August 1st, three Igbo officers and a midwesterner were suddenly hunted down and shot.It remained relatively quiet again until September

when all hell broke loose at the Kano International Airport.As Lt. Col Hassan Katsina put it at Aburi, “I have seen an Army mutiny in Kano and if you see me

trembling you will know what a mutiny is. ………… for two good days I saw a real mutiny when aC.O.ofNorthern origin commanding soldiers of Northern origin had

to run away.“One northern officer was actually reportedly killed by angry northern soldiers for giving them an order to protect Igbos. The slaughter of Igbos

at Kano airport by elements of the 5th battalion was one of the more gruesome events of that era.


According to the transcript of tape recordings of the military leaders meeting from January 4-5, 1967, held at the Peduase Lodge, Aburi, Ghana,then Lt. Col.

C. Ojukwu, Military Governor of the eastern region, said (among other things):

“When this affair of the 29th July occurred, I remember for certain, the

first 24 hours nobody thought it necessary to contact the East from Lagos.

I made the contact later and I know the advice I gave Brigadier Ogundipe

at that time. I said to him, ‘Sir, the situation is so confused that I

feel that somebody must take control immediately. Also, I would suggest

that you go on to the air and tell the country what has happened and that

you were taking control of the situation.’ Then I was told about concern

for the whole country. I knew that if this thing resolved itself into

factions we would get ourselves into so much trouble that we would never

or we would find it difficult to get out. I maintained and still do that

the answer would have been for the responsible officers of the Army to get

together thereby trying to get the Army together to solve the problem that

we had on our hands. I said to him ‘As soon as you have made your speech I guarantee you within 30 minutes, I needed time to write my own, in 30

minutes I would come on to the air in the East and say that I, the entire

Army in the East and the entire people in the East wholeheartedly support


Indeed, official circles in the eastern region were “blacked out” initially from information flow, particularly during the first 24 hours of the revolt.The

commander of the 1st battalion in Enugu, Lt. Col. David “Baba” Ogunewe, a thoroughly professional and experienced officer who had risen from the ranks, found

out about the Abeokuta mutiny late at night on July 29 by accident.Captain Ogbonna had tried to reach the battalion from Abeokuta.

The duty officer at the 1st battalion (who happened to be a northerner) was not on seat when Ogbonna’s message came through, so it was passed directly to Lt.

Col. Ogunewe, thus giving him an early insight into events, which proved to be crucial.He went to the messin the early hours of July 30 and found a group of

northern officers (including Lts. Shehu Musa Yar-Adua, A. A. Abubakar, Sale Mamood, Daudu Suleiman, Captains Muhammadu Jega, Gibson S. Jalo and others) fully

dressed in combat fatigues and apparently talked them out of taking precipitate action, tapping an incredible reserve of goodwill he had always had with the

boys.Ogunewe’s successful confrontation with the northern officers is all the more remarkable when it is realized that he was unarmed and had only been in

command of that battalion for six months.It was truly a testimony to his man-management skills in crisis, well worth study for future reference.It turns out

though, that these officers had already been having meetings behind Hotel Presidential in Enugu to discuss their own contributions to the “Aure” plot and the

neutralization of Lt. Col. Ojukwu. However, they had decided after careful appreciation of the situation, surrounded by a hostile population, to restrict

themselves to self defence to avoid reprisals against their families.

In an October 1979 interview with the FRCN,Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (rtd), now deceased, recalled his role as the Adjutant of the 1st Battalion in

those dark days.According to him, therewas no plan initially to kill anyone although he clearly intended to arrestLt. Col C. Ojukwu, then Military

Governor.He corroborates other sources who have since said that the coup date had in fact been put off when informal word came late on Friday night, more

likely early Saturday July 30, from Captain Remawa in Abeokuta, that violence had broken out.At first Yar’Adua did not know what to make of it since Remawa

was not part of the original “Aure” plot.But then he got dressed and alerted other northern officers. By the time he returned to the office at about 4 am, as

he put it:”…… CO and all the Igbo officers had been there at three, because somebody had also rang them from Abeokuta and told them what was

happening.”This “somebody” was none other than Captain Ogbonna.

A joint guard, consisting of northern and southern soldiers was then posted to guard the armoury, choking off weapon flow.Ogunewe then notified Lt. Col

Ojukwu and later ordered that all officers irrespective of regional origin should live together in the mess while all Other Ranks were to live onthe parade

ground.In this manner, no group could conspire or make a move without detection.The only officer authorized to be armed at this point was Ogunewe himself who

sat with the other officers while everyone looked at everyone.

At 11am on July 30, Ojukwu called a meeting of the regional executive council at which they were briefed on events in other parts of the country.Before then

Ojukwu had been on the telephone all morning contacting units and eastern officers all over the country to get a picture of events.He is quoted by NU Akpan,

former Secretary to the Government of the Eastern region after one of his calls, as saying:“One thing is clear, however; these people are quite bent on

annihilating the Ibos.”Later that day, for reasons that have never been clarified, he slipped out of Enugu (leaving Ogunewe behind) and went to Onitsha from

where he was making his calls to Ogundipe in Lagos encouraging him to stand firm.Much later that night, urged by Mr. P. Okeke who was then Commissioner of

Police, he returned to Enugu, moving his office, home and relatives to the Police HQ, surrounded by a special guard of Mobile Policemen of Igbo origin.That

same evening, eastern chiefs and traditional rulers arrived back from the Traditional Rulers meeting in Ibadan, bringing with them information about the

kidnapping of Ironsi and Fajuyi.

By Sunday July 31st, when Ojukwu called the executive council again, he announced that Brigadier Ogundipe had since told him that the situation was out of

control.Shortly thereafter, Ogundipe himself could not be contacted.It was not until Lt. Col. Gowon’s broadcast on August 1st that a transient semblance of

order became discernible.Ojukwu made a broadcast in response in which he said, inter-alia,

“In the course of this rebellion, I have had discussions with the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brigadier Ogundipe, who as the next most senior

officer in the absence of the Supreme Commander, should have assumed command of the Army………”

”During those discussions, it was understood that the only condition on which the rebels would agree to cease fire were: that the Republic of Nigeria be

split into its component parts; and that all southerners in the North be repatriated to the South and that Northerners resident in the South be repatriated

to the North……”

“…….the brutal, planned annihilation of officers of Eastern Nigerian origin in the last two days has again cast serious doubts as to whether the people of

Nigeria, after these cruel and bloody atrocities, can ever sincerely live together as members of the same nation….…”

“….I have further conveyed to the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, my fellow military governors and the Chief of Staff, Army Headquarters, my

understanding that the only intention of the announcement made by the Chief of Staff, Army Headquarters today is the restoration of peace in the country

whilst immediate negotiations are begun to allow the people of Nigeria to determine the form of their future association.Good night and thank you.”

Ojukwu thenspent the next one week insisting that northern soldiers in Enugu (who comprised no less than two thirds of the battalion) be removed from the

city before he would consider leaving the safety of the Police HQ back to the State House.

Through all this, Ogunewe kept in touch with Gowon in Lagos and was crucial to arrangements that were subsequently made to successfully repatriate non-

eastern soldiers and their families out of the region – a remarkable achievement for which he was rewarded by being fully reabsorbed into the Nigerian Army

without loss of rank after the civil war.But even this was not so straightforward.For one, Ogunewe had to resist all kinds of entreaties to allow vengeful

Igbo mobs gain entry into the barracks to liquidate the northern troops there.Secondly, according to then Major (later Brigadier) Benjamin Adekunle, Lt. Col.

Murtala Muhammed had contacted Lt. Yar’Adua secretly and ordered him to break into the armoury to secure arms and ammunition for northern soldiers – to the

exclusion of others.This led to a clash between them which almost cost Adekunle his life later on.

Just under two weeks after Gowon came to power, Major Adekunle was tasked to lead the 1st battalion detachment by train which was granted safe passage to

transport non-eastern soldiers and their families to Kaduna enroute to Lagos in exchange for surviving eastern soldiers in other regions.The suspicion was so

high that Adekunle gave orders that every individual soldier was to guard every other individual soldier.When Adekunle got to Kaduna, some Igbo officers

released from Kaduna Prison were placed onboard the train (without his knowledge, he says, but with his knowledge others say) on their way to Lagos enroute

to the eastern region.Some of the northern soldiers on the train did not like the arrangement seeing as they felt they had not yet contributed their quota to

the mayhem going on elsewhere, so they mutinied, killing the Igbo officers.As Brigadier Adekunle (rtd) put it:

“Yar’Adua arranged for their heads to be cut and threw their bodies over the door, chained with other officers …….”

Other sources say the bodies were thrown into a river near Minna.It turns out that there were a few pregnant women onboard the train who went into labor when

they witnessed this spectacle.Therefore, Adekunle ordered the train stopped at Minna Station to take the women in labor to hospital.It was there that he says

Lt. SM Yar’Adua attacked him with a bayonet.

According to Adekunle:

“I got to the railway station. Madness started. Alright put your hand inside my head and see wound, that is blade, that is Yar’Adua’s work. Immediately I got

down they wanted to kill Adekunle.You see this, it was for my stomach. Yar’Adua, see my hand, it was cut but they couldn’t cut it, they cut and cut but the

knife no go.You don forget say na Ogbomosho na him I be.Then they put my head on railway line that when the train coming to Lagos moves it will cut my head.”

Adekunle, however, has never publicly explained how he survived but others say he was saved by then Captain GS Jalo, who shared the same Bachama ethnicity as

Adekunle’s mother.In an interview,Lt. General GS Jalo (rtd), now deceased, also credited Alhaji Suleiman, then District Head in Minna and his former

Principal in Yola, for saving then Major Adekunle’s life.Other sources allege that it was Yar’Adua himself who drove Adekunle to Hospital in Minna from where

he was aero-evacuated to Kaduna and claim that Yar’Adua was neither the instigator of the Train mutiny nor Adekunle’s attacker.

In any case, when the 1st battalion detachment eventually arrived at Ikeja Barracks in Lagos, northern soldiers who left Enugu unmolested got themselves

involved in molesting departing Igbo refugees and looting their property.According to General Jalo:

“The Igbo were going away and looting set in and some senior officers, I must confess, encouraged this to happen.”

On August 27, in another broadcast from Enugu, Ojukwu stated, among other things,

“I last spoke to you on August 1, following the unfortunate and tragic events of July 29.I am sure that you all have since followed through the Press and

Radio the sad turn of events.One thing has come out very clearly from this, the preceding and subsequent events, that is, that there is in fact no genuine

basis for true unity in the country…..”

Ojukwu unilaterally declared August 29 a day of mourning in the East, a move which was, however, viewed with suspicion as an act of defiance by hawks in the

Gowon government.Itproved to be one of many “Stations of the Cross”along the long windy road to the Nigerian Civil War, a road some say began in January



Benin-City was quiet during the weekend of July 29, 1966.It had hosted General Ironsi with fanfare on the 27th.School children lined the routes and there was

pomp and pageantry.Underneath it all, however, fate beckoned.It was from Benin that Ironsi departed on his way to Ibadan where he met his death.In the

atmosphere of myths that evolved in the years after 1966, there was even a story that ”Operation Aure” was not launched in Benin because of the intercession

of the Oba of Benin.That story is false, although it is true that the traditional institution offered prayers for the country’s stability.A strong delegation

of chiefs and traditional rulers from the Midwest region attended the conference in Ibadan.

During the weekend of the mutiny there were no rebellious activities within the small detachment of the 4th battalion under S/Captain Adeniran stationed in

Benin.However, the tour of duty in Benin made it possible for soldiers in that company to discover that some of those detained for their part in the January

15 mutiny were at the Benin Prison.This information was to take on greater significance, when on August 16th, there was a raid on the prison carried out by

those elements of the 4th battalion who had initially been redeployed back to Ibadan, but then made a special trip back to Benin just for the heist.

The immediate motive for the August 16 raid was to release their more unruly northern colleagues from the Battalion who had been detained there in early

August for their part in the events at Ibadan on July 29 in which General Ironsi, Col. Fajuyi and some Midwestern officers and soldiers in the 4th battalion

(like Lt. Jasper) lost their lives.One account claims the soldiers were from the 1st battalion at Enugu, detained by Ejoor, but I have a conflicting account

on personal authority from a participant in the raid that they were not.

The rescuers did not stop at releasing their colleagues.They removed Igbo soldiers who had long been detained there for their part in the January mutiny,

including Major Christian Anuforo who had personally executed Lt. Cols. Arthur Unegbe, Kur Mohammed and James Yakubu Pam, as well as Federal Finance Minister

Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh.All of these individuals – including Anuforo – were tortured and then shot after private trials conducted by northern NCOs along the

Benin-Ore road, although S/Captain Adeniran himself, pro-Akintola as he was, and a lucky survivor of the January operations, may not have been a neutral

observer.Indeed, one of the less well publicized activities of mutinous troops in the 4th battalion was the release of NNDP supporters who had been detained

in Ibadan Prison by Lt. Col. Fajuyi back in January.It was a stroke of fortune for Major Adewale Ademoyega, another one of the January conspirators, who

paired up with Anuforo for Okotie-Eboh’s execution, that soldiers from the 4th battalion were unaware that he had been transferred to Warri Prison from the

East. Needless to say, the Military Governor, Lt. Col. David Ejoor was very embarassed and protested vehemently to Gowon.

IBADAN, FRIDAY, JULY 29, 1966 (“Paiko’s Wedding”)

The situation in Ibadan on July 28 was tense.Northern civil servants, chiefs and traditional rulers who had come for the Conference of Traditional rulers

were eager to get out of the South, fearful that they would be targetted in the so called “Plan 15” Igbo Plot.Indeed there were false rumors that the

conference Hall was slated to be blown up.At the regimental parade for General Ironsi a small controversy erupted in the Press about the observation that

northern troops refused to (or could not) sing the National Anthem.Arguments went back and forth on TV about whether their lips were moving.

Nevertheless, there was a grand reception in the evening hosted by the Military Governor, Lt. Col.Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, which belied the tensions that

were simmering underneath. Fate was beckoning.Both Ironsi and Fajuyi were distinguished veterans of the Congo peace-keeping operations (ONUC) from 1960-

64.Then Brigadier JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi was the overall Force Commander for the last six months of the operation.Fajuyi was well known as the first Nigerian

officer to be honoured with an international military citation.As a Major, he was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for personal action in leading C company of

the 4QNR in combat on November 27, 1960 and subsequently extricating it from an ambush during operations on January 3, 1961.

However, following the call from Lt. Pam Mwadkon in Abeokuta, Lt. Garba Dada (Paiko) woke up other northern officers at the 4th Battalion, including Major TY

Danjuma, a staff officer at AHQ who was temporarily staying at the Letmauk Barracks, having accompanied Major General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi from Lagos.The

Barracks is named after a town called Letmauk, site of a bitter campaign in April and May 1944to retake AN from the Japanese in Burma, by the 1stNigerian

Brigade of the 82nd West African Division during World War II.

Dada told Danjuma:”Sir, wewill have to do the same thing.The most important target is the Supreme Commander.For as long as he is there, everything we are

doing here is nothing.We should go there.”

After a brief meeting with Lts. Ibrahim Bako and Abdullai Shelleng, a quick phone call was made to Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed in Lagos, seeing as Muhammed had

earlier contacted the boys to stand down from their group’s pre-planned coup.But Muhammed initially urged restraint, seeing as he was unsure whether his

earlier confrontation with Anwunah meant that Igbo officers and soldiers in Lagos were already armed and may well have the advantage – as Anwunah had

threatened.However, concerned that exposed northern mutineers in Abeokuta would be isolated and thus likely arrested and charged if they delayed action,

Danjuma, Dada, Bako, Shelleng, and the duty officer (James Onoja) decided to overrule Muhammed and proceed with operations in Ibadan.Because Danjuma did not

go to Ibadan with combat dress, he borrowed one from Lt. James Onoja* who had recently come back from a course in the US, and wore it right over his

pyjamas.Then Danjuma armed himself with a hand grenade for suicide in the event of mission failure.

(*Some accounts say it was Akahan’s uniform, but the Onoja version is likely more correct, confirmed by Danjuma himself.In any case Akahan was out of the

loop until daybreak).

Soldiers were then hurriedly selected from infantry companies at Mokola commanded by Onoja and Shelleng.While Shelleng took one group to man checkpoints

along the Lagos and Abeokuta roads to protect the southern approaches to the city, 24 soldiers under Lt. James Onoja, some say in two landrovers mustered by

the MTO, Lt. Jerry Useni,accompanied Major Danjuma to the Government House in the early hours of July 29, 1966.The specific initial objective was to isolate

the premises, disconnect the Supreme Commander from the chain of command and arrest him as a tool for negotiations regarding the boys who killed Okonweze and

others at Abeokuta.The Government House was already guarded by elements of the National Guards company, led by Lt. William Walbe, who was in charge of a 106

mm recoilless rifle group, along with some soldiers on duty from the 4th battalion whose reporting relationship was to the adjutant of the battalion as well

as the duty officer.


Upon arrival there, having established that the Supreme Commander was in, Major Danjuma was confronted by two command problems. Both arose from the fact that

he neither belonged to the 4th battalion nor was he part of the National Guard, although he was senior to all the boys on the ground.First task, therefore,

was to ensure the cooperation of those elements of the 4th battalion who were on duty there.The second was to secure the cooperation of the National Guard

Commander on the ground.In order to address the first problem he asked the adjutant (“Paiko”) to issue a “legitimate” order that all his soldiers on duty be

disarmed by the duty officer (Onoja) who was there to conduct a “legitimate” inspection.After being disarmed by the Duty Sergeant, they were illegitimately

screened and those who could be trusted (ie northerners), illegitimately rearmed.Then they were supplemented by the pre-selected group Danjuma brought along

from the barracks with Onoja.To deal with the second problem he confronted Lt. William Walbe directly andsecured his cooperation.This wasn’t too

difficult.Although they were in different cells, Walbe himself had been attending separate meetings in Lagos with Joe Garba and others and was well aware of

the outlines of a coup plot although he did not expect one that night.

Once the building was surrounded and the 106 mm gun positioned in support, Danjuma came under pressure from the boys on the ground to proceed with the

operation.There were fears, based on myths acquired in the Congo, that General Ironsi was assisted by “juju” and that he could disappear at anytime using his

“crocodile”.Junior officers who had come to join the party urged immediate attack, some even suggesting a repeat performance of the Nzeogwu assault on the

Nassarawa Lodge in Kaduna in January.They wanted the 106 mm weapon used to bring down the complex.Danjuma resisted the pressure.

Lt. Col. Hilary Njoku, Commander of the 2nd Brigade in Lagos, then emerged from the main building and was walking right past the soldiers on duty moving

toward the gate.One account says he came up from Lagos with Ironsi, had been staying at the guest house next to the main lodge, but was at the main lodge

where Ironsi was staying, socializing with both Ironsi and Fajuyi.Another account says he came up from Lagos that evening when rumors of a coup gained strong

currency among senior Igbo officers in Lagos to brief the C-in-C.When he attempted to leave the premises, ostensibly to mobilize loyal units, he was shot at

by soldiers who had been ordered not to let anyone out and he responded in kind. (Some say he shot first).Luckily he escaped with serious injuries, some say

with no less than 8 pieces of shrapnel in his thigh.Njoku initially made his way to the University College Hospital but had to escape again when a “mop up”

team came searching for him.

At this point, Lt. Onoja asked for permission to leave, saying he was going to get more ammunition from the barracks.However, he panicked and ran away in one

of the landrovers, fearing that Njoku’s escape meant the coup would fail.He was later arrested at Jebba.

When it became apparent that Njoku had escaped, Danjuma, guarded by two soldiers, made rounds to check all guard positions around the lodge and was moving

toward the guest house when he heard the phone there ringing.He asked one of his guards tobreak the window so he could reach in to answer the phone.According

to General Danjuma (rtd), this is how the conversation went:


Gowon:“Hello. I want to speak to Brigade Commander. I want to speak to Colonel Njoku.

Danjuma:“May I know who is speaking?”

Gowon:My name is Gowon. Yakubu Gowon.”

Danjuma:“Ranka dede. This is Yakubu Danjuma.”

Gowon:“Yakubu, what are you doing there? Where are you?”

Danjuma:“I am in the State House here.”

Gowon:“Where is the Brigade Commander?”

Danjuma:“He is not around.”

Gowon:“Have you heard what has happened?”

Danjuma:“Yes, I heard and that is why I am here. We are about to arrest the Supreme Commander.The alternative is that the Igbo boys who carried out the

January coup will be released tit for tat since we killed their own officers.”

Gowon:(after a period of silence)“Can you do it?”

Danjuma:“Yes, we have got the place surrounded.”

Gowon:“But for goodness sake we have had enough bloodshed. There must be no bloodshed.”

Danjuma:“No, We are only going to arrest him.”

At this point Danjuma replaced the phone as yet another command crisis with the soldiers on the grounds was brewing.It is not clear from available

information what Gowon did with the explosive information he had just gained from Danjuma or how he and Ogundipe planned to deal with it.Danjuma does not say

that Gowon or any other senior officer explicitly ordered him to desist from his activities.To what extent, then, did knowledge that Ironsi was already

surrounded by elements of the 4th battalion affect efforts to send a Helicopter or the force structure of any potential rescue mission?It appears that, at

least in dealings with Ibadan, a decision was made, by omission or commission, to adopt a negotiating rather than fighting attitude to the mutiny.

This is an area which will attract considerable attention of researchers in the future.Some have used it to implicate Gowon in the coup but depending on what

other information he had at that point about availability of loyal fighting units, this may be too harsh a conclusion to draw without additional

clarification from Gowon himself.He may well have been stalling to allow him time to make alternative plans.Certainly, neither the National Guard company,2nd

(in Lagos) nor 4th (in Ibadan) battalions nor the garrison at Abeokuta were usable at that point.Even if they were willing, battalions in Enugu, Kaduna and

Kano were too far away to be useful, particularly considering the lack of emergency strategic airlift capability.In any case, any thinking along these lines

was quickly neutralized by Murtala Muhammed’s decision to seize Ikeja airport at dawn.Lastly, Gowon may have viewed Danjuma as the lesser of two evils – the

other being an all out effort by mutinying junior officers to get their hands on the General (which is what eventually happened).In retrospect, at that point

only a foreign power could have mustered the might to stage a complex night-time military rescue operation to save Ironsi. But there is no evidence that such

an option was ever considered.

In any case, when Onoja ran away, TY Danjuma was isolated.With no duty officer on ground, and no other officer from the 4th battalion on the premises, the

NCOs began to wonder if they should take strange orders from thisMajor they had never met, wearing a mis-sized American satin combat uniform on top of

pyjamas and who wasn’t even from their unit.They began to wonder if Danjuma might even be an Igbo officer basedon his physique and bearing and perhaps even

his reluctance to destroy the building.Fortunately for Danjuma, Lt. Abdullai Shelleng returned briefly from his checkpoint on Abeokuta road to check on

things and persuaded the NCOs to obey him, assuring them that he was a northerner.

Other officers also arrived back on premises as daybreak approached, including “Paiko” himself.Nervous soldiers then appealed directly to Garba Dada (Paiko)

to blow up the house but he refused to do so unless Danjuma gave the okay.Danjuma chose to maintain the siege, waiting patiently for the occupants to emerge

from the building.The opportunity would come at 8 am when the Governor and Head of State were scheduled to go for official engagements in town.The one

curious oversight, though, was that no effort was made to cut off the phone lines at the lodge.

At 6:30 am General Ironsi’s Army ADC, Lt. Sani Bello emerged from the building to find out what was going on.After a brief confrontation with Danjuma and a

group of hostile northern NCOs, he was arrested,told to remove his shoes and sit down on the ground.As members of the Head of State’s convoy and delegation

began arriving from guest chalets they too were detained and asked to sit on the ground.They include many others like Colonel Olu Thomas, an army physician,

and Chief C. O. Lawson, Secretary to the Government, arrested at about 7:30 am.

At this point, Lt. Col. Fajuyi personally emerged from the building.Some accounts claim that his ADC had absconded during the night and switched

sides.Danjuma describes his conversation with Fajuyi as follows:

Fajuyi:“Danjuma come. What do you want?”

Danjuma:“I want the Supreme Commander”

Fajuyi:“Promise me that no harm will come to him”

Danjuma:words to the effect that no harm would come to Ironsi and that he was only being arrested.

Fajuyi:“I will go and call him.”

Chorus of northern NCOs:“No, Sir. Don’t allow him to go.”

Danjuma:(talking to Fajuyi who had briefly turned around)“Sir, you see what I have.This is grenade.If there is false move two of us will go.”

At this point Fajuyi led the way into the building with the grenade bearing Danjuma and five armed soldiers (including Lt. Walbe) right behind him,

essentially using him as a cover as they climbed the staircase and went upstairs to meet General Ironsi.

Ironsi:“Young man”

Danjuma:“Sir, you are under arrest.”

Ironsi:“What is the matter?”

Danjuma:“The matter is you, Sir.You told us in January when we supported you to quell the mutiny that all the dissident elements that took part in the mutiny

will be court-martialled.It is July now.You have done nothing.You kept these boys in prison and the rumours are now that they will be released because they

are national heroes.”

Ironsi:“Look, what do you mean? It is not true.”

At this point Ironsi and Danjuma began arguing, with Fajuyi getting in between them and reminding Danjuma again and again of his promise that no harm would

come to Ironsi.

Danjuma:“Fajuyi get out of my way. You, just come down.”

Danjuma:(to Ironsi) “….You organized the killing of our brother officers in January and you have done nothing to bring the so called dissident elements to

justice because you were part and parcel of the whole thing.”

Ironsi:“Who told you that?You know it is not true.”

Danjuma:“You are lying. You have been fooling us.I ran around risking my neck trying to calm the ranks, and in February you told us that they would be

tried.This is July and nothing has been done.You will answer for your actions.”

At this point Danjuma and Lt. Andrew Nwankwo, Ironsi’s AirForce ADC, had a fierce verbal exchange, with one holding a grenade with the pin pulled and the

other holding a pistol. But with the fingers of five other soldiers on the triggers of automatic weapons, Nwankwo was outgunned.


When the group got downstairs, Danjuma instructed the 4th battalion adjutant, Lt. Garba Dada (“Paiko”), to arrange for both Fajuyi and Ironsi to be taken to

the guest house on the cattle ranch at Mokwa “pending date of full inquiry”.Lt. “Paiko”, however, informed Danjuma that he was not a party to the commitment

he made to Fajuyi (or Gowon) about their safety and a fierce emotional argument erupted between Danjuma and the others.At this point a northern soldier

tapped Danjuma on the shoulder with a loaded rifle and, speaking in Hausa, said:

“These foolish young boys.That is the kind of leadership you have given us and messing us up.They killed all your elders and you are still fooling around

here.The man you are fooling around here with will disappear before you know it.”

The other soldiers agreed with this soldier and pounced on both Ironsi and Fajuyi, wrestling them to restrain any movement. Danjuma, faced with one command

crisis after another all night, had finally lost control.

Fajuyi turned to Danjuma and said:“You gave us the assurance.”

Danjuma replied:“Yes, Sir. I am sure you will be all right.”

He was wrong.

Two landrovers took the captives away while Danjuma hitch-hiked back to the barracks.

Both Ironsi and Fajuyi were squeezed into the front seat of one vehicle while Ironsi’s ADCs, Lts. Bello and Nwankwo were behind.Two officers, Lts. Walbe and

Dada,accompanied the group with one joining the driver of the lead vehicle.The command vehicle led another vehicle full of armed troops.Among those soldiers

said to have been present include the 4th battalion unit RSM Useni Fagge, Sergeant Tijjani (from Maiduguri), Warrant OfficerBako, and other soldiers

including Dabang, Wali, and Rabo.Some of those involved were later to come to prominence during the unsuccessful Dimka coup of 1976. (Although Colonel Yohana

Madaki (rtd) was at that time an NCO in the 4th battalion, there is no evidence that he accompanied the soldiers that took Ironsi away).

They drove to Mile 8 on Iwo road, where the group dismounted and went into the bush, crossing a small stream.Ironsi and Fajuyi were subjected to beatings and

interrogation.General Ironsi acted a soldier as he was questioned, refused to be intimidated and remained silent, refusing to confess any role in the January

15 coup.Indeed, according to Elaigwu, “It was reliably learnt from an officer and a soldier on the spot that it was Ironsi’s muteness amidst a barrage of

questions that led to his being shot by an angry Northern soldier.” Other sources suggest that the “angry northern soldier” may have been Sergeant

Tijjani.Details are murky.

Fajuyi was also shot.Although the western region publication “Fajuyi the Great” published by the Ministry of Information in 1967 after his official burial

said he had offered to die rather than “abandon his guest”, those involved in his arrest and assassination insist that he was an even more critical target

than Ironsi and made no such offer to die with Ironsi.Lt. Col. William Walbe (rtd) said:

“……..We arrested him as we arrested Ironsi.We suspected him of being party to the January coup.You remember the Battle Group Course which was held at

Abeokuta….Fajuyi was the Commander of the Battle Group Course…All those who took part in the January coup were those who had taken part in that course.It

gave us the impression that the Battle Course was arranged for the January coup, so he had to suffer it too. I am sorry about that but that is the nature of

the life of a military man……..”

General Danjuma confirms this opinion.He says that at another training camp in Kachia commanded by Lt. Col. Fajuyi, Major Nzeogwu rehearsed the assault on

Sardauna’s house in the presence of some northern mortar officers who did not appreciate the significance of the exercise until after the coup.In Danjuma’s

words, “The chaps could not stomach Fajuyi such that if there was anybody who should die first, as far as they were concerned, it was Fajuyi, not even


How true are these claims about Fajuyi’s role in the January coup?I found an answer in the book “Why we Struck” by Major Adewale Ademoyega, one of the

January mutineers and a Yoruba officer like Fajuyi.Ademoyega states that Fajuyi supported the first coup, knew of it and made suggestions to plotters on how

it could be best carried out.According to Ademoyega, that he did not actively participate was only as a result of his posting at the time the coup was

launched.However, Ademoyega eulogizes the late Colonel for opposing all efforts in the Supreme Military Council to bring the January 15 coupists to trial.


Major General Ironsi had two ADCs, Army Lt. Sani Bello and AirForce Lt. Andrew Nwankwo.Speaking Hausa, Bello, whose ethnic origin is Kontagora, appealed to

‘Lt. Paiko’, who was an acquaintance from the same Niger province in the North, to let him and his Igbo colleague off the hook since they were not the

targets of the soldiers and were only performing official functions as ADCs.

According to Madiebo:

“While Ironsi was being shot, Nwankwo said he ran into the bush and escaped. He emphasized that his escape was not due to his cleverness, but because his

colleague, the Hausa ADC who was also present, wanted him to escape.Nwankwo explained that during the month of June, 1966, he and his Northern colleague had

discussed the possibility of another coup. The Northern officer was emphatic the Ibos were going to do it again, but Nwankwo swore it was going to be done by

Northerners. According to him, at the end of a long but heated argument, they came to an agreement that whichever side did it, the man on the winning side

should save the other’s life. Based on this agreement, the Northern ADC whispered to Nwankwo to escape while Ironsi was being shot, and also discouraged the

soldiers from chasing after him. Nwankwo said he later made his way to Lagos and contacted this Northern officer again, who not only hid him for a couple of

days, but eventually took him out of Lagos in the boot of a car.”


Later that morning, on Friday July 29, back in the barracks, T/Lt. Col Joe Akahan, Commander of the 4th battalion , who had essentially been ignored all

night by junior officers, tried to reassert control.He (or someone acting in his name) apparently called a meeting of all officers at 10am which Akahan did

not attend.By this time, Lt. Pam Nwadkon’s Ferret group had arrived from Abeokuta bringing more inciting news about how Igbo soldiers there had been hunted

down and killed.At this meeting surviving Igbo soldiers were allegedly rounded up by NCOs and later killed, some say by being packed like sardines into a

tailor’s shop and then blown up with grenades.The intelligence officer of the battalion, Lt. Jasper, from the delta part of the Midwest, was killed based on

an allegation that he had been an informant for senior Igbo officers in Lagos.NNDP detainees at the Ibadan prison were released.

Later in the afternoon around 4 pm, weary from negotiations with rebels at Ikeja, Gowon called from Lagos and spoke to Akahan, seeking to establish the

status of the Supreme Commander.Akahan passed the question on to Danjuma who then informed Gowon that Ironsi had been snatched from him by officers of the

4th battalion.When Danjuma confronted the Battalion adjutant with the same question, he says the adjutant “told me one story after the other.But I saw the

officers in twos and threes whispering to each other and it was running to about 7pm.”

At this point let me address a pertinent question.Is there is any independent corroboration for Danjuma’s story that he arrested Ironsi but did not order or

partake in his torture and execution?Yes, at least two.In the book “Power with Civility”,Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu says:“In fairness to Danjuma, his mission

was to arrest the Head of State in a bloodless coup, but having accomplished it successfully, he was shoved aside by a mob who had reserved a fatal fate for

their captive.”General Gowon (rtd) also confirmed in an interview with Elaigwu that then Major Danjuma was very sad when he later learnt about the deaths of

both Ironsi and Fajuyi, having given his word that no harm would come to them.

On Saturday, July 30, T/Lt. Col. Akahan finally came to grips with the situation, albeit temporarily, ordering all soldiers to be disarmed in response to

direct orders from Lagos.

But the 4th battalion, incidentally the direct descendant of“Glover’s Hausas”,was not done yet.In time it would acquire a reputation as the most unruly

battalion in Nigerian history.On August 16, a detachment of the unit staged a raid on the Benin Prison, followed by an all out battalion-wide riot in Ibadan.

Later that month when a decision was made to transfer the battalion en bloc, now under Major Danjuma’s command, to Kaduna, NCOs and junior officers again

went berserk.Using tactics reminiscent of the Japanese in Burma, they went to hospitals all over Kaduna to look for sick Igbo officers, one of whom was

killed.Another officer, then Major Alabi (later renamed Alabi-Isama) of the NMTC, who had actually served with the 4th battalion before the January coup

narrowly escaped back to the Midwest.He was smuggled out of Kaduna by a team of officers led by the Military Governor, Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina.

Detachments of the 4th battalion deployed to other northern townscontinued their acts of lawlessness everywhere they went.Soldiers in the infantry company

deployed to Makurdi (under S/Captain Adeniran who replaced T/Major Daramola of the 3rd battalion) were instrumental to the outbreak of systematic killing in

September of Igbos fleeing from other parts of the North.It is not for nothing that the vehicle and railway bridge over the River Benue at Makurdi was nick-

named the “Red Bridge”.In a pattern established by the preceding unit, easterners(particularly those with low Military or Police style crew hair cut) were

allegedly screened out at the Train station, or hunted down in joint Army-Police-Militia house to house searches, then taken to an open field in Makurdi

North where they were allegedly executed.All of these alleged activities could not have escaped the attention of the local Police Special Branch officer,

then ASP Shettima, but it is unclear what steps were taken by authorities to bring the situation under control, assuming they were even aware of what was

going on.Those easterners who escaped the Makurdi railway bottleneck had to contend with molestation and looting by rural opportunists along the Makurdi-

Otukpo road, if they thought going by road was safer.If they escaped that, they had to survive a final checkpoint at Otukpo, allegedly manned by one Lt.


In addition to hair style, all sorts of criteria were used to screen out those marked for execution.Soldiers or Policemen who were multilingual would speak

English or vernacular to the “suspect” and then listen for tell-tale accents in the way certain words were pronounced.Another popular screening method was

one’s tribal marks.Yorubas with large tribal marks would often be jokingly referred to as “Akintola” and let go.Not to have obvious identifiable tribal

marks, however, was an invitation to trouble, which is how many got killed, whether they were Igbo or not – including some local Idoma and Tiv people, merely

on account of their physical features.It used to be quite effective for some time for southerners without prominent tribal marks to escape by claiming they

were from “Benin”in the Midwest, until the soldiers began demanding that the alleged “Benin people” speak or sing in the Edo language.But there were other

ways one could get into difficulty.For example, not even the Benue Provincial Police Officer, Mr. Agbajor, an Itsekiri from the Midwest, was safe.He barely

escaped ambush at the Makurdi club after attracting attention to himself by driving around in a car with license plate number EW 1, which stood for ‘East,

Owerri, 1’.Agbajor was to come to public attention again, when, in August/September 1967 he agreed to serve the short-lived Biafran administration in the

Midwest as Chief of Police.His career in the Nigerian Police ended shortly thereafter.

About 5 days after their deaths, the corpses of Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi and Lt. Col. Fajuyi were retrieved by the Police Special Branch (including CSP J.

D. Gomwalk) from a makeshift grave near the town of Lalupon outside Ibadan and transferred to the Military cemetry where they were specially marked for

future identification.It was not until after the Aburi conference in January 1967 that their deaths were announced (by Lt. Col Ojukwu), following a pattern

that had originally been established by General Ironsi. Ironsi refused to announce the deaths of or allow official funerals for most of the victims of the

January coup (including his military colleagues) throughout his six month long regime.
After yet another exhumation, however, General Ironsi was finally reburied with full military honours at Umuahia on January 20, 1967 while a few days later 

Lt. Col Fajuyi was reburied at Ado-Ekiti.


According to an Eastern Regional Government publication titled“January 15:Before and After; No. WT/1003/3674/40,000, 1967”, the casualty list of the 

counter-rebellion included 33 Eastern, 7 Midwestern, and 3 Western Officers and 153 Eastern, 14 Midwestern and 3 Western Other ranks.Of the 33 Eastern 

officer deaths, there was one Major General, one Lt. Col, nine Majors, eleven Captains, eight Lts. and three 2/Lts.The Midwest lost one Lt. Col, two Majors, 

two Lts, and two 2/Lts.The West lost one Lt. Col and two 2/Lts.Of the 153 Eastern other ranks who died, eleven were Warrant Officers, twelve Staff Sergeants, 

thirty Sergeants, twenty five Corporals, twenty-two Lance Corporals and fifty three Privates.The Midwest lost one Warrant Officer, six Staff Sergeants, four 

Sergeants, two Corporals, and one Lance Corporal.The West lost one Warrant Officer and two Staff Sergeants.

The grand military total, according that report, was 213 casualties.However, names of newly trained or single soldiers who were killed could not be 

ascertained, so the figures will always remain an estimate.In any case the Eastern list was contested by the Federal Government and to this day no-one has 

publicly confirmed the full reconciled list of all those who lost their lives.Most observers, though, feel the list provided by the Eastern regional 

Government was as close to the truth as any list will ever get.Pensions and gratuities have been paid over the years to many families.Indeed those spouses 

who did not remarry and maintained their dignity as widows continued to be supported for many years.In special cases children were awarded special 

scholarships up to University level.

Over the years, I have been able to gather a list of the officers who were confirmed killed.It includes two names (Musa and Drummond) missing from the 

Eastern list and excludes two names^ on the Eastern list (Ibik and Waribor):

1)Major Gen. J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi`

2)Lt. Col. F.A. Fajuyi`

3)Lt. Col. I.C. Okoro

4)T/Lt Col G. Okonweze

5)Major Christian Anuforo~

6)Major Donatus O. Okafor ~

7)Major T.E. Nzegwu(NAF) `

8)Major J.K. Obienu`

9)Major Ibanga Ekanem

10)Major P.C. Obi(NAF)

11)T/Major C.C. Emelifonwu

12)T/Major B. Nnamani

13)T /Major J.O.C. Ihedigbo

14)T/Major O.U. Isong

15)T/Major A. Drummond

16)T/Major A.D. Ogunro

17)Capt. J.I. Chukwueke

18)Capt. H.A. Iloputaife

19)Capt. A.O. Akpet

20)Capt. S.E. Maduabum

21)Capt. G.N.E. Ugoala

22)T/CaptP.C. Okoye

23)T/Capt. I.U. Idika

24)T/Capt. L.C. Dilibe

25)T/Capt. J.U. Egere

26)T/Capt. T.O. Iweanaya+

27)T/Capt. H.A. Auna

28)T/Capt. R.I. Agbazue

29)Lt. G. Mbabie

30)Lt. S.E. Idowu

31)Lt. E.C.N. Achebe

32)Lt. S.A. Mbadiwe

33)Lt. F.P. Jasper+

34)Lt. P.D. Ekedingyo+

35)Lt. S.E. Onwuke+

36)Lt. J.D. Ovuezurie+

37)Lt. A.D.C. Egbuna

38)Lt. E.B. Orok

39)Lt. J.U. Ugbe

40)Lt. Francis Musa*

41)2/LtA.O. Olaniyan

42)2/Lt. A.R.O. Kasaba

43)2/Lt. F.M. Agronaye+

44)2/Lt. P.K. Onyeneho+


*Some of the names here (like Musa) appear northern in origin but are actually names of Igbo officers who had joined the Army using northern names.

~Active participant in January mutiny

` Major T.E. Nzegwu was the airforce officer allegedly approached to help organize a plane (along with Captain Udeaja) to fetch Chief Awolowo from Prison in 

the event that the January 15 coup should succeed.Major John Obienu is alleged by Major Ademoyega to have initially agreed to take part in the January coup 

but changed his mind at the last minute.Although there was a rumor that it was Obienu who tipped Ironsi off about the January plot, Ironsi himself said he 

found out about the mutiny from the wife of Lt. Col. James Pam (some say Pam himself) when he returned home between 2 and 3 am on January 15 from a second 

party following the earlier one at Brigadier Maimalari’s house.Others claim it was either Lt. Col. Ojukwu(CO, 5th Bn) and/or Hilary Njoku (outgoing CO, 2nd 

Bn) that tipped Ironsi off, having been directly contacted themselves by the conspirators.Lt. Col. Fajuyi is confirmed by one of the January 15 plotters 

(Ademoyega) to have provided ideas on how it should be carried out although he did not take part directly.Ademoyega also confirms that both Ojukwu and Njoku 

had foreknowledge of the January plot, and says that all his efforts to be entrusted with the arrest and/or neutralization of General Ironsi were resisted by 

Major Ifeajuna, who opted instead to allot that sensitive task to Major Okafor. Captain Nwobosi says that there was poor operational security at Major 

Ifeajuna’s house when Lagos plotters met for final orders before “H hour”, opening up a window of opportunity for Ironsi and perhaps others to be alerted.

+2/Lt Agronaye is not reflected on the Eastern List.Instead a similar name, spelled differently as 2/Lt. Agbonaye is listed. T/Capt. T.O. Iweanaya is also 

spelled differently as Capt. T.O. Iweanya on some versions of the Eastern list.Lt. S.E. Onwuke is spelled Lt. S.E. Onwukwe on the Eastern list.Lt. F.P. 

Jasper is identified as 2/Lt. F. P. Jasper and said to be from the 3rd Bn in Kaduna on the Eastern list.However, federal sources place this officer in the 

4th Battalion at Ibadan, as a full Lt.. In fact the eastern list does not identify any officer casualty whatsoever from within the 4th battalion, Ibadan 

which can’t be true.Lt. P.D. Ekedingyo is spelled Lt. P.D. Ekediyo on the Eastern list.Lt. J. D. Ovuezurieis spelled Lt. J. D. Ovuezirieon the Eastern list.

