Below is The Federal Government Of Nigeria’s Chronological Account of Events leading to General Aguiyi Ironsi’s Death


In July 1966, then Lt Col. Yakubu Gowon assumed the position of “Supreme Commander” in the very tense circumstances of a violent counter-coup in which Ironsi was killed. Gowon remained “Supreme Commander” until he gave up the title after the Aburi meetings of January 1967. However, he re-assumed the powers of “Supreme Commander” when he declared a state of emergency in May 1967 and revoked Decree #8. His successor as Chief of Staff (Army), Lt. Col. JRI Akahan later died in a helicopter crash as the civil war broke out in July 1967


In the Nigerian Army’s official history of the Civil War, Major General IBM Haruna (rtd), said: “The dominance of the NPC and the perceived dominance of the North in the centre were like a threat to the presumed more enlightened and better educated Southerners who believed they were the backbone of the movement for Nigerian independence but did not succeed the colonial power to run the affairs of the state. So with that background one can now lay the foundation of the perception of the military struggle in Nigerian politics.”

Reflective, therefore, of certain repeatedly articulated viewpoints in sections of the Press, the opinion matured among a small budding caucus of already politically inclined officers after independence, that every military deployment for internal security in aid of the civil authority whose political orientation they did not share, even if constitutional, was just another provocation.

These include:

1. ‘Operation Banker’, a joint Army-Police operation in the Western region, led by then CO, 4th battalion, Lt. Col. Maimalari, allegedly at the behest of the pro-NPC regional Premier (Akintola) culminating in the declaration of a state of emergency in May 1962 after a fracas in the House of Assembly and the appointment of an administrator. Interestingly, the General Staff Officer

(2) at the Army HQ in charge of Intelligence was none other than Captain Patrick Chukwuma Nzeogwu who, as a Major, was later to play a key role in the coup of January 1966 in which Maimalari lost his life.2. The arrest on September 22, 1962 and subsequent imprisonment of the opposition leader, Chief Awolowo, on suspicion of planning a civilian overthrow of the government. It was alleged that 300 volunteers were sent to Ghana for 3 weeks militia training. Certain accounts hypothesize two separate plots, one by Dr. Maja and the other by Awo himself.

But there is a body of evidence that indicates that Dr. Maja was actually collaborating with the government. The real plotters planned to exploit the absence from the country of three out of the five Army battalions to seize key points in Lagos and arrest leading figures of the government. The absent battalions were in or on their way to and from the Congo. One available military detachment at Abeokuta was out on military training exercises, while the newly formed federal guard in Lagos was essentially ceremonial.

Thus, there was an internal security vacuum which the plotters intended to exploit. Court records also indicate that an attempt was made to recruit Brigadier Adesoji Ademulegun for the scheme but he refused to cooperate with the plotters, choosing instead to remain loyal to the traditional military hierarchy and government, which had just promoted him from Lt. Col. to Brigadier. Whether this later played a role in his subsequent assassination in January 1966 is unknown.

3. Army Stand-by during the acrimonious reactions to the National Census of 1962/63 and 1963/64.

4. Army Stand-by during the Midwest referendum of 1963.

5. Mobilization of the Army to provide essential services during the General Strike of 1964. Even this apparently innocuous deployment in support of the civil authority attracted criticism from some of the would-be plotters of the January 1966 coup.

Captain Nwobosi (rtd), for example, has said that as a young officer deployed to the railways as an escort, he was troubled by the fact that the Prime Minister left Lagos for his home town in Bauchi during the strike, leaving crucial matters of state to assistants in Lagos as well as the Army which was fully mobilized. I have not been able to independently verify the validity of this accusation against Balewa, but it does provide insights into the expectations of soldiers of their civilian masters when they are drafted by civil authorities to stabilize the polity.
A perception of lack of a “hands on” approach, even if false, can undermine authority and the culture of respect.

6. Tiv Crises: As far back as April 1960 and July 1961 the Army had been placed on standby in Tiv land. This became necessary again in February 1964. However, on November 18, 1964 the 3rd battalion under Lt. Col James Pam which was just returning from Tanzania was deployed in full for internal security operations there. The choice of Pam’s unit was a deft move because he was of middle belt origin and the battalion had been out of the country training another Army, and thus insulated from acrimony. The Nigerian Army actually emerged from this operation with high mmarks because the local people saw Pam’s unit as more neutral than the Mobile Police. Interestingly, Major Anuforo of the Recce unit at Kaduna was deployed in support of Pam for this operation. This is the officer who later shot him during the January 1966 coup. Other would-be plotters who served in Tiv land were Ademoyega and Onwatuegwu.

7. Constitutional crisis of January 1965:Following the controversial Federal Election of December 1964, ceremonial President Azikiwe of the NCNC, urged by radical intelligentsia, refused to invite Prime Minister Balewa of the NPC to form a government and issued orders mobilizing the Army to enforce his authority to suspend the government, annul the elections and appoint a temporary interim administrator to conduct elections. However, the oath of allegiance of the officer corps was not only to the Commander in Chief but also to the government of Nigeria.