^Lts.P. O. Ibik and K. D. Waribor are listed on the Eastern list of casualties of the July counter-rebellion, but not on my list because I have not been able 

to confirm the date and circumstances of their alleged deaths in the July counter-rebellion and after.However, according to the Special Branch report, 2/Lt. 

P. Ogoegbunam Ibik of the 2ndFieldSquadron, Nigerian Army Engineers occupied the P & T Telephone Exchangeunder the supervision of Captain Ben Gbulie during 

Kaduna operations on the night of January 15, 1966.2/Lt. K.D. Waribor of the “C” Coy, 3rd BN NA played a peripheral role securing the outer perimeter in the 

assault on the Nassarawa Lodge in Kaduna, as well as the attempt to arrest Alhaji Makaman Bida on the same night – during which Ahmadu Pategi, a Government 

driver was killed.Theywere, therefore, likely detained by General Ironsi unless they escaped (as Ifeajuna – initially – and Nwokedi did).Strangely, neither 

officer was ever listed on either the Federal or Eastern region lists of officers detained for alleged complicity in the January coup – supporting the 

“escape” theory, unless they were killed soon after that mutiny in circumstances similar to the deaths of 2/Lt Odu and Major Adegoke.It is also possible that 

Ibik’s case was handled like those ofother 2 Field Engineer subalterns like 2/Lts. S.E. Omeruah, Ezedima, Ileabachi, Atom Kpera and Harrison Eghagha who all 

claimed they were merely obeying “internal security” operational orders, the illegal significance of which they were unaware.However, the Eastern region list 

of detainees was not complete because Major Ademoyega, for example, was never listed as a detainee when, in fact, he was.He had been transferred from an 

eastern prison to Warri in the Midwest.The dynamics of updating Prison lists as detainees were being moved around may have affected the accuracy of various 

lists.What is clear, however, is that if they were either at the Abeokuta or Benin Prisons in the weeks following the July 29 mutiny, they are very likely 

now dead.However, all said and done, the most accurate thing one can say about Lts. P. O. Ibik and K. D. Waribor is that they are unaccounted for.



The officers (and civilians) who planned and carried out the January 15 and July 29 1966 military rebellions have never been tried or convicted before any 

military court-martial although there was an agreement at Aburi that this should occur.This, as we know, was overtaken by events leading up to and including 

the Nigerian Civil War.

The only exception made among the January 15 group was for those surviving officers who not only took part in the January 1966 coup but also participated in 

the Biafran invasion of the Midwestern region in August/September 1967.Most officers in this overlapping group were brought before a Military Board of 

Inquiry, jailed until October 1974, and all – exceptLts. J.C. Ojukwu and Ijeweze (?Igweze) who were retired – eventually dismissed. They include Major A. 

Ademoyega, Captain Ben Gbulie, Capt. E. M. Udeaja, Lt. F.M. Okocha, Lt. B.A.O. Oyewole, Lt. N.S. Nwokocha, Lt. G.B. Ikejiofor, Lt. G. G. Onyefuru, Lt. A.R.O. 

Egbikor, Lt. A. N. Azubuogu, and 2/Lt. C.G. Ngwuluka.Interestingly, prominent surviving January 15 mutineers like Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi (rtd), who did not 

take part in the Midwest invasion, but played other roles in the civil war (as a Colonel in the Biafran Army, Field Commander and later Chief of Staff in 

General Ojukwu’s HQ)were spared in a general amnesty covering both the January and July 1966 rebellions.

What used to be known as Race Course in Lagos was renamed Tafawa Balewa Square after the late PM.A prominent street in Jos is also named after him.The street 

in Victoria Island, Lagos, straddling the Bar Beach, is named after the late Sir Ahmadu Bello.A prominent street in Kaduna is also named after him.Streets in 

Lagos (Ikeja) and Abuja are named after Samuel Ladoke Akintola, late Premier of the West.

When he came to power in 1975, late General Murtala Muhammed- coup leader of the July 1966 uprising – went to great lengths to look after the family of the 

late Major General Aguiyi Ironsi. In 1993, General Ibrahim Babangida – a participant in the July 1966 revolt – named an Army Barrack after the late General 

and post-humously awarded him the Great Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).A street in Abuja was also named after him.A Barrack in Abuja is also named 

after Ironsi’s successor, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd).The International Airport in Lagos is named after General Muhammed while the one in Abuja is named after 

former President Nnamdi Azikiwe, and the one in Kano after late Malam Aminu Kano.

Some streets in Lagos (Ikeja) and Ibadan are named after the late Lt. Col. F. Fajuyi.The Barracks where the Headquarters of the Nigerian Army Armored Corps 

and School is based in Bauchi is named after Major John Obienu.NAF Majors Nzegwu and Obi have names of streets within certain AirForce Bases named after 

them. In 2001, President Obasanjo, on the other hand, named certain streets and monuments in Abuja, Nigeria’s new capital, after the military officers who 

were assassinated during mutiny-coup ofJanuary 15, 1966 – a long overdue gesture.In a separate essay,I shall preview the outcome of the lives of some of the 

key players in the January and July 1966 rebellions.



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Uwechue Raph.Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War. OITH International Publishers, 1969.

Dan Agbese.Fellow Nigerians.Turning Points in the Political History of Nigeria.Umbrella Books, Ibadan, 2000.

Panter-Brick SK.From Military Coup to Civil War. pp 14-57.In:Panter-Brick (ed), Nigerian Politics and Military Rule, Prelude to the Civil War. Athlone Press, 

University of London, 1970.

Haywood, A. and Clarke, F.A.S. The history of the Royal West African Frontier Force. Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1964.

Ogham-Emeka, Chijioke.Aguiyi Ironsi’s Legacy.

Obi Nwakanma.Abati’s Revisionisms and Distortions of Nigeria’s history.

Chuks Iloegbunam:Reuben Abati And Other Anti-Igbo Bigots In Nigeria

Chuks Iloegbunam: The Vial of January 15.


Interview: Major General EO Abisoye (rtd). Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Colonel DS Abubakar (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000. See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: General IB Babangida (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000. See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: General Domkat Bali (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000. See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Lt. Gen. TY Danjuma (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000. See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Lt. Gen. Garba Duba (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000. See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General David Ejoor (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000. See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: General Yakubu Gowon (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General IBM Haruna (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Lt. Gen. GS Jalo (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian Civil 

War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General Sunday Ifere (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General YY Kure (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Colonel Yohana Madaki (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General AB Mamman (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Brigadier General M. Remawa (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General Abdullai Shelleng (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The 

Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General M. Shuwa (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Brigadier Baba Usman (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Major General Martin Adamu (rtd). Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Lt. Col. Hilary Njoku (rtd).Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian 

Civil War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview:Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu.Archives of the Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.See text in – Major General HB Momoh (ed):The Nigerian Civil 

War, 1967-1970.History and Reminiscences.Sam Bookman Publishers. Nigerian Army Education Corps and School, 2000.

Interview: Brigadier MJ Vatsa (Interview on Radio Kaduna, as reported by J. Isawa Elaigwu.Gowon.West Books Publisher Limited, 1985)

Interview: Colonel Garba Duba (Interview on Radio Kaduna, as reported by J. Isawa Elaigwu.Gowon.West Books Publisher Limited, 1985)

Interview: Lt. Col. W. Walbe (rtd). (Interview with Professor Elaigwu, as reported by J. Isawa Elaigwu.Gowon.West Books Publisher Limited, 1985)

Interview: General Yakubu Gowon (rtd). (Interview with Professor Elaigwu, as reported by J. Isawa Elaigwu.Gowon.West Books Publisher Limited, 1985)

Interview: Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (rtd). (FRCN interview with Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, 26 October 1979)


Personal Communication:Dr. Humphrey Idemudia Idehen (former personal Physician to the President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe).

Personal Communication:Antony Goldman (former Financial Times of London Correspondent) and biographer for Major General Shehu Yar’Adua (rtd).

Personal Communication: Brigadier S.O. Ogbemudia (rtd), former Brigade Major, 1st Brigade, Kaduna.

Personal Communication: Lt. Col. M.O. Nzefili (rtd), former Commander, 4th battalion, Ibadan.

Personal Communication: Lt. Col. A. Keshi (rtd), former Brigade Major, 1st Brigade, Kaduna

Personal Communication:Serving and retired military officers and Non-Commissioned Officers (Unnamed by request)




‘No Trust or Confidence in a Unitary System of Government’: Lt.-Col. Gowon’s Broadcast on the Assumption of Office, 1 August 1966

This is Lt-Col. Y. Gowon, Army Chief of Staff, speaking to you.

My fellow countrymen, the year 1966 has certainly been a fateful year for our beloved country, Nigeria. I have been brought to the position today of having 

to shoulder the great responsibilities of this country and the armed forces with the consent of the majority of the members of the Supreme Military Council 

as a result of the unfortunate incident that occurred on the early morning of 29th July 1966.

However, before I dwell on the sad issue of 29th July 1966, I would like to recall to you the sad and unfortunate incidents of 15th January 1966 which bear 

relevance. According to certain well-known facts, which have so far not been disclosed to the nation and the world, the country was plunged into a national 

disaster by the grave and unfortunate action taken by a section of the Army against the public. By this I mean that a group of officers, in conjunction with 

certain civilians, decided to overthrow the legal government of the day; but their efforts were thwarted by the inscrutable discipline and loyalty of the 

great majority of the Army and the other members of the armed forces and the police. The Army was called upon to take up the reins of government until such 

time that law and order had been restored. The attempt to overthrow the government of the day was done by eliminating political leaders and high-ranking Army 

officers, a majority of whom came from a particular section of the country. The Prime Minister lost his life during this uprising. But for the outstanding 

discipline and loyalty of the members of the Army who were most affected, and the other members of the armed forces and the police, the situation probably 

could have degenerated into a civil war.

There followed a period of determined effort of reconstruction ably shouldered by Maj-Gen. J. T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi but, unfortunately, certain parties caused 

suspicion and grave doubts of the Government’s sincerity in several quarters. Thus, coupled with the already unpleasant experience of the 15th January still 

fresh in the minds of the majority of the people, certain parts of the country decided to agitate against the military regime which had hitherto enjoyed 

country-wide support. It was, unfortunately, followed by serious rioting and bloodshed in many cities and towns in the north.

There followed a period of uneasy calm until the early hours of 29th July 1966, when the country was once again plunged into another very serious and grave 

situation, the second in seven months. The position on the early morning of 29th July was a report from Abeokuta garrison, that there was a mutiny and that 

two senior and one junior officers from a particular section of the country were killed. This soon spread to Ibadan and Ikeja. More casualties were reported 

in these places. The Supreme Commander was by this time at Ibadan attending the natural rulers’ conference and was due to return on the afternoon of 29th 

July. The Government Lodge was reported attacked and the last report was that he and the West Military Governor were both kidnapped by some soldiers. Up till 

now, there is no confirmation of their whereabouts. The situation was soon brought under control in these places. Very shortly afterward, at about the same 

time, there was a report that therewere similar disturbances among the troops in the North, and that a section of the troops had taken control of all 

military stations in the North as well. The units of Enugu and the garrison at Benin were not involved. All is now quiet and I can assure the public that I 

shall do all in my power to stop any further bloodshed and to restore law, order and confidence in all parts of the country with your co-operation and 


I have now come to the most difficult part, or the most important part, of this statement. I am doing it, conscious of the great disappointment and 

heartbreak it will cause all true and sincere lovers of Nigeria and of Nigerian unity both at home and abroad, especially our brothers in the Commonwealth.

As a result of the recent events and the other previous similar ones, I have come to strongly believe that we cannot honestly and sincerely continue in this 

wise, as the basis of trust and confidence in our unitary system of government has not been able to stand the test of time. I have already remarked on the 

issues in question. Suffice to say that, putting all considerations to test-political, economic, as well as social-the base for unity is not there or is so 

badly rocked, not only once but several times. I therefore feel that we should review the issue of our national standing and see if we can help stop the 

country form drifting away into utter destruction. With the general consensus of opinion of all the Military Governors and other members of the Supreme and 

Executive Council, a decree will soon be issued to lay a firm foundation of this objective. Fellow countrymen, I sincerely hope we shall be able to resolve 

most of the problems that have disunited us in the past and really come to respect and trust one another in accordance with an all-round code of good conduct 

and etiquette.

All foreigners are assured of their personal safety and should have no fear of being molested.

I intend to continue the policy laid down in the statement by the Supreme Commander on 16th January 1966 published on 26th January 1966.

We shall also honour all international treaty obligations and commitments and all financial agreements and obligations entered into by the previous 

government. We are desirous of maintaining good diplomatic relationships with all countries. We therefore consider any foreign interference in any form will 

be regarded as an act of aggression.

All members of the armed forces are requested to keep within their barracks except on essential duties and when ordered from SHQ. Troops must not terrorise 

the public, as such action will discredit the new National Military Government. Any act of looting or sabotage will be dealt with severely. You are to 

remember that your task is to help restore law and order and confidence in the public in time of crisis.

I am convinced that with your co-operation and understanding, we shall be able to pull the country out of its present predicament. I promise you that I shall 

do all I can to return to civil rule as soon as it can be arranged. I also intend to pursue most vigorously the question of the release of political 

prisoners. Fellow countrymen, give me your support and I shall endeavour to live up to expectations. Thank you.

Source:A. H. M. Kirk-Greene.Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary SourceBook.(Volume I; Oxford University Press, 1971)




Explanation of Ranks

Ranks of officers changed over time.The format used was the Nigerian rank an officer or non-commissioned officer was wearing at the time a given event 

occurred.For example, Hassan Katsina and M.O. Nzefili were Majors in January 1966, and Lt. Cols. by July 1966.Hassan Katsina retired as a Major General in 

1975.Yakubu Gowon was a Lt. Col in January and July 1966, a Major General by July 1967 and a General in 1975.Garba Duba was a Lt. in July 1966, a Colonel in 

1979, and is now a retired Lt. Gen.Yohana Madaki was an NCO in 1966 but is now a retired Colonel.Lt. W. Walbe was a Lt. in July 1966 but retired as a Lt. 

Col. in 1975.Murtala Muhammed was a T/Major in January 1966, a T/Lt. Col by July 1966 and a General in 1976.Martin Adamu was a Captain in July 1966 but 

retired in 1977 as a Major General.Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma was a T/Major in July 1966 but retired as a Lt. Gen in 1979.There are many other examples.

I did not use Biafran ranks.Note, however, that Lt. Col. H. Njoku (rtd) was a Brigadier and first Commander of the Biafran Army.An unconfirmed account says 

he was on the verge of being promoted to the rank of Brigadier in the Nigerian Army by General Ironsi when the July coup took place.Lt. Col. C. O. Ojukwu was 

a General in that army.However, Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was dismissed from the Nigerian Army in June 1967, which is why he is addressed as 

“Chief” Odumegwu Ojukwu in the Nigerian Army Archives.Captain E.N. Nwobosi (rtd) was a Colonel in the Biafran Army.


“Aure” – A Hausa word for “marriage”

AG- Action Group, led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo

ASP- Assistant Superintendent of Police

Bn – Battalion. Two or more companies. Cavalry and

aviation refer to this as a “squadron”.

Bde: Brigade. Two or more battalions. Usually commanded by a Brigadier or Senior Colonel.

Corps: Two or more divisions. Usually commanded by a Lt. Gen. (Note the use of the word “Corps” here is different from the ordinary usage in the Nigerian 

Army – which uses it to refer to professional groupings of specialized teeth, support and service arms e.g. Infantry, Artillery, Ordnance, Engineers, 

Signals, Medical, Finance, Supply and Transport etc…)

BYM – Borno Youth Movement

Div: Division. Two or more brigades. A division has between 12,500 and 25,000 troops. Usually commanded by a Maj. Gen.

DSP – Deputy Superintendent of Police

GOC – General Officer Commanding

IG – Inspector General

NCNC – National Council of Nigerian Citizens, led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe

NDC – Niger Delta Congress, led by Chief Dappa Diriye

NEPU – Northern Elements Progressive Union, led by Alhaji Aminu Kano

NNA – Nigerian National Alliance, including the NPC, NNDC, NDC and their surrogates

NNDP – Nigerian National Democratic Party, led by late Chief Akintola, a split off from the AG

NPC – Northern Peoples Congress, led by Sir Ahmadu Bello

PM – Prime Minister

UPGA – United Progressive Grand Alliance (an alliance of the AG, NCNC, UMBC, NEPU and BYM)

(rtd) – retired

UMBC – United Middle Belt Congress, led by Joseph Tarka

NAF – Nigerian Air Force

NN – Nigerian Navy

NA – Nigerian Army

QNR – Queens Nigeria Regiment

DAQMG – Deputy Assistant Quarter-Master-General

BM – Brigade Major

ADC – Aide-de-Camp

C-in-C – Commander-in-Chief

Officers Mess – A rest and recreation center for the exclusive use of


NMTC – Nigerian Military Training College (the precursor to NDA)

Mutiny – Insurrection against constituted authority, particularly military or naval authority; concerted revolt against the rules of discipline or the lawful 

commands of a superior officer; hence, generally, forcible resistance to rightful authority; insubordination. [Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary 


Coup – a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force [synonym: coup d’Etat, putsch, takeover] ( ALSO, a sudden, 

decisive exercise of power whereby the existing government is subverted without the consent of the people; an unexpected measure of state, more or less 

violent; a stroke of policy. [Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)]

2ic – Second in Command

HQ – Headquarters

SHQ – Supreme Headquarters

AHQ – Army Headquarters

SMC – Supreme Military Council

COS – Chief of Staff

Chief of Staff (COS) – the senior officer of a service of the armed forces. In Nigeria of 1966 it meant the officer responsible for coordinating staff 

matters on behalf of the Supreme Commander for a given service like the Army. The title does not have the same degree of power and latitude as a Chief of 

Army Staff (COAS), which is why it was derisively regarded as the Supreme Commander’s ‘Chief Clerk’.

ONUC – United Nations Operation in the Congo

MTO – Motor Transport Officer

Acting Rank. Assumes the salary and benefits appropriate to the acting rank, but appropriate authorities may order the holder to revert to previous rank 

held. For example, Brigadier Ironsi was an acting Major General as Commander of ONUC from January to June 1964

Local Rank. Temporary unpaid rank, usually made for a specific operation in a specific area.

Substantive Rank.(S) Fully remunerated confirmed permanent rank. e.g.S/Major – Substantive Major

Temporary Rank. (T.) Rank granted for a short period, usually for a specific task or mission or to allow a junior officer assume higher command 

responsibilities.e.g. T/Major – Temporary Major.When Murtala Muhammed was promoted to T/Lt. Col. and Inspector of Signals in May 1966 he was actually an 


CO:Commanding officer

Other ranks – Ranks other than Officer ranks. It includes NCOs , Lance Corporals and Privates.

NCO – Non-commissioned officer is a slang term for a Sergeant. However, it also refers to all ‘other ranks’ above Lance Corporal and below Lieutenant. It may 

also mean a subordinate officer not appointed by a commission from the chief executive

or supreme authority of the State; but by the Secretary of War or by the commanding officer of the regiment. [Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)]

RSM – Regimental Sergeant Major (the most senior NCO in a battalion or regiment)

Subaltern – A commissioned military officer below the rank of Captain [Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)]

Company Grade Officer – A commissioned military officer holding the ranks of 2/ Lieutenant, Lieutenant, or Captain. (Note that in 1966, because of officer 

manpower imbalance at lower levels, Lieutenants, who ordinarily command platoons,used to command companies in some battalions)

Field-Grade Officer – An officer holding the rank of Major or Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel

General Officer – An officer holding the ranks of Brigadier (one star), Major General (two stars), Lieutenant General (three stars), General (four stars) or 

Field Marshal (five stars).

Int – Intelligence

GSO – General Staff Officer

Recce – Reconnaissance

Arty – Artillery

Squadron – can be either:

1: A cavalry (armored) unit consisting of two or more troops and headquarters and supporting arms

2: An air force unit larger than a flight and smaller than a group

3: A naval unit that is detached from the fleet for a particular task

Troop – means a group of soldiers, but is more often used to refer to a cavalry (armored) unit corresponding to an infantry company. It can consist of 3-4 

armored vehicles.

Company – means a small infantry military unit; usually two or three

Platoons, probably 100 men or less, commanded by a Major or senior Captain. Artillery refers to this as a “battery”, while cavalry and aviation units call it 

a “troop”.

Platoon – a military unit that is a subdivision of a company;

usually has a headquarters and two or more squads (sections); usually commanded by a lieutenant. Typically 24-36 men.

PT – Physical Training.

Recoilless rifle – A recoilless weapon is designed to minimize recoil. The M40A1 106mm Recoilless Rifle Rocket Launcher was developed during the Korean War

and used by U.S. Marines in Vietnam. US refusal in early 1967 to supply ammunition for the 106mm recoilless rifles they had earlier sold Nigeria badly 

affected US-Nigerian relations when the civil war broke out.

“Glover’s Hausas” – A nickname for the constabulary force formed in 1863 to police the colony, protect British traders, and handle some raids into the 

hinterland. This nickname originated from the fact that Lt. Glover of the Royal Navy whose exploration ship got wrecked near Jebba on the River Niger picked 

up a band of run away Hausa slaves and employed them as a security force as he made his way back to the coast over Yoruba land.This unit was the ancestor of 

what later became the 4th Battalion of the Nigerian Army at Letmauk Barracks, Ibadan during the first republic.


RANKS IN THE NIGERIAN ARMY (adapted from British Army)


• Field Marshal (No Nigerian has ever attained this rank)

• General

• Lieutenant General

• Major General

• Brigadier

• Colonel

• Lieutenant Colonel

• Major

• Captain

• Lieutenant

• Second Lieutenant.

Other Ranks

• Warrant Officer Class 1 (senior NCO)

• Warrant Officer Class 2 (senior NCO)

• Staff Sergeant (NCO)

• Sergeant (NCO)

• Corporal (junior NCO)

• Lance Corporal

• Private

Miscellaneous Ranks

The following ranks or appointments have been used on and off in the Nigerian Army:

1. Brigadier General, is the US equivalent of a Brigadier

2. Gunner, means a Private in the Artillery

3. Bombardier, means a Corporal in the Artillery

4. Lance Bombardier, means a Lance Corporal in the Artillery

5.Sergeant Major, can be a Warrant Officer Class 1 or Class 2

“If you want to prevent a coup, remove the cause.”

The Murtala Muhammed Coup of 1975

(Part 1)

By Nowa Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC

Murtala Muhammed (see footnote about variations in his name) was born in Kano on November 8, 1938 and attended Barewa College Zaria. In 1959, his coursemate 

cohort entered the Army. Initially educated at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK, as a regular combatant, he underwent subsequent courses in the 

teeth arm specialty of Signals. He was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in 1961, rising to the rank of Lieutenant 7 months later.

In early 1962, he served a tour of duty in the Congo as part of the UN peacekeeping force before returning to Nigeria to serve as ADC to Dr. Majekodunmi who 

acted as Administrator of the Western region after the declaration of a State of Emergency. Twenty eight months after commission he made the rank of Captain 

at which time he was given command of a signals unit at the Brigade HQ in Kaduna. By late 1964 he had been promoted temporary Major (T/Major).

He subsequently moved to Apapa in Lagos about the time his Uncle (Alhaji Inua Wada) became Defence Minister in 1965, following Ribadu’s death, and was in 

Lagos when the first coup took place in January 1966.Indeed, without his knowledge, many soldiers from the signals unit at Apapa were used by Major Ifeajuna 

for Lagos operations during the first coup, a fact that proved to be a source of immense embarrassment to Muhammed.

Although still technically a substantive Captain (but T/Major), he was elevated to the rank of temporary Lt.Colonel in April 1966 by then C-in-C, Major 

General Aguiyi Ironsi who also made him Inspector of Signals, Nigerian Army. After the military coup d’etat of January 15, 1966, Major Murtala Muhammed 

played a crucial role in mobilizing opinion among northern soldiers and officers in Lagos for the second military coup.However, the coup he (along with TY 

Danjuma, Martin Adamu and others) planned and had postponed no less than three times, was overtaken by events on July 29, 1966, as a result of an unplanned 

sequence of events at Abeokuta in which Lt. Colonel Gabriel Okonweze, Major John Obienu and others were impulsively shot to death in the officer’s mess by 

northern NCOs.

Once it became obvious to northern soldiers in Lagos that killings had started in Abeokuta, Murtala Mohammed, Martin Adamu and others got themselves 

organized and launched operations in Lagos to “adjust” to the situation. Meanwhile, wearing a borrowed uniform, Major TY Danjuma, who was accompanying 

General Ironsi on a nationwide tour, cordoned Government House Ibadan with troops from the 4th battalion and arrested the General, along with Colonel Fajuyi. 

Shortly thereafter, certain junior officers and NCOs pushed Danjuma aside, took control of the situation and abducted both men. They were later shot. (Other 

accounts of the events indicate that Danjuma actually ordered the killing of Ironsi and Fajuyi).

It was subsequently alleged that Muhammed used his key position as Inspector of Signals to communicate messages to northern conspirators in other parts of 

the country urging action. It was also alleged that he was the leader of the initially separatist faction among northern troops in Lagos and at one point 

commandeered a passenger jet to transport northerners out of Lagos back to the North in an apparent move to secede. This murky charge has never been 

satisfactorily explained and it is hard to get consistent accounts about it.

As things settled down after the initial orgy of killings in Abeokuta, Lagos, Ibadan and Kaduna, the tentative Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon (who was then Chief of 

Staff, Army, professionally senior to Muhammed) emerged as the choice of the northern rank and file, barely edging out the charismatic Lt. Col. Murtala 

Mohammed from the position of C-in-C. The bad feelings generated by this power rivalry was to dog their relationship from then on. (Recent accounts at the 

Oputa Panel allege that Gowon was a participant in that coup.)

With Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina as the Military Governor of the North, Mohammed lay low in the background in Lagos as Lt. Col. Gowon traded banter with Lt. Col. 

Ojukwu and negotiated the tortuous path through various 1966 constitutional conferences and the 1967 Aburi meetings. This resulted in part because Gowon was 

uncomfortable with Mohammed and kept him “out of the loop”. However, in the period leading up to the outbreak of hostilities with Biafra, Murtala Mohammed 

did not hide his feelings that peace talks or not, war was coming and that preparations be made for this inevitability.

It is alleged that some of the earliest preparations by northern civilians to import weapons privately were made at his urging. As fate would have it, 

Mohammed did not have long to wait. On May 30, 1967, Lt. Col. Ojukwu proclaimed the Republic of Biafra. Almost immediately, steps were taken to bring the 

situation under control. A total naval blockade of the bights of Benin and Biafra (later renamed ‘Bonny’) was ordered. The ‘police action’ land phase of what 

is now referred to as the Nigerian Civil War subsequently began on July 6, 1967.A few weeks later, faced with north-south and south-north axes of federal 

advance, Ojukwu took a gamble.

On Wednesday, August 9, 1967, about 3000 Biafran soldiers and militiamen, under the command of Lt. Col. [“Brigadier”] Victor Banjo, crossed the Niger Bridge 

at Onitsha into Asaba. The seizure of the Midwest was essentially accomplished within 12 hours. It became obvious that Ibadan and Lagos were next. Desperate 

for a bail out, Gowon turned to the 28 year old Lt. Col. Murtala Mohammed. Aided in part by temporary hesitation on the part of the Biafran commander, 

Muhammed, with Patton-like boldness, hit the ground running, commandeering officers, men, supplies, mammy wagons, and weapons meant for other divisions which 

had been waiting for clearance at the Ports.

He practically created a new Army Division from scratch by building around a skeletal crew of units withdrawn from other fronts and local units in Lagos and 

Ibadan.Supported by Lt. Cols Akinrinade, Aisida and Ally as his Brigade Commanders, Muhammed launched a lightening counter-offensive, eventually checking the 

Biafran units at Ore as two brigades entered the Midwest from Okenne and marched southwards furiously in a flanking move toward Benin City.

The ancient city fell back to federal control at 6 p.m. on Sept 20, 1967. With supporting operations in the Delta by units of Lt. Col Adekunle’s third 

division, much of the Midwest, except Agbor and Asaba, were cleared simultaneously.

On arrival in Benin, one of several sensational allegations made against Murtala Mohammed during his lifetime came to life. Rumors said he had organized the 

looting of the Central Bank in Benin. Other reports said the Treasury and Central Bank were looted of approximately $5.6 million by retreating Biafran troops 

under the supervision of an Igbo civil servant, on Ojukwu’s orders. The money was allegedly used to support the war effort – at least until the Federal 

Central Bank in Lagos changed currency much later on during the course of the war. The mystery of the Benin Central bank looting was finally settled by the 

book by Emmanuel Okocha titled “Blood on the Niger” in which he actually named those involved.

On September 21, 1967, Lt. Col. Murtala Mohammed made the following radio broadcast:

“My dear brothers and sisters of the Mid-Western State of Nigeria: On behalf of Major-General Yakubu Gowon, Head of the Federal Military Government and 

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I, Lt.-Col. M. R. Mohammed, do hereby officially confirm the complete liberation of the Mid-Western State of Nigeria 

except Agbor and Asaba from rebel soldiers. The inhuman atrocities suffered by all true Mid-Westerners through the so-called Biafran soldiers, though short-

lived, have shocked all Nigerians wherever they may be”.

”The molestation of innocent civilians and the looting of their property and the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children recently undertaken by the 

rebel troops has ended. All Mid-Westerners in the areas where the rebel troops have been crushed are free to move about as they please. No innocent citizen 

living in any of the mentioned areas will ever be molested again”.

”The federal troops have been warmly received by the Mid-Westerners everywhere they have gone. We appreciate the friendship of the people and I sincerely 

hope that this friendship will continue forever. I would like to assure the people that my soldiers will do everything in their power to maintain this 

friendship. With regard to Emeka Ojukwu and his rebel soldiers, I., Lt.-Col. M.R. Mohammed, do hereby assure the people of Nigeria and the people of the 

Mid-West in particular, that by the grace of God, we will, in a very short time, crush the rebels in the Central-Eastern State”.

”To this end, I would like to advise all innocent citizens of the Central-Eastern State to keep out of the way of the federal troops.The march to Enugu 

continues, and anybody that stands in the way of the federal troops will be regarded and treated as a rebel. I have already dispatched my forces to deal with 

the rebels around Agbor and Asaba.I would like to appeal to all my brothers and sisters in the Mid-Western State of Nigeria to assist the federal troops in 

locating, and in the eventual destruction of the rebels that may be hiding around the Mid-West. It is necessary to advise the people in Benin City to remain 

indoors from nine o’clock tonight until six o’clock tomorrow morning as mopping-up operations will continue”.

”The Administration has suffered quite a lot due to the mischief brought about by the rebel troops. On behalf of the head of the Federal Military Government 

and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I appoint Lt.-Col. Samuel Ogbemudia as the temporary administrator of the Mid-Western State of Nigeria. All 

officers and men of the Nigerian Army based in the Mid-Western State of Nigeria should report for duty immediately at the Military headquarters in Benin 

City. Brothers and sisters of the Mid-Western State of Nigeria: May God bless you all and good luck.”

Unfortunately, discipline broke down locally and reprisal killings against Igbos in Benin, deemed to have betrayed the region took place on a large scale, 

often coordinated with soldiers under Mohammed’s command. Similar killings occurred in other Midwestern towns. To be fair to Mohammed, one can report at 

least one case in which he personally intervened to prevent such killings. An uncle of mine, for example, accused of protecting Igbos from execution, was 

himself saved from summary execution at Ugonoba by the quick intervention of Colonel Murtala Mohammed himself. But the worst was yet to come.

Upon arrival of the main spearhead of the Second division at Asaba, hundreds of able-bodied males were allegedly lined up and summarily executed, Nazi style, 

for “collaborating with the enemy”. At least one authority opines that the delay occasioned by this exercise may have resulted in a missed opportunity by 

Muhammed to take Onitsha from the disorganized and retreating Biafran forces without a fight. This terrible incident was, however, never officially 

investigated by a Board of Inquiry nor did it lead to a court-martial, although General Gowon has since apologized for it many years after the war.

Against instructions from Supreme Headquarters, and faced with disobedience from two of his brigade commanders (Lt. Cols. Aisida and Akinrinade), followed by 

a near fist-fight with a fellow divisional commander (Col. Shuwa), Murtala Mohammed then tried repeatedly to conduct an assault river crossing by taking 

Onitsha frontally from Asaba. He lost thousands of men and millions of dollars of supplies in three carelessly planned attempts. At least one of these 

attempts was made on the advice of marabouts.

Eventually, he acceded to military orders to swing northwards, make an unopposed crossing at Idah, and eventually take Onitsha via a north-south coastal 

advance, with Col. Shuwa’s 1st division protecting his eastern flank. Even then, he suffered one more humiliating loss at Abagana on March 31st 1968, when 

Biafran troops ambushed a logistics column seeking to link up with Major Yar’Adua’s unit at Onitsha.

Gowon replaced the emotionally exhausted Mohammed as the GOC of the badly mauled second division in mid 1968 with Colonel Ibrahim Haruna. Haruna was himself 

later replaced on May 12, 1969 by Col. Gibson Jallo when all divisional commanders were recalled.

It is alleged that after the Abagana debacle, Mohammed simply went to Kano and then left the country on vacation to London without bothering to inform 

Supreme HQ. He was, however, promoted to Colonel in 1968 and reappointed to the Inspectorate of Signals.

But tensions with Gowon and Army HQ continued. At one point he accused the Ministry of Defence and its contractors of inflating the cost of weapons and 

ammunition, daring them to give him money to go abroad to purchase ammunition himself. As the story goes, he contacted his Uncle, Inua Wada, former civilian 

Minister of Defence who arranged for him to get weapons and ammunition abroad at cheaper rates, embarrassing the Army HQ in the process.

Close to the end of the war, Mohammed made another interesting move. In late 1969, he approached then Colonel Obasanjo, commander of the third division and 

appealed to him to slow down the rate of advance of his division, fearing that a quick victory over Ojukwu would make Gowon unapproachable by fellow officers 

as a victorious War Commander. What Mohammed had in mind was that senior officers should force then Major General Gowon to “share power” as a condition of 

cooperating with him to end the war! Obasanjo refused and pushed ahead furiously with the 3rd division’s advance which eventually cut Biafra into two parts 

and ended the war in January 1970.

“If you want to prevent a coup, remove the cause.”

The Murtala Muhammed Coup Of 1975

Part 2

By Nowa Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC

In 1971, Mohammed was nevertheless promoted to the rank of Brigadier. After further Army coursework abroad, he returned again as Inspector of Signals. By 

1974, then General Gowon felt he either had to coopt or purge him, eventually choosing the former line of action.

On August 7, therefore, Brigadier Murtala Mohammed became the Federal Commissioner for Communications – while retaining his role as Inspector of Signals in 

the Army. Tensions were already building in the Army – accelerated in part by Gowon’s decision, announced on October 1, 1974, to renege on his promise to 

hand over to civilians in 1976. But the main grouse was that officers who “fought the war” felt excluded from patronage. Several solidarity meetings of 

senior Army Officers were held. It is alleged that at one such meeting Brigadier Mohammed advised General Gowon: “If you want to prevent a coup, remove the 


In late 1974/early 1975, the cabal of civil war frontline officers who felt they had been long excluded from the corridors of power and patronage, began 

actively plotting to remove General Gowon from power.

These officers, including Colonels Ibrahim Taiwo, Abdulahi Mohammed and Anthony Ochefu, Lt. Cols. Shehu Yar’Adua, Ibrahim Babangida and Alfred Aduloju among 

others, co-opted Colonel Joseph Nanven Garba, then Federal Guards Commander.

Then they approached Brigadier Murtala Mohammed for blessing. He reportedly told them that he would not actively join them but would do everything to ‘save 

their necks’ if they failed. They timed their coup to coincide with the absence of General Gowon at an OAU meeting in Kampala, Uganda on July 29, 1975. 

Mohammed took the precaution of arranging an official trip to London to avoid being asked to accompany Gowon to Kampala.

Once Colonel Garba went on air in Lagos, a plane left London for Nigeria and was allowed to land in Kano even though all airports were theoretically closed 

at the time. That plane had an important passenger – Brigadier Murtala Ramat Muhammed. After a serious misunderstanding with the coupists, in which they 

almost decided to drop him as their choice to lead the country, Brigadier Murtala Muhammed finally agreed to accept the position of Head of State on their 

condition – that he would share power in a trioka with Brigadiers Obasanjo (who was senior to him) and Danjuma (who was junior to him). Muhammed had 

initially wanted absolute executive power.

On July 30, 1975 he delivered the following address:

“Fellow Nigerians’

Events of the past few years have indicated that despite our great human and material resources, the Government has not been able to fulfill the legitimate 

expectations of our people. Nigeria has been left to drift. This situation, if not arrested, would inevitably have resulted in chaos and even bloodshed.In 

the endeavour to build a strong, united and virile nation, Nigerians have shed much blood. The thought of further bloodshed, for whatever reasons must, I am 

sure, be revolting to our people. The Armed Forces, having examined the situation, came to the conclusion that certain changes were inevitable.

After the civil war, the affairs of state, hitherto a collective responsibility, became characterized by lack of consultation, indecision, indiscipline and 

even neglect. Indeed, the public at large became disillusioned and disappointed by these developments.This trend was clearly incompatible with the philosophy 

and image of a corrective regime. Unknown to the general public, the feeling of disillusionment was also evident among members of the armed forces whose 

administration was neglected but who, out of sheer loyalty to the Nation, and in the hope that there would be a change, continued to suffer in silence.

Things got to a stage where the head of administration became virtually inaccessible even to official advisers; and when advice was tendered, it was often 


Responsible opinion, including advice by eminent Nigerians, traditional rulers, intellectuals, et cetera, was similarly discarded. The leadership, either by 

design or default, had become too insensitive to the true feelings and yearnings of the people. The nation was thus plunged inexorably into chaos.

It was obvious that matters could not, and should not, be allowed in this manner, and in order to give the nation a new lease of life, and sense of 

direction, the following decisions were taken:

1. The removal of General Yakubu Gowon as Head of the Federal Military Government and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

2. The retirement of General Yakubu Gowon from the Armed Forces in his present rank of General with full benefits, in recognition of his past services to the 


3. General Gowon will be free to return to the country as soon as conditions permit; he wil be free to pursue any legitimate undertakings of his choice in 

any part of the country. His personal safety and freedom and those of his family will be guaranteed.

4. The following members of the Armed Forces are retired with immediate effect:

Vice Admiral JEA Wey – Chief of Staff, Supreme HQ, Major-General Hassan Katsina – Deputy Chief of Staff, Supreme HQ, Major-General David Ejoor – Chief of 

Staff (Army), Rear Admiral Nelson Soroh – Chief of Naval Staff, Brigadier EE Ikwue – Chief of Air Staff, and all other officers of the rank of major general 

(or equivalent) and above.

Alhaji Kam Salem – Inspector General of Police, Chief TA Fagbola – Deputy Inspector General of Police

5. Also with immediate effect, all the present Military Governors, and the Administrator of East Central State, have been relieved of their appointments and 


6. As you are already aware, new appointments have been made as follows:

Brigadier TY Danjuma – Chief of Army Staff, Colonel John Yisa Doko – Chief of Air Staff, Commodore Michael Adelanwa – Chief of Naval Staff, Mr. MD Yusuf – 

Inspector General of Police

New Military Governors have also been appointed for the States as follows:

1. Lt. Col. Muhammed Buhari, North East 2. Colonel George Innih, Midwest 3. Lt. Col. Sani Bello, Kano 4. Captain Adekunle Lawal (Navy), Lagos 5. Lt. Col. 

Paul Omu, South East 6. Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo, Kwara 7. Captain Akin Aduwo, (Navy), West 8. Col. Anthony Ochefu, East Central 9. Lt. Col. Usman Jibrin, North 

central 10. Col. Abdullahi Mohammed, Benue-Plateau 11.Lt. Col. Umaru Mohammed, North West 12. Lt. Col. Zamani Lekwot, Rivers The Structure of Government has 

been reorganized.There will now be three organs of government at the federal level namely,

(i) The Supreme Military Council

(ii) The National Council of States

(iii) The Federal Executive Council

There will of course continue to be Executive Councils at the State level. The reconstituted Supreme Military Council will comprise the following:

The Head of State and C-in-C of the Armed Forces

Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo – Chief of Staff, SHQ

Brigadier TY Danjuma – Chief of Army Staff Commodore

Michael Adelanwa – Chief of Naval Staff

Col. John Yisa Doko – Chief of Air Staff

Mr. MD Yusuf – IG of Police GOCs –

1st Division, Brigadier Julius Akinrinade

2nd Division, Brigadier Martin Adamu

3rd Division, Brigadier Emmanuel Abisoye L.G.O., Brigadier John Obada

Colonel Joseph Garba

Lt. Col Shehu YarAdua

Brigadier James Oluleye

Brigadier Iliya Bisalla

Colonel Ibrahim Babangida

Lt. Col Muktar Muhammed

Colonel Dan Suleiman

Captain Olufemi Olumide (NN)

Captain H Husaini Abdullahi (NN)

Mr. Adamu Suleman, Commissioner of Police

Lt. Col. Alfred Aduloju

Lt. Commander Godwin Kanu (NN)

All the civil commissioners in the Federal Executive Council are relieved of their appointments with immediate effect. The composition of the new Executive 

Council will be announced shortly.

Political Programme

We will review the political programme and make an announcement in due course. In the meantime, a panel will be set up to advise on the question of new 

states. A panel will also be set up to advise on the question of the federal capital.

With due regard to the 1973 population census, it is now clear that whatever results are announced will not command general acceptance throughout the 

country. It has, therefore, been decided to cancel the 1973 population census. Accordingly, for planning purposes, the 1963 census figures shall continue to 

be used.

A panel will be set up to advise on the future of the Interim Common Services Agency (ICSA) and the Eastern States Interim Assets and Liability Agency 


The Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture is postponed in view of the obvious difficulties in providing all the necessary facilities. 

Consultations will be held with other participating countries with a view to fixing a new date.

Finally, we reaffirm this country’s friendship with all countries. Foreign nationals living in Nigeria will be protected. Foreign investments will also be 

protected. The government will honour all obligations entered into by the previous Governments of the Federation. We will also give continued support to the 

Organization of African Unity, the United Nations Organization, and the Commonwealth.

Fellow Countrymen, the task ahead of us calls for sacrifice and self discipline at all levels of our society. This government will not tolerate indiscipline. 

The Government will not condone abuse of office.

I appeal to you all to cooperate with the Government in our endeavour to give this nation a new lease of life. This change of Government has been 

accomplished without shedding any blood; and we intend to keep it so.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

With dizzying speed, a series of initiatives were announced, including a mass purge of the civil service and parastatals, often without regard for due 

process.Probes of former officials were similarly flawed – although popular at the time. Witchhunting was the rule rather the exception. But not all that was 

done was inherently reckless or impulsive.

Muhammed launched an assertive foreign policy, recognizing the MPLA government in Angola, for example. However, it is unfortunate that the war in Angola 

continues to this day.

Although unpopular within the military, a gradual program for inevitable Army demobilization was announced.

A 50-man Constitution Drafting Committee was appointed – although some to this day would have preferred that it was elected or that its recommendations 

should have been approved by plebiscite.

Panels were set up to advise on assets investigation of some former public officers, abandoned properties in the three Eastern States, the location of the 

Federal Capital and creation of more states.

The administration announced a “low profile” policy for public officers and Muhammed chose to stay at his home in Ikoyi rather than move into the more 

fortified Dodan Barracks residence. He occasionally startled observers by showing up at the Polo ground (for example) without protection! In the weeks 

leading to his assassination he was warned to be more cautious but brushed aside all admonitions.

In January 1976, Murtala Muhammed was promoted to the rank of full General (four stars). TY Danjuma and O Obasanjo were also promoted to the rank of Lt. 

Generals – in a move that proved to be controversial within the uppermost echelons of the military.

As Chief of Army Staff, for example, Danjuma (who was originally a Short Service Officer trained at Mons OCS Aldershot) became senior to his own Defence 

Minister, Major General Iliya Bissalla (a Sandhurst trained Regular Officer) who was originally senior to him, had commanded him during the civil war, and 

was still in active service. On February 3, 1976, following recommendations of the Aguda panel, General Murtala Muhammed announced that the Federal Capital 

would be moved “to a federal territory of about 8,000 square kilometres in the central part of the country.” No plebiscite has ever been organized to approve 

this momentous decision.

Subsequently, seven (7) new states were created and a political transition program announced which was scheduled to end with hand-over to civilians on 

October 1, 1979.

Unfortunately, he did not to live to see the outcome of his efforts. General Murtala Muhammed was assassinated in the early morning hours of February 13, 


The coup attempt eventually failed, crushed by forces rallied by Lt. General TY Danjuma, Chief of Army Staff. Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo became the Head 

of State. Lt. Col. Shehu Yar’Adua, one of the original leaders of the July 1975 coup, was promoted in an ethno-religious balancing move to the rank of 

Brigadier and appointed Chief of Staff SHQ.

The Defence Minister, Major General Bissalla was arrested and shot for his alleged role in the plot, along with Lt. Col. Dimka and many others, some 

controversial to this day. Efforts to extradite Muhammed’s old rival, General Yakubu Gowon, from the UK to stand trial for allegedly being involved in the 

plot failed. He was subsequently dismissed in absentia from the Army, but later pardoned by President Shehu Shagari after the military left office.

General Murtala Ramat Muhammed’s colorful life thus came to a tragic end at the tender age of 38 years.Many monuments in the country are dedicated to his 

memory, including the International Airport in Lagos and a park in Benin City. Note (1): In his early years General Murtala Muhammed was known as Murtala 

Rufai Mohammed. He changed this to Murtala Ramat Muhammed when he came to office as Head of State.

Col. Dimka’s Failed Coup Attempt

of February 13, 1976

By Nowa Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC

Just before 8:30 a.m. on February 13, 1976, the following curious announcement was heard on Radio Nigeria:

“Good morning fellow Nigerians, This is Lt. Col. B. Dimka of the Nigerian Army calling. I bring you good tidings. Murtala Muhammed’s deficiency has been 

detected. His government is now overthrown by the young revolutionaries. All the 19 military governors have no powers over the states they now govern. The 

states affairs will be run by military brigade commanders until further notice.

All commissioners are sacked, except for the armed forces and police commissioners who will be redeployed. All senior military officers should remain calm in 

their respective spots. No divisional commanders will issue orders or instructions until further notice. Any attempt to foil these plans from any quarters 

will be met with death. You are warned, it is all over the 19 states.

Any acts of looting or raids will be death. Everyone should be calm. Please stay by your radio for further announcements. All borders, air and sea ports are 

closed until further notice. Curfew is imposed from 6am to 6pm. Thank you. We are all together.”

Just prior to this broadcast, then Head of State, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed, along with his ADC (Lt. Akinsehinwa), Orderly and driver, had been 

assassinated on his way to work in a thin skinned black Mercedes Benz car without escorts. The unprotected car had slowed down at the junction in front of 

the Federal Secretariat in Ikoyi, Lagos, when a hit team which allegedly included Lt. William Seri and others, casually strolled up and riddled it with 


Following confirmation of Muhammed’s death, Lt. Col. Buka Suka Dimka, of the Army Physical Training Corps, who (along with some others) had been up for most 

of the night drinking champagne, then made a quick trip to the British High Commission at about 8 am where he demanded to be put in touch with General Gowon 

in Britain.

He allegedly left a message through Sir Martin LeQuesne, saying Gowon should proceed to Togo and await further instructions. Then he returned, initially 

accompanied by six others, to Ikoyi to seize the Radio Station. The martial music played was allegedly specially selected by a civilian worker, Mr. 

Abdulkarim Zakari, who had been alerted before hand to do so.

Other hit teams simultaneously went after other key functionaries of the regime’s trioka, namely the Chief of Staff, SHQ, Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and the 

Army Chief, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Danjuma. The Military Governors of Kwara and Oyo States, Colonels Ibrahim Taiwo and David Jemibewon, respectively, were also 

targeted. Taiwo, who had been the national coordinator of the July 1975 coup that brought Mohammed to power, was abducted and killed by a team led by Major 

K. K. Gagara. Jemibewon, whose name had been added to the list of targets by Lt. Col T. K. Adamu, merely because Adamu “did not like his face”, escaped.

In response to a pro-coup broadcast (and other activities) from Benin-City by the Brigade Commander, Colonel Isa Bukar, counter-broadcasts dissociating other 

army units from the coup were made, first from Calabar by the Brigade Commander, Colonel Mamman J. Vatsa, and then from Kaduna on behalf of the GOC, 

Brigadier Alani Akinrinade.

As efforts were being made within the military to crush the revolt, University students in Lagos and Ibadan (among others) took to the streets to protest the 

coup. Later, when it became known that Dimka had visited the British High Commission on the day of the coup, some students attacked British and American 

facilities in Lagos.

The coup attempt eventually failed seven hours later, crushed by forces rallied and directed from a temporary base at Bonny camp by Lt. General T. Y. 

Danjuma, Chief of Army Staff, whose designated assassin (reportedly Lt. Lawrence Garba) had chosen at the last moment to spare him at the Marina Jetty, 

allegedly in part to avoid collateral casualties.

When Danjuma got to the office and heard the radio broadcast, he held a brief “war council” with Colonels Bali and Babangida, then moved to Bonny camp to 

coordinate the resistance. Babangida was sent on a motor cycle to Ikeja Cantonment to get armoured vehicles. Supported by these vehicles he proceeded to 

Radio Nigeria, where he had a conversation with his close friend Dimka.

Dimka’s initial reaction to Babangida’s arrival was to ask him if he came to play “Chukwuma and Nwawo” with him; drawing a historical parallel with the 

negotiations between Colonel Conrad Nwawo (on behalf of Ironsi) and Major Patrick Nzeogwu in Kaduna in January 1966. However, Dimka got concerned with the 

presence of armored vehicles in the background and asked them to be withdrawn.

But it turns out that Babangida’s orders had not been to negotiate a surrender or other outcome, but to stop the broadcast – by any means necessary – 

including destruction by shelling. When he made contact with Bonny Camp to report his activities at the radio station, this order was reiterated to him by 

General Danjuma, incredulous that a conversation with Dimka had even occurred and that the radio station was still playing Dimka’s broadcast. A brief but 

fierce fire fight (reportedly led by Major Chris Ugokwe) subsequently dislodged the coup plotters from the station.

When shooting started Dimka simply walked away, past all the soldiers surrounding the building as well as driving through numerous checkpoints on his way, 

first to Jos and then eventually to Abakaliki where he was captured by Police in the company of a woman of easy virtue. At that time, public incredulity at 

his “escape” from Radio Nigeria led to speculations that he was assisted. But many years later, in April 1990, a similar ‘escape’ from a siege of supposedly 

loyal troops was executed by Lt. Col. Tony Nyiam and Major Saliba Mukoro.

General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) has written that he was late in leaving home that day on account of a visit by Brigadier Olu Bajowa to get a name for his new 

baby. When it became apparent that there was trouble, Obasanjo executed an escape and evasion maneuver, spent most of the day at the house of a civilian 

friend in Ikoyi monitoring the situation by telephone, but later emerged to become the Head of State.

His would be assassins mistook then Colonel Dumuje for him along Awolowo road in Lagos, seriously wounding that officer. The specifics of how that happened 

remain a matter of conjecture particularly since the car of a Lt. General would have had three stars mounted on the license plate. Whether Dumuje was riding 

in Obasanjo’s car is a curious possibility that has never been clarified. Or perhaps the hit men were drunk and could not tell one flag from another.

Subsequent evidence, allegedly based on documents and tapes discovered at the station, suggests that Dimka had actually planned a second broadcast which he 

never got to make. The broadcast would have gone like this:

“Fellow Nigerians,

This is Lt. Col. BS Dimka. I now explain why we the Young Revolutionaries of the Armed Forces have found it necessary to overthrow the six month old 

government of Murtala. On the 29th July 1975 the Government of General Gowon was overthrown. Some of the reasons given for the change were:

a. Corruption

b. Indecision

c. Arrest and detention without trial

d. Weakness on the part of the Head of State

e. Maladministration in general and a host of other malpractice.

Every honest Nigerian will agree with me that since the change over of government there has not been any physical development in the whole country 

generally.All we have is arbitrary dismissal of innocent Nigerians who have contributed in no less amount to the building of this great nation. A Professor 

was arrested, detained, dismissed and later taken to court on an article which every honest Nigerian will agree that all the points contained in that article 

were 100% truth. The sad point about it all is that those who initiated the retirement or dismissal exercise are the worst offenders. You will be informed 

about the ill-gotten wealth in my next announcement.

The acting General Manager of the Nigerian Airways was invited to the Dodan Barracks and detained without trial. The people of this country have been living 

in a state of fear. The Armed Forces promotion exercise is still fresh in your minds. Whatever reasons they have for the promotion one can only say that they 

are ambitious. They in fact took over power to enrich themselves.

We are convinced that some of the programmes announced for a return to civilian rule are made to favor a particular group. To mention only one. Maitama Sule 

is a politician. But has been appointed Chief of Commissioners for Complaints. This is to prepare him for the next political head at all cost. How many of 

you know that Maitama Sule is on a salary of N17,000 p.a.?

In view of what I have just said and a lot more which time will not permit me to mention, we the Young Revolutionaries have once again taken over the 

Government to save Murtala from total disgrace and prevent him from committing further blunders and totally collapsing the country before he runs away in the 

name of retirement to enjoy the huge fortune he got through bribe which he has now stored outside this country. I believe that charity should begin at home.

Please stay by your radio for further announcements.

We are all together.”

The Obasanjo regime, however, later issued a public statement proffering its own explanation for the Dimka coup attempt. The four reasons given by the 

government were that :

1. The plotters felt the Murtala government was abandoning Nigeria’s traditional non-aligned posture and going “communist”.

2. The plotters were opposed to recent Army promotions and the appointment of Danjuma as Army Chief.

3. The plotters intended to restore General Gowon to office

4. The plotters intended to restore all previous military governors to office, as well as restore all retired public servants back to office. Any subsequent 

retirement was to be based on legal due process. (As of that time about 11,000 civil servants and over 200 army officers had been summarily retired across 

the country)

Seven days of national mourning were declared and flags flew at half mast.

Following up on the opinion of the Obasanjo regime at the time, that General Gowon “knew and by implication, approved” of the plot (based on Dimka’s 

testimony regarding a brief encounter during a trip he had earlier made to London), a formal request for him to be extradited from Britain was made on March 

24, 1976.

General Gowon himself strongly denied the charge. The British government rejected the extradition request and made it plain through back-channels that if the 

Nigerian government insisted too strongly on getting Gowon back, Nigerian leaders should be prepared to deal with British coldness if (as individuals) they 

one day found themselves in exile.

Publicly, diplomatic relations with Britain, however, took a nose dive and Gowon, without trial, was dismissed as an officer (albeit retired) in the Nigerian 

Armed Forces. (He was later reinstated by President Shagari).

As expected, mass arrests were made after the coup failed, not just of active duty and retired soldiers, but also civilians. Major C.D. Dabang, an inner 

circle officer who had pleaded with Dimka to delay the coup until he was well enough to take part, was still undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital in 

Lagos when soldiers arrived, disconnected his drip and took him away. Many important figures of the Gowon era were arrested and quizzed. There is at least 

one, known to this author, who is very lucky to be alive today.

At least two Boards of Inquiry sat (including those chaired by Brigadiers Obada and Eromobor). Death sentences passed by a separate Special Military Tribunal 

were confirmed by the Supreme Military Council. However, it remains unclear to this day to what extent certain individuals who were shot were actually 

involved in the Dimka coup. Among others, Col A.D.S. Wya is frequently mentioned.

The first batch of executions was announced by Brigadier Shehu Yar’Adua, who had just been double promoted from the rank of Lt. Col. He went on television 

(Channel 10) to say “They are being shot about now”. This was followed the next morning by a gleeful headline in the Daily Times that read: “Thirty-Two shot 

in Round One”. Another batch, including Dimka himself, was to follow later.

However, two NCOs, Sergeant Clement Yildar and Corporal Dauda Usman escaped and were never found.They were declared wanted. To this day, they have not (to my 

knowledge) surfaced.

Those executed included:

1. Major General I.D. Bisalla (Defence Commissioner)

2. Joseph Gomwalk (Ex-Governor of Benue-Plateau)

3. Col. A.D.S. Wya

4. Col Isa Bukar

5. Lt. Col. T.K. Adamu

6. Lt. Col A.B. Umoru

7. Lt. Col B.S. Dimka

8. Lt. Col. Ayuba Tense

9. Major C.D. Dabang

10. Major Ola Ogunmekan

11. Major J.W. Kasai

12. Major J.K. Afolabi

13. Major M.M. Mshelia

14. Major I.B. Rabo

15. Major K.K. Gagara

16. Capt. M.R. Gotip

17. Capt. M. Parvwang

18. Capt. J.F. Idi

19. Capt. A.A. Aliyu

20. Capt. S. Wakian

21. Capt. Austin Dawurang

22. Lt. A.R. Aliyu

23. Lt. William Seril

24. Lt. Mohammed

25. Lt. E.L.K. Shelleng

26. Lt. O. Zagmi

27. Lt. S. Wayah

28. Lt. S. Kwale

29. Lt. Peter Cigari

30. Lt. Lawrence Garba

31. Seven (7) non-commissioned officers

32. Mr. Abdulakarim Zakari (civilian broadcaster)

Others were retired or dismissed or imprisoned.General Gowon’s relatives in the armed forces were hounded out or jailed. But in 1981 a former member of the 

SMC, Lt. Gen Alani Akinrinade (rtd) openly admitted in an interview with the Punch newspaper that there wasn’t a strong case against General Gowon.


Although the new Obasanjo led team that came to office (against Obasanjo’s “personal wish and desire”) pledged to continue along the footsteps of Muhammed, 

the so-called Dimka coup had lasting military and non-military, judicial, domestic and foreign policy effects.

It was the first time since the executions of Banjo, Ifeajuna, Alale and Agbam on September 25, 1967 in Enugu, by Ojukwu, that anyone was being executed for 

that alleged offence within Nigeria’s colonial borders. It led to the promulgation – by the Obasanjo regime – of certain retrospective decrees which made 

‘concealment of treason’ an offence punishable with a life sentence.

The regime created new “Special Military Tribunal” laws justifying mass executions for coup participation which have remained with us until the recent 

initiative in the Legislature.

Indeed, when General Obasanjo (rtd) was tried in 1995 on suspicion of concealment of treason by the Abacha regime, it was the law he signed into effect just 

under 20 years before, which was pulled off the shelf and used to charge him.

It later emerged that the charge was frivolous and he was lucky to survive the Abacha gulag. However, it did not escape notice that others charged under that 

decree in the past may not have been so lucky. Indeed notions of Treason and Treasonable felony in Nigerian Military Tribunal Law and their consistency with 

the governing laws of Nigeria still need to be revisited. And the complex intrigues of the coup investigative process also need to be addressed. There are 

people who were officially cleared of all charges relating to the Dimka coup in 1976 who still barely escaped getting shot “on contract” at Kiri-Kiri prison.

The Dimka coup was a national security embarrassment. Efforts by then Inspector General of Police, MD Yusuf, to resign were rebuffed. But the coup led 

directly to the creation of the National Security Organization (NSO), whose first Director, then Brigadier Abdulai Mohammed was recalled from his post as a 

Governor. However, the existence (since 1976) of the NSO and its by-product, the SSS, has not stopped coups in Nigeria, as events since then have 


Except for the use of Peugeot cars, the so called “low profile” policy of the Muhammed regime was largely jettisoned. Key figures became better protected by 

accompanying troops. The Brigade of Guards was disbanded and new troops rotated in.

The leadership style of the regime changed.Muhammed’s hard charging, occasionally impulsive style was replaced by a steadier and level headed but still 

dictatorial approach. Then Brigadier Shehu Yar’Adua’s new role in the Trioka as Chief of Staff, SHQ, launched him into his subsequent national political 

career when he left office. Other relationships forged in the trials and tribulations of the painful events surrounding the Dimka coup were to last for many 

years after – such as that between President Olusegun Obasanjo, his Defence Minister, Lt. Gen. TY Danjuma (rtd) and his Chief of Staff, Major General Abdulai 

Mohammed (rtd).

Although already known for toughness from his July 1966 and civil war days, General Danjuma’s stature as “the man in charge of the Army” was reinforced by 

his bold leadership during the coup. Indeed, he could quite easily have taken over the country if he wanted – assuming meanings would not have been read into 

it by geopolitical pundits.

Then Colonel Ibrahim Babangida became a hero for supposedly flushing Dimka out of Radio Nigeria, although the exact nature of his ‘negotiation’ with Dimka at 

NBC was never clarified. He was to emerge again on the national scene in 1983 and 1985. It was not until an interview in the Guardian with Lt. Col G.Nyiam in 

April 2000, that the unsung role of Col.Chris Ugokwe (rtd) at the radio station that day in 1976 became public knowledge.

The diplomatic effects, particularly on Anglo-Nigerian relations, have been discussed. Both countries recalled their ambassadors and it was not until 1979 

that the resident Nigerian High Commissioner in London was replaced.

Domestically, the coup crystallized political tensions between the Moslem far north and the Christian middle belt which were not altogether new, but have 

persisted in one form or another. As can be recognized, most of those executed were of Plateau State origin. But the curious notion of a ‘Plateau group’ in 

the Army never did die. It resurrected many years later as the “Langtang Mafia”.

Lastly, it made the late General Murtala Muhammed a hero. According to General James Oluleye who was then Finance Commissioner, quite apart from a state 

burial, naming monuments after him and fulfilling obligations for his pension and gratuity as a Four Star General, the government infused a large amount of 

cash directly into his estate to protect his family from future financial embarrassment.



By Nowa Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC

A palace coup is one in which the sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force is carried out by individuals in positions of authority who 

are themselves part and parcel of the ruling regime.In other words, one group of members of the Palace court seizes control from another group while the 

people look on.

Palace coups have occurred since antiquity.Pharaoh Amen-em-het Sehetep-ib-re of Ancient Egypt was killed in a palace coup in 1962 B.C.In 555 

B.C.,Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was overthrown in a palace coup and replaced by Nabonidus – a reclusive scholar who ate grass thinking he was a goat.In AD 96, 

Titus Flavius Domitianus (brother of Titus Flavius Vespasianus)was killed during a palace coupin Rome led by Marcus Cocceius Nerva.Under pressure from the 

Praetorian guard – to whom he owed his emergence – Nerva subsequently adopted Marcus Ulpius Traianius, (a.k.a. Trajan) as his successor.With the support of 

the Preobrazhensky regiment, Elizabeth Petrovna gained the throne of Russia by overthrowing her mother Catherine I (second wife of Emperor Peter I ) through 

a palace coup in November 1741.Having engineered the coup against Egyptian King Farouk as leader of the Free Officers Movement in July 1952,Col. Gamal Abdel 

Nasser later pushed General Mohammed Neguib aside as Premier in a Palace coup on April 17th, 1954 , relegating Neguib to the role of ceremonial President.On 

June 23, 1956, Nasser finally assumed full powers as President.

The assassination of US President Kennedy in November 1963 has been described by some as a Palace coup.The Dhofar rebellion in Oman led to a palace coup on 

July 23, 1970, when Sultan Said was overthrown by his son, Qabus ibn Said.The Sultan was even said to have been shot and injured.On Feb 22, 1972,Khalifa bni 

Hamadi th-Thani who acted for many years as Deputy Ruler and Prime Minister of Qatar overthrew Emir Ahmed.Then on June 25, 1995,Emir Khalifa was himself 

dethroned by his own son and heir, acting Defence Minister Shaykh Hamadu bni Khalifati th-Thani, while Khalifa was on a visit abroad.In 1977, then Major 

Mengistu Haile Mariam, 1st Vice Chairman of the Ruling Ethiopian Derg liquidated the Chairman and Head of State, Brigadier Teferi Benti, and assumed full 

powers.On July 5, 1978, junior officers on the Ghanaian Military Advisory Committee pressuredLieutenant General Frederick W.K. Akuffo, then Chief of Staff 

and Vice Chair, to force General Ignatius K. Acheampong to resign as Head of State.Afghan President Taraki was killed in a palace coup in September 1979 and 

succeeded by Hafizullah Amin.In the same year, Obiang Nguema removed his uncle as the President in a palace coup in Equatorial Guinea.A few years later, 

onDecember 12, 1984, Col. Maaouya Ould Sid`Ahmed Taya, already an insider, seized power in Mauritania.The story of how the third ranking member of the 

Supreme Military Council (SMC), then Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) ousted the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, 

Major General Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in August 1985, is the subject of this article.


In June 1983, among the new graduates of the Nigerian Defence Academy was 23 year old 2/Lt. P. Odoba.After commissioning, he was deployed to the Brigade of 

Guards Garrison, Lagos to begin a journey, the twists and turns of which he could not have guessed in his wildest dreams.

On December 31, 1983, Odoba was the duty officer at the Radio Station, Federal Radio Corporation, Ikoyi, Lagos. The night before he was casually told by the 

Acting Commander of the Brigade of Guards, Lt. Col. Sabo Aliyu that some armored vehicles and soldiers would be coming to the radio station for an ‘exercise’ 

and that he should not ask questions or resist. He complied.Shortly thereafter, Brigadier Sani Abacha, then Commander of the 9th Mechanized Infantry Brigade 

based at Ikeja, arrived to deliver the speech that ended the regime of President Shehu Shagari and Nigeria’s second experiment with democracy. Brigadier 

Muhammadu Buhari, former GOC of the 3rd Armoured Division,emerged as the Head of State, while Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, former Military Secretary, was 

appointed Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters and Brigadier Ibrahim Babangida, former Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans – and the operational backbone 

of the coup – assumed the position of Chief of Army Staff [].

Declaring itself an “offshoot” of the Murtala-Obasanjo government of the late seventies, the Buhari regime purged the uppermost echelon of the Armed Forces, 

retiring all officers of the rank of Major General equivalent or above at the time of the coup.But that was not all.Some lower ranking officers, including 

Captain M Bala Shagari, the former President’s son were also retired.In time to come his junior brother, Musa, would also be thrown out of the AirForce 

Secondary School in Jos.Buhari detained most political leaders of the Second Republic, accusing them of indiscipline and profligacy.For the first time in 

Nigerian history, thecountry’s security organizations were actively used to track down alleged acts of corruption through the Special Investigation Bureau 

preparatory to formal military style trials at Bonny Camp.As had been the initial practice by various prior military regimes, special asset recovery military 

tribunals were set up all over the country.A “War against Indiscipline” (WAI) was launched.Such indiscipline was interpreted broadly to mean lack of 

environmental cleanliness, lack of manners (such as failing to take one’s place in queues), corruption, smuggling, desecration of the flag and disloyalty to 

the anthem.

The State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree Number 2 of 1984 gave the Chief of Staff,Supreme Headquarters (Major General Idiagbon) the power to detain 

anyone labelled a security risk for up to six months without trial.Decree Number 4 of 1984 was promulgated to prevent journalists from reporting news that 

could potentially embarrass government officials. Nduka Iraborand Tunde Thompsonwere convicted under the decree.Some high visibility special interest groups, 

including the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), ran afoul of the government and were 

outlawed.TheLabour Congress was banned from undertaking strike action.

In July 1984, in what was clearly a high risk move, the Buhari government – allegedly assisted by Israeli intelligence – unsuccessfully attempted to kidnap 

Alhaji Umaru Dikko, self-exiled 2nd republic Transportation Minister, from a flat in London.He was grabbed while taking a stroll, bundled into a van, 

intubated and placed on ventilator support supervised by an Israeli anesthesiologist, then placed into a crate and taken to Stansted airport outside London. 

Just before embarkation on a Lagos bound cargo plane suspicious British Police and customs officers – already alerted by Dikko’s assistant who witnessed the 

kidnap from her window – aborted the heist.The incident created a diplomatic storm and even resulted in tit-for-tat seizures of Nigerian and British Airways 

aircraft in London and Lagos.High Commissioners to both countries were withdrawn – and were not reinstated until February 1986.

To address economic issues, Buhari introduced austerity measures. He closed the country’s borders – which were not reopened until March 1st, 1986 -and 

expelled illegal aliens.Severe limitations were placed on imports.Smuggling and foreign exchange offenses were viewed as acts of economic sabotage – with 

severe penalties.Unfortunately, accompanied by high inflation, these measures made business onerous for import-dependent local businesses. Many workers were 

retrenched in the public and private sectors ata time prices of elementary food items, caused in part by famine, were rising.Nevertheless, with all the 

attributes of a military operation, the color design of Nigeria’s currency was also changed in April 1984,in part to deal with fake notes in local and 

regional circulation thought to be affecting liquidity, but also to undercut corruptly expropriated cash stocks outside the country.Generals Buhari and 

Idiagbon secretly initiated this major undertaking by reaching down to a staff officer at SHQ, then Lt. Col. MC Alli, who in turn relied on one clerk, 

Sergeant Ibrahim Audu, bypassing the Finance Ministry, Central Bank, Supreme Military and Federal Executive Councils.

The credibility of the currency exchange exercise was, however,severely tested when the late Emir of Gwandu, father of Major Mustafa Haruna Jokolo (rtd) who 

was then the ADC to the C-in-C, arrived back in the country from a foreign trip with a large delegation of wives and children.Newspapers reported that aided 

by connections to the regime, he cleared 53 suitcases, none of which were inspected by the customs service at the airport which was then under Abubakar Atiku 

– the current Vice President.However, the issue remains controversial with latter day unsubstantiated comments from General Buhari himself as well as aides 

to former Major Jokolo (who is now the Emir of Gwandu) claiming on the one hand that the count of “53 suitcases” was inaccurate and on the other that the 

scenario was contrived by then NSO Boss Rafindadi allegedly to protecta friend of his in the diplomatic service.

To deal with the emerging problem of narcoticstrafficking a retrospective law was passed to have suspects arrested, tried, convicted and shot.Irrespective of 

the merits of taking a harsh line to the problem, the retrospective nature of the decree – leading to the deaths ofBartholomew Owoh, Bernard Ogedegbe and 

Lawal Ojuolape – was inherently controversial to many neutral observers.The fact that a death sentence was the prescribed punishment was considered too 

severe by others.On the other hand the risk that investigations would someday target well placed military officers and their mules became a source of quiet 

background agitation, particularly when some very prominent businessmen like Dantata, Isyaku Rabiu, Maidaribe, Bako Kontagora, Amali Sokoto, Haruna Dan-Ja 

and others were arrested for this or other reasons or their relatives investigated.

Separately, the Buhari government – or agents purportedly acting on its behalf –humiliated several important personalities and opinion leaders in the 

country.The O’oni of Ife and Emir of Kano were publicly cautioned and restricted to their domains after they paid a visit to Israel, a countrywith which 

Nigeria did not have diplomatic relations at the time, dating back to OAU actions in solidarity with Egypt during the 1983 Arab-Israeli war.A team of 

soldiers was sent to the Park Lane residence of Chief Awolowo in Apapa where they proceeded to ransack the premises, searching for nothing in 

particular.Sheikh Mahmoud Gumi, a reverred moslem cleric, was allegedly removed from chairmanship of the Nigerian Pilgrims Board, his salary terminated and 

official car impounded – ostensibly because he disagreed with the decision to execute cocaine traffickers.It remains controversial to this day whether some 

of these activities were undertaken, not by the Supreme Headquarters per se, but by lower echelons in the Army (specifically the Directorate of Military 

Intelligence) as part of a psyops campaign to discredit the regime and set it up for the kill.I recall, for example, that while leading members of the NMA 

were being hunted down by the NSO supposedly on behalf of General Buhari, at least one prominent activist claimed to be in touch with the Chief of Army 

Staff, Major General Babangida who was said to be sending signals to aggrieved Doctors at variance with the public posture of the regime.

As fate would have it, twenty months later on Sallah Day, Id-el-Kabir August 26/27, 1985, Odoba, now a full lieutenant, was again at the FRCN Radio station 

in Ikoyi as the duty officer. Once again he was told by his Garrison Commander not to resist when he sees armored vehicles approaching for yet another

‘exercise’. Shortly thereafter, Colonel Joshua Nimyel Dogonyaro, Director of Manning (“A” Branch) and concurrent Director of the Department of Armour at the 

Army Headquarters arrived, barely taking notice of the young officer.

At 0600 hours on Tuesday August 27, 1985, snoozy from the laid back atmosphere of a moslem public holiday, unsuspecting Nigerians woke up to familiar cycles 

of martial music interspersed with a radio announcement made in an unfamiliar voice.It was Dogonyaro.Among other things, he said: ‘A small group of 

individuals in the Supreme Military Council had abused their power and failed to listen to the advice of their colleagues or the public, about tackling the 

country’s economic problems.’He then announced that the regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari had been deposed. Hours later, at about 1 pm, the more 

familiar voice of Brigadier Sani Abacha, then GOC, 2nd Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, based in Ibadan, came on to announce the appointment of 

Major General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, then Chief of Army Staff, as the new Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Babangida, having 

flown back to the capital from Minna, in his home state, where he was allegedly on vacation, subsequently took the title of ‘President’.The position of Chief 

of Staff, Supreme Headquarters was eliminated. Navy Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, then Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command was appointed to the new 

position of Chief of General Staff (CGS) at the General Staff HQ.This subtle change in title neatly removed the service chiefs from any kind of direct 

reporting relationship to the new CGS.


All coups are usually justified in high brow terms designed to appeal to the emotions and patriotism of the uninformed public.This was no different.Each of 

the three speeches made that day – by Dogonyaro, Abacha and finally by Babangida himself went to great lengths to rationalize the Palace coup and make 

expedient gestures designed to appeal to cheap populist instincts.

The official line was that the erstwhile Head of State and his deputy (Major General Tunde Idiagbon) were guilty of dictatorial lack of consultation with 

their military colleagues, gross abuse of human rights, exemplified by mass detention of politicians and others without due process, proscription of 

professional organizations, muzzling of the Press and promulgation of retroactive laws (e.g. execution of drug peddlers).To this was added insensitivity to 

respected leaders of thought in various parts of Nigeria, the issue of counter-trade and alleged intent to take the IMF Loan against popular wishes.

The real problem, however, was a profound personality clash and divergence of expectations and priorities among the officers (and civilians) who originally 

conspired to effect (or benefit from) the removal of President Shagari in 1983.Indeed, Buhari, although peripherally involved in that plot, was not an 

insider and was not critically operationally active by virtue of his posting at the time in Jos – away from key centers of power.It has since come to light 

that he may have owed his emergence as the new C-in-C on January 1, 1984 to the near solo effort of Major Mustafa Jokolo of the Military Police who later 

became his ADC.Jokolo reportedly convinced his fellow middle ranking inner circle storm troopers in Lagos to adopt the ascetic and relatively clean Buhari, 

fresh from battle victories along the Lake Chad border, as an acceptable national figure to unite the armed forces as a whole behind the change and give it 

the façade of a patriotic putsch.Jokolo’s efforts were no doubt assisted by Babangida’s lack of interest in the job at that point in time – as well as the 

death of a key plotter, Brigadier Ibrahim Bako, in murky circumstances.Unconfirmed news reports – never in short supply in gossip rich Nigeria – quote 

Babangida as telling confidants that he was “not yet ready to move over to the other (political) side.”

Over the years, more mundane reasons for the August coup have become public knowledge.For example, in a unpublished thesis titled, “Military Involvement in 

Politics in Nigeria: The Effect on Nigerian Army”, written in 1989 at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas,then Major 

Habibu Idris Shuaibu, speaking as one of those who backed General Babangida’s putsch, claims that the reason for the coup against Buhari was that Buhari did 

not distribute positions to junior officers.Another unconfirmed report, for example, suggests that Colonel Dogonyaro’s promotion to Brigadier may have been 

delayed by Buhari.Clearly these were the perspectives (if true) of some of the junior and middle ranking officers who were used to carry it out but does not 

inherently explain the coup at the level of its originators.

Regarding civilian involvement, other unconfirmed reports speculate profound displeasure on the part of Chief MKO Abiola, who was alleged to have helped 

finance the 1983 coup.Abiola was upset not only with the decision of the Buhari regime to seize and auction a large consignment of his newsprint (which had 

allegedly been smuggled into the country) but also with an inquiry into the possible role of a relative in the drug trade.This, the story alleges, motivated 

Abiola to financially assist Buhari’s removal.But Abiola was not the only unhappy figure in the private sector, assuming such reports are true.Unconfirmed 

reports identified other individuals with business interests like Dantata.

Regarding the role of intellectuals, Professor Omo Omoruyi, a self described personal counsellor and friend to Babangida, has also written that hewas “privy 

and party to” Babangida’s “personal decision (not as Chief of Army Staff) to overthrow the government of Major General Muhammadu Buhari”.He has revealed that 

IBB “came to office without a political programme and with no modality for putting one in place.”

Major General MC Alli (rtd) throws in another dimension. He described the coup as “an enigmatic, sleek and sophisticated purge received with press-inspired 

fanfare in August 1985” concocted by Babangida “in consort with northern officers, particularly of Middle Belt extraction based on the products of Regular 3 

Officer’s Course at the Defence Academy.”It was executed by a cabal of company and field grade officers who, in due course, would come to be known as “IBB 

Boys”.Speaking with the benefit of insights gained as then Deputy Director, Joint Services, at the Supreme Headquarters, Alli says that tensions between the 

Army (specifically Babangida and Abacha) and the Buhari regime (specifically Buhari and Idiagbon) came to a head when Ministry of Defence contracts and 

accounts were placed under scrutiny.

Refining this further, in a recent interview in Kaduna on 20 March 2002, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) (MB) had the following conversation with Antony 

Goldman (AG):

”AG: What prompted the coup in 1985?

MB: We had confirmed evidence that for the second time

Aliyu Mohammed had been making money from passing on

contracts to the tune of N1m, which was worth $1.4m at

the time. It was brought before the army council and

Aliyu was retired. Some of those involved are dead.

But enough of us who were there are still alive and

they know this is what happened.

AG: Do you think you should have found any way also of

retiring Babangida?

MB: I had no idea, I had no intention of retiring

Babangida. It’s just like what they cooked up. They

said I took away the passport of Sheikh Mahmud Gummi, a

former respected mullah here, that I had stopped his

salary, that I had ordered his house to be searched.

But all of these things I didn’t do as Head of State.

But it was part of the campaign to subvert me and to

subvert my authority.

AG: And that was the trigger for the coup?

MB: Yes, Babangida felt threatened, he was close to

Aliyu and perhaps he was afraid. He was head of the

armoured corps, he could move.”

It would seem, therefore, that from Buhari’s perspective, the retirement of then Colonel Aliyu Mohammed was the trigger factor for the take-over – whatever 

else may have been brewing in the background.As Director of Military Intelligence, Aliyu was Babangida’s siamese twin in the coup against former President 

Shagari.Some have claimed that “live and let live” arguments were made to the effect that Aliyu Mohammed’s import license and other business activities were 

at least in part geared to raise funds for the December 1983 coup, of which Buhari, although unaware of the saidtransactions, was the eventual 

beneficiary.This line of thinking allegedly found justification in the precedent whereby‘revolutionaries’ may have to rob banks to raise funds in support of 

the ‘revolution’.However, Buhari allegedly rejected this argument, declaring that there could be no sacred cows or extenuating circumstances.By so doing he 

profoundly upset the innermost cabal of officers who organized the 1983 coup – and played into the hands of his alarmed Army Chief who had long laid the 

groundwork for such a confrontation. As things happened, assuming newspapers and magazines are to be believed, Aliyu was actually retired by the office of 

the Military Secretary (MS), at that time underColonel Rabiu Aliyu, who was away on vacation.However, one of his assistants, the Deputy MS II, then Lt. Col. 

Bashir Salihi Magashi was on hand to complete the task.Along with Babangida, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau was reportedly placed under intense surveillance (including 

wire taps) by the NSO –prompting him to pressure the coup planners tostop prevaricating, act quickly or leave him no choice but to escape.Buhari was removed 

in the nick of time before his government could formally officially gazette the retirement – which was revoked by executive order immediately Babangida came 

to power.


As Head of State, Buhari’s isolation from the military was gradual but relentless.It began almost as soon as he came to power in 1984.While hewas fixated on 

purely political national issues with religious fervor, he did not notice that specific officers were being quietly placed in specific operational positions 

to lay in wait like ‘sleepers’ until they would be called upon to strike by the very service chiefs he had naively placed his trust in to run the armed 

forces on his behalf.

A classic example was the way then Lt. Col. Halilu Akilu, already a Grade 1 Staff Officer in the Directorate, was inserted into the office of Director of 

Military Intelligence while the regular person on seat, then Lt. Col. MC Alli, was away to Britain and the US for a very brief official assignment 

establishing liaison with other military intelligence groups.MC Alli had been deputising for Col. Aliyu Mohammed who had left for a course at the Royal 

College of Defence Studiesafter assisting the overthrow of President Shagari.[Aliyu Mohammed later returned to start up the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) 

with Col.S. Anthony Ukpo as his deputy – although the DIA was not formally established in law until June 1986 when Decree Number 19 was promulgated].Akilu 

was Babangida’s mole in the intelligence community, a counterweight to Alhaji Muhammadu Lawal Rafindadi, Buhari’s loyal Director of the Nigerian Security 

Organization (NSO).

Officers who would be crucial to Babangida’s take-over in 1985 had been cultivated for many years dating back to their days as cadets in the Nigerian Defence 

Academy between 1970 and 1972 when then Major Babangida, having recovered from war injuries suffered at Uzuakoli as CO of the 44th battalion in the 1st 

division under Colonel Shuwa was made an Instructor and Company Commander in the Short Service Wing (pairing up with his coursemate and rival, Major MJ Vatsa 

of the Regular wing).Simultaneously, over the years, aided by the convenience of his permanent military posting to the Federal capital interrupted only by 

foreign courses from late 1973 until 1985, Babangida developed intricate connections with civilian contacts in business, the media, civil service, academia 

and religious circles. He even devoted his thesis at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in 1979 to the question of civil-

military relations.He also skillfully manipulated the military sub-culture of “welfare”, through personal generosity and expressions of interest in the 

personal lives and problems of junior officers, endearing himself to many.


Referring to Babangida (above), Buhari said “He was head of the armoured corps; he could move “.What Buhari meant was that Babangida’s clout increased as the 

size, power and complexity of the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps (NAAC) increased.To clarify this point,a brief history of that Corps – in parallel with 

Babangida’s own career history – is in order.

First, let me explain a basic concept.In American doctrine, the Army is organized into three main areas (or “arms”) of specialization.COMBAT OR “TEETH” ARMS, 

like Infantry, Field Artillery, Armour, Army aviation, and Combat Engineers (sappers), consist of branches involved in direct combat; COMBAT SUPPORT ARMS, 

likeAir Defence Artillery, Military Police, Intelligence, and Signals are those which directly aid Combat Arms; while COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT ARMS, like 

Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Medical, Chaplain, Supply and Transport, Ordnance, and Finance include those branches which provide logistic or other 

forms of support to the Army.It should be noted, however, that there is a school of thought (of British origin) that classifies Intelligence and Signals as 

“Teeth” arms.Nigeria subscribes to the latter thinking.

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, the Infantry “… has borne the brunt of human conflict through the ages, and has been called the ‘Queen of 

Battle.'”Infantry officers often refer to excerpts of a famous Fort Benning quote that goes:

“I am the Infantry…. Queen of Battle! Where the fighting is thick, there am I . . . I am the Infantry! …..Follow me!”

No one “Arm” is independent.However, although the infantry understandably likes to call itself the “Queen of Battle”, of all the ‘teeth’ arms in the Army, 

the Armored corps is arguably the most powerful and decisive, uniting the concepts of firepower, mobility and protection.This was brilliantly exploited by 

German General Heinz Guderian in developing the “Blitzkrieg” strategy of world war 2.All through modern history, the decisive defeat of Armored units and/or 

their predecessors or variants in the Cavalry has been a key element of finality in the military equation.In armoured corps circles in the world, they think 

of themselves as the “Combat Arm of Decision”.In the 20th century, from an internal security perspective, Tanks on the streets increasingly became recognized 

as the ultimate symbol of the power of the State.

The combination of this basic military fact with the geohistoric inevitability of Ikeja cantonment in Lagos as a crucial pawn in Nigerian military political 

power tussles has proved to be an issue again and again for victors and vanquished alike.It used to be said that he who controls Ikeja controls 

Nigeria.Examples include the quest for control of the 2nd infantry battalion at Ikeja supported by the Recce Squadron at Abeokuta in January and July 

1966,9th infantry brigade and 4th reconnaissance regiment in July 1975, 4th reconnaissance regiment in February 1976, 9th mechanized brigade and 245 Recce 

Battalion in December 1983, 201 Armour HQ Administrative, and the 245 Recce and 123 Infantry battalions in August 1985.Even during the Vatsa Conspiracy Trial 

of 1985/86, the question of what to do to neutralize the armored vehicles at Ikeja cantonment, proved to be a thorn in the side for alleged conspirators in 

the Army and Air Force who were even reported to have briefly discussed air strikes as an option. A major reason why the April 1990 coup attempt failed was 

largely because its proponents failed to get control of the Armoured vehicle shed at Ikeja.

In half-jest, following a spate of recurrent coups and attempted coups involving armoured corp officers it later became fashionable to simply refer to them 

as “Fellow Nigerians…” – the typical start to a radio broadcast announcing a coup.However, General Abacha, in no mood for jokes regarding matters of 

security, was sufficiently wary of the Armored corps that he redeployed Recce and Tank units to border regions away from centers of political power in the 


The Nigerian Army Armored Corps began with humble origins with a decision in late 1957 by the Federal Defence Council (FDC) to disband the Artillery regiment 

and set up a Recce unit in its place to better patrol the open lands of the north.Until the Artillery regiment was again reconstituted, young first 

generation Nigerian artillery officers (like Alexander Madiebo) were briefly transferred to Recce before Recce began developing its own dedicated officer 

corps.From one Recce Squadron based in Kaduna, it evolved into two Recce Squadrons (Kaduna and Abeokuta) in the Recce Regiment.The earliest Nigerian Recce 

officers included Christian Anuforo, John Obienu and Hassan Katsina.The regiment was later redesignated an Inspectorate of Recce, primarily armed with 

Ferrets.Although there were quite a few second generation eastern officers (like Isong and Ugokwe), it was – like the Infantry and Artillery – mainly 

attractive to second generation northern recruits (like M Remawa, DS Abubakar, Pam Jungdam Mwadkon, MJ Gin, I Babangida, S Ifere, G Duba, Saliu Ibrahim, J 

Dogonyaro etc.) while southerners generally preferred technical arms like Signals, Combat Engineers, Electrical Mechanical Engineers, Ordnance, Supply and 

Transport, etc.As role models for younger northern entrants, the early northern Recce officers naturally established an informal mechanism for a self-

recycling elite which gave the corps an unmistakable geopolitical configuration – the significance of which will be clear later on.

During the civil war the range of armored fighting vehicles was expanded to include the Fox, Saladin and Saracen family.The Inspectorate of Recce (led by an 

“Inspector”) evolved after the civil war into four Recce regiments (1, 2, 3, and 4Reconnaissance Regiments, respectively).Then in 1976/77 it matured into the 

Armoured Corps (led by a “Commander”) at a time of significant expansion of its range of Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFV) to include French Panhard AML 60s 

and 90s and light Tanks (like the British Scorpion CVRT).Armored Brigades were created in Enugu (21st), Ilorin (22nd), Bauchi (23rd) and Epe (24th) in the 

place of regiments.These have long since been reorganized.

Just after the civil war, the School of Armour was located along old Ife Road in Ibadan but moved to ‘Tank terrain’ in Bauchi sometime in October 1979.Later 

on, medium Tanks (like the Soviet T-55)and heavy Tanks (like the Vickers “Eagle” Main Battle Tank) were acquired.In addition to reconnaissance (recce) 

battalions, therefore, Tank battalions were created, further differentiating the organizational structure.To establish a transit mechanism for new equipment 

training, orientation and testing, a 201 “administrative” Corp HQ battalion was established at Ikeja where officers from parent units all over the country 

would mill in and out in armoured corps overalls, looking busy interacting with Russian and French technicians – but ready at any time to be used for power 

play.In addition to this dynamic battalion, a demonstration battalion (202) was located in Kaduna (Ribadu Cantonment) to support training at the Defence 

Academy and at training institutions around Jaji.The “Commander” of the Armored Corps later became a “Director” in charge of a “Department of Armour” in the 

Army HQ – located at Bonny Camp. Subsequently, in line with the American style consolidation of Corps Headquarters with Corps Schools, the “Director” 

position was combined with that of the “Commandant” of the School of Armour at the Obienu Barracks in Bauchi.In later years, as noted previously, several 

waves of reorganization motivated by political (ie fear of coups) and military considerations (ie concerns about Cameroun and Chad) led to fundamental 

restructuringof armoured units.That is why 241, 242, 243 and 245 Recce units, for example, came to be located in obscure places like Nguru, Badagry, Monguno 

and Ikom during General Abacha’s era.Tank Battalions organic to two consolidated Armoured Brigade Headquarters were located in Maiduguri (21st) and Yola 

(23rd) both reporting to the 3rd Armored Division HQ at the Rukuba cantonment outside Jos, where a mechanized infantry unit (and at one point a Recce unit) 

also used to reside.

Along with the late Major General Mamman Vatsa, General Babangida (rtd) entered the Army on December 10, 1962.When hecompleted basic officer training at the 

Indian Military Academy, he began his career in the 1st Recce Squadron Kaduna (1964-66) before his sojourn as an infantry battalion commander and 

instructor.He has indicated in interviews that he was involved (as a Recce Lieutenant) in the Kaduna zone of the northern counter-rebellion of July 1966 – 

while then Lt. Buhari was also active in the revolt as the Motor Transport Officer of the 2nd battalion at Ikeja Barracks in Lagos.In 1974, upon return from 

the Armoured Training School in the US, Babangida assumed command of the 4 Recce Regiment in the Lagos/Epe area.In early 1975, then Lt. Col. I.B. Babangida 

was the Head of a team of umpires at a Guards Brigade military exercise (‘Exercise Sunstroke’) along the Lagos-Lanlate axis which is thought by some to have 

provided a platform for some of the plotting that led to the overthrow of General Gowon in July.As commander of the 4 Recce Regiment in the federal capital 

area Babangida (along with his neighbour Lt. Col SM Yar’Adua, then a Staff Officer at the Lagos Garrison) was instrumental to the success of that coupand 

would have been a key contingency factor in any fighting had Colonel JN Garba of the Guards Brigade refused to cooperate.Babangida’s role propelled him to 

membership of the Supreme Military Council in the post-coup regime.As the acting Director of the Corps of Supply and Transport, Lt. Col. Buhari was also an 

insider in that coup, but was not a member of the SMC, having been transiently posted away from the Army to a position as Military Governor of North-Eastern 

State before later assuming a role in the federal executive council as the country’s Oil minister.

As a member of the SMC and one of the pivots of the Murtala Muhammed regime, Babangida – although not the most senior armored officer – became Inspector (and 

later the 1st Commander) of the Armored Corps.In fact he held the position continuously, even after the advent of civil rule in 1979, interrupted only by 

courses, until he became Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans (DASDP) at the AHQ in 1981 – while Buhari bounced from command to command as GOC of the 4th, 

2nd and 3rd Divisions.Simultaneously, in May 1981, MJ Vatsa, former Secretary of the Dimka coup inquiry, now a Brigadier, having since commanded the Brigade 

of Guards and the School of Infantry, was asked to take charge of border operations against Cameroun during the fracasresulting from the ambush of Nigerian 

soldiers on the Akpa Yafi river.How Vatsa’s AHQ and Defence Council approved plans for the invasion of Cameroun leaked and found their way, first to French 

intelligence, and then on to Cameroun, remains a mystery.

As DASDP, accelerated by some curious retirements of other senior officers like the late Major General JN Garba (rtd),Babangida was second only to the Chief 

of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Inua Wushishi at the AHQ, and was, therefore, still able to monitor and control Armored Corps affairs while spreading his goodwill 

and patronage to other corps and power brokers in the capital.Indeed, anytime politicians were alarmed by innocuous armored vehicle movements in Lagos – such 

as during rehearsals for independence day celebrations – they would call Babangida for clarification.On one occasion in 1980 he jumped into a Peugeot 505 

after such a call and intercepted a column of tanks near Tafawa Balewa Square, scaring the bewildered junior officers and NCOs who could not understand what 

the fuss was about.Not surprisingly, Babangida, as DASDP and defacto Deputy Chief of Army Staff, was the critical operational element of the coup against 

President Shagari in December 1983, securing General Wushishi’s arrest (and resignation) and mobilizing armored officers and units in Lagos and Kaduna/Abuja 

for the coup – while Major General Vatsa, then Quarter-Master-General, was away on vacation.Incidentally, during Abuja operations, Brigadier Ibrahim Bako, 

another key conspirator, died in cross-fire under circumstances that have never been clearly explained.

As may be surmised by integrating and extrapolating the above two paragraphs, Babangida oversaw the maturation and massive expansion of the Armored corps 

including huge foreign armament purchases, training opportunities and career development for upcoming junior officers and soldiers during the heydays of the 

late seventies and early eighties.The unsuccessful Dimka coup attempt of February 1976 also helped him foster a public image of gallantry when stories 

circulated of how he risked his life allegedly retaking the Radio Station from his friend Dimka – a ‘feat’ which some claim may actually have been achieved 

by then Recce Major Chris Ugokwe.Indeed, some newspapers reported that Babangida initially tried to negotiate with Dimka against the orders of then Army 

Chief Lt. Gen Danjuma, who then sent him back from Bonny Camp to take the station by force. As fate would have it, Dimka even escaped from the station – even 

though surrounded by troops and armoured vehicles.(Many years later General Obasanjo confirmed this story in an interview).

Anyhow, Babangida’s name was among those of a few members of the SMC (like Yar’Adua, Danjuma, Obasanjo and Muhammed) who had been specifically targetted for 

elimination, in his case supposedly by Lt. Peter Cigari, allegedly at the behest of Major General Bisalla, then Defence Minister. This “victim status” 

cemented his legitimacy in the regime, irrespective of what transpired at the radio station.His friend and junior colleague, Lt. Col. J. Dogonyaro, at that 

time the commander of the 1st Recce Regiment, was nominated to the Board of Inquiry into the Dimka coup – concurrent with his new posting to Lagos as 

Babangida’s Principal Staff Officer at the Armoured Corps HQ.This investigation Board, which raised charges that were later tried by courts-martial led by 

Major General J Obada and Brigadier Pius Eromobor, was under the chairmanship of Major General Emmanuel Abisoye. Its members were Mr. Adamu Suleiman (DIG), 

Navy Captain Olumide, NAF Lt. Col. Muktar Mohammed, and two Army officers whose careers would eventually rise and fall on their relationship with Babangida – 

Lt. Cols. MJ Vatsa and Joshua Dogonyaro.In contrast to Babangida’s shifty transaction at the radio station, Vatsa, as commanding officer of the 13 Brigade in 

Calabarhad been the first to publicly dissociate his unit from the coup.Quite interestingly a third panel member, then NAF Lt. Col. Muktar Mohammed was 

destined to clash with Babangida in 1985.Just after the coup against Buhari, Air Vice Marshal Muktar Mohammed openly expressed disagreement with the motives 

for the coup and was retired from the Air Force.

Going back to the late seventies, coincidentally, the most senior Armour officer at that time -Brigadier Remawa (rtd) – who had already been displaced from 

the Armour chain of command – found that his career in the Army slowly but surely came to a screeching halt merely because his name was obliquely mentioned 

to the Dimka coup investigation panel during reference to a game of scrabble he played with one of the alleged plotters at Onitsha.


In 1978, the movie “Power Play”, a fictional account based on the book “Coup d’Etat” by Edward Luttwak, was released in various versions, English and 

French.Other versions of the same movie were known as ‘Coup D’État’, ‘Le Jeu de la puissance’ (in French), ‘Operation Overthrow’ or ‘State of Shock’.It was 

directed by Martyn Burke.

In the movie, encouraged by Dr. Jean Rousseau – an intellectual with military ties – a repressive civilian regime was overthrown by a group of middle ranking 

conspirators in the Army including Colonels Anthony Narriman, Raymond Kasai, Zeller and Barrientos; Majors Anwar, Minh,Dominique andAramco; and Captain 

Hillsman even as they were being closely monitored by Blair, the suspicious Chief of Government Security.

The coup succeeded, ably planned and coordinated by Infantry Colonel Narriman, who nevertheless had to completely rely on Colonel Zeller’s Tank regiment for 

the decisive assault on the Presidential Palace – the significance of which will be clear later.The conceptualization, recruiting, planning, and 

implementation of the coup was not without ups and downs.There were various manifestations of internal rivalry and treachery necessitating mutual 

surveillance and even suspicion among the conspirators.It was necessary at one point to kill an officer who was contacted for the coup but bluntly refused to 

be recruited, even proceeding to make a radio report to Security HQ.In another part of the movie the reliance of the Unit Commander on his RSM to ensure 

thattroops on a so called “exercise” would not mutiny once they found out what was actually happening was glaringly demonstrated.A breach of operational 

security necessitated a decision to deliberately sacrifice Colonel Barrientos as a decoy to throw the Chief of Security (Blair) off the scent of the 

others.The government knew something was in the works but had no details of the real plot.

Convinced that the external environment was right and that an internal window of opportunity had been established to allow for mobilization of units without 

giving away the game to security organs, the coup was finally launched from the coordinating center at the War College with the code word “Arora”.In 

carefully timed sequences, various units dashed to their primary and secondary objectives, some to arrest key military and political figures, others to seize 

strategic centers of communication, public buildings, airports, radio stations, road junctions etc.Considerable effort was made in the movie to dramatize 

road-block confrontations between loyal and disloyal units, some of which were mobilized via frantic phone calls fromkey figures in the regime without going 

through the regular chain of command – which had been disrupted by early morning arrests and other methods of neutralization.

A serious attempt to put down the coup was made by Blair by calling in a loyal air-portable battalion based outside the capital.However, this effort was 

neutralized by a decision to park armoured vehicles on the runway of the destination air-base near the capital.This prevented the planes bringing in loyal 

troops from landing.An attempt by the incoming para-commander to bluff his way in by claiming to be out of fuel was called by a nervous young officer in the 

control tower. One group of soldiers led by Military Intelligence Captain Hillsman shot its way into Blair’s National Security HQ and destroyed all its 

records, turning the place upside down, irritated by the pervasive and abusive nature of its methods.In reaction, Blair wryly pointed out that once the new 

coup regime settled down it too would need a security set up, no matter what it thought of the former regime.However, the punch line of the movie was the 

brilliant illustration of the coup-within-a-coup scenario when Tank Colonel Zeller exploited the fact that Tanks from his own Unit were in control of the 

Presidential Palace to wrest leadership of the coup from Infantry Colonel Narriman.

Why have I gone through the trouble of explaining all this?Because I have reason to believe that in the early eighties, the movie “Power Play” was circulated 

among a highly restricted circle of Army Officers in Nigeria and was the guiding resource used in planning key aspects of the coup against Major General 

Buhari – as will be evident when we begin to discuss operational issues.


At strategic, operational, and tactical levels a large number of general staff, field grade, company gradeand non-commissioned officers made August 27, 1985 

possible.Some were physically involved in military operations on D-Day; while others partook in the elaborate game of deception and disinformation that 

preceded the coup.However, as in all coups therewere overlapping concentric rings or tiers of involvement with the lowest echelons being brought into the 

picture within the last 6 – 24 hours of the operation, in some cases by being misled as to the real nature of what was going on.


1. Major General Ibrahim Babangida – Chief of Army Staff (COAS)

2. Brigadier Sani Abacha – GOC, 2nd Mechanised Division, Ibadan

3. Colonel JT Dogonyaro – Director, Department of Armour, Army HQ

4. Colonel Aliyu Mohammed Gusau – former Director, Defence Intelligence Agency

5. Lt. Col. Halilu Akilu – Director of Military Intelligence

6. Lt. Col. Tanko Ayuba – Commander, Corps of Signals

7. Lt. Col. David Mark – Military Governor, Niger State

8. Lt. Col. John Nanzip Shagaya – Commander, 9th Mechanised Brigade

9. Lt. Col. Chris Abutu Garuba – Commander, 34 Self Propelled Artillery Brigade, Jos

10. Lt. Col. Raji Alagbe Rasaki – Commanding Officer, AHQ Garrison and Signals Group, Lagos

11. Col. Anthony Ukpo – Deputy Director, Defence Intelligence Agency, Lagos

12. Major John Madaki – Commanding Officer, 123 Guards Battalion, Ikeja

13. Major Abdulmumuni Aminu – Military Assistant to the COAS

14. Major Lawan Gwadabe – just back from US Armour School, Fort Knox, returning to 245 Recce Battalionwhere he was the former Commanding Officer

15. Major Abubakar Dangiwa Umar –General Staff Officer (1), Department of Armour, AHQ, then Chairman Federal Housing Authority

16. Major Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, Staff Officer, HQ Corps of Artillery (and son of Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, who later became the 17th Sultan of Sokoto).

17. Major Maxwell Khobe – Commanding Officer, Armour Headquarters Company (201 “Administrative” Unit) Ikeja

18. Major UK Bello – Commanding Officer, 202 Armoured Battalion, Kaduna

19. Major Kefas Happy Bulus – Acting Commanding Officer, 245 Recce Battalion, Ikeja

20. Captain Nuhu Umaru – 2ic, 202 Armoured Battalion, Kaduna

21. Captain Sule Ahman, Supply and Transport, Ikeja Cantonment

22. Captain Musa Shehu (2ic to the Commanding Officer, Recce Battalion in Jos)

In support of the Key players a chorus of other company and field grade officers also played various supportive roles. These included (but were not limited 


1. Lt. Col. Ahmed Daku

2. Lt. Col. Abubakar Dada

3. Major IB Aboho (Staff Officer at Defence Intelligence Agency)

4. Major Friday Ichide (Staff Officer to Colonel Dogonyaro)

5. Major Simon Hart

6. Captain M. Bashir (Lagos operations, in support of Bulus)

7. Major S.B. Mepaiyeda

8. Captain Victor Scott Kure (physical security for the COAS).

NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS in the Armoured corps who were crucial to the mobilization of armoured vehicles in Lagos include

1. WOII Sule Ayinla

2. WOII Billy Adekunle

3. WOII Army Sweet

4. WOII Yerima

5. S-Sgt Bazaria Kabara

6. Sgt. Hitler Bongo

7. Corporal Sule Owoicho, and others.

In addition there was another mixed tier of crucial but less mission critical enablers.Some were “aware” but not “active”.These included:

1. Brigadier Peter Ademokhai (Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans)

2. Brigadier Abdullahi Bagudu Mamman (Director of Army Training and Operations)

3. Brigadier YY Kure (GOC 82 Division, Enugu)

4. Brigadier Ola Oni (GOC, 1st Division, Kaduna)

5. Lt. Col. John Inienger, Commander, 4thMechanized Brigade, Benin

6. Lt. Col. Tunji Olurin, Commander, 1st Mechanized Brigade, Minna

7. Lt. Col. A. Abubakar, Commander, 3rd Mechanised Brigade, Kano.

Although they had no operational commands, a number of Military Governors formed part of the BODY OF OPINION in the military that encouraged the palace coup, 

reflecting the wide nature of the plot and near total isolation of Generals Buhari and Idiagbon.They included (but were not limited to):

1. Brigadier Garba Duba (Sokoto State)

2. Brigadier IOS Nwachukwu (Imo State)

3. Brigadier Jeremiah Timbut Useni (Bendel State).


1. Major General Muhammadu Buhari, C-in-C

2. Major General Tunde Idiagbon, Chief of Staff, SHQ

3. Major General Mohammed Magoro – Minister of Internal Affairs

4. Alhaji Rafindadi – Director General, Nigerian Security Organization

5. Lt. Col. Sabo Aliyu – Commander, Brigade of Guards

6. Major Mustapha Haruna Jokolo, ADC to the C-in-C


1. Brigadier Salihu Ibrahim, GOC 3rd Armoured Division, Jos

2. Commanding Officer, Recce Battalion, Jos



By Nowa Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC





In the months before the August coup, Nigerians came to be familiar with routine announcements about this or that politician sentenced to jail, usually for 

21 years, often in concurrent sentences.But many were released too – although one would not suspect so, given the spate of disinformation that greeted the 

take-over.On January 1st, for example, as part of the New Year message, 144 political detainees and 2,407 prisoners were released.Another 85 political 

detainees would later be “conditionally” released on August 6th, reflecting efforts to pacify restive non-military special interest groups whose causes were 

being advocated by military insiders.In between all of this, familiar news reports of persons arrested for writing and publishing uncomfortable articles 

would pop up now and again – such as was the case with the Editor of the New Nigerian newspaper.Like various military rulers before him, General Buhari also 

embarked on State visits to various States, admittedly with less pomp and pageantry.In early August, however, he took a publicly announced two-week vacation 

and returned to his hometown in Daura.Shortly after he returned to Lagos, his Chief of Staff (Idiagbon) left the country, accompanied by some senior 

officials like Major General MJ Vatsa, then Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, enroute to Mecca for pilgrimage.Against guidelines issued by the 

regime, Idiagbon’s underage son went along for the ride.

Underneath all of this, however, to discerning observers, fate beckoned.Within the diplomatic community, for example, it was widely rumored as far back as 

March 1985 that all was not well in the Supreme Military Council.Such tensions were amplified by restiveness in the barracks over the decision to proceed 

with a large-scale reduction in the size of the Army to reduce defence expenditures.Such demobilized soldiers, however, let loose from the protections 

afforded by military life, were viewed by civil society as threats because of an alleged increased risk of armed robbery.But while the regime was pulling in 

this direction in order to free itself strategically for more social spending, while at the same time dealing with pressures from the IMF, Major General 

Babangida, in a public speech, said: “Those who advocate less spending on defence cannot win.” He also advocated making Nigeria a major arms-manufacturer to 

enhance foreign exchange earnings.

Some key officers even stopped attending meetings.Indeed, before August 27, a rumored military take-over was speculated at least once and then later said to 

have been postponed.One well placed Defence Attache in Lagos was overheard in a conversation, asking “Apart from Idiagbon, who is on his side?” – referring, 

as can be surmised, to Buhari.In retrospect, some of this diplomatic chatter would appear to have been deliberately spun by military intelligence operatives 

working for the coup planners.Such operatives were likely seeking on the one hand to sound out the attitude of some important foreign countries toward 

another coup, while at the same time carefully distancing the Army from Buhari’s head on collision with Britain – where many senior Army Officers kept 

private bank accounts.Such targeted pre-coup “leaks” are usually designed to passively ensure there won’t be unexpected resistance from the international 

community once operations begin.They do not imply any connivance by Britain or any other foreign country in what transpired, just an affirmation of official 

attitudes in those countries to possible scenarios.

But the diplomatic community was not the only circle in which coup rumors were swirling – and not all rumors were intended.Major General MC Alli, for 

example, says in his memoirs that Mr. Alex Ibru, a leading business entrepreneur, expressed concern about word on the streets that Babangida was not seeing 

‘eye to eye’ with the Buhari/Idiagbon dyad.Accompanied by then Lt. Col. MC Alli, Ibru even met with Gen. Idiagbon in his house to discuss the matter, but 

Idiagbon chose to project a veneer of calm, playing down the risk and falsely assuring Ibru that all was well.On yet another occasion, Lt. Col. MC Alli heard 

rumors from other sources that a coup was in the offing.However, like many Nigerian rulers before him, Idiagbon blew off the warning, saying, “Let them try”.

General Buhari himself may have been warned too.He said during an interview many years later that the intelligence was vague.Vague, yes, and even deceptive 

too.At one point, in what was a high stakes game of deception, the Directorate of Military Intelligence deliberately fed the Press with rumors that Colonel 

Tanko Ayuba was under surveillance or arrested for coup plotting.The story was milked for what it was worth in throwing the Nigerian Security Organization 

off track and off the scent of the real planners (as was the case with Barrientos in the movie “Power Play”).Ayuba later emerged ‘indignantly’ to deny it 

all, when in fact, he was an insider in the conspiracy.The Press was warned to stop spreading rumors.

It is said (but not confirmed) that Major General MJ Vatsa may also have made discrete efforts to warn both Buhari and Idiagbon about rumors of a coup led by 

Babangida.Some sources say Vatsa was hesitant to go all out in repeatedly reporting his suspicions about Babangida’s moves because he did not want to be seen 

as lobbying for Babangida’s position as Army Chief.Nevertheless, this point proved to be a political albatross around Vatsa’s neck when he was later charged 

in December 1985 for the Vatsa conspiracy against the post-coup Babangida government.In what must surely count as a curious line of cross-examination, 

unconfirmed reports say he repeatedly evaded questions about whether he had reported rumors of Babangida’s coup plot to Buhari when Buhari was in power as 

the legal Head of State! If true, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this line of questioning may have been designed to demonstrate that he had apriori 

personal animosity or what Nigerians call “Bad Belle” against his classmate and rival, Babangida.Such arbitrary behind the scene arguments- along with other 

long standing interpersonal dynamics and pressure from some middle belt officers in the caucus, citing the Dimka trial of 1976 – may have contributed to his 

execution in March 1986.Indeed, in a newspaper interview in January 2001, Babangida said: “Despite the fact that he was my friend, play mate and course mate, 

he had to be executed. Vatsa was like a scorpion in one’s pocket. If he had been retired he could still have planned a coup from outside…”


Investigating a successful coup is not easy.Some aspects are obvious but the trail of more detailed evidence (and names of convicts) that is usually left in 

the public domain after the official investigation of a failed coup attempt just is not there. Based, however, on multiple sources of information of varying 

quality, including conversations with a few of those who actually took part or directly witnessed the event, it is possible to reconstruct events to some 

degree, although the full picture may never be known.The investigation, however, is ongoing, and further details may well come to light in time to come – 

particularly if all the insiders go on truthful record in their memoirs, so that appropriate lessons can be drawn by future generations.

Some writers like to describe the August 27 Palace Coup as an unusually brilliant operation. However, the truth is that coups hatched at the level of Army or 

Defence Chiefs often succeed in history – although there have been some sensational failures like Venezuelan coup of April 2002 and the Soviet Coup of August 

1991.In Pakistan, for example, beginning in 1951 with the Rawalpindi conspiracy, there have been ten coup attempts by the Army, four of which- all organized 

by Army Chiefs – were successful.Beginning with Lieutenant General Ibrahim Abboud of Sudan, there is a short list of successful coups in Africa specifically 

led by Army or Armed Forces Chiefs. These include Generals Houari Boumedienne (Algeria), Ibrahim Maïnasara Baré (Niger), Idi Amin (Uganda) and Abdul Rahman 

Siwar Al-Dahab (Sudan); as well as Colonel Mobutu (Congo), among others.

Having pre-positioned selected officers in strategic units since early 1984, it was not too difficult to formulate a plan for the coup de grace against 

Buhari.The plan was driven by the capabilities offered by penetration of key units – either for full mobilization or passive neutralization, aided to a large 

extent by the authority structure and prerogatives of the Office of the Chief of Army Staff.In other words, the means were in place and the motive had been 

fine-tuned.What was left was the opportunity.

Various sources claim that planning took place in Lagos, Minna and London.In Minna, capital of the home state of the COAS and principal location for the 

conspiracy, the Military Governor, Lt. Col. David Mark, allegedly provided cover, guest houses and other resources for such activity.Obviously the local 

Brigade Commander, Lt. Col. Olurin, was not ignorant.Other sources say small groups of plotters and enablers also milled in and out of London – particularly 

around a certain apartment in Kensington.Lastly, under cover of a nationwide tour of military formations in July, General Babangida was said to have tied up 

loose ends.

Deception and PsyOps

Deception operations – targeted at the Nigerian Security Organization and psychological operations- targeted at the Nigerian public to undermine the 

legitimacy of the regime in the public eye, have already been discussed.The cynical manipulation of the diplomatic community in Lagos has also been alluded 



Marabouts (particularly in the northeastern part of the country) were consulted to ensure the success of the August coup.However, the details are beyond the 

scope of this paper.


Millions of dollars were expended in preparations and activities linked to the September 11, 1973 coup against President Allende of Chile.Sponsors of the 

July 17, 1980 Cocaine Coup in Bolivia are said to have invested about $4 million into it.Coming closer to home, many will recall the problem Major PCK 

Nzeogwu had in Kaduna in January 1966 when he sent a military task force to Kano to physically get money from the Central Bank – only for Lt. Col. Ojukwu to 

detain the group. Nzeogwu suddenly found that in the event of a showdown with General Ironsi he had to keep the men paid, and fed.In other words, “troop 

welfare”, a key ingredient of morale, had to be organized.It was not enough to make revolutionary speeches on radio.

As the country has evolved over time, with a larger Army and more units to visit in coordinating treasonable activities, other nuances appear to have emerged 

such as the cost of travel, hotel, feeding, etc. for planners.As the society has become more corrupt and socially insecure, the role of money in helping 

reluctant officers or soldiers (or their wives and concubines) support the conspiracy has also crystallized in accounts of post-1970 plots.Obviously, 

questions from potential recruits like, “What would happen to my family if I die or I am caught?” need answers from recruiters.Then there is the problem of 

securing logistic items outside the Army chain of command – particularly if Intelligence operatives closely monitor the official system.

Specifically, in 1986, for example, it was alleged during the Vatsa Conspiracy Trial that late General Vatsa provided 100,000 naira as a first installment 

for the plot under cover of a “farm loan”.Even more recently, in December 2000, during controversial testimony before the Human Rights Violations 

Investigation Commission (HRVIC) sitting in Lagos, General Bamaiyi, former Army Chief, alleged that General Diya, former Chief of General Staff, provided two 

million naira for the aborted coup attempt against late General Abacha in December 1997.

Coming back to 1985, it has already been noted that some civilians were said to have provided funds for the August plot.But such sources of direct cash are 

not the only way money has been laundered in the past for such illegal operations.One other mechanism has been hypothesized by a knowledgeable insider to 

explain how money was passed through to the Commander of a critical Armoured unit in Lagos for odds and ends, recruitment and pacification.Allegedly, the 

Corps HQ revised the budget proposal for a new Officers Mess upward in many multiples beyond what was needed – knowing that the difference would be available 

in an operational imprest account for illicit activity.Among civilian contractors such a line item in the budget might innocently and naively be called 

“mobilization fee.”

Concept of Operations

A Dictatorship is like a poisonous snake.To kill it requires a direct hit on the head, not a body scratch or tail step.The basic concept, therefore, was to 

isolate and arrest the Head of State very early, disconnecting him from the chain of command; neutralize likely avenues of sympathetic resistance and 

simultaneously occupy vulnerable points such as Radio and TV stations, telephone exchange, police signals installations, airfields and civilian 

administrative establishments.Sources say General Buhari initially left Lagos for Daura for the Sallah break but then returned to Lagos, right into the jaws 

of the Tiger.

Although he had a stern image among civilians, the Chief of Staff(Maj. Gen Tunde Idiagbon) had gone from a Staff position as Military Secretary (1981-83) to 

that of COS, SHQ.Even before his tour of duty as Military Secretary, it had been a long time since he directly commanded troops.Therefore, he had no recent 

command link with or visceral connection to any viable body of troops that he could use to fight the plotters.This factor of prior command, also raised as an 

issue with Buhari, is not trivial. When President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was recently briefly overthrown, it was the crack paratrooper unit in which he had 

previously served that first dissociated itself from the plotters and began the process of returning him to power within 48 hours.

Nevertheless, Idiagbon had traveled out of the country on pilgrimage, and was, thus, one less major target to be bothered about.Indeed some sources say he 

was accompanied by Chief MKO Abiola (who was allegedly well aware of the plot and may have gone along for the pilgrimage as a form of deception and a source 

of intelligence).Other prominent military officers on the delegation allegedly included Generals Nassarawa, and Vatsa.Some sources claim that the NSO Boss, 

Alhaji Rafindadi was also in Mecca, but I have not yet been able to definitely confirm this because of conflicting accounts.

Certainly, none of the small neighboring African countries would want to risk offending the new regime by allowing Idiagbon use them for an opposed return – 

even if he had troops to use. Saudi Arabia (where Idiagbon was visiting) had no record of getting physically involved in military adventures outside the 

Middle East.In any case if they had any such inclination, the Buhari regime’s apparent actions against respected Moslem clerics like Alhaji Abubakar Gumi, 

and the Emir of Kano would be cause for pause.Nevertheless, it was helpful (as a back up) to have a few respected civilian Islamic scholars and Leaders from 

highly respected royal families in the far north, or their children in the Army, on the side of – or neutral toward – the coup.As for Britain, Nigeria’s 

former colonial master, it was clear that the Buhari regime could not expect any sympathy from that direction, after all the flap about Umaru Dikko and 

withdrawal of Ambassadors.

In the years since the coup, some have speculated that the coup would have been more difficult if Idiagbon was in the country.The truth is that if the Chief 

of Staff had been around (or if he returned unexpectedly as happened with Lt Col. Walbe in 1975 from Kampala), his arrest would likely have been handled in 

the usual way others had been handled in the past.Units of the Guards Brigade, which had already been penetrated, supplied guards at his residence.

Other officers deemed to be potentially hostile were to be arrested very early, by key conspirators, using various methods of subterfuge at just after H-hour 

– the specific time the operation was to begin – probably just after midnight.

The question of political and military timing, as always, was important.An elaborate military exercise was contrived at about that time, allowing the 

concentration of many Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Armoured Fighting vehicles (AFVs) at the Ikeja Barracks – which were actually on “standby” for 

almost a week before Babangida struck.Although the coup took place in the early hours of the 27th, much of the final mobilization actually started in the 

morning, between 8am and 9am, just before Mosque time on August 26, 1985, the Muslim festival of Eid-el-Kabir.Being Sallah Day, it would theoretically be 

least expected and alertness not at peak.The Eid-el-Kabir is the day when Muslims all over the world celebrate the conclusion of the annual pilgrimage to 

Mecca (Hajj). In most Muslim societies, it is the single most important religious day, celebrated by the slaughter of rams, merry making, exchange of gifts 

and visits. In Nigeria, it was and remains one of the major national holidays.


From Ikeja Cantonment, which had been designated as the main concentration point, task groups were to fan out all over the Lagos area, coordinating their 

efforts with those launched or on stand-by from other military barracks. Key officers congregated at the Armour HQ Battalion Officers Mess in the hours 

before H-hour.Drinks and food were freely available to assist bonding.

The designated Coordinating Center (or War Room) for coup activities on D-Day was the main hall of the Bonny Camp Visiting Officers guesthouse on Victoria 

Island in Lagos.Security for coup planners was provided mainly by elements of the 6th Guards battalion (supported by a Recce troop) placed on standby at the 


Key fighting units in the federal capital area at that time belonged to the Brigade of Guards and Army HQ formations, although the 9th Mechanized Brigade 

based at Ikeja was (as had been the case in the past) close enough to be a factor.Fighting battalions at Owode, Ibadan, Okitipupa, Benin, Akure, Ilorin, etc 

were more remote but still a threat if they fell under command of hostile officers.Therefore, support of the entire leadership of the 2nd Mechanized 

Division, based at Ibadan, and its fighting Brigades (like the 4th and 9th) was essential. Abacha, Shagaya and Inienger were onboard.Indeed, shortly after 

midnight, early on the 27th, Brigadier Abacha and most of his Staff Officers at the Divisional HQ in Ibadan arrived in Lagos in a high-speed motor convoy and 

(other than one late comer) were the last vehicles allowed to go past the tollgate that night.

In Lagos, the Guards Brigade (under Lt. Col. Sabo Aliyu) comprised the Guards Garrison at Obalende (under Captain Maitama), 6th Guards Battalion in Bonny 

Camp (under Lt. Col Joshua Madaki), 123rd Guards Battalion at Ikeja (under Major John Y Madaki) and the 93rd Guards Battalion at Ojo.At Ikeja, the Corps HQ 

Armoured Unit (under Bulus) and 245 Recce Battalion (under Khobe) were on hand, within striking distance of the State House, where some of their subunits 

were already stationed on guard duty, like Trojan horses.

With the exception of the overall Commander of the Guards Brigade, Col. Sabo Aliyu, the commanding officers of the 6th, 123rd and 93rd Battalions as well as 

the Guards Garrison had all been recruited into the plot (or had switched sides, depending on one’s point of view).

From a military standpoint, the coup was basically a “cut off and kill” routine.One of the first acts of the operation, therefore, would be the closure of 

the TollGate along Lagos-Ibadan expressway, to cut the federal capital off along that axis.Seizure of the domestic, international and military wings of the 

Murtala Muhammed Airport was essential to prevent the Air Force from being able to deploy C-130 tactical transports for loyal troops – in addition to cutting 

off internal and external civil flights.In any case, the Chief of Air Staff at that time, Air Vice Marshall Ibrahim Alfa wasn’t hostile to the coup – 

although the same could not be said for some of his Air Officers Commanding. This concern is what motivated the 202 Armoured battalion in Kaduna (under UK 

Bello), for example, to deploy Armoured vehicles and park them in a blocking configuration right on top of the runway at the Air Force Base in Kaduna (as was 

the case in the movie “Power Play”).

The Lagos State Police Command HQ at Oduduwa Street, Ikeja G.R.A.and the National Police HQ (Kam Salem House) along Moloney Street were also to be secured to 

prevent the Police from being used as a surrogate mechanism for mobilizing loyal forces.

Naturally the Radio Station was a key target.The Duty Officer that day (Odoba) was from the Guards Garrison, whose commanding officer (Maitama) was 

onboard.Seizing the Station, therefore, would be a walkover.

Lastly, as noted above, Major General MC Alli (rtd) said the Palace coup was “received with press-inspired fanfare”.Expectations were for aggressive 

marketing of the coup by the Concord Group of newspapers in the transitional period before the new regime would settle down to control key state organs of 

propaganda.A retrospective re-read of news items in those newspapers in the first week after the coup suggests that such an undercurrent seems to have been 

in play.To supplement these arrangements, the unpopular Decree No. 4., originally promulgated with unanimity by the SMC, was to be tactically (but only 

temporarily) abrogated immediately to get buy-in from the strategic “Lagos-Ibadan” Press.



In the morning of August 26th, as Muslims were preparing to go to the Mosque for morning prayers on Sallah day at the Ikeja Cantonment, word came to key 

players at Tactical levels that the operation was a go, destined for that night.As the day progressed, therefore, strong indications emerged that something 

was about to happen.Efforts were, therefore, made by the C-in-C, the Commander, Brigade of Guards and the ADC to the C-in-C to find out details and prepare 

for eventualities.

Lt. Col. Sabo Aliyu, Commander of the Guards Brigade, reportedly kept asking his friend, course-mate and fellow Kano indigene, Lt. Col. H. Akilu, Director of 

Military Intelligence, if there was any truth to the rumors.They even attended mosque together that Sallah morning.Akilu reportedly assured Sabo Aliyu that 

it had been investigated and that there was nothing to fear.Part of the confusion, though, was caused by the deliberate“pseudo-false” rumor planted by 

Military Intelligence operatives to the effect that Colonel Aliyu Mohammed was planning “something” in reaction to his retirement and that soldiers should be 

ready for internal security to PROTECT the regime.However, in reality, this proactive rumor and game of smoking mirrors was intended as a pretext to allow 

the full mobilization of troops AGAINST the regime!

Nevertheless, both Major Jokolo (ADC to the C-in-C) and Col. Sabo Aliyu (Commander, Brigade of Guards) kept shuttling or calling back and forth between 

Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Ikeja seeking information and checking on the status of units, unaware that they were being monitored by Military Intelligence. 

Just after 9pm, riding together in Jokolo’s car, on a trip to Ikeja Cantonment, uncomfortably close in time to H-Hour, they were arrested at the gate by 

soldiers and subalterns from units under Majors John Y. Madaki and Maxwell Khobe, stripped and severely beaten.In fact shots were fired at the Mercedes car 

and its tires deflated.They were later taken and kept at the Officers Quarters in Bonny Camp – a makeshift transit detention point where, thereafter, they 

were joined by General Buhari, Ambassador Lawal Rafindadi and General Tunde Idiagbon when the latter returned to the country from Mecca a few days later.

In the meantime, earlier in the day, having failed repeatedly to get Brigadier Abacha, GOC, 2nd Division, on the telephone or by signal, Col. Sabo Aliyu sent 

Captain Maitama of the Guards Garrison on an errand to drive all the way to Ibadan.He was asked to speak to Abacha personally with a message from the C-in-C 

to clarify his position.The Captain (who was already part of the conspiracy anyway) returned to Lagos ‘empty handed’, with no reported contact with the GOC.

Similarly, the COAS (Babangida) ‘could not be reached’ by the C-in-C, having left Lagos for Minna, allegedly for Sallah. Needless to say, his Military 

Assistant – Major Aminu – whom he had left behind in Lagos to assist with coordination and operations could reach him although the Head of State could not.

By nightfall, therefore, the grim nature of the situation was clear to General Buhari. His COS, SHQ was outside the country in Saudi Arabia.His COAS was away 

to Minna and was not returning calls.Neither could he reach the GOC of the 2nd Division.The Commander, Brigade of Guards had disappeared, arrested at Ikeja. 

He could not even find his own ADC who had also been arrested.Theyoung Garrison Commander he had relied upon to deliver messages to Ibadan suddenly became 

scarce.The CO of the 6th Battalion at Bonny camp nearby, Lt. Col. Joshua Madaki*, was not on his side.The NSO had no fighting units of its own.The Chairman 

Joint Chiefs, General Bali, had no Army to command even if he wanted.The Minister of Internal Affairs, General Magoro, had no Internal Affairs Troops of his 

own either and was certainly not going to deploy Customs or Prisons Officers against the Army.Units from the 3rd Division, far away in Jos where Buhari held 

his last command before January 1984 were too far away – and as was to transpire later that evening, would shortly be without a GOC anyway.The die was cast 

and all that remained was for him to wait patiently, surrounded by soldiers from Guards Units of doubtful loyalty at the State House, Dodan Barracks, until 

daybreak when the curtains fell.The rug symbolizing the machinery of State had been pulled from under his feet.

*Note that there were two Madakis commanding Guards Battalions at that time.One was then Major John Y. Madaki, CO 123 Gds Bn at Ikeja, nicknamed “jungle 

expert” after he returned from a course in Malaya on Advanced Jungle Warfare and Combat Survival.He comes from a town called Gawu Babangida (renamed after 

General Babangida) in Niger State and is now a retired Colonel. The other was then Lt. Col. Joshua Madaki, Commanding Officer 6 Gds Bn Bonny Camp, who is 

from Southern Zaria area of Kaduna State, now a retired Major General.There was also a third Madaki in the Army, Col. Yohanna Madaki (rtd) who is now well 

known as a Lawyer but was at one point in charge of administration at the 2 Division HQ in Ibadan.

At H-hour, designated units in Lagos sped toward their objectives. Occupation of vulnerable points or fully mobilized standby status was allotted to officers 

and soldiers of 123rd Battalion, 245 Recce Bn, 201 Armoured HQ Battalion, the 6th battalion at Bonny Camp and the 93rd battalion at Ojo cantonment. The 123 

Battalion (under Major J Madaki) in particular was crucial to securing the tollgate, Lagos State Police Command HQ at Ikeja and the International Airport, in 

addition to some key road junctions in the mainland area. Although most news reports and commentaries keep describing the August coup as bloodless, it was 

not.The platoon sent to the Lagos State Police Command HQ, on Oduduwa Street at Ikeja GRA opened fire without provocation at a group of Policemen killing an 

untold number in the process.

The 6th Battalion (under Lt. Col. Joshua Madaki) was charged with soft operations and standby on Lagos Island – including securing the eastern approaches to 

Victoria Island from Epe.The 93rd Battalion at Ojo set up similar observation points along the Badagry Road and in the Port area.

Armoured Vehicles and storm troopers from units commanded by Majors Khobe and Bulus were detailed to primarily move to the FRCN Station Ikoyi and State House 

Dodan Barracks (mainly Khobe), while also providing secondary support in depth to infantry units deployed to the Anthony, Oshodi and Ikeja areas (mainly 

Bulus).Civilians returning from late night Sallah parties in Surulere were startled to stumble into these vehicles along Western Avenue as they made their 

way their way to Lagos Island that morning.Just before crossing the Eko Bridge into Lagos Island, machine guns on some of the armoured fighting vehicles were 

even tested by shooting into the air, thereby unnecessarily creating panic. One soldier’s hand was later crushed by an armoured vehicle while trying to open 

the gate of Dodan Barracks at the launch of that phase of the operation.

At Dodan Barracks, four young Majors were detailed to arrest the Head of State.They were Majors Umar Dangiwa, Lawan Gwadabe, Abdulmumuni Aminu and Sambo 

Dasuki.They achieved this without much ado. In fact General Buhari was said to be waiting for them (some say watching events at the gate on close circuit TV) 

and allegedly gave orders to bewildered soldiers on the premises that the unusual early morning activities of those who came to arrest him were not to be 

disrupted.He accompanied his captors, initially to Bonny camp from where he was later moved (under House Arrest) to No. 1 Hawkesworth Road, Ikoyi. He was 

there for less than a week before being moved again, probably to a house in Benin-City. Meanwhile the official premises of the Head of State at State House, 

Dodan Barracks was ransacked and Buhari’s belongings looted by soldiers.

Assisted by an unopposed entry into the Radio Station contrived by the Guards Garrison Commander, Colonel Joshua Dogonyaro’s task was to make the crucial 

radio broadcast at 0600 bringing the regime of Major General Buhari to an end.

As daybreak progressed, coup coordinators at Bonny Camp established radio communication with all Divisions and Brigades in the country to obtain situation 

reports and pledges of loyalty in their areas of responsibility.General Babangida was then contacted in Minna to return to Lagos to take charge and 

arrangements made for a plane to go and fetch him.At this point bottles of champagne were opened to celebrate the coup.A quick meeting of key plotters took 

place at the Camp after which there was a further radio broadcast to the nation by Brigadier Sani Abacha at 1300, formally appointing Major General Ibrahim 

B. Babangida, erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, as the new C-in-C.

Analytically speaking, it is important to appreciate the deftness that went into the allocation of highly sensitive tasks in Lagos.Four different officers, 

all independently personally connected and fanatically loyal to the Chief of Army Staff, from three different Corps (Infantry – Aminu, Armour – Umar/Gwadabe 

and Artillery – Dasuki) were entrusted with the arrest of General Buhari. None had a direct command of their own on the ground at the State House. 

Theoretically mutually supporting, they were likely also intended (without realizing it) to be watching one another.The two officers with direct command of 

troops and armoured vehicles (Khobe and Bulus) were not entrusted with the arrest of the C-in-C or the radio announcement. Those entrusted with the Radio 

announcement (Dogonyaro and Abacha) were not entrusted with the arrest of the C-in-C.The CO of the 6th Battalion (Joshua Madaki) was placed on standby mainly 

in the Victoria Island area.Although trusted, the CO of the 123 Battalion (John Madaki) whose boys were in control of the Murtala Muhammed Airport into which 

Babangida was to fly back, had no tactical dominance of either the State House or Radio Station area of operations.In coming to Lagos Island from Ibadan to 

mingle with other plotters, Brigadier S. Abacha was not in a position to draw directly on his own troops from the 2nd Division at either the State House or 

the Radio Station.He was dependent on boys from the Brigade of Guards and the Armoured Corps (neither of which he had ever commanded) with no direct 

independent axis of personal loyalty to him – and his closest Brigade Commander at the 9th Bde, Lt. Col. J. Shagaya, was an IBB boy.In other words, Major 

General Babangida could fly back to Lagos from Minna confident that he would not be upstaged on arrival and arrested by ambitious fellow conspirators in a 

coup-within-a-coup as happened to Colonel Anthony Narriman in the movie “Power Play.”


Shortly after H-Hour, in Jos, the GOC of the 3rd Armoured Division, then Brigadier Salihu Ibrahim was arrested at home by a team of soldiers led by Lt. Col. 

Chris Abutu Garuba, then Commander, 34 Self Propelled Artillery Brigade, Jos.The second-in-command of the Recce Battalion at the Rukuba Cantonment, Major 

Musa Shehu, invited his Commanding Officer, Major Adesina, to a Sallah party at his house.Assisted by the Commander, 3 Div Signals, Major Shehu waited for 

Major Adesina – a serious and highly professional officer – to relax completely, comfortably sandwiched between two pretty hostesses.Then he called him 

outside for a “message”.When he came out he was arrested by a group of soldiers, and was even beaten in the process.Unlike his less fortunate colleagues in 

Lagos, he was not, however, stripped.

With these two key arrests, the 3rd Armored Division fell into the hands of pro-coup officers.No further resistance was anticipated.


Operations in Kaduna, base of the 1st Infantry Division, were straightforward.All the key brigades (Minna, Kano and Sokoto) were in the hands of officers 

sympathetic to the coup or neutral to it. The only excitement was the decision by Major UK Bello to deploy vehicles to block the runway at the AirForce Base.


Enugu, along with the entire 82 Division area of responsibility was quiet.The GOC, Brigadier YY Kure, was certainly not opposed to the coup.Those subordinate 

officers who were not foretold of the coup simply adopted a wait and see attitude.


Ibadan was quiet.As previously noted, the GOC, Brigadier S. Abacha was deeply involved in the plot. He left Ibadan shortly after H-Hour for Lagos with most 

of his Staff Officers.All his Brigade Commanders were onboard.The Bde based at Ikeja – under Shagaya – was active.The Bde in Benin – under Inienger – was on 

standby. However, the Military Governor of Bendel, Brigadier J Useni . took the extra step of making a public broadcast to “associate himself” with the 

developments in Lagos.


Upon arrival back to Lagos from Minna, Major General Babangida returned to the Flag Staff House, located in a cul de sac on Second Avenue, Ikoyi.It was at 

that time the official residence of the Chief of Army Staff.It was from this location that he made the following broadcast to the Nigerian people:

Fellow Nigerians,

When in December 1983, the former military leadership, headed by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, assumed the reins of government, its accession was heralded 

in the history of this country.With the nation at the mercy of political misdirection and on the brink of economic collapse, a new sense of hope was created 

in the minds of every Nigerian.

Since January 1984, however, we have witnessed a systematic denigration of that hope.It was stated then that mismanagement of political leadership and a 

general deterioration in the standard of living, which had subjected the common man to intolerable suffering, were the reasons for the intervention.

Nigerians have since then been under a regime that continued with those trends.Events today indicate that most of the reasons which justified the military 

takeover of government from the civilians still persist.

The initial objectives were betrayed and fundamental changes do not appear on the horizon.Because the present state of uncertainty, suppression and 

stagnation resulted from the perpetration of a small group, the Nigerian Armed Forces could not as a part of that government be unfairly committed to take 

responsibility for failure.Our dedication to the cause of ensuring that our nation remains a united entity worthy of respect and capable of functioning as a 

viable and credible part of the international community dictated the need to arrest the situation.

Let me at this point attempt to make you understand the premise upon which it became necessary to change the leadership.The principles of discussions, 

consultation and co-operation which should have guided decision-making process of the Supreme Military Council and the Federal Executive Council were 

disregarded soon after the government settled down in 1984.Where some of us thought it appropriate to give a little more time, anticipating a conducive 

atmosphere that would develop, in which affairs of state could be attended to with greater sense of responsibility, it became increasingly clear that such 

expectations could not be fulfilled.

Regrettably, it turned out that Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance.Efforts 

to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria required recognition and appreciation of differences in both cultural and individual perceptions, 

only served to aggravate these attitudes.

Major-General Tunde Idiagbon was similarly inclined in that respect.As Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, he failed to exhibit the appropriate disposition 

demanded by his position.He arrogated to himself absolute knowledge of problems and solutions, and acted in accordance with what was convenient to him, using 

the machinery of government as his tool.

A combination of these characteristics in the two most important persons holding the nation’s vital offices became impossible to content with.The situation 

was made worse by a number of other government functionaries and organisations, chief among which is the Nigerian Security Organisation (NSO).In fact, this 

body will be overhauled and re-organized.

And so it came to be that the same government which received the tumultuous welcome now became alienated from the people.To prevent a complete erosion of our 

given mandate therefore, we had to act so that hope may be rebuilt.

Let me now address your attention to the major issues that confront us, so that we may, as one people, chart a future direction for our dear country.We do 

not pretend to have all the answers to the questions which our present problems have put before our nation.We have come with the strongest determination to 

create an atmosphere in which positive efforts shall be given the necessary support for lasting solutions.

For matters of the moment which require immediate resolutions, we intend to pursue a determined programme of action.Major issues falling into this category 

have been identified and decisions taken on what should be done.

Firstly, the issue of political detainees or convicts of special military tribunals.The history of our nation had never recorded the degree of indiscipline 

and corruption as in the period between October 1979 and December 1983.

While this government recognises the bitterness created by the irresponsible excesses of the politicians, we consider it unfortunate that methods of such 

nature as to cause more bitterness were applied to deal with past misdeeds.We must never allow ourselves to lose our sense of natural justice.The innocent 

cannot suffer the crimes of the guilty.The guilty should be punished only as a lesson for the future.In line with this government’s intention to uphold 

fundamental human rights, the issue of detainees will be looked into with despatch.

As we do not intend to lead a country where individuals are under the fear of expressing themselves, the Public Officers Protection Against False Accusation 

Decree 4 of 1984 is hereby repealed.And finally, those who have been in detention under this decree are hereby unconditionally released.The responsibility of 

the media to disseminate information shall be exercised without undue hindrance.In that process, those responsible are expected to be forthright and to have 

the nation’s interest as their primary consideration.

The issue of decrees has generated a lot of controversies.It is the intention of this government to review all other decrees.

The last twenty months have not witnessed any significant changes in the national economy.Contrary to expectations, we have so far been subjected to a steady 

deterioration in the general standard of living; and intolerable suffering by the ordinary Nigerians have risen higher, scarcity of commodities has 

increased, hospitals still remain mere consulting clinics, while educational institutions are on the brink of decay.Unemployment has stretched to critical 


Due to the stalemate, which arose in negotiation with the International Monetary Fund, the former government embarked on a series of counter-trade 

agreements.Under the counter-trade agreements, Nigerians were forced to buy goods and commodities at higher prices than obtained in the international 

market.The government intends to review the whole issue of counter-trade.

A lot has been said and heard about our position with the International Monetary Fund.Although we formally applied to the fund in April 1983, no progress has 

as yet been made in the negotiation and a stalemate has existed for the last two years.

We shall break the deadlock that frustrated the negotiations with a view to evaluating more objectively both the negative and positive implications of 

reaching a mutual agreement with the Fund.At all times in the course of discussions, our representatives will be guided by the feelings and aspirations of 

the Nigerian people.

It is the view of this government that austerity without structural adjustment is not the solution to our economic predicament.The present situation whereby 

44 per cent of our revenue earning is utilised to service debts is not realistic.To protect the danger this poses to the poor and the needy in our society, 

steps will be taken to ensure comprehensive strategy of economic reforms.

The crux of our economic problems has been identified to centre around four fundamental issues:

1. A decrease of our domestic production, while our population continues to increase.

2. Dependence on import for both consumer goods and raw materials for our industries.

3. A grossly unequal gap between the rich and the poor.

4. The large role played by the public sector in economic activity with hardly any concrete results to justify such a role.

These are the problems we must confront.


Nigeria’s foreign policy in the last 20 months has been characterised by inconsistency and incoherence.It has lacked the clarity to make us know where we 

stood on matters of international concern to enable other countries relate to us with seriousness.Our role as Africa’s spokesman has diminished because we 

have been unable to maintain the respect of African countries.

The ousted military government conducted our external relations by a policy of retaliatory reactions.Nigeria became a country that has reacted to given 

situations, rather than taking the initiative as it should and always been done.More so, vengeful considerations must not be the basis of our 

diplomacy.African problems and their solutions should constitute the premise of our foreign policy.

The realisation of the Organisation of African Unity of the Lagos Plan of Action for self-sufficiency and constructive co-operation in Africa shall be our 

primary pursuit.

The Economic Community of West African States must be reborn with the view to achieving the objective of regional integration.The problems of drought-

stricken areas of Africa will be given more attention and sympathy, and our best efforts will be made to assist in their rehabilitation within the limits of 

our resources.Our membership of the United Nations Organisation will be made more practical and meaningful.The call for a new International Economic Order 

which lost its momentum in the face of the debt crisis will be made once again.

Nigeria hereby makes a renewed request to the Non-Aligned Movement to regroup and reinvigorate its determination to restructure the global economic system, 

while we appeal to the industrialized nations to positively consider the debt plight of the developing countries and assist in dealing with the dangers that 

face us.We shall remain members of the various multilateral institutions and inter-governmental organisations which we belong to and do what must be done to 

enhance the membership and participation within them.

Fellow Nigerians, this country has had since independence a history mixed with turbulence and fortune.We have witnessed our rise to greatness, followed with 

a decline to the state of a bewildered nation.Our human potentials have been neglected, our natural resources put to waste.A phenomenon of constant 

insecurity and overbearing uncertainty has become characteristic of our national existence.

My colleagues and I are determined to change the course of history.This government is determined to unite this country.We shall not allow anything to 

obstruct us.We recognise that a government, be it civilian or military, needs the consent of the people to govern if it is to reach its objective.We do not 

intend to rule by force.At the same time, we should not be expected to submit to unreasonable demands.Fundamental rights and civil liberties will be 

respected, but their exercise must not degenerate into irrational expression nor border on subversion.

The War Against Indiscipline will continue, but this time, in the minds and conduct of Nigerians, and not by way of symbolism or money-spending campaigns.

This government, on its part, will ensure that the leadership exhibits proper example.Criticisms of actions and decisions taken by us will be given necessary 

attention and where necessary changes made in accordance with what is expected of us.

Let me reiterate what we said in 1984:This generation of Nigerians and indeed future generations have no other country but Nigeria.We must all stay and 

salvage it together.This time it shall be pursued with deeper commitment and genuine sincerity.

There is a lot of work to be done by every single Nigerian.Let us all dedicate ourselves to the cause of building a strong, united and viable nation for the 

sake of our own lives and the benefits of posterity.

Finally, I wish to commend the members of the Armed Forces and the Nigeria Police for their mature conduct during the change.

I thank you all for your co-operation and understanding.

God bless Nigeria.

Behind the scenes, though, from the time of his return to Lagos continuing into the following morning, officers were horse trading and jockeying for 

positions in the new dispensation. The next day, at Dodan Barracks, coup planners and key storm troopers, along with a few co-opted officers met to discuss 

the initial shape, velocity and direction of the new regime. It was after this inner process of consultation that membership of the new AFRC, federal cabinet 

and council of states was announced. The IBB era had begun.


Most coups planned and executed by Army Chiefs have succeeded in history but, as was noted earlier, there have been some spectacular failures.Passing 

reference was made to the Soviet and Venezuelan coup attempts of 1991 and 2002.However, what transpired in Ethiopia in May 1989 is well worth recalling in 

some detail.

In February 1989, during the Ethiopian civil war, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, with support from the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front, launched an 

attack against the town of Inda Silase in western Tigray, nearly annihilating a 20,000 man Ethiopian force. This forced a humiliating tactical withdrawal of 

Ethiopian units from much of the rest of Tigray province without a shot being fired. The embarrassment and frustration of this defeat was a major factor in a 

subsequent unsuccessful coup attempt against Lt. Col. Mengistu.On May 16, as he departed on a State visit to East Germany, the Armed Forces moved against 

him.Air Force General Fanta Belay, supported by the Air Force Chief, General Amha Desta, coordinated the coup.Those involved included the entire Ethiopian 

Army Headquarters Heirarchy led by the Chief of Staff, General Abiy Negussie.In addition to the Army Chief, the Commanders of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th 

revolutionary armies in the field took part.And yet it failed!Why?

It failed for several reasons.First the plotters failed to arrest Mengistu on his way out of the country or shoot down his plane – an error it is said, that 

resulted from miscommunication between two Air Force commands.Secondly, plotters assumed that opposition to Mengistu was universal in the Ministry of 

Defence.So they made the mistake of involving the Minister of Defence, Major General Haile Giorgis Habte Mariam in the scheme.While they were debating 

further measures in his office (such as whether or not to kill Mengistu now that they were in power), General Habte Mariam secretly alerted Mengistu’s 

political deputy, Fikre Sellassie Wogderes, who had not been arrested.Wogderes in turn alerted East German authorities as Colonel Mengistu’s plane began the 

final landing approach in their country.Mengistu landed, got his plane refueled and then turned around to return to Ethiopia to crush the 

rebellion.Meanwhile, aided by reliable intelligence from East German military advisers on the ground inside Ethiopia, Mengistu maintained surveillance on 

coup activities but the plotters did not know his whereabouts and movements.He also had the loyalty of the Presidential Guard, which, incredulously, had not 

been neutralized.Using the plane as a command center, Mengistu ordered the Presidential Guard, supported by militia units, to surround the Ministry of 

Defence, isolating the key plotters.Upon arrival he proceeded to detain the entire Ministry of Defence as well as the Commanders of the four Ethiopian 

Armies; grounded the Ethiopian Air Force and summarily executed hundreds of officers.The Commander of the 2nd Army, General Demissie Bultu, was 

beheaded.Needless to say, the decimation of entire generations of officers eventually led to the collapse of the Ethiopian war effort and Mengistu’s eventual 

fall from power two years later. But it shows that a ruthless despot can take on his entire defence establishment, aided by a few key personalities and 

critical units, supported by a foreign intelligence outfit.

In contrast, General Buhari of Nigeria was isolated early in the game in August 1985, and had no foreign intelligence outfit on ground to shield himself from 

the intrigues of Army Intelligence, which was able to cocoon itself from the prying eyes of the NSO.Like many Nigerian leaders before him, intelligence at 

his disposal from other sources was vague about the impending coup.He had no independent foreign security guard outfit either, and “sleepers” at battalion 

level had long undermined his control of the indigenous Brigade of Guards.Units he could rely on in Jos – particularly if he had chosen early enough to leave 

Lagos for Abuja – were neutralized. It is not clear either that he was cut out of the kind of ruthless protoplasm Lt. Col. Mengistu was made of.Otherwise, 

based on vague intelligence, with enough paranoia, he may well have moved pre-emptively against the Army, declaring a state of emergency, freezing movements 

and ordering massive redeployments, followed by a purge.


Spy Games and Body Guards

Other than the initial decisions to release politicians and accused drug peddlers, while repealing draconian decrees and throwing open the debate on an IMF 

loan, the new Babangida regime singled out the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO) for humiliation.Led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Mohammed Gambo, 

the dungeons of the NSO were thrown open to the Press and plenty of hay made out of its alleged abuses – even as arrangements were being quietly made for 

security reorganization that would later prove to be much more malignant.Its erstwhile Director, Alhaji Lawal Rafindadi, not particular popular within the 

organization anyway, was detained for three years.

Decree No. 27 of 1976 had originally created the NSO after the failure of the so-called Dimka coup in which General Murtala Muhammed was killed.The Inspector 

General of Police at the time, MD Yusuf, explained to the then C-in-C, Lt. General Obasanjo, that the Police Special Branch could not legally conduct 

intelligence operations within the military in parallel to Military Intelligence.Although the Special Branch was highly effective in civil society in 

collaboration with the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Internal Affairs, he suggested the creation of a new, less compartmentalized agency – the NSO – to take 

direct and coordinating responsibility for domestic and international intelligence and security.Because the initial objective was to specifically enhance 

intelligence within and about the military, the first Director appointed was Brigadier Abdullahi Mohammed.Recalled from his position as former Military 

Governor of Benue-Plateau, he was a member of the clique that removed General Gowon from power in July 1975.He was also a former Military Intelligence 

operative who served as General Staff Officer II (Int) and later Director of Military Intelligence at various times from 1966 to 1975.He serves the current 

civilian government of President Olusegun Obasanjo as the Chief of Staff in the Presidency.

In 1979, however, President Shagari appointed Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, a sophisticated Policeman and Lawyer with a background in Intelligence and Interpol, to 

the position.Thus the original rationale for the creation of the NSO and intent for the position to be held by military officers, parallel to military 

intelligence, got lost between the cracks.

When General Buhari came to power, he appointed a career diplomat, Ambassador Rafindadi to the post, further confusing issues – although the Ambassador 

obviously had some strengths on the external intelligence front, having previously served in the “special intelligence unit” of the Ministry of External 

Affairs. But as Buhari’s relationship with the military deteriorated, the relationship between Rafindadi and the military (specifically Aliyu Mohammed, 

Babangida and Akilu) correspondingly deteriorated, amplified by his peculiar background as a “bloody” civilian diplomat, intensely personal loyalty to Buhari 

and image as an upstart in the domestic intelligence community.His lack of previous military service later proved to be a disadvantage when Military 

Intelligence began playing games – complicated by internal NSO purges he carried out which cost the organization the service of some very highly qualified 

and experienced Shinkafi-era operatives.

Piqued by the pervasive nature of its operations, including wire taps which allegedly even recorded telephone conversations made by his daughter, Babangida’s 

first instinct when he came to power was to crush the organization.But as Blair noted in the movie “Power Play”, the new regime soon discovered that it too 

would need a security apparatus.In June 1986, therefore, following an inquest led by Umaru Shinkafi, Babangida finally issued Decree Number 19, disbanding 

the NSO (under Brigadier Aliyu Mohammed and Lt. Col. AK Togun) and decentralizing Nigeria’s security community.Three new organizations were codified.They 


1. The State Security Service (SSS) responsible for domestic intelligence (under Ismaila Gwarzo and Lt. Col. AK Togun);

2. The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) for external intelligence and counterintelligence;


3. The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) for military-related intelligence both outside and inside Nigeria (under Rear Admiral B. Elegbede and Colonel MC 


They all reported to the Adviser for National Security and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Board, Brigadier Aliyu Gusau Mohammed – who had himself been 

the first Director of the embryonic, some say experimental DIA under Buhari.

In the aftermath of the August coup, acutely aware of the way he had undermined Buhari, Babangida ensured that sensitive positions in the military were 

occupied by hand-picked officers who were either “IBB Boys” or apolitical types with no known membership of other client networks within the Army.He did not 

risk performance evaluation driven random (or not so random) assignment from the Office of the Military Secretary under the COAS, then Major General Sani 

Abacha.A good example was the way the new Officer Commanding the 6th Guards Battalion in Bonny Camp was selected to replace Lt. Col JM Madaki who had been 

elevated to the Command of the Brigade of Guards.JM Madaki had been a reliable ‘IBB Boy’ not only during the coup against Buhari but also during the coup 

against Shagari back in 1983.And so Major Tobias Akwashiki, a pleasant apolitical officer who was in the process of making arrangements to take up a new 

assignment as a Battalion commander in Minna was personally approached outside normal military channels by the new C-in-C’s ADC and offered the command of 

the sensitive6th battalion.As things happened, this ‘opportunity’ almost cost him his life on trumped up charges during the Vatsa conspiracy trial.

This method of personalizing Army appointments and extracting debts of appreciation was to become a pattern in the years to come.But it did not stop 

there.Babangida knew he had to build a wall around himself to insulate the regime from the same Army he had used so skillfully to undermine others.In 

addition to a liberal policy of patronizing pay-offs (also known as “settlement”) he, therefore, toyed with creation of new paramilitary organizations such 

as the National Guard.This was commanded until he left office in 1993 only by the likes of his most intimate loyalists like Gwadabe and Aminu, for example.He 

invited Israeli security experts to help him train personal security men at Ojo cantonment.The Ministry of Internal Affairs under Col. Shagaya was encouraged 

to maintain an independent Security and Civil Defence Force.Indeed, Babangida even granted the Minister of Internal Affairs the authority to arrest and 

detain suspects without trial, independent of the Chief of General Staff and the Inspector General of Police.He also resuscitated the old concept of a Lagos 

Garrison Command.Subsequently, in 1989, after a review by Rear Admiral Murtala Nyako, the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (FIIB) was set up to 

replace the Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation of the Nigeria Police. Babangida also tried to decentralize (regionalize) the Defence HQ by 

relocating the Army, Air Force and Naval Headquarters to Minna, Lagos and Kano, respectively, a decision that was stoutly resisted by many retired officers 

who looked in bewilderment as he was systematically dismantling, disorienting and distracting the Defence establishment.The worst was yet to come, 

however.The Ministry of Defence HQ, housed in the historic Independence Building in Lagos was nearly destroyed in a mysterious fire. A C-130 Hercules 

aircraft accident – allegedly caused by fuel contamination – claimed the lives of approximately 150 middle ranking officers in September 1992.

In later years, when he became the C-in-C, General Abacha, having patiently understudied Babangida, acted in much the same manner when it came to stifling 

the Defence establishment.He purged the more dangerous coup addicts among his fellow IBB boys (whom he had never trusted anyway).He also defanged the 

National Guard but then later replaced it with the Special Bodyguard Unit and Strike Force, a well armed Korean and Libyan trained parallel security 

organization under his Chief Security Officer, Major Hamza.

Other consequences

The August 27 coup had other short and long term consequences.Former Army Chief General MC Alli is of the opinion that the Army, in collaboration with a 

vocal minority in the civil class, sold its soul to the highest bidder. The core coup planners, he says, “introduced an upcoming bunch of coup d’Etat 

practitioners, mostly junior officers of the rank of Major and below” whom he called “political officers or ‘militricians’.”The core membership of this 

curious group were known (as noted previously) as “IBB Boys”, a collection of characters whose relationship with the Boss varied from the intimate to the 

opportunistic. General MC Alli says membership of this exclusive club “opened all material and official doors to them. They were a hotchpotch of scramblers 

for notice, office and bootlickers with a convoluted understanding of their obligations to the constitution and the state. Loyalty to an individual was their 

credo, and self interest was their tenet.”

His eloquent characterization of the so-called “IBB Boys” not withstanding, I respectfully disagree with General Alli that the 1985 coup in particular 

“introduced an upcoming bunch of coup d’Etat practitioners, mostly junior officers of the rank of Major and below”.Many of the company grade officers of 

August 1985, particularly in Lagos, had already taken part in the coup against President Shagari in 1983.In other words they had already been “introduced” 

into the business – if it may be so called.Indeed the heritage of coup merchants of the 1980s can be traced back to 1966.Most of the subalterns of July 1966 

were the main field grade officers of July 1975.Infighting among the original July 1966 coup cabal led to the February 1976 shoot-out – otherwise known as 

the Dimka coup.The field grade officers of July 1975 were the Brigadiers of 1983. Infighting among the Brigadiers of 1983 gave birth to August 1985.In other 

words, over a twenty-year period, the same group of officers and men provided the infrastructure for repeated coups and coup attempts and (knowingly or 

unknowingly) established a pipeline to sustain the tradition.

Beginning the day of, and shortly thereafter, details of what transpired on coup day became the stuff of conversations in officers messes and mammy markets 

all over the country.Many of the stormtroopers of August could hardly hold back from flaunting their “gallantry”.Tales of how this or that road junction was 

“seized”, or how the Police was “overrun”, or how civilians looked on in awe of Tanks on the move became the stuff of legends laced with 

hyperbole.Particularly disturbing though were bravado accounts of how specific officers were arrested, beaten and/or humiliated.Obviously, these officers, 

specifically Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Brigadier Salihu Ibrahim,Colonel Sabo Aliyu, along with Majors Mustafa Jokolo and Adesina, were luckier than the 

unfortunate Policemen at Ikeja who were killed and many of their military forebears in previous coups in Nigeria who were brutally murdered.And most could 

not have failed to recognize the fact that the notion of arresting, stripping, beating or killing senior officers – or looting their property – was not by 

any means new, as had been graphically demonstrated in the January and July rebellions of 1966.Those with even more distant memories will also recall that 

there were several discrete investigations of looting by Nigerian officers and soldiers during UN peacekeeping operations in the Congo from 1960-64. During 

the civil war, looting was common too.In December 1983, President Shagari’s personal effects and life long records were plundered after the coup.

But the culture of bragging about it publicly and toasting to such a serious assault on the ethos and value system of the military was bound to undermine the 

institution.It was followed by thinly disguised rewards for participants in the form of juicy political and military appointments. A few examples will 


Major General Ibrahim Babangida became President and C-in-C and two years later, a full General.He “stepped aside” under tense circumstances in August 

1993.Brigadier Sani Abacha was promoted Major General and became Chief of Army Staff, later Chairman, Joint Chiefs, Defence Minister and Head of State – as a 

full General.Colonel JN Dogonyaro was promoted Brigadier and became GOC, 3rd Armoured Division in Jos, and later GOC, 2nd Division, Ibadan.Although his 

desire to be Chief of Army Staff was frustrated by Babangida he later commanded ECOMOG in Liberia, as well as the tri-service Command and Staff College, and 

was Chief of Defence Staff (as a Lt. General) for about 24 hours in 1993 before Abacha outmaneuvered him.Colonel Aliyu Mohammed Gusau was recalled from 

retirement, promoted Brigadier, and became National Security Coordinator, later a GOC of the 2nd Division, Chief of Army Administration and much later, Chief 

of Army Staff under Ernest Shonekan as a Lt. General.He too fell out with General Abacha during the Abacha years.Lt. Col. Halilu Akilu was promoted Colonel, 

retained Directorship of Military Intelligence and became a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC).He remained a power broker and one time 

Coordinator of National Security until Abacha cynically redeployed him to command the uninspiring Army Resettlement Scheme at Oshodi in 1993, before booting 

him out of the Army altogether.

Lt. Col. Tanko Ayuba was promoted Colonel, later became a Minister for Communications and Kaduna State Governor. He eventually retired as a Major General. 

Lt. Col. David Mark was promoted Colonel, later commanded the Signals Corps, gained membership of the AFRC and also held the position of Minister for 

Communications.Following the emergence of General Abacha in 1993, retired Col. Mark escaped into exile for his own safety.Lt. Col. John Nanzip Shagaya was 

promoted Colonel and became Minister for Internal Affairs and later, as a Brigadier, GOC, 1st Division. He too, got the short end of the stick from General 

Abacha in 1993.He recently celebrated his 60th birthday, publicly announcing that he was proud to be called an IBB Boy.Lt. Col. Chris Abutu Garuba was 

promoted Colonel and became Governor of Bauchi for three years before returning to the Army to hold a string of good local and foreign appointments, 

eventually rising to the rank of Major General.Lt. Col. Raji Alagbe Rasaki was promoted Colonel and became Commander, Corps of Signals and later Governor of 

Ogun and Lagos. He was retired as a Brigadier.Col. Anthony Ukpo became a Federal Minister, later Governor of Rivers and then Principal Staff Officer to the 

President. He was retired as a Brigadier.Lt. Col Joshua M Madaki was made Commander, Brigade of Guards, promoted less than two years later to Colonel and 

later became a Governor of Plateau State. He was retired as a Major General.Major John Y. Madaki was initially left at the 123 Battalion, then later promoted 

Lt. Col. became Governor of Katsina State and later returned for two tours of duty as Commander, Brigade of Guards. He was retired as a Colonel.Major 

Abdulmumuni Aminu was promoted Lt. Col. and became Governor of Borno.After being cashiered as a Colonel in 1993, he found solace in the Nigerian Football 

Association.Major Lawan Gwadabe assumed Chairmanship of the National Shipping Line, was promoted Lt. Col., then became Governor of Niger State and later 

Commander of the embryonic National Guards before a stint as Chief of the Gambian Army, succeeding another IBB Boy, late Brigadier Abubakar Dada. He returned 

to Nigeria after the Yahya Jammeh coup in Gambia, was briefly PSO to General Abacha and later Commander of an Armoured Brigade in Yola.He was tortured, 

convicted and jailed for the so-called Gwadabe/Bello-Fadile conspiracy of 1995.

Major Abubakar Dangiwa Umar left the Federal Housing Authority to become Governor of Kaduna State and was later promoted Lt. Col. In the turmoil that 

followed the annulment of the June 12 elections in 1993 he was detained but not charged on suspicion of another coup conspiracy.He later resigned his 

commission – as a Colonel and Armoured Corps Commander.Major Mohammed Sambo Dasuki became ADC to the Head of State, but was later shepherded out of the 

country for Staff College training at Fort Leavenworth, followed by a US based degree program in part to insulate him from the wrath of General Abacha with 

whom he clashed.His father became the 17th Sultan of Sokoto under Babangida, only to be deposed later by General Abacha.As a Lt. Col., Sambo Dasuki was 

declared wanted in connection with the 1995 Gwadabe/Bello-Fadile conspiracy and found solace in Brunei.Major Maxwell Khobe was later promoted Lt. Col, and 

went on to distinguish himself during ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, eventually dying from encephalitis as a Brigadier. Major UK Bello was 

later promoted Lt. Col and became ADC to the Head of State.He was killed during the so-called Orkar coup. In addition to these overt appointments, numerous 

not so overt appointments of junior officers into Federal Parastatals followed. Many other more discreet “IBB Boys”, like Buba Marwa, Zakare, Ogbeha, Dada, 

Hart, Daku, and others were also quietly rewarded.A “Caucus” of middle ranking officers was formalized outside the Armed Forces Ruling Council.This caucus 

was more powerful than the AFRC.Majors could decide the fate of Generals.

Not surprisingly, this arrangement badly affected the morale of the more regimented apolitical professional element in the military.It may be recalled that 

after the July 1966 rebellion then Lt. Col. M. Muhammed urged the innermost members of the conspiracy to keep sealed lips about what they had accomplished. 

Muhammed reminded them that coup plotting, even when allegedly forced by circumstances, was hardly honorable and did not have the moral status of a war 

against an external enemy.There was nothing, he remarked, to be proud about.But for the players of August, nearly 20 years later, such high-minded 

considerations did not rise to the level of consciousness.It was bad enough that many officers who were not involved thought the circumstances of and reasons 

for the coup were dubious at best.But coup planners and their collaborators broke bottles of champagne and toasted.In fact, in years to come they would 

repeatedly confront the authority of the traditional Army hierarchy and would one day arrogate to themselves the right to decide who could rule or not rule 


Anyway, cracks within the coup merchant family of ‘IBB boys’ appeared many years later.General Abacha, instrumental to the annulment by Babangida of the June 

12, 1993 election that might have resulted in the assumption of the Presidency by Chief MKO Abiola, turned on many of his former fellow coup conspirators.He 

first did so during a series of deft purges in August 1993 (Dogonyaro, Aliyu Mohammed, Akilu, JY Madaki, etc..) and then later when, tipped off by Colonel 

Shuaibu,he arrested and/or declared a group of officers wanted on charges of conspiracy to overthrow his government in March 1995 (Gwadabe, Dasuki, Bulus, 

Mepaiyeda etc..). Interestingly, therefore, ten years after the events of August 27, 1985, most of the officers who carried out the coup and toasted their 

success with champagne were in exile, had died, been jailed, retired or dismissed from the military.General Abacha also deposed the 17th Sultan of Sokoto, 

Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, who, some people felt, had been installed by General Babangida over the wishes of the Kingmakers.In June 1998, General Abacha himself 

died in furtive circumstances, followed soon after by Chief MKO Abiola.

In May 1999, shortly after taking office as Nigeria’s new President, Olusegun Obasanjo, as part of an uphill task to re-professionalize the military, purged 

the Armed Forces of most of the few remaining IBB and Abacha Boys. On account of lobbying and informed political hesitation, however, a few former personal 

assistants to key figures in those regimes remain within the establishment. Given the depth of professional decay over the years, combined with clouds over 

the political horizon, insightful observers and military historians continue to hope that the Nigerian Military’s re-professionalization effort will not 

merely prove to be a reenactment of the myth of Sisyphus.

The Vatsa Conspiracy

Going back to 1985, the initial resentment within the military against the August coup created the climate for later came to be known as the Vatsa 

conspiracy. Shortly after Major General Vatsa’s return from Mecca, Lt. Col Musa Bitiyong of AHQ visited him.A conversation allegedly developed, primarily 

driven by moral outrage about what had happened – and perhaps, as alleged by some, irritation (on the part of Bitiyong) that such a huge scheme had 

transpired right under his nose in Army Headquarters without his knowledge.Armed with Ministry of Defence documents which allegedly would have formed the 

basis of a probe by the defunct Buhari government into high level corruption in the military, Bitiyong contacted Lt. Col. Mike Iyorshe, a Directing Staff at 

the Command and Staff College.Iyorshe, a brilliant, patriotic, idealistic and highly professional officer – perhaps one of the best of all time – was deeply 

disturbed by the threat of professional decay in the Armed Forces heralded by the events of August.By his own account, he was worried by what seemed to be 

emerging as a cycle of repeated coups carried out by the same characters for reasons that often had little to do with the national or institutional interest.

Although he had never supported the idea of coup making, Col. Iyorshe became disenchanted with what he observed as a worsening and possibly irredeemable 

professional situation for the Nigerian Armed Forces.Another highly respected apolitical officer, Brigadier Salihu Ibrahim, former GOC of the 3rd Armoured 

Division, who became his boss at the Command and Staff College after the coup, had been arrested and humiliated – and would later describe the Army as an 

Army of “Anything goes”.But the straw that allegedly broke the camel’s back and pushed him into the “Vatsa conspiracy” was the looting, by Nigerian soldiers, 

of General Buhari’s official residence.

Iyorshe allegedly hooked up the third member of the inner triad of the so-called Vatsa Conspiracy, Lt. Col. Christian Oche, then Colonel GS at the Military 

Intelligence HQ, with Bitiyong.Sources suggest that Oche, like many officers, was already quietly ambivalent over the turn of events.He had served in Supreme 

Headquarters under Major General Idiagbon as a Staff Officer for Intelligence and Security. In this position he was privy to confidential documents – which 

General MC Alli has obliquely mentioned – regarding plans by the former government for a defence probe and some decisions – which General Buhari has since 

confirmed – that had already been taken.Therefore, Oche regarded the August take-over with skepticism right from the outset.Unconfirmed reports say that any 

doubts he had were eroded by two factors.First it is said that his Boss, Colonel Akilu, directed him to establish surveillance over the very officers who had 

just carried out the coup which brought Babangida to power, noting that just as they had successfully removed Buhari, they could also remove 

Babangida.Second, there was apparently a chance meeting with Chief MKO Abiola at the FlagStaff House in Lagos just after the coup.Apparently, two very senior 

officers present told Abiola that Oche was the officer who carried out the seizure of newsprint and may have had a hand in the controversial cocaine 

investigation when Buhari was in power. As these two senior officers laughed, Abiola allegedly rebuked him for allowing himself to be ‘misled’ by the 

Buhari-Idiagbon dyad.Sources claim Oche did not find it funny.

The so-called Vatsa conspiracy was compromised early in its evolution by a mole and aborted in mid December 1985.On March 5, 1986, following confirmation of 

sentences handed down by a court-martial, Major General Mamman J Vatsa and nine others were shot.They were Lt. Col. Musa Bitiyong, Lt. Col. Christian A. 

Oche, Lt. Col. Michael A. Iyorshe, Major D. I. Bamidele, Commodore A. A. Ogwiji, Wing Commander B. E. N. Ekele, Wing Commander Adamu C. Sakaba, Squadron 

Leader Martin Olufolorunsho Luther, and Squadron Leader A. Ahura.

In years to come, however, what primarily drove the conspiracy – the threat of another cycle of destruction of the Nigerian military as a professional 

organization – came to pass.Several other officers were imprisoned and hundreds of fine officers, most with no connection to the conspiracy whatsoever, 

purged.Lt. P. Odoba, the young Guards officer who graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy in June 1983, and, as a Duty Officer at the Radio Station, 

witnessed two coups in 20 months was also jailed, bringing his career to an end.It was alleged that his uncle, Lt. Col. Christian Oche, tipped him off about 

the so-called Vatsa conspiracy in early December 1985.

The Vatsa Conspiracy

of 1985

By Nowa Omoigui, (MD, MPH, FACC)

In Nigeria, beginning in the wee hours of December 17th, 1985 and extending for the next two weeks, over one hundred airforce, army and naval officers were 

arrested enmasse for allegedly plotting to overthrow the 4 month old government of Major General Ibrahim Babangida who had himself come to power on August 

27, 1985 in a palace coup against Major General Buhari.

After a Preliminary Special Investigation Panel chaired by Brigadier Sani Sami, selected cases were forwarded for court martial. Beginning on Monday 27th 

January 1986, 17 officers were tried at the Brigade of Guards HQ in Victoria Island, Lagos, by a Special Military Tribunal.

The Tribunal was convened by Major General DY Bali, then Minister of Defence and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, under the Treason and other offences 

(Special Military Tribunal) Decree No.1 of 1986 with reference to Section 37(2) of the Criminal code. Separately, Brigadier Malami Nassarawa, Wing Commander 

J Uku, and Lt. Peter Odoba were also tried on different charges.

Squadron Leader Effanga and Wing Commander Ekanem were discharged and acquitted in a no-case submission.The Tribunal comprised Major General Charles B. 

Ndiomu (Chairman), Brigadier Yerima Y Kure, Commodore Murtala A. Nyako, Colonel Rufus Kupolati, Group Captain Anthony Ikhazobor (later replaced by Colonel 

Opaleye when Lt. Col Bitiyong objected to his presence), Lt. Col. D. Mohammed and Alhaji Mamman Nassarawa (Commissioner of Police).

There were two waiting members, namely Col. E. B. Opaleye (until he replaced Ikhazobor), and Lt. Col. M M Bukar. The Judge Advocate was Major A. Kejawa.

The prosecution team comprised Colonel Lawrence Uwumarogie, Major N N Mazda, Major B Makanju, and Captain Y. A. Ahmadu. The trial was conducted under the 

watchful eyes of the military intelligence directorate headed at that time by Colonel Akilu.

The following were accused: Major-Gen Mamman Vatsa, Lt. Col. Musa Bitiyong, Lt. Col. Christian A. Oche, Lt. Col. Michael A. Iyorshe, Lt. Col. M. Effiong, 

Major D. I. Bamidele, Major D. E. West, Major J. O. Onyeke, Major Tobias G. Akwashiki, Captain G.I.L. Sese, Lt. K.G. Dapka, Commodore A. A. Ogwiji, Wing 

Commander B. E. N. Ekele, Wing Commander Adamu C. Sakaba, Squadron Leader Martin Olufolorunsho Luther, Squadron Leader C. Ode and Squadron Leader A. Ahura.It 

was alleged that the plot was financed by General Vatsa using the cover of a farming loan to Lt. Col Musa Bitiyong.

General Vatsa denied any intent that monies he had given to Bitiyong were meant for that purpose, but Bitiyong allegedly shared some of it for travel 

expenses with two other accused officers and was said (at a meeting in Makurdi, which Vatsa did not attend) to have promised to get more from the source when 

it became obvious that funding a coup in Nigeria would require much more than the 10,000 naira he allegedly had at his disposal (As of 1985, it was said that 

a coup would require no less than 50-100,000 naira to implement).

However, at no point in time did Vatsa actually meet with or discuss coup plotting or financing with anyone-else. Indeed, other than Bitiyong, who had a 

close relationship with the General, the other alleged key conspirators, I am told, never viewed themselves as working for or on behalf of Vatsa, although 

for lack of funds, two of them reluctantly accepted using part of the “farm money” for odds and ends.

Sources say, however, that Vatsa maintained to the very end that the money was for farming. Others allege, however, that after being tortured for two days, 

Bitiyong implicated Vatsa by making reference to certain private political conversations they had, which Vatsa denied. But Vatsa was accused of harboring 

“bad blood” against his friend and classmate Babangida, dating back to the Buhari regime and possibly earlier. He was also obliquely accused of reporting 

Babangida’s coup plot to Buhari before he left the country for pilgrimage along with Major General Tunde Idiagbon in August.

Actions he later took as a Minister to accelerate many military applications for certificates of occupancy for land in Abuja, came to be viewed as efforts to 

buy support among one or two of the plotters. Then rumors that a civilian had introduced him at a party as Nigeria’s next President were even aired. All of 

this is of course circumstantial. But they took him to the stake, which was quite an anti-climax to the career of a brilliant man who (until then, if the 

government is to be believed) never took part in any coup in Nigeria.

Indeed, Mamman Vatsa was the first to go on air in Calabar to denounce the Dimka coup and was later the Secretary of the Obada panel that tried Dimka and 

others in 1976. This little detail may have earned him some latent enmity in certain circles of the Army which later contributed to his death.Very briefly, 

the basic outlines of the alleged Vatsa conspiracy of 1985, as one can glean from publications and interviews is as follows: Lt. Col. Musa Bitiyong, based in 

Lagos, held a discussion [about the removal of Buhari] when General Vatsa came back from Mecca in August 1985.

Bitiyong urgently sent for Lt. Col Iyorshe to come down from Kaduna in September 1985. The young Captain who acted as an innocent go-between was later 

charged but acquitted. Bitiyong then presented Iyorshe with documents alleging serious acts of impropriety against certain personalities in the new régime 

with regards to army and defence equipment maintenance contracts.

Being the puritanical, very professional and highly moralistic officer he was, the usually unflappable Iyorshe got upset. In October he discussed the matter 

further with Lt. Col Oche of military intelligence who also allegedly revealed other allegedly incriminating documents related to trafficking, particularly 

as it affected the release of some persons who had previously been detained by the Buhari regime.

Concerns then emerged about the long-term threat of the new regime to the military as a disciplined professional fighting organization and the country as a 

whole, through the legitimization of serial coups in which the same characters always featured. It was felt that Nigeria deserved better and that the armed 

forces should be saved from corruption and professional decay. This basic concern for professional ethos was amplified by concerns that the new regime 

intended to take the IMF loan and plunge the country into poverty. As Lt. Col Iyorshe, reportedly put it:

“What I personally feel is that the nation itself needed a better deal. There have always been people whose only ambition is to lead, not serving any 

national interest. There has always been individual, tribal or business rights, never the rights of this nation to a better image; social, economic, 

political and military programs and plans. Nigeria deserves a group of people or leaders transparently honest enough to publish all their assets and 

liabilities on the pages of newspapers for the world to see. Not a nation where anybody will be allowed to have a foreign bank account let alone the millions 

stored away. The nation should be such that any Nigerian regardless of his tribe or religion will have the right to aspire to the leadership or rulership of 

the country”.

”Nigeria was fast sinking to a state of despondency and anarchy. They never and still never trust their leaders. The anarchy at our airports characterises 

the state of the nation. Corruption is rife in this country and transcends all spheres of life. It is something the nation has to solve. Professional 

incompetence and mediocrity are rewarded whereas hard work is mocked.Within the military, the situation was and still is very tense. The welfare of soldiers 

is totally neglected such that soldiers still live in batchers over ten years after the civil war; no uniforms, no drugs in the hospitals; soldiers are being 

subjected to too much guard duties, little or no chance to themselves and their families. The discipline in the army in particular was deteriorating rapidly 

as exemplified by the report of what happened in Lagos on August 27th, 1985.The question of leadership was not discussed quite seriously, but it was with one 

exception, felt that the army had always dominated leadership. This was not an issue anyway as there were no solid plans regarding such things, the method of 

operation and the question of finance. I never considered myself for any higher military or political appointments. In fact, at first, all of us believed 

that if we succeeded, some senior officers of honesty would be called to rule. Personally up till quite recently, I never believed that coups solve any 

problem or else Bolivia would be paradise on earth. But then things seemed to get worse and worse.”

What Col. Iyorshe was referring to by “the report of what happened in Lagos on August 27th, 1985” is the fact that soldiers who took part in the coup that 

brought General Babangida to power looted the personal property and possessions of General Buhari in Lagos. What he did not mention, however, was that a 

similar thing took place when President Shagari was overthrown by Buhari and others in December 1983. Many of his life long priceless records and possessions 

have never been found to this day.

In part because of the concern that the Army’s armored corps was packed with officers loyal to the new regime, certain air force officers were then contacted 

(Martin Luther/Ben Ekele) and two meetings held, one informal meet in late November at the Sheraton Hotel Lobby in Lagos (Luther, Oche, Ogwiji, Bitiyong) and 

the other at a guest house in Makurdi (Iyorshe, Bitiyong, Oche, Ekele, Sakaba, Bamidele).

Aside this, Iyorshe and Bitiyong are said to have met a few times either in Lagos or Kaduna but there (reportedly) were no other meetings involving others. 

Ogwiji, who was a Naval Officer, was invited (without prior knowledge) to the Sheraton meeting by his friend Oche. However, no operational role was defined 

or envisaged for the Navy. According to sources, the meeting was focused on political criticisms of the regime. Although conceivably seditious, no 

operational coup plans were discussed. Ogwiji made no further contacts with anyone.

At the Makurdi meeting, the potential role of the airforce was discussed. The technical limitations preventing the use of either the MiG 21 or the Sepecat 

Jaguar in a ground attack role to neutralize pro-regime armored vehicles at the Ikeja Cantonment in Lagos were made clear by Ben Ekele (and supported by 

Adamu Sakaba) who advised the army boys that the air force could not play any useful role. This discussion was, however, taken out of context and the public 

told that the conspirators planned to destroy Lagos.

Before the meeting ended, Sakaba, who had supposedly been invited by his friend Ekele, even floated a totally fake competing coup plot (using the names of a 

group of officers) to which he said he belonged, as a decoy to dissuade the others in the group from proceeding. Aside this, it was obvious that the group 

had no troops on the ground in Lagos, although the theoretical possibility existed that Iyorshe could use demonstration troops at the Command and Staff 

College in Jaji.

Hence the meeting broke up with no concrete operational plan nor was there any agreement to use force although some key elements (notably Iyorshe, Bitiyong 

and Oche) continued to monitor the national situation as well as investigate the so called “Group of Brigade Commanders” Sakaba had told them about.

The Army at that time was awash with rumors of coup plots by different groups. Everyone was watching everyone. The bragadaccio and ‘compensation’ of the 

“boys” who carried out the August 27 operation did not help the morale of serious minded officers.

Separately, other isolated discussions were held between certain officers. Wing Commander Uku, for example, potentially attractive on account of his command 

of the Alpha Jets at Kainji, repeatedly refused to be drawn in and strongly advised against air force participation. This fine officer was later charged with 

and jailed for concealment because he did not report the attempt to recruit him.

Ideas such as the diversion of the Presidential jet to a pre-arranged location by Pilots in the Executive Fleet (like Luther and Ahura) were floated in other 

isolated conversations between some officers in Lagos. This scenario posited arresting the C-in-C and confronting him with allegations after which he would 

be asked to resign. But, again, no actual plans were made.

Oche allegedly met with Majors Akwashiki and Onyeke after a game of squash in Lagos and discussed national issues like the IMF loan, possibly to evaluate 

their suitability for recruitment. But he never actually mentioned planning a coup with either officer.

Akwashiki was still sentenced to death anyway, only to have his sentence commuted by the ruling council. Some people claim incredulously that he was punished 

for not knowing he was being recruited by those who felt he owed them his sensitive position as the Commander of the 6th Battalion, Bonny Camp. He was later 

pardoned and released back to private life almost ten years later by a successor regime.

Oche allegedly mentioned the existence of a conspiracy to his nephew, Peter Odoba, a young lieutenant at the Guards Brigade who then reported to a colleague 

of his, then Lt. (later Major) Al Mustapha, then Intelligence officer to the Chief of Army Staff. Oche’s nephew was, however, later charged with concealment 

and recommended for dismissal and a long jail term.

Conflicting accounts abound about the precise nature of links between Iyorshe, Bamidele, West and Effiong, all based in the Kaduna/Zaria area. Iyorshe and 

Bamidele were executed. Effiong’s death sentence was commuted. Bamidele’s case raised an interesting side dilemma of how an officer (Bamidele) reported a 

coup plot in 1983 to his boss (Buhari) only to get arrested and charged for plotting.

Then he saw this same boss who arrested him emerge as Nigeria’s new leader a few months later after a coup. The same officer (Bamidele) was then shot for 

allegedly knowing of and participating in another coup 2 years later without reporting to his boss. These, among many other areas are subject to future 

research, the memoirs of direct participants or the release of actual investigative, court and AFRC records, not publicly available at this time.

Eventually, Major-Gen Mamman Vatsa, Lt. Col. Musa Bitiyong, Lt. Col. Christian A. Oche, Lt. Col. Michael A. Iyorshe, Major D. I. Bamidele, Commodore A. A. 

Ogwiji, Wing Commander B. E. N. Ekele, Wing Commander Adamu C. Sakaba, Squadron Leader Martin Olufolorunsho Luther, and Squadron Leader A. Ahura were 

executed on March 5, 1986.

The late Brigadier Malami Nassarawa’s case was very curious and unfortunate. As Commandant of the School of Infantry, he was reportedly arraigned for 

allegedly plotting a separate coup of his own. When absolutely no evidence was adduced for that charge, he was accused of “insufficient loyalty” and then 

accused of conduct prejudicial to discipline, and then dismissed from the Army. Then he was retried, and again acquitted. His acquittal was upheld by the 


Nevertheless he still languished in jail for many months with deteriorating health until his release was ordered by the Joint Chiefs Chairman. Someday his 

case definitely will make for an interesting movie.


In his landmark contribution to Nigerian military literature, titled “The Federal Republic of Nigeria Army”, a former Army Chief, Major General MC Alli, 


“The soldier poet and poultry farmer, the peoples’ General Mamman Vatsa, a minority of Nupe extraction from Niger State of Nigeria, allegedly masterminded 

the coup of 1986. It falls into the same category with General Babangida’s coup [against Buhari]. It was motivated by an initial resentment immediately after 

the overthrow of General Buhari. It cannot entirely be divorced from the incipient rivalry that lay latent between Generals Vatsa and Babangida, both from 

Niger State and of a common alma mater”

”…No major tribe of regional group of political import can be identified. Its conspirators comprised a motley of minorities of diverse background with a 

rallying point clubbed around General Vatsa’s charisma. Curbed in the embryo and tried in secrecy, their subsequent execution left understandable incredulity 

and doubt in the nobility of the regime it sought to overthrow”.

”…It failed because a mole compromised it. The conspirators did not fall within the mainstream of the Army’s stock of professional coup merchants and 

artisans. Furthermore the regime of General Babangida had consolidated its tentacles on the network of national power through generous patronage and populist 

posturing. This explains his audacity in executing General Vatsa, notwithstanding national and international appeals for reprieve”.

”General Babangida told me he was personally grieved by the insinuation that he executed the plotters because they were largely Christians. The pressure to 

execute them arose from the Plateau officers’ axis. Their officers had been victims of the same military tradition and laws..[i.e. during the Dimka coup of 


”However, Babangida himself has gone on to make additional comments clarifying why they were shot. During an interview with Eni-B of THIS DAY Newspapers in 

2001 shortly after he turned 60, this is how (according to Eni-B) General Babangida justified the execution of General Vatsa and others in 1986:

“…Babangida said it was after Vatsa’s coup was foiled that he realised his childhood friend and classmate planned the coup in line with a deep-seated 

personal rivalry, going back to their days as young officers. He said that unconsciously he and Vatsa had been great competitors; that as a young officer, 

whatever he did Vatsa equally did and whatever Vatsa achieved, he also went after. He said it was Lt. Gen. T.Y. Danjuma who pointed this out to him from 

their military records”.

”Babangida gave this rationalisation to justify why he could not pardon Vatsa. He said when he first heard his childhood friend was planning a coup, he 

decided to do nothing but monitor him. He said however that Vatsa came to him to complain thus, “You heard I was planning a coup and couldn’t even ask me. 

What kind of friend are you?” To this Babangida said he replied thus, “I didn’t believe it or are you planning a coup?” He said Vatsa replied in the negative 

and the matter was forgotten until there was evidence of the plot. He said he instructed that Vatsa be arrested and detained so as not to allow him impede 


“However, he tried to escape through the air condition hole. I couldn’t understand why he was trying to escape if he was not involved in a coup plot,” 

Babangida said. He added with a frown, “But while watching the video of his execution, I turned my eyes away when I saw him remove his watch and ask a 

soldier to give his wife. I couldn’t continue watching.” He said he couldn’t retire or imprison Vatsa because he believed the guy could still have planned a 

coup either in retirement or in prison. “Rawlings did it in Ghana and you know Vatsa was very stubborn,” he said.”


At this juncture, given the paucity of public information, one can only provide a limited perspective. Hopefully someday, all the official records will be 


The execution of Mamman Vatsa and others on March 5, 1986 was the first time the charge of ‘conspiracy to commit treason’ was being punished with the death 

sentence in Nigeria.

Until then ‘conspiracy’ in independent Nigeria had always been classified as a “treasonable felony” rather than “treason”. It attracted long prison sentences 

such as was the case with Chief Awolowo and others in 1962/63 and Bukar Mandara in 1982. Planning or conceptualizing a coup was not regarded as the same as 

actually carrying it out (as was the case with Dimka and others in 1976).

It may be argued whether the conspiracy proceedings that led to the execution of Banjo, Ifeajuna, Alale and Agbam in 1967 in Biafra fall into this category.

This legal issue needs to be clarified as are related matters regarding the protections of rights of persons undergoing military courts martial as guaranteed 

under the Nigerian Constitution which is supreme. Too many injustices have been swept under the carpet.

Other than the officers executed and jailed, many were retired or dismissed arbitrarily some for merely being neighbors to those convicted, others for being 

“too serious”. Others had their names splashed across TV screens in Nigeria as suspects in a burst of pre-coup trial propaganda, only for their innocence to 

be later established behind closed doors. The decimation of the principled element of the officer corps was relentless but, thankfully, never really 

completely succeeded. The fiscal and human resource loss to Nigerian society was also immense.

Many of the officers executed were of the highest caliber in the military, had required years of expensive training to produce, and were looked upon as 

models of professional military excellence. Like the C-130 crash that occurred some years later, it was a national tragedy. In furtherance of the climate of 

suspicion between the regime and the core military, some military services were defanged. The systematic destruction of the Air Force, for example, started 

with those executions.

Training and arming were severely curtailed. Even elementary items like jet fuel supplies to Air Force Bases were monitored and became centrally controlled. 

Until the advent of civil rule 13 years later in 1999, the air force did not get a chance to rebuild and reprofessionalize. What little serious professional 

activity took place occurred in the setting of Liberian and Sierra Leonean operations.

In the army, officers became increasingly suspicious of one another and esprit de Corps was undermined – just as the military was beginning to emerge from 

the terrible events of the late sixties and the hiccup of 1976.

“Settlement” became the order of the day. Lt. Col. Mike Iyorshe’s worst fears came to pass. The decay was later captured in public comments made by former 

Army Chief General Saliu Ibrahim, himself initially a suspect in the rash of arrests back in 1985 when he was head of the Army faculty at Jaji . The 

“Rawlings” rationalization for the executions in spite of pleas for clemency is short sighted. Houphouet Boigny, for example, never one day executed anyone 

for planning a coup against him.

The regime may have felt the executions sent a message to future conspirators and would deter coups and secure the project. But it did not. A very violent 

attempt took place in April 1990 and the spokesman for that effort cited the executions of Vatsa and others in 1986 as one of several reasons.

The experience of the Vatsa conspiracy trial and aftermath, among others has led some serious observers, like General MC Alli, to appeal to the government to 

establish a “coup commission” to look back into the crypts of our national history and exorcise some ghosts.

Lastly, the practice of holding on to corpses of executed servicemen, burying them enmasse, and denying family burial rites is antithetical to African 

culture. I, for one, have appealed before and will appeal again that the remains of those shot over the years for real and imagined coups should be returned 

to their families for proper burial after forensic identification. Then the healing can begin.

The Orkar Failed Coup of April 22, 1990

Part 1

By Nowa Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC

Shortly after dawn broke on April 22, 1990, the following broadcast was heard over the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Lagos:

“Fellow Nigerian Citizens, On behalf of the patriotic and well-meaning peoples of the Middle Belt and the southern parts of this country, I , Major Gideon 

Orkar, wish to happily inform you of the successful ousting of the dictatorial, corrupt, drug baronish, evil man, deceitful, homo-sexually-centered, 

prodigalistic, un-patriotic administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. We have equally commenced their trials for unabated corruption, 

mismanagement of national economy, the murders of Dele Giwa, Major-General Mamman Vatsa, with other officers as there was no attempted coup but mere 

intentions that were yet to materialise and other human rights violations.

The National Guard already in its formative stage is disbanded with immediate effect. Decrees Number 2 and 46 are hereby abrogated. We wish to emphasise that 

this is not just another coup but a well conceived, planned and executed revolution for the marginalised, oppressed and enslaved peoples of the Middle Belt 

and the south with a view to freeing ourselves and children yet unborn from eternal slavery and colonisation by a clique of this country.

Our history is replete with numerous and uncontrollable instances of callous and insensitive dominatory repressive intrigues by those who think it is their 

birthright to dominate till eternity the political and economic privileges of this great country to the exclusion of the people of the Middle Belt and the 


They have almost succeeded in subjugating the Middle Belt and making them voiceless and now extending same to the south. It is our unflinching belief that 

this quest for domination, oppression and marginalisation is against the wish of God and therefore, must be resisted with the vehemence.

Anything that has a beginning must have an end. It will also suffice here to state that all Nigerians without skeleton in their cupboards need not to be 

afraid of this change. However, those with skeleton in their cupboards have all reasons to fear, because the time of reckoning has come.

For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state the three primary reasons why we have decided to oust the satanic Babangida administration. The reasons are as 


(a) To stop Babangida’s desire to cunningly, install himself as Nigeria’s life president at all costs and by so doing, retard the progress of this country 

for life. In order to be able to achieve this undesirable goals of his, he has evidently started destroying those groups and sections he perceived as being 

able to question his desires.

Examples of groups already neutralised, pitched against one another or completely destroyed are:

(1) The Sokoto caliphate by installing an unwanted Sultan to cause division within the hitherto strong Sokoto caliphate.

(2) The destruction of the peoples of Plateau State, especially the Lantang people, as a balancing force in the body politics of this country.

(3) The buying of the press by generous monetary favours and the usage of State Security Service, SSS, as a tool of terror.

(4) The intent to cow the students by the promulgation of the draconian decree Number 47.

(5) The cowing of the university teaching and non-teaching staff by an intended massive purge, using the 150 million dollar loan as the necessitating factor.

(6) Deliberately withholding funds to the armed forces to make them ineffective and also crowning his diabolical scheme through the intended retrenchment of 

more than half of the members of the armed forces.

Other pointers that give credence to his desire to become a life president against the wishes of the people are:

(1) His appointment of himself as a minister of defence, his putting under his direct control the SSS, his deliberate manipulation of the transition 

programme, his introduction of inconceivable, unrealistic and impossible political options, his recent fraternisation with other African leaders that have 

installed themselves as life presidents and his dogged determination to create a secret force called the national guard, independent of the armed forces and 

the police which will be answerable to himself alone, both operationally and administratively.

It is our strong view that this kind of dictatorial desire of Babangida is unacceptable to Nigerians of the 1990’s, and, therefore, must be resisted by all.

(b) Another major reason for the change is the need to stop intrigues, domination and internal colonisation of the Nigerian state by the so-called chosen 

few. This, in our view, has been and is still responsible for 90 percent of the problems of Nigerians. This indeed has been the major clog in our wheel of 


This clique has an unabated penchant for domination and unrivalled fostering of mediocrity and outright detest for accountability, all put together have been 

our undoing as a nation.

This will ever remain our threat if not checked immediately. It is strongly believed that without the intrigues perpetrated by this clique and misrule, 

Nigeria will have in all ways achieved developmental virtues comparable to those in Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, India, and even Japan.

Evidence, therefore, this cancerous dominance has as a factor constituted by a major and unpardonable clog in the wheel of progress of the Nigerian state. 

(Sic) It is suffice to mention a few distasteful intrigues engineered by this group of Nigerians in recent past. These are:

(1) The shabby and dishonourable treatment meted on the longest serving Nigerian general in the person of General Domkat Bali, who in actual fact had given 

credibility to the Babangida administration.

(2) The wholesale hijacking of Babangida’s administration by the all powerful clique.

(3) The disgraceful and inexplicable removal of Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Professor Tam David-West, Mr. Aret Adams and so on from office.

(4) The now-pervasive and on-going retrenchment of Middle Belt and southerners from public offices and their instant replacement by the favoured class and 

their stooges.

(5) The deliberate disruption of the educational culture and retarding its place to suit the favoured class to the detriment of other educational minded 

parts of this country.

(6) The deliberate impoverishment of the peoples from the Middle Belt and the south, making them working ghosts and feeding on the formulae of 0-1-1- or 0-0

-0 while the aristocratic class and their stooges are living in absolute affluence on a daily basis without working for it.

(7) Other countless examples of the exploitative, oppressive, dirty games of intrigues of its class, where people and stooges that can best be described by 

the fact that even though they contribute very little economically to the well being of Nigeria, they have over the years served and presided over the 

supposedly national wealth derived in the main from the Middle Belt and the southern part of this country, while the people from these parts of the country 

have been completely deprived from benefiting from the resources given to them by God.

(c) The third reason for the change is the need to lay a strong egalitarian foundation for the real democratic take off of the Nigerian state or states as 

the circumstances may dictate.

In the light of all the above and in recognition of the negativeness of the aforementioned aristocratic factor, the overall progress of the Nigerian state a 

temporary decision to excise the following states namely, Sokoto, Borno, Katsina, Kano and Bauchi states from the Federal Republic of Nigeria comes into 

effect immediately until the following conditions are met.

The conditions to be met to necessitate the re-absorption of the aforementioned states are as following:

(i) To install the rightful heir to the Sultanate, Alhaji Maccido, who is the people’s choice.

(ii) To send a delegation led by the real and recognised Sultan Alhaji Maccido to the federal government to vouch that the feudalistic and aristocratic quest 

for domination and operation will be a thing of the past and will never be practised in any part of the Nigeria state.

By the same token, all citizens of the five states already mentioned are temporarily suspended from all public and private offices in Middle Belt and 

southern parts of this country until the mentioned conditions above are met.

They are also required to move back to their various states within one week from today. They will, however, be allowed to return and joint the Federal 

Republic of Nigeria when the stipulated conditions are met.

In the same vein, all citizens of the Middle Belt and the south are required to come back to their various states pending when the so-called all-in-all 

Nigerians meet the conditions that will ensure a united Nigeria. A word is enough for the wise.

This exercise will not be complete without purging corrupt public officials and recovering their ill-gotten wealth, since the days of the oil boom till date. 

Even in these hard times, when Nigerians are dying from hunger, trekking many miles to work for lack of transportation, a few other Nigerians with complete 

impunity are living in unbelievable affluence both inside and outside the country.

We are extremely determined to recover all ill-gotten wealth back to the public treasury for the use of the masses of our people. You are all advised to 

remain calm as there is no cause for alarm. We are fully in control of the situation as directed by God. All airports, seaports and borders are closed 


The former Armed Forces Ruling Council is now disbanded and replaced with National Ruling Council to be chaired by the head of state with other members being 

a civilian vice-head of state, service chiefs, inspector general of police, one representative each from NLC, NUJ, NBA, and NANS.

A curfew is hereby imposed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice. All members of the armed forces and the police forces are hereby confined to their 

respective barracks.

All unlawful and criminal acts by those attempting to cause chaos will be ruthlessly crushed. Be warned as we are prepared at all costs to defend the new 


All radio stations are hereby advised to hook on permanently to the national network programme until further notice.

Long live all true patriots of this great country of ours. May God and Allah through his bountiful mercies bless us all.”


As is fairly typical with military rebellions, by the time this broadcast was being made on the radio waves, much had already transpired over the course of 

the night – and more violence was to come before it was eventually crushed about 12 hours later.

In the days preceding the rebellion, seeing as planners felt that the plot had leaked, military retirees were hurriedly recruited, predominantly from Benin 

City in then Bendel state. They then mostly made their way to Lagos unobtrusively in public transportation.

The uprising reportedly began at about 12.30am on April 22 when, having met for final briefing, allegedly by Major S. Mukoro at a civilian warehouse in 

Isheri/Ikorodu area (allegedly owned by Great Ogboru), the storm troopers farmed out to their destinations. Mukoro, a Military Police officer with a PhD in 

Law, was at that time the Military Assistant to the Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans (DASP), a position second only to the Chief of Army Staff at Army 


This insider leverage as a staff officer in the headquarters may have given him “reach” in putting the plot together. But it was also reported by newspapers 

that such was the degree of compartmentalization ensured by Major Mukoro during the recruitment phase that many of the plotters met for the first time that 

night. Nor did they rely on normal military transportation. Instead they had civilian J-5 buses provided to shunt them around.

The first task under the circumstances was to secure weapons. This they accomplished by first taking control of an armory at the military police dominated 

barracks at Apapa. A Sergeant apparently accomplished this crucial first phase. He then arrested Colonels Ajiborisha and Odaro both of whom were transported 

to Ojo cantonment and detained along with Major Said who was then commanding the Army HQ provost battalion at Ojo. [All these officers were later rescued].

Next, subgroups headed for the FRCN radio station, Bonny camp, Dodan Barracks, Ikeja cantonment and Ojo cantonment primarily to get additional heavy caliber 

weapons and active duty soldiers as well as seize these locations as they boot-strapped the operation. There are unconfirmed reports, for example, that the 

armory of the 126 Guards Battalion at Bonny camp was “liberated” by a small group of ex-servicemen led by Major Orkar himself. Then there is the interesting 

angle of the case of one Lt. Obasi (who later escaped). He allegedly went to a guardroom where some soldiers were in detention for various unit offences and 

released them to participate. Most did but some did not.

Some of the plotters were already pre-positioned on routine guard duty at both the radio station and Dodan Barracks (formerly State House, Ribadu road) – the 

seat and home of the President. Lt. Okekumatalo of 123 Infantry Battalion was on duty at the Radio Station.

2/Lt A. B. Umukoro, was also on Armoured corps official duty at the radio station but was not initially involved in the plot. Lt Okekumatalo arrested him and 

most of his armored guard detail. Thereafter, Major Mukoro gave the arrested armoured corps officers a pep talk and recruited most of them into the scheme.

Thus, with Okekumatalo’s inside job, the Radio Station proved to be a walkover initially for Major Mukoro, Lt. Col Nyiam and Captain Empere who secured the 

use of one of the fully armed armored vehicles there. Lt. Col Nyiam has been projected in the Press as being primarily responsible for the seizure of Dodan 

Barracks and the arrest of the President but he has never confirmed this. When the assault on Dodan Barracks began he had reportedly already been in and out 

on a ‘routine’ visit to old friends and was rumored to have been engaged in a game of draught with the President’s ADC. Those who know will hopefully someday 

reveal the details of how it was all contrived.

Publicly available accounts, however, suggest that at the start of the operation, one Lt. Uchendu reportedly grabbed an armored vehicle from the State House 

and drove to the radio station. This may have been the commotion that first alerted Babangida’s household. When he arrived there, he and Umukoro were then 

sent back (by Major Mukoro) in a convoy to attack the residential quarters at Dodan Barracks.

The shelling of the State House apparently followed the shooting death of Lt. Col. UK Bello after he had openly identified himself as the ADC to the 

President. Captain Empere (who was actually a Military Police officer) reportedly took one of the armored vehicle co-conspirators had secured from the radio 

station at Ikoyi back to Ikeja cantonment and used it (almost single handedly) to practically take over the cantonment, which froze in awe, paralyzed by the 

element of surprise and the ferocity of the shooting.

He is said to have shot at and maneuvered around all opposition until he ran out of fuel. His main target, however, which was to get a hold of keys to the 

Main Battle Tank transit shed, failed. This failure to secure control of or neutralize the main battle tanks (such as the T-55s) and get additional light 

tanks at Ikeja cantonment is thought to be the primary reason the coup eventually failed because those same Tanks were later used to provide superior 

firepower in support of loyal troops when General Abacha bounced back.

Captain Dakolo on the other hand was reportedly an instructor at the Army Depot in Zaria. However, he had only just been posted there from the 123 infantry 

battalion at Ikeja cantonment. Thus he was quite familiar with many of the soldiers in the battalion. On the night of the coup, therefore, he was able to 

approach the cantonment gate without suspicion whereupon he allegedly opened fire on the guard detail. Some soldiers reportedly fell, dead or dying, while 

others fled. The bus (or buses) carrying other conspirators thus drove into the cantonment without resistance. Incidentally, an innocent officer (of similar 

ethnic/state background) who just happened to be passing by got into an argument over what had just transpired and was also allegedly summarily shot.

Newspapers further reported that one Major Edosa and a Capt Tolofari of the Military Police reportedly led the initial seizure of Ojo cantonment. They both 

escaped when in the early hours of daylight they started losing control.


The assault on Dodan Barracks was in two phases. First, several Tanks deployed on the grounds were technically demobilized through the removal of firing 

pins. Later, the assault on the main living quarters (using infantry and two armored vehicles from the radio station driven by 2/Lts Umukoro and Uchendu) 


Earlier, when certain movements were noticed, the ADC to the President, Lt. Col Usman K. Bello came out to investigate. Without any supporting crew, he 

reportedly tried to climb into one of the Tanks which, unknown to him, had already been disabled. Having realized that he was in no position to use the Tank 

he came out, and tried walking alone, wearing mufti, toward the radio station, only to be summarily shot in circumstances that have never been fully 


The details of what really transpired at the State House have since become a source of minor controversy. During an interview with the Vanguard on Sunday Feb 

25, 2001, General Babangida (rtd) was quoted as saying: “I had a routine and I went up, I was just about dozing when my wife said something was happening and 

from my window I saw it all. I wasn’t frightened. I was a soldier and I took my rightful place on that fateful day. It was, however, my wife and children who 

found the whole incident horrifying. ..”I have been at the war front and I know what it means. I have escaped a lot of ambushes. In fact, there are a lot of 

pellets in my body. What I have gone through in life has toughened my heart. So, there is no question of fear, in fact it doesn’t come in..”.

More recently, General Babangida revealed on Galaxy Television, Ibadan that one Captain Kassim Omowa insisted on him leaving or being evacuated from Dodan 

Barracks. He is quoted as saying: “Omowa insisted that he would fly me out. But on each mention, I told him no because he was too junior to command me……But 

the young man said: “I am here to do my job. So I must move you out of this place.”

According to Babangida, Omowa evacuated him via a secret channel to a location (ostensibly a private residence in Surulere) “where I was for some days while 

the heat remained.” Babangida did not shed light on other accounts that he was physically “knocked down” or “grabbed”, smuggled via the Ribadu back gate and 

maze of adjoining buildings and compounds, tucked inside a Volkswagen beetle and hidden at the National Arts Theater, Iganmu from where he made contact with 

Abacha and others.

It has also been reported that one of his bodyguards was later captured by the plotters but did not betray his location. None of this has been confirmed by 

authoritative sources.

Babangida’s former Chief Press Officer, Chief Duro Onabule, however, went public with another version last year. According to him, while commotion was 

brewing, Babangida “remained calm in the sitting room. All pleas for him to leave the place by the security staff failed, he simply refused. Even when the 

shots were coming closer from Obalende side, he still would not leave. As I said, he remained calm under the fire, but the saving grace was his wife, who 

physically dragged him out, and I mean physically dragged him out. Even then, IBB did not leave the premises, he stayed at the gate of Dodan Barracks; all 

pleas for him to leave the place, he refused. When the pressure mounted, he then asked the security people, who were asking him to leave, ‘okay I appreciate 

your concern, but if I am to leave, how about these poor boys defending me,” so he stayed there, until the whole thing was brought under control. Before he 

then left for the house.”

Regarding the death of Lt. Col Usman K. Bello, Lt. Col. Gabriel Anthony Nyiam, formerly of Nigerian Army Engineers, then a Directing Staff at the Command and 

Staff College, Jaji, and the most senior officer involved in the uprising, (who is said to have been Col. Bello’s course mate and personal friend) was quoted 

in an interview with the Sunday Vanguard Newspaper published on April 16, 2000:

“Let me state clearly, may the soul of U.K. Bello rest in peace. It’s sad that U.K Bello had to die because he was in effect used by IBB as a distraction and 

the poor chap was misled to be pushed out of Dodan Barracks that night, when Babangida already knew that there was danger. Babangida used U.K. Bello as a 


But slightly over a year later, with a slightly different spin, on Friday 17th August, 2001, it was reported in the same Vanguard newspaper interview noted 

above that Chief Duro Onabule, former Chief Press Secretary to President Ibrahim Babangida, told correspondent Paul Odili that Babangida “was as usual 

receiving visitors late into the night, but just as the last visitor left, he heard one gun fire. Maybe that was a signal for the coupist to commence 

operation, but he was the one who first got to know. And he summoned his ADC (U.K. Bello) and demanded to know what was going on; the ADC said nothing sir.’ 

He told him ‘don’t be stupid son,’ something is going on, go and find out. And the ADC came back to report that they were under attack. Of course, the duty 

of ADC was to counter whatever attack against them.”


LAGOS…Flag Staff House

Flag Staff House in Ikoyi, Lagos, (now called Defence House) had traditionally always been the official residence of the GOC, Nigerian Army and later the 

Chief of Army Staff. However, when he added the title of Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff to his Army title, Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha held on to the residence. 

This was the position when the coup plotters struck in the early hours of the morning of Sunday, April 22, 1990.

As was his usual nocturnal practice Lt. General Sani Abacha was wide awake but busy with ”extra-curricular rest and recreational activities” at a guesthouse 

nearby. Thus, when the plotters (led by one Lt. Ogboru of Military Police, then a Law student at Uniben) arrived at his official residence he was not 


A quick follow-up check at his nearby guesthouse (which they were aware of) was unproductive because although they fired heavily upon the guards and building 

they did not do a room-to-room mopping up operation. Abacha was inside, alive and well. This lack of close quarter follow-up probably saved his life – and 

the regime.

The late Abacha’s first son (the late Ibrahim) is rumored to have driven to find his father at the guesthouse once the plotters left. With mayhem around him, 

Abacha reportedly deliberated calmly for about 10 minutes, calmly got dressed and emerged (in mufti) with two Uzi submachine guns – one of which he handed 

over to his son whom he noticed was carrying a “mere” pistol.

Thereafter, Abacha ordered his son to sit in front as the driver of a civil Peugeot 504 while, he, Sani, the Army chief, sat as the right side front seat 

passenger. Two security operatives occupied the back seats. Then, in what was clearly an extremely dicey move, Abacha ordered his son to drive back to the 

Flag Staff House where Abacha gave orders to secure the perimeter.

At that point he knew that the plotters had not cut off telephone lines nor had they disrupted nationwide army signals networks, so he began making phone 

calls to other service chiefs and more specifically, Army commanders in Lagos (particularly Bonny Camp and Ikeja Cantonment) and other parts of the country 

to get information, alert those who were ignorant of unfolding events, convince those who thought he had been neutralized that he wasn’t, and secure pledges 

of loyalty.

Like a pilgrimage, officers later began trooping to the Flag Staff House to account for themselves and declare loyalty. Once fairly confident of the 

localized nature of the threat, he then gave firm orders that the coup was to be resisted at all costs. There is word that some officers specifically sought 

confirmation about Babangida’s state of health before clearly committing themselves to Abacha’s destiny in those tense and uncertain early hours. Others 

simply ran away or lay low.

As word got around that both Abacha and Babangida were indeed alive, galvanized by the curious and unprecedented “expulsion” of certain ‘far’ northern states 

on radio, confidence was restored, wills stiffened, and officers and units that would otherwise have been disposed to take a “wait and see” attitude or 

perhaps even run away, tilted toward the regime.

Once armored vehicles at Ikeja were firmly under the control of pro-Abacha elements, Ikeja cantonment was retaken (by Brigadier Ishaya Bamaiyi) and the push 

to regain control of all other major military barracks in the Lagos area began. A young Lt. of the Recce battalion, for example, led the operation that went 

to Ojo cantonment to rescue those officers detained there.

In mustering troops to retake Dodan Barracks and the radio station, the 126 guard infantry battalion at Bonny camp under Lt. Col Ghandi Tola Zidon, the 9th 

infantry Brigade under Brigadier Ishaya Bamaiyi, and the Recce unit at Ikeja (armed with Scorpion Tanks, Panhard armored cars and some Main Battle Tanks in 

transit to other locations in the country) reportedly formed the spearhead. They were supported by key AHQ elements like the Corp Commander, Artillery, 

Brigadier Chris Abutu Garuba and the Director of Armor, Colonel Abubakar Dada both of whom placed additional units within and outside Lagos on standby in 

case the need arose.

Lt. Col. GT Zidon in particular was said to be familiar with Major GG Orkar, a fellow middle belter. It is said that he dressed in tracksuit and jogged his 

way to the radio Nigeria station in Ikoyi to chat him up and lull him into a false sense of security while actually using the opportunity to conduct an 

appreciation of the troop and weapon strength and disposition of the plotters.

Having done so, he later returned with troops, supported by armor, to flush them out from the radio station. I have no independent official confirmation of 

this newspaper account.

But to those familiar with the history of coups in Nigeria, the Abacha-Zidon-Orkar liaison, if true, was a similar – but not identical – replay of the 

Danjuma-Babangida-Dimka liaison of 1976 and the Ironsi-Nwawo-Nzeogwu liaison of 1966. In each case an officer friendly with the coup spokesman went to him on 

behalf of the Army Chief making arrangements to crush him.

The first attempt to reach and dislodge the coupists at the radio station was carried out by a group of soldiers from the 126 Battalion Bonny camp reportedly 

led by one Lt. Jalingo. They were repulsed near the Obalende bridge flyover, by 2/Lt Umukoro in an armored vehicle. At least one soldier died in the hail of 

co-axial MG fire. The others were later co-opted at gunpoint by Major Mukoro and made to make mini-broadcasts in pidgin English and vernacular, praising the 



Even though Orkar, Nyiam, Dakolo, and Idele, all principal plotters, were either based in Jaji, near Kaduna, or Zaria, the April 22 plotters made no concrete 

arrangements to neutralize units outside the Lagos area – probably because of the stage of planning at which it was preemptively launched as a contingency to 

avoid arrest (according to Nyiam). The coup plan was predicated on the presumption that once Babangida and Abacha were out of the way and Lagos units 

neutralized, the regime, based as it was on these “twin godfathers”, would implode like a pack of cards.

Nevertheless, in seeking to crush the plot, prevent a domino effect, and reestablish the authority of the federal military government, Lt. Gen Abacha reached 

for all operational elements in all Army divisions all over the country directly (by phone) and indirectly through resident State Governors.

What transpired in the 1st Division is the most detailed account publicly available.

In Kaduna, the GOC 1st Div, Major General Ike Nwachukwu was on leave. His Colonel GS, (and acting GOC) Colonel Mohammed Dansofo began contacting Brigade 

Commanders in the 1st Div area of responsibility (Kano, Sokoto and Minna).

In this manner he contacted the most senior officer in the Division, then Colonel Mohammed Chris Alli, Commander of the 3rd Infantry Brigade in Kano, for 

guidance. Dansofo knew then that there was a coup in progress in Lagos but did not know who was involved or its political coloration. The Kano State 

Governor, Colonel Idris Garba and Lt. Col Lawan Gwadabe calling in from Lagos also independently contacted Alli. It was not long before Orkar’s broadcast on 

radio Nigeria resolved any initial confusion about the putsch. All Brigades were placed on full standby combat alert and all passes cancelled. Based on a 

dictation made over the phone by Col. MC Alli, Col Dansofo made a counter-broadcast on Radio Kaduna thus:

“We of the 1st Infantry Division disassociate ourselves from the coup and its aims and affirm our loyalty to the President and Commander in Chief of the 

Armed Forces, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.”

MC Alli also made an unambiguous broadcast to the people of Kano dissociating his Brigade from the Orkar announcement in Lagos.

In Jos, Enugu and Ibadan, the GOCsn apparently issued a similar radio message but at least one announcement by one GOC was allegedly vague, avoiding the 

specific mention of Babangida as C-in-C by name, pledging generic loyalty only to the “Federal Military Government” rather than the regime. Some pundits 

later interpreted this omission as a cunning, “wait and see” safeguard in case the coup eventually succeeded.

The Orkar Failed Coup of April 22, 1990

Part 2

By Nowa Omoigui, MD, MPH, FACC


After the radio station in Lagos was regained by loyal troops, there was a brief announcement by Lt. Col. GT Zidon followed by the following broadcast by Lt. 

Gen. Sani Abacha:

“I, Lieutenant-General Sani Abacha, Chief of Army Staff, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, have found it necessary to address you once again in the course of 

our nation’s history. In view of the unfortunate, development early this morning, I’m in touch with the CGS, Service Chiefs, GOCs, FOCs, AOCs, of the armed 

forces and they have all pledged their unflinching support and loyalty to the federal military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida who is 

perfectly safe and with whom I am in contact.

“Early this morning there was sporadic firing by a few disloyal and misguided soldiers in some isolated parts of Lagos, followed by an embarrassing radio 


“Fellow Nigerians, you will all agree with me that the reasons given for this grave misconduct are significantly motivated by greed and self-interest. The 

soldiers involved decided to constitute themselves into national security nuisance for no other cause than base avarice.’

‘Most of these disloyal elements have been arrested and are already undergoing interrogation. The remaining dissidents are advised in their own interest to 

report to the nearest military location and hand over the arms and ammunition in their possession. All formation and unit commanders are hereby directed to 

exercise effective command and control. “At this stage, let me reiterate our commitment to pursue vigorously the transition programme. No amount of threat or 

blackmail will detract the federal military government’s attention in this regard. We are set to hand over power to a democratically elected government in 

1992. I wish to assure all law-abiding citizens that the situation is now under control and people should go about pursuing their lawful interest.

“Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Thank you.”



A broadcast was also made by President Babangida:

“Fellow Nigerians, I salute you all, first and foremost, let me assure you further that the unfortunate situation of this morning in some parts of Lagos has 

been brought under control by loyal troops as earlier stated by the chief of army staff and chairman, joint chiefs of staff, Lieutenant-General Sani Abacha 

with whom I have been in contact and he is with me this evening.

“I also want to seize this opportunity to commend all members of the Nigerian armed forces the Nigeria police and security agents for the gallant and 

professional manner the situation was contained.

“Let me also congratulate the civil populace for their continued support for this administration. I wish to state that all law-abiding citizens should go 

about their normal duties and their safety guaranteed. Let me also assure the diplomatic community and all foreigners in the country that the security of 

their lives and property is hereby guaranteed.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you for your co-operation.”



Isolated and surrounded, with the coup clearly headed for failure, the most senior officers involved, Lt. Col Nyiam and Major Saliba Mukoro initially 

contemplated a suicide pact, but then escaped from the radio station and eventually left the country for exile in Britain and the US respectively.

Great Ogboru, the civilian alleged to be a key co-factor, also slipped out of the country to Europe. Mukoro later became an Associate Professor of Criminal 

Justice at a University in the U.S. Security agents detained and hounded those elements of their respective families left behind. But unconfirmed reports 

later suggested that on Major Mukoro’s wife simply walked away from supposed house arrest at Ikeja cantonment in Lagos and found her way abroad. Great 

Ogboru’s brother was jailed and it is said that even after fully serving his jail term, General Abacha refused to release him.

How did Mukoro and Nyiam escape from Radio Nigeria?

According to Col. Nyiam, in a 2000 interview with the Guardian: “At the point of battle when we had, as it were, allowed all soldiers loyal to us to engage, 

we decided that we would walk like officers out of that zone with the resolve that it will be better to be shot standing than crawling. And we walked, there 

was no disguise. How we walked out of the encirclement is what I called the mystery and I give that glory to where it belongs….I will say that when we left 

the zone of the conflict itself between 1.00 and 2.00 a.m., here again we give credit to the poor Nigerians around the shore of the new third mainland 


There were a lot of poor people who lived there, who lived in the shanties. Those people immediately created a force to ferry anybody involved in the action 

across the water to the other side and I must say that when we got there they were so generous that even in the heat of it all when they were giving us water 

to drink, they felt that their water was too dirty for me to drink and they went and bought mineral – that shows you the generousity of the poor.

They felt we were too good to drink their water so they gave us soft drink. It was these same poor people who became our scout and helped us to walk through 

Isale Eko and thereafter when we got to a point on the old Carter Bridge, we asked them to go back and we walked on foot. Again, there were soldiers, how 

they did not see us – that credit goes to God. In cases where soldiers, the police and other forces saw us, they ignored us and even helped us to go through. 

In effect, people should not be over critical of the police or disown soldiers because many of them have been suffering from the same problems average people 

go through. In summary, the mystery and experience of this body and mind talking to you and Mukoro is only but a demonstration of God’s power.”


Major Gideon Gwaza Orkar was arrested along with about 300 other military personnel and more than 30 civilians. In the usual Nigerian pattern of mass arrests 

and reactive witch hunting, some journalists considered unsympathetic to the regime were also detained and newspapers even closed.

Following a Board of Inquiry, cases were referred to a Military Tribunal chaired by Major General Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu. The Chief Prosecutor was 

Brigadier General Tunde Olurin while Lt. Col. Akin Kejawa led the defence.

In July 1990, Major GG Orkar and 41 others were convicted for treason and executed by firing squad after confirmation of sentences by the Armed Forces Ruling 

Council (AFRC). Nine other defendants were jailed while 31 soldiers were acquitted.

Following a serious controversy inspired by allegations made by some of the convicts – as they were about to be shot – that those acquitted by the first 

tribunal were fellow putschists acquitted on ethnic grounds, the AFRC ordered the retrial of 31 of the surviving accused by a new tribunal headed by Major 

General Yohanna Yerima Kure. The Chief prosecutor this time around was Lt. Col. Kemi Peters while Lt Col JOJ Okolagwu led the defence.

In September 1990, therefore, a second batch of 27 executions was carried out.

It has been said that the core Bendel (Edo/Delta) and Rivers (Rivers/Bayelsa) plotters were not remorseful about the rebellion. Captain Empere in particular 

was very defiant and identified the late Isaac Adaka Boro as his mentor and hero. He and others were driven by deeply held feelings that although their 

exploited lands produced Nigeria’s oil wealth, their people had little to show for it. It is fair to categorize the rebellion, therefore, as a “resource 

control uprising”.



Major GG Orkar

Major Gideon Gwaza Orkar was Tiv from Benue State. He started his officer cadet training at the NDA in 1972 with the 12th Regular Combatant Course.

He was commissioned in December 1974 in the rank of Second Lieutenant and posted to the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps School in Ibadan. He did particularly 

well on the Armour Young Officers course and was later sent for some specialized courses in gunnery. Indeed he was recognized as a gunnery expert by his 


There is an unconfirmed story that as a subaltern, he was once granted six months seniority over his colleagues based on outstanding performance representing 

his commanding officer back in the seventies.

As a junior officer he also attended several courses in the Nigerian Army School of Infantry. He was on the first Nigerian contingent that was sent to Chad 

Republic and he later served in the 22 Armoured Brigade.

He passed both the junior and senior divisions of Staff College with flying colours.

His last posting was as a member of the Directing Staff of the Command and Staff College.

Major GG Orkar was said to have been recruited into the plot just a few weeks before April 22, 1990.


Lt. Col Gabriel Anthony Nyiam

GA Nyiam attended primary school in Lagos before going to the Nigerian Military School in Zaria. He subsequently attended the Nigerian Defence Academy as 

part of the 9th Regular Combatant Course, beginning in January 1971.

Upon completion of his program at NDA he was inducted into the Corp of Engineers. He attended Earthwork University in Edinburgh and undertook a second degree 

at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. During this period he was seconded to the British Army, where he says he imbibed the culture that “soldiering is an 

honourable profession in the defence of the weak”.

When he returned to Nigeria he joined General Babangida’s staff at the AHQ. He was a staff officer at the AHQ until just before the putsch when he was posted 

to the Commmand and Staff College at Jaji as a Directing Staff.


Lt. Col UK Bello

Lt Col Usman K Bello was an indigene of Niger State. Gwari by tribe, he started his Officer Cadet training with the 9th Regular Combatant Course in January 

1971 at the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna. He was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant in June 1973 and posted to the Recce Regiment.

He attended several courses in the Nigerian Army School of Infantry and some Armour officers’ courses in Britain and the United States.

He was ADC to Brigadier SM Yar Adua when the latter was Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters. He was also the Brigade Major 24 Armoured Brigade before he 

proceeded to the Command and Staff College (CSC) for his Senior Division Course. At CSC he did very well and came first in order of merit.

Bello was not a university graduate but he put all his energy into making a career of the army. His last posting before being deployed to Dodan Barracks was 

as the CO of the Recce Battalion in Kaduna. As a Lt Col, he replaced Major MS Dasuki as ADC to President Babangida. Even as ADC he sought permission to 

undergo airborne training in the Nigerian Army School of Infantry. This was not a normal practice for one at his age and rank

Bello commanded tremendous amount of respect from all ranks. The President had a lot of confidence in him.



(For full details, see Guardian and Vanguard newspapers dated April 15 & 16, 2000)

What was the objective of the April 1990 rebellion?

According to Lt. Col. G Anthony Nyiam, who was the most senior officer involved in the uprising (but not the leader), the aim was “to have a caretaker 

government with a view to do two things at that time. One was to do a proper national census and a proper election and also set up a framework for a national 


In an interview with the Sunday Vanguard Newspaper published on April 16, 2000, Nyiam also said “With that in mind, we never had any idea that we were going 

to govern anybody. It was just to restore power to the people. That is to restore democracy. Our aim was that there was going to be a caretaker committee 

which was going to be headed by a former minister under President Shagari.”

How did Nyiam get involved?

Nyiam volunteered information that he was recruited into the conspiracy in February 1990 “when some junior officers approached me to express their 

discontentment with the system…Because, I did not completely trust them, I did not give any word whether I would support the plan or not. Instead, I started 

to watch them. I watched them for about one month to see if they were serious or the intention was to set me up. These were young officers who really meant 

business because they were full of zeal. Because of their enthusiasm and anger, they were anxious that the coup be carried out almost with dispatch. But, I 

continually urged restraint as what they wanted would not have given room for much planning. Eventually, we came in to try to reorganize and look at things, 

how we could do it better. But, along the line, the action leaked. We had envisaged the possibility of a leakage and had, as a result of that, put in place 

contingency plan so that we would not be arrested like General Mamman Vatsa and co.”

How did the plot leak?

“The details of the contingency plan was that we would move if the coup plot leaked. And true to what we thought, several days before action was to be 

carried out, our intelligence reports indicated that the plan had leaked. This obviously forced us to immediately take up arms.” He went on: “In fact, 

another senior officer, a mate of mine who was the link between the young officers and myself, eventually sold out, that is, he was the source of the 

leakage. When we realised that our plans had leaked, that led to the pre-emptive action we took. I remember we took our action without any arm, it was in 

that night that our resources were got by first of all taking over Apapa.”

Why was the so called “Far” North excised from Nigeria?

On the question about the excision of some far northern states, Nyiam said: “If you read our speech (on the coup), you will find out that our position was 

based on the presumption that the then Sultan was imposed on the people of Sokoto and that the act was the beginning of the destruction of the traditional 

institution. The act ostensibly destroyed the Sokoto caliphate by causing division between the two houses. It was on the basis of this that we said that 

state would not be re-absorbed (if we had succeeded in taking over government) into the country until that traditional stool had been restored to the proper 

person. If you read the conditionalities, you are likely to discover that what we were saying was that sultanate would not have fitted into the new order 

that we envisaged. We did not see the action as a coup but as an uprising, to correct some anomalies.”

But in a separate interview with the Sunday Guardian newspaper, Nyiam was also reported as having ‘defended the coup broadcast in which some states in the 

far North were exercised from the country, saying he is more convinced now that the action was proper. He said: “We saw it coming [excision]. After the 

Mamman Vatsa’s coup attempt, I travelled with Abacha within the country to meet traditional rulers and Army Commanders to speak to soldiers. Anytime we went 

to the Hausa areas in the North, we were given Hausa and Islamic regalia and if you didn’t wear it, they would not be happy with you. It got to a stage that 

if you were in the Army, you have to speak Hausa. What I am saying in effect was that, there was a gradual acculturation of other people who have superior 

culture.” ‘

What was Nyiam’s relationship with General Babangida?

Nyiam was reported (by the Sunday Guardian) to have admitted being an “IBB boy”. The newspaper said: ‘The former military president, he added, commissioned 

him to work on a diarchy based on Egypt’s Abdel Nasser model where the military, produced the president while the civilians produced the prime minister. 

Explaining that it was part of the self-succession agenda of Babangida and the late Abacha, he said that being so close to Babangida, he had access to 

privileged information which showed that the former military president was not at all in a hurry to quit the political stage except by an uprising.’

Further, Nyiam, explaining his initial attraction to the former President, also stated that: “In a nutshell, we all came in to help Babangida whom we thought 

was a man who meant well. If one goes back to his earlier contribution, he was doing very well and we all gave him our support. But then, when we saw the 

things that were coming up; things like the way people from the South were being maginalised, in NNPC; how Ebitu Ukiwe was thrown out of power to make room 

for Abacha, and a host of other things that happened. It was also at this period that the OIC thing started. All these put together made one reason that one 

cannot just be an officer in name and watch his people being marginalised or being made victims or killed. At the time also, Dele Giwa was murdered.”



Like all failed coups before it, the April 1990 coup led to certain reactive (i.e. witch hunting) measures by the military against the services, units or 

corps that were thought to have been deeply involved in it. Military Police Battalions were downsized. A similar phenomenon occurred after the Vatsa 

conspiracy. However, this angle is outside the scope of this article.

In his seminal work “The Federal Republic of Nigerian Army”, Major General Mohammed Alli, former Chief of Army Staff, who as a Colonel in Kano had 

dissociated himself and his Brigade from the coup, described the Mukoro/Orkar et al coup as one “imbued with undue radicalism.”

He opined that in execution, the revolt “suffered communication disconnection” (whatever that means) but that it had nevertheless “shaken the nation and the 

northern hegemony to their very foundation and fabric.” Alli says that the 1990 coup, “like its predecessor in 1966” opened “a more precarious and 

frightening chapter, pointing to and crying for fundamental changes in the nation’s political structure and the basis of existence and control of the Armed 

Forces.” However, “as soon as it was subdued and suppressed, the nation went back to business as usual.”

One obvious consequence to civilians was the acceleration of the movement of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja in 1990 by the Head of State, General 

Ibrahim Babangida. It was also reported by some pundits that he was rattled by the experience and lost a considerable amount of self-confidence for quite 

some time. This temporary newfound humility extended to some of his apologists but it was also mixed with passive-aggressive behaviors driven by fear and 


The failure of the coup, however, marked the beginning of the rise of Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha who was now increasingly being referred to in the Press as the 

Khalifa (successor). Whatever anyone said of him, few could doubt his ferocity and deliberate calm under conditions of extreme danger that befell him on 

April 22. He had proved his mettle. As former Panamanian dictator General Noriega once said: “The ultimate sign of virility is the ability to hold on to 


It was widely acknowledged that Abacha could quite easily have taken power for himself if he wanted – although he was not highly thought of by so called ‘IBB 

boys’. Clearly, Babangida owed him plenty and became increasingly beholden to his attitudes – particularly since there was some discussion of the merits and 

demerits of Babangida’s abandonment of Dodan Barracks – albeit involuntarily.

Another officer who benefited from the failure of the April rebellion was Brigadier Ishaya Bamaiyi of the 9th Brigade. He was rewarded with the Command of 

the Brigade of Guards and it marked the beginning of his eventual ascendancy into the rarified atmosphere of service chiefs. It is also possible that Major 

General Chris Alli’s eventual emergence as the first Chief of Army Staff under General Abacha may have been influenced by the standing he gained with the 

“caucus” during this coup attempt.

According to Kunle Amuwo, who carried out a research project on General Babangida’s “personal rulership” project, the 1990 rebellion, coming as it did in the 

setting of Babangida’s “permanent transition” undermined his credibility and may have been a factor in the way the public reacted to the deaths of over 150 

middle grade officers in a subsequent C-130 plane crash in 1992. Amuwo holds the opinion that ‘Even though Babangida lamented that “a whole generation of 

young officers (mainly Majors) has been wiped out” by the air crash, the public thought his government may have had a hand in it.

During their trials, Major Gideon Orkar and his men reportedly told the military tribunal that their coup was in three layers; that unless all young officers 

were killed, there was no hiding place for the regime. Over 160 officers perished in the crash. That the public tended to give credence to this story is, 

itself, a measure of lack of trust in the General as his “tenure” dragged to an end.’ The public’s reaction to the gutting by a suspicious fire of the 

Ministry of Defence building in 1993 followed similar lines.

But there were other consequences. Although most people dismissed the so called conditional expulsion of the “far” north as a silly gamble, according to 

Professor Julius Ihonvbere, the coup forced certain “deep-rooted” conflicts and “critical issues” to the front page of the national discourse. Never too 

distant from national institutional memory anyway, right from the days of the 1957 Willink Commission report, the Ifeajuna/Nzeogwu insurrection of January 

15, 1966, the Isaac Boro “Niger-Delta” rebellion, the Petroleum and Land Use Acts, these were to play out in later years as the Ogoni crisis, small 

concessions by Babangida on the ‘onshore-offshore’ issue, creation of OMPADEC, June 12 imbroglio, and more recent undercurrents of the “Sovereign National 

Conference”, “Power Shift”, “Resource Control”, “Federalism”, and “Sharia” polemics.

There are observers who say that these fault lines in Nigerian politics portend an inevitable earthquake. I prefer the nuanced Chinese interpretation (as was 

once observed by the late President Kennedy) – that every crisis presents both danger and opportunity.


A full accounting of the dead and injured from the April 1990 rebellion is not yet possible, in part because of the secretive nature of events surrounding 

the incident. However, it is widely assumed to be the bloodiest attempt to seize power in the history of Nigeria.

EXECUTED (incomplete list)

Major Gideon Gwaza Orkar

Captain N Harley Empere

Captain Perebo A Dakolo

Capt AA Nonju

Lt. AE Akogun

Lt. CN Odey

Lt. Cyril O Ozualor

Lt. NEO Deji

2/Lt AB Umukoro

2/Lt EJ Ejesuku

SSgt Julius Itua

Sgt Martins Ademokhai

Sgt. Pius Ilegar

WO2 Monday Bayefa

L/Cpl Francis Ogo

L/Cpl Jepta Inesei

Cpl. Sunday Effiong

L/Cpl Sam Mbakwe

L/Cpl Albert Ojerangbe

L/Cpl Godfrey Deesiiyira

L/Cpl Emma Oyemolan

Sgt. Stephen Iyeke

Cpl. Joseph Efe

WO Afolabi Moses

L/Cpl Idowu Azeez

WO Jonathan Ekini

S/Sgt Solomon Okungbowa

Private Richard Iseghoei

Private Egwolo Makpamekun

L/Cpl Edogamen Friday

S/Sgt Jolly Agbodowi

Sgt. Etim Umoh

L/Cpl Sam Obasuyi

Ex. Serviceman LC Otajareiri

Ex. Pvt Osazuwa Osifo

Ex. Pvt CP Wasiu Lawal

Ex. Pvt Peter Unuyoma

Ex. Pvt Synalman Goodluck Emefe

Ex. S/Sgt Samson Idegere

Pvt. Emmanuel Onoje

Trooper Roland Odogu

Corporal Lateef Awolola

Pvt. Dickson Omenka

Corp Ehietan Pius

Private Iroabuchi Anyalewechi

Private Henry Eguaoyi

L/Cpl Martins Odey

L/Cpl Sunday Asuquo

Trooper Celestine Ofuoku

Pvt. Anthony Korie

Pvt Thomas Angor

Pvt Edem Basi

Pvt Joseph Odey

Trooper Obioma Esiworo

L/C Magnus Ekechi

WO2 Godwin Donkon

Sgt. Ojo Adegboyega

Pvt Peter Abua

Pvt. Phillip Akamkpo

Sgt. Shehu Onleje

Corp Olanrewaju Ogunshola

L/Cpl Luka Yang

Trooper Malkily Ayogu

L/Cpl Andrew Onah

Michael Ebeku

OTHERS (At least 69 were officially executed, so this

list is incomplete)



Lt. Col. UK Bello (General Babangida’s ADC)

Lt. killed during altercation at Ikeja cantonment gate

3 – 5 soldiers at Ikeja

Captain Charles Idele (Idele was one of the coup leaders. He was Military Assistant to the Commandant, School of Infantry, Jaji. He left Jaji and came to 

Lagos to partake in the coup. His corpse was reportedly found wearing the uniform of a Major on the grounds outside Ikeja cantonment gate where he was shot 

by loyal troops. )

OTHERS (numbers unknown, from fighting at Dodan Barracks, Obalende and the Radio Station)



L/Cpl Ezekiel Akudu

Pvt Ibrahim Egwa

Sgt. John Alilu

Sgt. Andarich Eladon

L/Cpl David Amo Amo

L/Cpl Vitalis Udzea



L/Cpl Celestine Nebo

L/Cpl Wapami Adigio

L/Cpl Mike Odeniyi

L/Cpl Kingsley Aromeh

Sgt. Lawrence Ademola

Signal Man Fatai Daranijo

Pvt. Godwin Airomokha

Sgt. John Benson

L/Cpl Vincent Ozigbo

L/Cpl David Oke



An unknown number of soldiers and officers were discharged or retired from the military in a subsequent purge. The highest ranking of these was a Brigadier 

(from Bendel) who held the office of Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans. His career ended by virtue of the fact that Major Saliba Mukoro (widely 

presumed to be the leader of the rebellion) was his Military Assistant. The Brigadier was never charged, never found guilty of involvement, and was even 

reportedly involved in putting down the revolt. But in the Byzantine world of dog eat dog military politics; the so-called “caucus” organized his departure 

from the Army.

Nigeria: The Palace Coup of November 17, 1993

By Nowa Omoigui

November 17th has had its fair share of palace coups in history. It was the day in 1954

that General Gamal Abdel Nasser assumed full powers as Egyptian head of state

following the overthrow of President Mohamed Naguib in a Palace coup. On the same

day, four years later in 1958, General El-Ferik Ibrahim Abboud, then Sudanese Army

Commander-in-Chief, staged the first coup in the history of Sudan when he deposed the

civilian government of Abd Allah Khalil. On the same day, in 1971, Prime Minister

Thanom engineered a coup against his own government in Thailand. He suspended the

1968 constitution, dissolved parliament, and created a new Troika composed of himself,

the deputy prime minister, Field Marshal Praphat Charusathian; and Colonel Narong

Kittikachorn. Narong was Thanom’s son and Praphat’s son-in- law.

On November 17, 1993, as judges from 11 nations were being sworn in at the inaugural

session of the United Nations Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal and Zaire was celebrating

its Armed Forces Day, Nigeria was once again the throes of a political succession crisis.

General Sani Abacha, Secretary for Defence and Vice Chairman, ousted Chief Ernest

Shonekan, then Chairman of the 82-day-old Interim National Government (ING), in

order “to save Nigeria from imminent disintegration.”

It happened quickly and in broad daylight. All relevant military units and conspirators

in Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna were quietly placed on alert. Under protective cover

provided by a detachment of the National Guard led by Colonel Lawan Gwadabe, three

very senior officers, motivated by different instincts and with no consensus on what

would happen thereafter, flew to Abuja from Lagos. They calmly walked into

Shonekan’s office at the Presidential Villa and asked that he resign. These officers were

General Sani Abacha (Defence Secretary), Lt. General Oladipo Diya (Chief of Defence

Staff), and Lt. Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (Chief of Army Staff). Shonekan, the 2

former United African Company (UAC) Executive, never had operational control of the

Armed Forces during his controversial tenure. He wisely chose not to resist.

Interestingly, the Army Chief, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, was said to be a personal friend

of Shonekan and reportedly played games with him from time to time. With British

backing, he is even alleged to have nominated Shonekan for the position back on August

25 when outgoing General Babangida decided to make Shonekan the Chairman of the

ING as an exit strategy, rather than General Obasanjo (rtd) or one or two other

contenders. In the macabre environment of schemes and counter-schemes preceding the

November coup, Gusau was not originally supposed to accompany the group to confront

Shonekan. As a bonafide coup merchant himself, some say he had his own plans for

power, but that unknown to him the “Lagos Group” that backed Abacha’s take-over had

identified him for retirement. He allegedly heard of the original plan to confront

Shonekan – without him – and reportedly confronted Abacha about it. Abacha and Diya

then invited him along for the show, some say, by some sort of subterfuge. I have not

been able to confirm the authenticity of the rumor that he was falsely promised that he

would become the Head of State after Shonekan if he cooperated in the scheme.

With Shonekan’s “resignation letter” in hand, General Abacha invoked a version of the

legally moribund Decree No. 61 of 1993 as the basis for his assumption of power as the

“most senior” Minister. [Less than 24 hours later he would abrogate this same decree

No. 61 that he claimed brought him into office]. Generals Abacha and Diya called a

meeting of the Interim National Government to apprise them of developments and

promise that he would work with them to find a solution to Nigeria’s problems. They

also met with the National Assembly and pledged collaboration. Once this was done they

returned to Lagos to meet with the “Lagos group” of military officers for the usual postcoup

horse trading in order to distribute appointments and chart the way forward.

Within twenty-four hours after Shonekan’s removal, Lt. Gen. Gusau was baited into open

disagreement with his colleagues over the issue of a Sovereign National Conference. He

found himself in an untenable position and submitted his letter of retirement – as Abacha 3

wanted him to do. Major General Mohammed Chris Alli took his place as Army Chief,

as had been intended all along by the so-called Lagos group of military conspirators. Lt.

Gen. Oladipo Diya became Chief of General Staff; Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar,

Chief of Defence Staff; Rear Admiral Allison Madueke, Chief of Naval Staff; Air Vice

Marshall Femi John Femi remained Chief of Air Staff; and Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie

became Inspector General of Police. The relationship between Aliyu Gusau and Sani

Abacha was not a good one until Abacha died in June 1998. At various times Gusau was

under security watch, had his passport impounded and was prevented from traveling.

Once Gusau was on his way out, Abacha moved forward with his broadcast to the Nation

on November 18, 1993, in which he went for the jugular:

“Fellow Nigerians,

Sequel to the resignation of the former Head of the Interim National

Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief

Ernest Shonekan and my subsequent appointment as Head of State

and Commander-in-Chief, I have had extensive consultations within

the armed forces hierarchy and other well meaning Nigerians in a bid

to find solutions to the various political, economic and social problems

which have engulfed our beloved country, and which have made life

most difficult to the ordinary citizen of this nation.

Chief Ernest Shonekan took over as Head of State and Commanderin-

Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces at a most trying time in the

history of the country. Politically, economically, and socially, there

were lots of uncertainties. Things appeared bleak and the atmosphere

was heavy with uncertainties. However, driven by a belief in himself,

his countrymen, and love for his country, he accepted to face the

challenges of our time. I will, therefore, like to take this opportunity

to pay tribute to him for his selfless service to the nation. He showed 4

great courage at taking on the daunting task of heading the Interim

National Government and even greater courage to know when to


Many have expressed fears about the apparent return of the military.

Many have talked about the concern of the international community.

However, under the present circumstances the survival of our beloved

country is far above any other consideration. Nigeria is the only

country we have. We must, therefore, solve our problems ourselves.

We must lay a very solid foundation for the growth of democracy. We

should avoid any ad hoc or temporary solutions. The problems must

be addressed firmly, objectively, decisively and with all sincerity of


Consequently, the following decisions come into immediate effect:

(a) The Interim National Government is hereby dissolved.

(b) The National and State Assemblies are also dissolved.

(c) The State Executive Councils are dissolved. The Brigade

Commanders are to take over from the Governors in their States until

Administrators are appointed. Where there are no Brigade

Commanders, the Commissioners of Police in the State are to take


(d) All Local Governments stand dissolved. The Directors of

Personnel are to take over the administration of the Local

Governments until Administrators are appointed. 5

(e) All former Secretaries to Federal Ministries are to hand over

to their Directors-General until Ministers are appointed.

(f) The two political parties are hereby dissolved.

(g) All processions, political meetings and associations of any type

in any part of the country are hereby banned.

(h) Any consultative committee by whatever name called is hereby


(i) Decree 61 of 1993 is hereby abrogated.

A Provisional Ruling Council (PRC), is hereby established. It will


(a) The Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces

of the federal Republic of Nigeria as Chairman.

(b) The Chief of General Staff as Vice-Chairman

(c) The Honourable Minister of Defence

(d) The Chief of Defence Staff

(e) The Service Chiefs

(f) The Inspector General of Police

(g) The Attorney General and Minister of Justice 6

(h) The Internal Affairs Minister

(i) The Foreign Affairs Minister

Also, a Federal Executive Council will be put in place.

Our security system will be enhanced to ensure that lives of citizens,

property of individuals are protected and preserved. Drug trafficking

and other economic crimes such as 419 must be tackled and


On the current strike throughout the nation following the increase in

the price of fuel, I appeal to all the trade unions to return to work

immediately. We cannot afford further dislocation and destruction

of our economy.

On the closed media houses, government is hereby lifting the order of

proscription with immediate effect. We, however, appeal to the media

houses that in this spirit of national reconciliation, we should show

more restraint and build a united and peaceful Nigeria.

Fellow Nigerians, the events of the past months, starting from the

annulment of the June 12 presidential election, culminating in the

appointment of the former Head of State, Chief Ernest Shonekan,

who unfortunately resigned yesterday, are well known to you. The

economic downturn has undoubtedly been aggravated by the ongoing

political crisis.

We require well thought-out and permanent solutions to these

problems if we are to emerge stronger for them. Consequently, a

constitutional conference with full constituent powers will be 7

established soon to determine the future constitutional structure of

Nigeria. The constitutional conference will also recommend the

method of forming parties, which will lead to the ultimate recognition

of political parties formed by the people. While the conference is on,

the reorganisation and reform of the following major institutions will

be carried out:

(a) The Military

(b) The Police

(c) The Customs

(d) The Judiciary


(f) NNPC

(g) NEPA

(h) The Banking Industry

(i) Higher Educational Institutions

This regime will be firm, humane, and decisive. We will not condone

nor tolerate any act of indiscipline. Any attempt to test our will be

decisively dealt with. For the International Community, we ask that

you suspend judgement while we grapple with the onerous task of

nation building, reconciliation and repairs.

This government is a child of necessity with a strong determination to

restore peace and stability to our country and on these foundations,

enthrone a lasting and true democracy. Give us the chance to solve

our problems in our own ways.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” 8

Background and Count-down to the November 17 Coup

The complex military intrigues associated with the Sani Abacha led Palace coup of

November 17, 1993 and its aftermath reminds me of three lines in Chapter IV of “The

Art of War” by the Chinese Military Philosopher Sun Tzu, under ‘TACTICAL


“1. Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the

possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the


2. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the

opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

15. Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the

victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and

afterwards looks for victory.”

FROM 1985 – 1990

When Major General Ibrahim Babangida came to power after the Palace Coup of August

1985, he rewarded then Major General Sani Abacha, GOC of the Army’s 2nd Division

with the position of Chief of Army Staff – the position from which Babangida had

launched himself into power. Abacha reportedly negotiated for this position as a

condition for supporting the coup.

However, Abacha was not well regarded professionally. He was thought of as a very dull

officer, who was prone to late coming, disliked staff meetings, kept odd hours, enjoyed

exclusive private parties and loved entertaining himself with curious personal interests.

There were rumors that he had not made it out of the Staff College at Jaji with honor, that

some of his old confidential reports were much below par and that he had been saved on

several occasions from retirement during his military career. One such occasion was a

controversial bloody clash with the Police when he was the Brigade Commander in Port 9

Harcourt in the late seventies. Nevertheless, he was a key coup conspirator in December

1983 and August 1985 – which is what counted in the Nigerian Army of that era.

According to sources, soon after he became Army Chief in 1985 one of the first things he

did was intimidate many local and foreign Army contractors into arrangements from

which he would benefit personally. Some of those who met him then say he seemed to

be driven by a fanatical desire to compete financially with his rival and protégé, General

Babangida, who had been the immediate past holder of that office. A source told me that

Abacha – without providing any evidence – had a mental fixation that Babangida was very

wealthy and that he (Abacha) could also be wealthy if contractors “do for me as you did

for him”. The dysfunctional manifestations of this rivalry dogged Abacha throughout his

career as a Service Chief and later Head of State. Allegedly he always felt that he needed

to stash away huge sums of money as a way to guarantee his personal security. It

remains unclear to this day why he felt that way.

He was also very state-security conscious and regularly took a hard line against soldiers

suspected of disloyalty. He was party to the decision to execute General Vatsa and others

in March 1986 – in spite of numerous domestic and foreign pleas – and was not happy

when the charge against Major Akinyemi was changed from ‘Treason’ to ‘treasonable

felony’. His displeasure was that the lesser charge guaranteed that even if guilty he

would not be executed. (Never a man to forget old grudges, he stubbornly refused to

release the Major from Prison ten years later, even after he completed his sentence!)

In time, Abacha’s poor management skills and lack of professional respect undermined

him with the caucus of junior and middle ranking officers that brought Babangida to

power. As the Chief of Army Staff, he was even allegedly personally insulted by then

Major Sambo Dasuki, a one-time ADC to the President – an incident that eventually led

to the Major’s first “protective exile” to the United States on course. Clamour began

that Abacha be removed as Army Chief to make way for a more professionally sound

officer. I vividly recall an officer (now late) tell me back then that “Abacha is spoiling

the Army.” Naturally, once his blood was sensed in the water, other ambitious senior 10

Army Officers began eyeing his job, notably Brigadier (later Major General) Joshua

Dogonyaro who had also been a key insider in the coup that propelled Babangida to

power. Not far behind were other Officers of the Regular One- (1) course at the Nigerian

Defence Academy who felt that their time had come to take over the leadership of the

Army from foreign-trained Officers. Such Regular One Officers included Saliu Ibrahim,

Aliyu Gusau, Oladipo Diya, etc.

Abacha’s reaction to all this was to accuse Babangida of deliberately underfunding the

Army so as to make him (Abacha) unpopular with the troops. Things were bad enough at

one stage that a secret meeting of insiders outside the context of the Armed Forces Ruling

Council had to be held at Ikeja Cantonment to smooth things over. Sources claim special

financial arrangements were made to placate Abacha and allay his suspicions, while

alternative mechanisms – like adhoc Task Forces – were later created to ensure that funds

actually reached operational units, bypassing the Ministry of Defence.

Nevertheless, clamour continued for Abacha’s removal. Eventually, General Babangida

concocted a dicey two step scheme to do so. The scheme involved the initial removal of

Lt. General Domkat Bali as concurrent Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Minister of

Defence. In this scenario, Babangida became the Defence Minister while Abacha was to

simultaneously hold the positions of Chief of Army Staff and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of

Staff. Step Two (2) would involve Babangida giving up the Defence Minister position,

and then later enticing Abacha to take the Defence Minister position in combination with

the position of Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. In exchange, Abacha would vacate the

position of Chief of Army Staff.

This delicate two step process, initiated on December 29, 1989, was complicated by

negative reactions to the step one removal of Lt. General Domkat Bali and the perception

that the changes affected the religious balance of power in the military. Bali himself

refused to accept his demeaning redeployment as Minister of Internal Affairs, where he

would take over from Brigadier John Shagaya, a junior officer from the same Langtang

area of Plateau State. Instead he chose to retire ten days later. 11

In April 1990, citing a laundry list of complaints, junior officers led by Lt. Col. G Nyiam,

Major Saliba Mukoro and Major Gideon Orkar staged an attempted coup, which

eventually failed []. One of their complaints was

“The shabby and dishonourable treatment meted on the longest serving Nigerian General

in the person of General Domkat Bali, who in actual fact had given credibility to the

Babangida administration.“

By all accounts, most of the credit for rallying the resistance and crushing this coup

attempt goes to Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha, who was at that time the Chief of Army Staff and

concurrent Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. After the rebellion was crushed, Abacha

went on radio to reassure the country. Among other things, he said:

“I, Lieutenant-General Sani Abacha, Chief of Army Staff, Chairman, Joint

Chiefs of Staff, have found it necessary to address you once again in the

course of our nation’s history. In view of the unfortunate, development

early this morning, I’m in touch with the CGS, Service Chiefs, GOCs,

FOCs, AOCs, of the armed forces and they have all pledged their

unflinching support and loyalty to the federal military government of

General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida who is perfectly safe and with

whom I am in contact…………..

……….No amount of threat or blackmail will detract the federal military

government’s attention in this regard. We are set to hand over power to a

democratically elected government in 1992. I wish to assure all lawabiding

citizens that the situation is now under control and people should

go about pursuing their lawful interest.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.” 12

General Abacha’s role in saving the Babangida regime in 1990 bought him huge stock,

not only with Babangida himself but also with a significant number of other “IBB Boys”.

It marked the beginning of the rise of Sani Abacha and the beginnings of his own

independent client network, separate from the umbilical cord that tied him into the

maternal Babangida bandwagon. His own independent network would later become

known as “Abacha Boys”, based mainly, but not exclusively, around officers from the

Kano area.

After a lull during which Babangida was very nervous and lacked confidence, he later

resumed the old plan to replace Abacha as Chief of Army Staff. In September 1990, after

two batches of executions of “Orkar coup convicts” had been carried out, Babangida

ceded his position as Minister of Defence to General Abacha who was to combine it with

his position as Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Some observers feel that an unwritten

part of this new arrangement was that Abacha would be left alone to do as he pleased

with defence funds while Babangida ran the rest of the government. To crystallize the

new “space” created for General Abacha as the “Defence Czar”, he stayed behind in

Lagos when Babangida moved to the new capital of Abuja in 1991. It was as if the

country had two governments.

However, rather than make fellow coup merchant then Maj. Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro the

Chief of Army Staff, Babangida prudently chose Major General (later Lt. Gen.) Salihu

Ibrahim, then the GOC, 82 Division. Ibrahim was a respected apolitical Armoured Corps

officer with no history of involvement in coups – except as a victim in August 1985 when

he was arrested in Jos during Babangida’s take over. Dogonyaro was placated with

command of ECOMOG in Liberia after the fiasco during which President Samuel Doe

was abducted right under the nose of Ghanaian General Arnold Quianoo.

Abacha retained the combined positions of Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence

Minister until August 26, 1993. After the events of April 1990, Babangida was often

quoted as referring to him as “Khalifa”, meaning “successor”. Meanwhile, it should be 13

noted that although Vice-Admiral Aikhomu was transitioned from the office of Chief of

General Staff and made the Vice-President in 1990 to President Babangida, that slot was

actually initially proposed to Chief Ernest Shonekan, a civilian United African Company

(UAC) Executive.


Others have written extensively about the political countdown and endless transition of

the Babangida regime. As is well known, the date of the final handing over of power was

shifted from 1990 to 1992 and then 1993. I shall present a brief overview and highlight

those aspects that show the hand of General Abacha as a behind the scenes manipulator.

Based in part on the report of the Political Bureau, which was originally set up in 1986, a

two-party system (one “a little to the right” and the other “a little to the left.”) was created

in October 1989. They were the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social

Democratic Party (SDP). Both parties were run and financed by the Government, which

also arrogated to itself the right to write their party constitutions. The constitutional

context was the 1989 Constitution (Decree #12 of 1989), based on work done by a

Constitution Review Committee, ratified by the Constituent Assembly and amended by

the Armed Forces Ruling Council. Among the eleven amendments imposed by the

AFRC, three were defence and security related. One removed the National Assembly’s

control over national security because, (according to the AFRC), it “exposes the chief

executives and the nation to clear impotence in the face of threats to security”. The

second deleted certain provisions establishing an Armed Forces Service Commission to

supervise implementation of the federal-character principle. The third amendment

removed Section 1 (4) of the draft constitution, which had outlawed coups and

classified them as criminal.

Initially, based on Decree #25 of 1987 amended by Decree # 9 of 1989, there was a ban

on all former politicians and top officeholders since 1960, particularly those previously

found guilty of abuse of office. However, both decrees were repealed in December 14

1991, initially under pressure from ‘northern elders’ but ultimately to ‘create a level

playing field for all ethnic groups’. Similarly, based on Decree #19 of 1987 and amended

by Decree #26 of 1989, the plan was for presidential elections in November 1992.

However, as a result of alleged malpractices during party primaries in Sept 1992,

primaries were canceled altogether in October 1992, major contenders frozen out, and the

timetable shifted to 1993. Local, State and National committees of both parties were

dissolved and replaced by caretaker committees. The Babangida government later

announced that they would be audited.

The driving principle behind all of this was Babangida’s fear of powerful, financially

independent politicians and his secret desire to plant handpicked, “controllable”

newbreed politicians in state government houses and legislative positions all over the

country as a civilian base for a diarchy which he would head at the center. Those who

lost out in the cancellation of the 1992 Presidential primaries and were banned included

late Major General Yar’Adua (rtd) who won the SDP nomination hands down, and Chief

Olu Falae; Alhaji Adamu Ciroma and Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi were about to go in for a

run-off for the NRC nomination. They too were banned.

A few weeks later, on November 17, 1992, General Babangida dissolved the AFRC and,

after a pregnant pause, created the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) on

January 2, 1993. A civilian Transitional Council was also set up to replace the Council of

Ministers and win back waning public confidence in the “transition program” following

the failed Presidential Primaries. Its Chairman was Chief Ernest Shonekan, also known

as “Head of Government”. Empowered by Decree #54 of 1992 (Constitution

(Suspension and Modification) [Amendment], the Transitional Council shared joint

responsibility with the National Defence and Security Council to ensure a smooth and

successful handover to civilians. It was after all of this that Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa

and Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola later emerged as the Presidential

contenders from the NRC and SDP respectively. Strangely, though, neither man

internalized the bitter experience of men before them like Shehu Yar’Adua, Olu Falae, 15

Umaru Shinkafi, Adamu Ciroma and Bamanga Tukur, all of whom had been led on by

Babangida but ultimately betrayed at the end.

All of this was being monitored by the security services – as well as General Sani

Abacha, who later told confidants that Babangida had been toying with the idea of ruling

Nigeria for 30 years. When Chief Abiola first showed interest in running for the

Presidency, certain “IBB Boys” (including Abacha) expressed concern and approached

Babangida to find some way to ban Abiola from taking part. However, based on a

security report which falsely projected Alhaji Babagana Kingibe as the likely winner of

the SDP Presidential primary convention in Jos, Babangida assured his concerned

“military boys” that Abiola would not prevail and thus there was no need for fear. On the

other hand he simultaneously assured Abiola that he could run for office if he so wished

and would have no problems if he won fair and square. He did not, as far as is publicly

known, tell Abiola at that early stage that there were restive northern officers opposed to

his political ambitions, nor did he tell his “caucus” officers that he had given his word to

Abiola that he could run for office. Interestingly, Abiola himself was independently

familiar with most members of the Babangida military caucus, either as business

associates or as a financial sponsor of previous coups (in 1983 and 1985) in which they

had played key roles.

As things turned out, to the consternation of military officers – like Abacha – who were

opposed to Chief Abiola, Abiola narrowly won the SDP nomination at the Jos

convention, overcoming determined opposition from a motley group of SDP Governors

and disgruntled former aspirants. However, security sources reported allegations of

massive vote buying. Concerned officers approached Babangida to use the report as an

excuse to ban Abiola and stop the process at that stage before it evolved to formal

national elections. Meanwhile, as the June elections came nearer, against a backdrop of

anti-military agitation by students and workers groups, General Olusegun Obasanjo and

Chief Anthony Enahoro publicly expressed doubts over the sincerity of military’s

intention to leave power. Caught between an undercurrent of public suspicions that he

had a “hidden agenda” and behind the scene pressure from some powerful elements of his 16

military caucus to scuttle the transition again, Babangida initially resisted the military

pressure. Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe emerged after difficult negotiations as Abiola’s

running mate while Dr. Sylvester Ugoh was chosen as Tofa’s Vice Presidential candidate.

It must be mentioned, however, that the voice of the military was by no means uniform.

There were officers, like Lt. Gen Salihu Ibrahim, General Ishola Williams, Brigadier MC

Alli, Colonel Abubakar Umar and a few others who genuinely wanted a disengagement

of the military from politics. Some people claim Lt. General Oladipo Diya was also not

in favor of the military perpetuating itself at this stage. Other officers preferred one

candidate versus the other, while a small clique did not want to leave power for either

candidate. This clique included Lt. Gen. Dogonyaro, Brigadier David Mark, Brigadier

Stephen Anthony Ukpo, Brigadier John Shagaya, Brigadier Halilu Akilu and a few

others, all of whom were “IBB boys”. What is really fascinating is how General Abacha

concealed his real motives and intentions from most military officers. At the few senior

officer conferences he attended, Abacha would typically remain quiet. He preferred to

express his strong views to Babangida directly and privately, while quietly mobilizing

opinion behind the scenes and maintaining discrete contact with civilian leaders of

thought who were opposed to the elections in general and to Chief Abiola specifically.

Meanwhile, to those unfamiliar with their inner tensions, he positioned himself as the

guarantor of the Babangida regime. Further on in this essay, the strategic brilliance of

Abacha’s concealment will be apparent. Major General MC Alli, for example, says that

Abacha “had the patience of a hook-line fisherman or a bush hunter, and the memory of

an elephant and a native cunning to match.”

In addition to this cacophony of discordant but troubling military voices there were

powerful civilian pressures, notably from then Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki as well

as other Emirs who allegedly did not like or trust either Tofa or Abiola. In the

background, personalities who had been banned or schemed out from contesting as a

result of government fiat were also opposed to the elections. These included late Major

General Shehu Yar’Adua and Alhaji Abubakar Rimi. Funny enough Alhaji Bashir Tofa

who was a candidate, supported by some elements within the NRC, also joined the 17

bandwagon to boycott and/or cancel the elections. Then there were mischievous

campaigners, like the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) which wanted the military to

hold on to power. All these internal groups and persons working hard to scuttle the

elections altogether were opposed by foreign countries like Britain and the US which

wanted the military to leave power.

Nevertheless, on June 10, 1993, ignoring ouster clauses in Decree #13 of 1993 and

Decree #19 of 1987, Justice Bassey Ikpeme of the Abuja High Court granted a motion

brought by the ABN to restrain the Electoral Commission (NEC) from conducting the

election. However, citing lack of jurisdictional authority, General Babangida initially

chose to ignore the court, which is why the NEC went ahead to conduct the election on

June 12, which was later said to be ‘free and fair’.


On June 16, Professor Humphrey Nwosu announced – after results for 14 of the 30 states

were already known – that the NEC would suspend announcing election results. The

results increasingly pointed toward an apparent win by Chief Moshood Abiola, pending

appeals to higher courts against lower court injunctions. The entire result was later

released by a pressure group called the Campaign for Democracy (CD) suggesting that

Abiola won the majority of votes in 19 states while Tofa won 11 states. However,

pressure from key Army factions continued behind the scene.

General Babangida left Abuja and retreated to Minna for urgent consultations with

elements of his original 1985 military coup ‘caucus’. The majority of these elements

(including Abacha), had become thoroughly fed up with his previous assurances that

Abiola was not going to make it past the Jos convention. They were now faced with the

reality of an impending Abiola Presidency.

Practically holding him hostage, they reportedly gave him the option to choose between

annulling the elections or leaving office voluntarily short of which, it is alleged, he and

Abiola might be killed. While all of this was going on, strange items of correspondence

were circulating alleging that if Moshood Abiola were to be allowed to take office, he

would purge the military, move the capital back to Lagos, and take other actions deemed

threatening to vested interests. Arguments were reportedly made in certain circles that

Babangida was, by act of benign neglect, about to destroy the legacy of the Sardauna of

Sokoto and yield political and ultimately military power to an ethnic region that already

dominated the country economically. This was amplified by interesting explanations that

Abiola could not be ‘controlled’, that he was owed large sums of money by the federal

government which he would now “unethically” control, that he had many wives and

concubines etc. Thrown into the mix were arguments about the controversial Jos

convention of the PDP at which he allegedly bought votes, and the basic unfairness of

preventing those who won the party primaries in September 1992, from contesting. One

school of thought felt that in fairness, since Abiola had gone through the electoral process

and spent large sums of money, he ought to be paid off for his expenses and then advised

as a friend to avoid politics and stick to business.

According to Professor Omo Omoruyi, (The Tale of June 12, Press Alliance Network

London 1999, page 165) General Babangida said:

“Sani (meaning General Sani Abacha) is opposed to a return to civilian

rule. Sani cannot stand the idea of Chief Abiola, a Yoruba, becoming his

Commander-in-Chief at all; Sani seems to have the ears of the Northern

Leaders that no southerner especially from the Southwest should become

the President of this country. Sani seems to rally the Northern Elders to

confront me on the matter. Where do I go from here? They do not trust

me. Without Sani, I will not be alive today; without the North, I would not

have become an officer in the Nigerian Army and now the President of


“I don’t want to appear ungrateful to Sani; he may not be bright upstairs

but he knows how to overthrow governments and overpower coup 19

plotters. He saw to my coming to office in 1985 and to my protection in

the many coups I faced in the past, especially the Orkar coup of 1990

where he saved me and my family including my infant daughter.”

“Sani, you know, risked his life to get me into office in 1983 and 1985; if

he says that he does not want Chief Abiola, I will not force Chief Abiola

on him….”

On June 21st, Justice Dahiru Saleh of the Abuja High Court voided the election even

though the appeal by the NEC was pending at the Court of Appeal. Formal

announcement to the nation of the cancellation followed on June 23rd, after a nocturnal

military meeting the day before of “IBB Boys” at the Presidential Villa. During the

meeting most military officers rejected a negotiated compromise to resolve the impasse,

preferring all out annulment.

Shortly thereafter, a state of Military Alert was announced, and the Chief Army Staff, Lt.

General Salihu Ibrahim went around military formations in the country to explain the

annulment. According to Major General MC Alli (rtd), who was at that time Director of

Military Intelligence (DMI), most soldiers were unhappy about the annulment for three

reasons. Firstly, they were fed up with the domination of a small clique of officers who

had been in power since 1983. Secondly, “in spite of General Babangida’s ‘settlement’ or

material bribes, soldiers wanted to return to their professional roles”. Thirdly, many were

upset about their deployment to Liberia to be killed like animals without national

consensus or proper logistic support. But they had little choice, as a result of command

influence, but to go along with it, at least on the surface. Meanwhile, according to the

former DMI, security operatives were “busy constructing overt and covert threats to the

life of Chief MKO Abiola”.

Protests and riots erupted, especially in Lagos and other parts of Chief Abiola’s home

region of the country. In response, General Sani Abacha gave marching orders to the

Governor of Lagos State, Sir Michael Otedola, to restore order or risk exposing his 20

citizens to the fury of the Nigerian Army. Less than twenty-four hours later troops

poured into the streets of Lagos and shot hundreds of unarmed demonstrators

indiscriminately – on Abacha’s orders. Meanwhile the military became very unpopular

and officers even feared wearing their uniforms publicly.

Following the annulment, General Obasanjo (rtd) suggested that Babangida set up an

interim Presidential Council comprising former Heads of State (excluding Babangida) to

negotiate the transition to a future permanent form of government. This plan would

retain democratic structures at State and local levels, as well as the National Assembly at

national level, but the National Executive would be an interim government responsible to

the Presidential Council. Babangida did not like the idea of a Presidential Council

without him but liked the notion of an Interim National Government as an exit strategy.

A committee under Lt. Gen. Dogonyaro, meanwhile, urged new elections under new

rules as Babangida had indicated in a speech to the nation on June 26. This proposed

new Presidential election was allegedly to be conducted before August 27, 1993, even

though the government statement dissolved the NEC which would have been charged to

conduct such an election. Babangida viewed this as a trap aimed at him and quietly

maneuvered to slip out of it.

Initially, the SDP predictably rejected any plans for a new election and Abiola meanwhile

refused to give up his “mandate”. However, after the usual Nigerian cajoling and

bribing, political leaders of the SDP independently distanced themselves from Moshood

Abiola as well as Governors and Legislators originally elected on SDP ticket. The SDP,

under Chief Tony Anenih and Alhaji Sule Lamido, then agreed on July 7, 1993 to an

unelected interim National Government in which they would collaborate with the NRC

under Hammed Kusamotu and Tom Ikimi as well as President Babangida, to the

exclusion of Abiola, the apparent winner of the June 12 elections. Anenih’s actions

caused a rift in the SDP that was later said to be resolved on October 11, well into the life

of the ING. 21

This development, which was the result of Babangida’s personal initiative, left

Babangida with the challenge of determining how he would tiptoe around his military

sharks to guarantee his personal safety and exit from power as well provide military

backing to the legitimacy of the ING. The only way he could have done this successfully

was to assume full operational and policy control of the reigns of the defence and security

establishments which meant he had to find a way to continue as Commander-in-Chief

and Minister of Defence after August 27, 1993. Unfortunately, he had dribbled his own

military backers once too many and was unable to get support for such a “Pinochet type”

arrangement from them. He did not trust them; they did not trust him; and neither did

they trust themselves. It increasingly became clear that Babangida’s personal political

agenda and that of the Nigerian military officers who brought him to power in 1985 were


To freeze Abiola out, the government released spates of decrees. These included, but

were not limited to Decree #39 of 1993, also known as Presidential Elections repeal

Decree; Decree #40, also known as Transition to Civil Rule (Amendment); Decree #41,

also known as Presidential Election (Invalidation of Court Order) Decree. Media

organizations like The Punch, Concord Press, Sketch, Abuja Newsday, Ogun State

Broadcasting Corporation and The Observer were proscribed.

Then a Tripartite Committee comprising Military, Government, and political Party

representatives was set up on July 31, 1993, to decide how to manage what was left of the

transition. The military was represented by Lt. Gen. Dogonyaro and Lt. Gen. Aliyu

Gusau Mohammed, along with Brigadiers Mark, Shagaya and Ukpo. This configuration

pointedly excluded most members of Abacha’s “Lagos group” and provides some insight

into Babangida’s thinking and Abacha’s cunning. Dogonyaro and David Mark groups

were neck deep in ING organizational intrigues, which Babangida half-heartedly hoped

to manipulate in order to guarantee a military role for himself after August 27.

Meanwhile Abacha was quietly consolidating and networking within the military,

probing for weaknesses and lining up his ducks in a row. But Abacha was crafty enough

to allow some overlap. Brigadier David Mark, for example, was initially simultaneously 22

in Abacha’s “Lagos Group” as well as being in the “IBB Group.” In this manner a

casual observer would superficially view the network of groups as one continuum of

“IBB-Abacha Boys” while Abacha quietly worked underground to crystallize his own

clique. Abacha firmly believed in the concept of keeping one’s enemies even closer to

one than one’s friends, until he was ready to strike.

The government was represented by Admiral Aikhomu (Vice President), Chief Ernest

Shonekan of the TC (as “Head of Government”), Mr. Akpamgbo of the Justice Ministry

and Alhaji Abdulraman Okene of the Ministry of Internal affairs, among others. The

NRC was represented by Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, Mr. John Nwodo,

Chief Tom Ikimi, and Mr. Eyo Eyo Ita. The SDP was represented by Mr. Patrick Dele

Cole, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Alhaji Olusola Saraki, Chief Dapo Sorumi, Mr. Joseph Toba,

Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, and Major General Shehu Yar ‘Adua among others.

In this confused situation, General MC Alli, then DMI says he raised the possibility of

overthrowing General Babangida with Army Chief Lt. Gen Salihu Ibrahim, who was

reluctant to support such a move for a variety of professional, political and practical

reasons, including his deep distrust of General Abacha. Next, Brigadier MC Alli

approached the Defence Minister General Sani Abacha with the same idea. Abacha’s

main concern was whether the Army Chief, Salihu Ibrahim, would back such a move.

Alli lied to Abacha by saying he had not yet approached Salihu Ibrahim. Caught

between two key officers who did not trust one another, Alli initially backed off. But as

the situation further deteriorated and Army prestige was at an all time low, Alli again

approached Abacha, this time at home, in the presence of Lt. Gen. JT Useni. Again

Abacha chose to be obdurate, taciturn and reflective. But Alli saw through him and

concluded – rightly – that Abacha had some kind of personal design that he was not yet

ready to spring, preferring for General Babangida to leave the scene first, peacefully. In

my view Abacha was probably gauging MC Alli’s intentions and deciding whether or not

to trust him because – as we shall see later – he had already secretly tapped some officers

to begin the delicate process of recruiting allies for his final drive to power.

Simultaneously other dynamics may have been at play between Generals Babangida and 23

Abacha. One unconfirmed account says that although they had a “pact”, their wives did

not get along, and that Mrs, Babangida did not relish the thought of him handing over to

General Abacha. Meanwhile other pro-IBB and anti-IBB military interest groups were

scheming, including some core “IBB Boys” who basically wanted to implement a self

succession plan, after which professional officers in the military would be purged through

a process of being set up and eliminated. There was also a last ditch effort to get the

National Assembly to “draft” Babangida in some sort of role to plug the apparent vacuum

following annulment but this effort failed after, it is rumored, money had already changed


On August 2, 1993, the Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Salihu Ibrahim told senior officers of the

Army in Lagos that difficulties in arranging a new Presidential election before August 27,

1993 had persuaded the government, with the backing of the two parties and foreign

countries, to form an Interim National Government (ING). The ING would organize

elections and carry out government responsibilities. Officers discussed options for full

civilian government composed of the two parties, a mixed civilian-military interim

regime or a full temporary military regime. Those present recommended that Babangida

stay no longer than August 27, 1993, and that officers from all three services should work

out the details for transition. Such officers should not have held political positions in the

government. They also recommended that the National Assembly be on recess while the

ING was active and that the two political parties be self financing. The interesting thing

about this process of military consultation on the Transitional Program was that it was

parallel to the Tripartite Committee mentioned earlier.

On August 3, faced with real and imagined threats to his life and with no hope of getting

Babangida to rescind his decision on the June 12 matter, Chief Moshood Abiola left

Nigeria for Europe.

On August 17, General Babangida informed the National Assembly that he was stepping

aside. His Service Chiefs did not accompany him to the National Assembly, which was a

breach of protocol and an indicator that he was fast losing control of the military. On 24

that same day, which happened to be his birthday, senior officers from all three services

met in Lagos and reaffirmed that Babangida could not continue in office. They did not,

however, appoint a successor to replace him, nor did they make room for him to play the

role of a Commander-in-Chief during an interim government. This “oversight”, which

Babangida was not pleased about, was very convenient for Abacha’s game plan. On the

strength of recommendations of the Tripartite Committee, the government then

established the Nwabueze Panel. It was tasked to draft a constitution for the proposed

ING. The panel included Professor Ben Nwabueze, Mr. C. Akpamgbo (Attorney

General), Justice P. Nwokedi, Professor Uvieghara, and Dr. Azinge. In those dangerous

days, officers who used to be freely admitted into Babangida’s courtyard with their

security details were now required to be disarmed and to leave their details as far away as

possible. There was at least one such incident involving General Abacha himself.

On August 25th, with options for a safe exit closing fast, General Babangida settled on

Chief Ernest Shonekan as his candidate for the Chairmanship of the proposed ING.

Shonekan, incidentally, was not only Yoruba like Abiola but also from Abeokuta in Ogun

State, like Abiola. Lt. General Aliyu Gusau Mohammed, then the National Security

Adviser, reportedly influenced his appointment and the British government supported it.

The Nigerian military as an institution had nothing to do with his appointment.

Professor Omoruyi opines that Shonekan agreed, as a condition of his appointment, not to

reopen the June 12 matter. He also allegedly made a commitment to assist in preventing

Yorubas from forming a united front on the issue. Another curious ‘agreement’ was that

Shonekan would not move into the official Presidential Villa in Abuja but would instead

stay at the Presidential Guest House. The main Villa was to be left vacant.

Another interesting decision General Babangida made in his confused state of mind was

to leave General Abacha behind as the Secretary of Defence and Vice Chairman of the

ING, reportedly as “an insurance against coups” and to ensure unity of the military in

backing the ING. In other words, genuinely concerned about the safety of the Hen

House, Babangida asked the Fox to guard it. To counter-balance Abacha, however, 25

Babangida planned to appoint Lt. Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro as the Chief of Defence Staff.

Abacha would guide “policy” while Dogonyaro would take charge of “operations”. This

curious arrangement was actually a default for which Babangida had no serious options,

except perhaps Brigadier David Mark. Once he lost the backing of the Armed Forces to

continue in either a military or political role after August 27, he had to rely on an unstable

alliance of those he had relied on all along to keep power.

On August 26th, 1993, a retirement parade was held at the Eagle Square in Abuja for

General Babangida. Following the parade, Babangida – miffed at their lack of backing

for his continuation in office as the C-in-C – announced the retirements, along with his,

with effect from August 27, of all his Service Chiefs and announced the appointment of

Lt. Gen. Dogonyaro as Chief of Defence Staff. The service chiefs retired were Lt. Gen.

Salihu Ibrahim (COAS), Air Vice Marshall Dada (CAS), Vice Admiral Preston Omatsola

(CNS), Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako (Deputy Chief of Defence Staff) and Alhaji Aliyu

Attah (IGP). Following this announcement by Babangida, the DMI (Brig. MC Alli) met

with the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence Minister, General Abacha in his

bedroom and advised that the retirements made by Babangida be rescinded to help

stabilize the tense situation between the Armed Forces and Babangida on one hand and

the Nigerian public on the other. Abacha listened patiently, counseled patience, and

advised that “there was need to consolidate military authority before further action.”

What Abacha did next was a classic move. He met with the “retired Service Chiefs”,

empathized with the way they were treated and offered to extend the effective dates of

their retirements until September 17th. Then, the next day, with their support, he

backdated the date of Babangida’s retirement from the Army to August 26th, a step which

rendered Babangida’s pronouncements from the 27th invalid. Then he later rescinded

Dogonyaro’s appointment as Chief of Defence Staff, arguing that three northerners,

(Abacha as Defence Secretary, Dogonyaro as CDS and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau as

COAS) should not ‘unfairly’ monopolize top jobs in Defence. He offered Lt General

Oladipo Diya, Commandant of the National War College and a Yoruba from Abiola’s

home Ogun State, the position of Chief of Defence Staff. This was a cynical move by

Abacha, who, as one of his former close confidants told me, had little regard for Diya

personally, and most Yoruba officers in general. But Abacha needed to isolate

Dogonyaro, and had larger designs on the political class, particularly Yoruba leaders of

thought who he was going to use Diya to pacify. Therefore, the “Yoruba” strategy was

useful – for now.


The progress from Babangida to Shonekan was systematized by various announcements. Announcement 

No. 59 of 1993 finished the Babangida organization while Decree No. 61 made the 


Along these lines, at about 3.30p.m, on August 26, 1993, Ernest Shonekan was confirmed as the new 

"Head of State and President of the ING" by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice 

Mohammed Bello, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He was not, in any case, confirmed as the 

"President" of the Armed Forces! This "oversight" was likewise conscious. 

Another fascinating subtlety was that Decree #61 of 1993 that set up the ING distinguished 

General Abacha by name as the Vice-President, Defense Secretary and "Senior 

Priest." The "Senior Minister" was enabled to succeed the President of the ING in 

the occasion of abdication or other untoward occasion. Subsequently Abacha was Shonekan's 

assigned successor and Shonekan had no operational control of the Armed Forces. 

Different individuals from the ING were: 

Horticulture and Natural Resources: Professor Jerry Gana 

Business and Tourism: Chief Mrs.Bola Kuforiji-Olubi 

Interchanges: Chief Dapo Sarumi 

Training and Youth Development: Professor Abraham Imogie 

Fund: Alhaji Aminu Saleh 

FCT Administrator: Maj.Gen.Gado Nasko 

Outside Affairs: Chief Matthew Mbu 

Secretary of State (Foreign): Alhaji Saidu Isa 

Wellbeing and Human Services: Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi 

Inside Affairs: Chief Ezekiel Yesufu 

Enterprises: Chief Ignatius Kogbara 

Data and Culture: Mr.Uche Chukwumerije 

Equity: Mr. Forgiving Akpamgbo SAN 

Oil and Mineral Resources: Chief Don Etiebet 

Secretary of State (Petroleum): Alhaji Ibrahim Ali 

Work and Productivity: Prince Bola Afonja 

Power and Steel: Alhaji Hassan Adamu 

Secretary of State (Power and Steel): Alhaji Oladunni Ayandipo 

Police Affairs: Alhaji Abdullahi Mahmud Koki 

Science and Technology: Professor Bartholomew Nnaji 

Transport and Aviation: Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu 

Water and Rural Development: Alhaji Isa Mohammed 

Works and Housing: Mr.Barnabas Gemade 

Administrator, National Planning Commission: Mr.Isaac Aluko-Olokun (in 

lieu of Professor Sam Aluko) 

Foundation and Management Services: Mr. Blameless Nwoga 

States and Local Government Affairs: Alhaji Sule Unguwar Alkali 

Secretary to ING: Alhaji Mustapha Umara 

National Assembly Liaison Officer: Alhaji Abba Dabo (House of 


National Assembly Liaison Officer: Dr. Samuel Ogboghodo (House of 


National Assembly Liaison Officer: Senator George Hoomkwap 


Various military time orders were then annulled. Be that as it may, after two days the 

National Labor Congress (NLC) started an across the country strike to challenge fuel shortage. 

Shonekan tended to Nigerians on August 31st. He had started the way toward discharging 

a large portion of those confined for their contribution in master June 12 riots like Chief Gani 

Fawehinmi, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti and Mr. Femi Falana. He re-opened a few 

Colleges that had been closed down and campaigned the National Union of Petroleum and 

Petroleum gas Workers (NUPENG) and the NLC to suspend modern activities. To the 

military, Shonekan guaranteed to begin staged withdrawals from Liberia. 

Indeed, even as Shonekan was making these grand professions, Abacha was well on his way. 

It was on September third that he freely declared what had just unfolded behind 

the scenes. Lt-General Oladipo Diya was his swap for Lt. Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro 

as CDS, Air Commodore John Femi was to supplant Air Commodore Nsikak Eduak as 

Head of Air Staff while holding Lt-General Aliyu Mohammed as Chief of Army Staff, 

what's more, Rear Admiral Suleiman Seidu, as Chief of Naval Staff. At the same time he requested 

the Military Task Force on Petroleum to reestablish typical supply of fuel to advertisers inside 

24 hours. After two days, the killing of seven Nigerian officers serving the UN Peacekeeping 

Power in Mogadishu, Somalia, was declared. It brought about a reality discovering visit 

driven by Brigadier-General Cyril Iweze. On September thirteenth, Defense Headquarters issued a 

inquisitive illumination over the ongoing Army postings, saying it had no political hint. 

Representative Colonel Fred Chijuka said a comparative exercise was in progress in the Navy and 

the Air Force. After seven days, Chijuka was again putting forth another expression, this opportunity to 

declare the arrangement of new Divisional Commanders and the retirement of Lt-Gen. 

Joshua Nimyel Dogonyaro. With his position made indefensible by Abacha, Dogonyaro 

"intentionally" resigned from the Army, alarming the nation in the process that Abacha was 

in the opening eliminate of an all strike on majority rules system. As an upset dealer himself he 

ought not have had any trouble perusing the signs. 

On the political front, in the mean time, the computation that Shonekan's arrangement as Head of 

the ING would part the Yoruba individuals and make it less demanding to dispatch the June 12 decision 

to the waste pile of history fizzled. Political dangers against Shonekan started when 

he took office and his home even must be shielded from pyro criminals. The Governors of 

Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ondo States, for instance, cannot, in any event openly, to perceive 

Shonekan as the Head of State. They and other Yoruba assessment pioneers additionally asked 

Yoruba talking components in the ING to leave their arrangements. The lawfulness of the 

ING was likewise tested in court. Ace majority rule government mobilizes continued. To soak this fire, 

Shonekan, who had prior concurred as a state of his arrangement not to raise the June 

12 issue, and even expressed on September 28th that the ING won't do as such, was prompted by 

some to build up the Mamman Nasir board to research June 12. He declared this on 

October first, even as security men were capturing influxes of star majority rules system supporters. 

After two days, in a tempest of contention in the Press, individuals from the SDP in the ING 

compromised to haul out, asserting that they had just acknowledged to serve at first since they 

thought they were supporting a Palace upset to expel the previous President Ibrahim 

Babangida. In the mean time the National Assembly was bolted into an inner fight over 

endeavors to rescind the announcement that invalidated the June 12 decision in any case. Both 

Shonekan and Abiola were visiting the nation to raise support for their separate 

plans. Abiola recorded a court movement to pronounce the ING unlawful. 

Shonekan was additionally later denounced (without proof) of endeavoring to influence contradicting individuals 

of the National Assembly trying to pick up authenticity and grow his national 

bolster base. 

To the extent the Army was concerned, Shonekan depended on his own companionship with Lt. 

Gen Aliyu Gusau, previous National Security Adviser and new Chief of Army Staff. One 

unsubstantiated record proposes that both Gusau and Rear Admiral Suleiman Seidu of the 

Naval force may have talked about the likelihood of resigning Abacha with Shonekan. Assuming genuine, it 

would have been intriguing without a doubt to perceive how this would have unfolded by and by. All 

the Service Chiefs had plainly treated Shonekan with abhor. For instance, amid the 

Going out Parade at the Nigerian Defense Academy that year, Shonekan was definitely not 

joined by any of the Service Chiefs. Such an asserted yet probably 

unsuccessful exertion with respect to Gusau and Seidu against Abacha, in this manner, assuming genuine, 

would have had the impact of stamping the two men for consequent retirement when Abacha 

begun his last push into Aso Rock. 

Well before this time military officers had started settling down into different gatherings and 

coteries for and against Babangida, for and against Abiola, and for and against 

themselves. What later ended up known as the Sani Abacha Lagos gathering or council, 

involved different mixes among officers like Brigadier Ahmed Aboki Abdullahi, 

Brigadier Bashir Magashi, Brigadier M Chris Alli, Brigadier Ishaya Bamaiyi, Brigadier 

Patrick Aziza, Brigadier Tajudeen Olarenwaju, Brigadier Ibrahim Gumel, Brigadier 

David Mark, Air Commodore MA Johnson, Rear Admiral FBI Porbeni, Colonel Lawan 

Gwadabe and Lt. Col. Sambo Dasuki, among others. This gathering frequently met in the visitor 

place of Brigadier Bashir Magashi at Ikoyi. It is appropriate to specify that Brigadier MC 

Alli – the previous DMI who later moved toward becoming GOC, first Division and afterward COAS – was 

"welcomed" into the gathering by Brigadier Ahmed Aboki Abdullahi, not by General Abacha. 

By and by it appears to be evident that Abacha more likely than not designed it, energetic about 

Brigadier MC Alli's classified visits to his office and home from the beginning. 

Between August 27th and September seventeenth Abacha settled on increasingly basic choices as the 

compelling political and operational Chief of all the Armed Services. He freely 

reported new Army postings in Lagos without plan of action to Shonekan who was 

tucked away at Abuja. Clearly the intermediary Service Chiefs who owed him the goodness 

of being appropriately resigned with satisfactory three-week see and customary haul out 

services did not scrutinize his moves. By September twentieth, along these lines, when the new 

"Administration Chiefs" at long last took office, new officers decreed faithful to General Abacha, 

were possessing all the deliberately delicate directions in the Army. Hazardous 'IBB 

Young men's were defanged, first by being presented out on politically safe areas and after that 

along these lines kicked out of the Army completely – in stages. Without a doubt almost every one of the officers 

(also, noticeable northern Traditional rulers) who encouraged Abacha to control in the long run felt 

his jackboots. 

As to September postings, at the Lagos Garrison Command, for instance, 

Brigadier Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi took order. At the Brigade of Guards, Brig Gen. 

Bashir S Magashi supplanted Colonel JY Madaki, who was then presented on the Depot in 

Zaria. At the first Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. MC Alli, recent DMI, supplanted Brig. 

Gen. John N Shagaya, as GOC. Shagaya was then presented on ECOMOG in Liberia as 

acting Major General. At the second Division HQ in Ibadan, Brig-Gen. Godwin Osagie 

Abbe supplanted Brig-Gen. John Inienger as the GOC. At the third Armored Division, Brig 

Gen. Tajudeen An Olanrewaju supplanted Brig Gen. Ahmed M Daku. At the 82 Division, 

Brig (later Maj Gen.) Timothy M Shelpidi supplanted Brigadier (later Maj Gen.) Chris 

Abutu Garuba. Brig Gen. Ahmed Aboki Abdullahi supplanted Brig-Gen M Chris Alli as 

DMI. Colonel Lawan Gwadabe had assumed control from Col. Abdulmumuni Aminu as 

Authority, National Guard – a questionable para-military outfit saw as a duplication 

of the standard military. Lt. Col. Sambo Dasuki was in the Military Secretary's office. 

Most amusingly, Brigadier Halilu Akilu, recent amazing Director-General of the 

National Intelligence Agency, was presented on the Oshodi Resettlement Scheme to 

restore handicapped and resigning fighters. 

The Lagos amass had started getting ready effectively for the oust of the Shonekan 

government directly from the minute he was confirmed. Assignments were acknowledged and 

cast a ballot checked at gatherings of the whole council or an inward assembly inside the external council. 

As such, General Sani Abacha was "chose" by this self named military 

Discretionary College to assume control as Head of State, C-in-C and Minister for Defense. Lt. 

Gen. Diya was 'casted a ballot' to be his Chief of General Staff, beating Lt. General Aliyu Gusau. 

Significant General Abdulsalami Abubakar beat Major Generals Edward Unimna and Cyril 

Iweze for the situation of Chief of Defense Staff. At that point Brigadier (later Major General 

MC Alli) was informed that "the situation had been set" for the situation of COAS to fall on 

him. This inferred Lt. Gen Aliyu Gusau Mohammed who had been named to that 

position by out going President Babangida, was to be tentatively solidified out of any best 

military position in the arranged Abacha regulation. Essentially, Rear Admiral Suleiman 

Seidu was later pushed out as Chief of Naval Staff for Rear Admiral Allison 

Madueke in a high stakes round of ethnic adjusting advocated by Brigadiers MC Alli 

what's more, Aboki Abdullahi. 

In his book "The Federal Republic of Nigerian Army", Major General MC Alli (rtd) 

clarifies how he managed his own questions about Abacha's quality as the assigned 

approaching Head of State. When he raised the issue with General Diya, Diya guaranteed him 

that Abacha would "change his propensities." Diya additionally supposedly said that Abacha "would 

not surrender to his serious greedy sense that absolutely was no respecter of frameworks 

what's more, request." Alli likewise says that then Director of Military Intelligence, Brigadier Aboki 

Abdullahi, then again, "clarified that "the 'North knows' Sani Abacha, all the more along these lines, 

he was the 'most senior northern officer.' indeed, he accentuated that Northern Emirs 

affirmed of his command to control." 

Lt. Gen. Diya later brought the Abacha Military Caucus to his office in Lagos. It was 

entrusted to create an extremely definite Top Secret report with respect to the condition of the Nation, 

issues of National Security, the condition of the military and the political stalemate occasioned 

by the revocation of the June 12 races. The Chairman was Brig-Gen MC Alli and the 

Secretary, Colonel Lawan Gwadabe. Different individuals were Brigadiers Aboki A 

Abdullahi, Ishaya Bamaiyi, Bashir Magashi, and Patrick Aziza, Commodore F. Porbeni 

what's more, Air Commodore MA Johnson. They in this manner met in the workplace of Lagos 

Army Commander, Brigadier Ishaya Bamaiyi, separated into subcommittees and came 

out with what was titled "The Report: The Way Forward". Significant Gen. MC Alli (rtd) 

uncovers that he inspected the feeling of officers like Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau, at that point COAS, 

what's more, Major General Abdulsalami Abubakar, at that point Commandant of the War College. 

General Gusau communicated the supposition that a full military routine at that stage would be 

rash and might crush the military. General Abubakar scrutinized the race into 

evacuating Chief Shonekan who had just barely been introduced. It isn't, in any case, clear what 

either officer did with the data Brigadier Alli imparted to them. 

In the interim on September 13, Chief Gani Fawehinmi disclosed to The African Guardian: 

"In any case, God has appointed his routine as the 

most limited in history of Nigeria. Also, it will be all of a sudden ended by God, 

since June 12 has an implication and indication which Nigerians 

have not comprehended. Until they know the degree of June 12, they will be 

avoiding the real issue… " 

On September 24th, a couple of days after Abacha had completely solidified military control, 

Boss Moshood Abiola came back to Nigeria from Britain. A huge horde of supporters 

gotten him at the presidential wing. 

From the air terminal, his first stop, even before he returned home, was Defense House in Lagos 

where he met covertly with General Abacha away from plain view. Educated 

insiders state that both Abacha and Diya urged Abiola to return home – against 

Shonekan's desires. Since both Abacha and Abiola are dead it is difficult to affirm the 

report that Abiola and Abacha consented to a military assume control of the legislature as an 

between time measure before conclusive hand-over to him not far off. However, a few observers 

affirm that Abiola effectively proposed names to General Abacha for consideration in his first 

bureau. It appears to be clear, in any case, that Abacha was showing the Abiola along a good time and 

that Abiola succumbed to it. Maj. Gen. MC Alli affirms that when he later asked General 

Abacha whether he had an agreement with Abiola in regards to the June 12 race, Abacha's 

response was: "MC, you should know better." 


Aviation routes HIJACK 

Toward the beginning of October 1993, the Army ended up occupied with inner security obligations in the 

debate among Ogoni and Andoni in Rivers State. Such activities later turned out to be exceptionally 

questionable and in the end prompted the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and others by 

General Abacha. Be that as it may, amid the most recent seven day stretch of September and first seven day stretch of October, 

Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Commander of the Armored Corps Center and 

School, started making contacts in regards to a military overthrow which he said was gone for 

expelling Chief Shonekan from power and introducing Chief Abiola. He made an endeavor 

to enlist the new GOC of the first Division in Kaduna, Brigadier MC Alli, into his gathering 

by asserting that his arrangement had the help of the Army progressive system, including General 

Abacha himself. Alli obviously reached his colleague Brigadier Aboki Abdullahi who had 

had his spot as Director of Military Intelligence in Lagos. Umar was along these lines 

captured on doubt of treasonable lawful offense or about October seventh 1993. On account of his 

extremely close to home association with previous President Babangida, there was an implicit 

doubt that he may have been associated with some sort of professional Babangida intrigue. 

Fortunately for him he was not charged. Following interests for his sake by Brig MC Alli to 

Commanders Aliyu Gusau and Sani Abacha, he was discharged, after which he surrendered his 


It is critical to take note of that in choosing to discharge Colonel Umar without charge, Abacha 

was being shrewd. He didn't require the redirection by then from his principle center; did not 

need to irritate General Babangida superfluously at that arrange by pushing for one of his 

nearest "young men" to confront conceivable execution or delayed detainment; and did not have any desire to 

manage the down to earth ramifications of giving the Shonekan routine superfluous 

authenticity by attempting an officer for intrigue against what he himself considered an 

unlawful government which would before long be evacuated in any case. So he managed the 

matter authoritatively inside the military, as opposed to legitimately. Colonel Umar Dangiwa 

was unobtrusively supplanted as the Commander of the Armored Corps by Colonel M. A. Garba 

who acted in that limit until January 1994 when Colonel Peter Sha assumed control as the 

substantive Director. 

Shonekan in the mean time, on the guidance of a nearby kitchen cupboard of close partners, was 

starting to carry on like a head of state and go to outside gatherings. For instance, he 

tended to the UN General Assembly on October seventh, even as he was being sued at home 

for discharging cash to the NEC to conduct crisp decisions and for 

setting up a board of investigation into the dissolution of the decisions. Indeed, even the late artist, 

Fela Anikulapo Kuti freely depicted the Shonekan government as "neocolonialist" 

what's more, as a "western sap". Amid this period Shonekan asked security organizations to 

research debasement in Nigerian parastatals like the NNPC, NEPA, Nigeria Airways, 

National Bank, Customs and so forth. Abiola was meanwhile requesting that Nigerians quick and 

look for God's mediation in the undertakings of Nigeria. 

Shonekan went to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from 

October 21 – 25, 1993 at Limassol, southwest of Nicosia, on the south shoreline of Cyprus. 

At the CHOGM, Shonekan was humiliated by an intrigue from Sir Douglas Richard 

Hurd, the British Foreign Secretary, to "achieve a convenience with Moshood Abiola, 

the informal champ of the survey." 

From Limassol he was accounted for to make calls ceaselessly to Abacha in Nigeria 

with respect to security circumstance. The previous UAC Chief Executive may have been 

terrified by back-channel reports of Colonel Umar's capture and maybe even claimed 

murmurs from Lt. Gen Gusau about different schemes sneaking in the shadows. Be that as it may, 

Abacha – in a move reminiscent of how he treated General Buhari in 1985 – clearly 

would not take the vast majority of the calls, refering to Shonekan's absence of power over him as the 

Protection Secretary. Strikingly, the ING declared on October 21, that it intended to 

scrap the National Guard, a choice that was well known with the standard military and 

was at that point suggested by the mystery Brigadier MC Alli Military Caucus report. At that point 

on the most recent day of the meeting, four individuals from the Movement for the Advancement of 

Majority rules system (MAD) driven by Jerry Yusuff captured a Nigerian Airways Airbus A310 (5N 

AUH) with 137 travelers and 11 team bound from Lagos to Abuja. The plane wound up 

in Niger republic where it was later raged by Nigerien paramilitary commandos. It 

was Nigeria's second airplane seizing episode, the first having occurred back in April 

1967 amid strains prompting the Nigerian common war. Around then a Nigeria Airways 

Fokker Friendship F-27 headed for Lagos was commandeered from Benin to Enugu by Sam 

Inyang and Onuorah Nwaya of the "Exceptional Task Force", the aggressor wing of what later 

turned into the Biafran Directorate of Military Intelligence. 

The way in which the Shonekan régime dealt with the commandeer matter raises genuine 

inquiries in my psyche about the common military-outside issues relationship around then. 

For one the administration sent an appointment driven by the Transport and Aviation Secretary, 

Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, to Niamey to consult for the arrival of the prisoners. Also, 

the ING enabled Niger republic to complete a military activity to safeguard Nigerian 

prisoners in a Nigerian plane that was captured from Nigeria. The god-like Nigerian 

military was not on top of it either for absence of Special Forces skill, absence of order 

accord, or absence of trust. This essayist saw the advancement with shock back 

at that point and translated it as a sign that specific components inside the military were reluctant 

or on the other hand helpless to embrace a possibly untidy global salvage task which may 

undermine its validity on the eve of an overthrow at home. Luckily for a large portion of the 

prisoners, the salvage activity was done expertly by the Nigeriens and went 

well. Normally, no genuine nation would have permitted another country singularly take 

such groundbreaking duty regarding its very own nationals. 

On October 31st word spilled in the Nigerian Press about endeavors by some compelling 

Nigerians to motivate the ING to break up both ideological groups and all current political 

structures. Adventitiously, such a suggestion was to be sure piece of the MC Alli mystery 

report. This was pursued not long after by sensational occasions at the National Assembly 

following which the Senate President was indicted. Professional and hostile to ING groups in the 

governing body, guided by a key want to help or restrict Presidential confident Major 

General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua (rtd), competed on the floor of the Chambers. This debate 

in the long run prompted the denunciation of Senate President Dr. Iyorchia Ayu on November 2, 

by professional ING Senators driven by Chuba Okadigbo. Congressperson Ameh Ebute supplanted Ayu. All of 

this came against foundation designs by the new NEC driven by Professor Okon Uya to 

sort out gathering primaries from January 7 – 9, 1994 pursued by Presidential decisions on 

February 19, 1994. 

On November third, social commentator Gani Fawehinmi was cited amid a Book propelling 

function as saying: "The military must intercede to stop this war of Shonekan's 

government against the general population". In actuality, after three days on November sixth, 

Northern Elders driven by previous President Shehu Shagari met to discover approaches to guarantee that 

Nigeria stayed joined together. They communicated support for the ING as the birthing specialist for a stable 


Under these conditions, Chief Shonekan, provoked by some for "absence of intensity", 

emblematically moved into Presidential Villa from the Presidential visitor house in ahead of schedule 

November – against his unique comprehension with previous President Babangida – and to 

the alarm of Abacha. General Abacha was progressively stressed over Shonekan's 

developing certainty and disturbed by security reports to Shonekan that he was arranging 


Under strain from declining worldwide oil costs, Shonekan's legislature picked at 

that foreboding time to pull back the oil endowment on November eighth, and raise the 

cost of petroleum from 70 Kobo to 3.50 Naira, a gigantic increment with typically emotional 

consequences for swelling. Of course, it prompted road dissents and plans for a full-scale 

resumption of mechanical activity by weight gatherings. 


After two days, on November 10, 1993, the Shonekan-drove ING was announced illicit in a 

administering at the Lagos High Court directed by Justice Dolapo Akinsanya. Back in 

October, as recently noticed, a case had been brought by Moshood Abiola and Baba 

Gana Kingibe to proclaim the ING unlawful, invalid and void. The lead Attorney for the 

Government Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dele Jegede, exhorted the court that Decree # 61, which 

was apparently the legitimate premise of the ING, did not exist. Announcement #56 had already 

settled August 27, 1993 as the date of initiation of the 1989 constitution. Equity 

Akinsanya contemplated that since Babangida had stripped himself of intensity by marking 

Pronouncement # 59 of August 26th, he had no capacity to sign Decree # 61. The majority of this dovetailed 

pleasantly into General Abacha's unique handy predating of the powerful date of 

Babangida's retirement to August 26th. 

The day after the Court Judgment, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi openly begged 

General Sani Abacha to safeguard Nigeria from a " awful political and legitimate mess". 

In any case, Abacha, persistent and restrained with respect to the planning of overthrows opposed being 

surged before intersection his "Ts" and spotting his "Is". After all the ING was challenging the 

Akinsanya judgment in a higher court Abacha still needed to watch his flanks inside 

the military cautiously. There was as yet the matter of how to deal with the Chief of Army 

Staff, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau Mohammed, who was not a man to be misjudged. 

On November 15, 1993, nonetheless, the Nigerian Labor Congress called a General Strike. 

On November 16, 1993, the Senate started open hearings on the fuel cost increment by the 

Shonekan Administration while the House of Representatives requested that the ING revoke 

the cost increment. 

The following day, on November seventeenth at around 10 am, Generals Sani Abacha, Oladipo Diya 

also, Aliyu Gusau touched base at the Presidential Villa in Abuja joined by truckloads of 

fearsome looking fighters. These troops were under the order of two "Lagos Group" 

plotters, to be specific Colonel Lawan Gwadabe of the National Guard and Brigadier 

Bashir Magashe of the Brigade of Guards. Magashe was very likely there to make 

beyond any doubt Gwadabe pursued the Abacha content and no other. Following a 'private gathering' 

with Chief Ernest Shonekan, Shonekan was benevolently permitted to convey a goodbye 

discourse to the ING following 82 days of discussion, following which he was traveled to Lagos. 

In the wake of sitting tight calmly for such a significant number of years, Abacha, "the successor", had at last struck.