The Army Act (#26 of 1960) and the Navy Act (#9 of 1960) were also clear on lines of authority and control. While the Army and Navy were “under the general authority” of the Defense Minister in matters of “command, discipline and administration”, the authority for operational use and control was vested in the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister. President Azikiwe and the service chiefs were so advised by the Chief Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.

Thus the Navy Commander, Commodore Wey politely told the President that the Navy (under him), the Army (under Major General Welby-Everard) and the Police (under Louis Edet) had decided to refuse his orders. After a week of cliff hanging tension, in which the military stood aside, a political compromise was eventually reached and a government of “national unity” formed under Prime Minister Balewa.

In the US Diplomatic Archives: Nigeria 1964-1968, the situation was characterized in this manner: “Very complicated African politics, in which tribes, religions and economics all play a part, are involved in the situation. The Northern Premier is at odds with the Eastern Premier in whose region large oil deposits have been discovered. In the heat of the election campaign, there have been threats of secession by the east; threats of violence “that would make Congo look like child’s play” from the north..” At the same time, strong rumors of an impending Army coup purportedly planned for the annual Army Shooting competition were also heard in political circles. But the status quo held, albeit temporarily.

8. Army Stand by during the ethnic leadership crisis between Yorubas and Igbos at the University of Lagos in March 1965.

9. Army Stand-by during the Western regional Election of October 1965 which led to a breakdown of law and order. Political pressures and recrimination resulting from this exposure finally cracked the façade of political neutrality among some officers exposing deep personal, ethnic, regional and political schisms in the process. To quote Captain Nwobosi again, “When I was in Abeokuta, my soldiers were being detailed to go somewhere towards Lagos from Abeokuta to guard ballot boxes that were not opened. They were not opened but somebody had already been declared the winner. Every day, they would go and come back and in the process, I lost one of my corporals. You know soldiers are soldiers and sometimes like children, you have your favourite ones and this was personal.”

10. A subsequent alleged plan to bring the situation in the West under control by the NPC controlled federal government in support of its regional ally, using the Army as had been done in 1962, allegedly brought forward the date of the January 15 coup. The coup was organized by predominantly Eastern officers sympathetic to the UPGA alliance of political parties that had lost the 1964 federal elections and the October 1965 regional elections in the West. The majority of casualties were Northern politicians and senior military officers from the same alma mater all of whom were deemed to represent the NPC or its interests. Others were politicians and officers from the western region viewed as being in alliance with the NPC leadership.
The coup failed to bring the “young Turks” who led it to power but it did result, through a complex and controversial series of events, in the emergence of a military regime led by General Ironsi. There is a tragic post-script to the widely held (but false) presumption that the January 15 coup pre-empted an inevitable military operation to crack down in the West. This presumption is based on a reported meeting between key NPC and NNDP political leaders as well as certain senior military officers said to have occurred in Kaduna on January 14.

However, the last interview granted to the magazine ‘West Africa’, by the late Prime Minister Balewa on January 14, a few hours to his death, went like this:

Question: Do you see the solution as taking the form of a coalition government in the West?
Balewa: Yes, it would have to be that …The Action group has accepted my mediation, but the NNDP has asked for more time. If I use real force in the West – and make no mistake about it, I haven’t yet – then I could bring the people to their knees. But I don’t want to use force like that. Force can’ t bring peace to people’s hearts.

Question: Would you consider the release of Chief Awolowo as part of a political solution of the West’s troubles?

Balewa: I think that might be part of it; yes, obviously we would have to see.”

This interview was not published until January 29, 1966.


Until the coup of 1966, civil-military relations after independence basically followed the classic model. Soldiers were rarely seen in public in their uniforms unless there was an official event. Barracks were mostly separated and remote from concentrations of civilian housing. Political speech making, writing articles in the lay press without approval, or political campaigns in barracks by or at the behest of soldiers were not allowed. Furthermore, in part because there was no significant external threat, but also because of the predominance of British officers at the top until 1965, the army command played very little role in security policy making. The major foreign policy decisions of that era were made by the political class. Even in its internal security role the Army did not make policy. It carried them out.

However, the socialization process that made this relationship possible seemed to be confined to the uppermost echelons of the military where officers who had spent the longest amount of time working directly with British officers before independence were to be found. 

Coincidentally, certain key officers at these levels shared certain social origins with key political leaders. Officers at lower and middle rungs of the ladder, however, did not share many of those attributes because the transition from decolonization to democratization was rushed, driven by notions of patriotism. 

From October 1st 1960 until May 1st 1965 when he died naturally of an illness Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, the second Vice President of the Northern People’s Congress, served as Minister for Defense. From May 1965 until January 1966 his place was taken by Alhaji Inua Wada, also a member of the NPC. They were both civilians with no prior military service. Ribadu (also known as “Power of Powers”) was a very influential and highly regarded politician with extensive connections across the political divide. His sudden death in April 1965 is said by some to have seriously undermined the reconciliation of the frayed political relationship between the NPC and the NCNC after the January 1965 crisis which may have prevented the January 1966 coup. Indeed, active plotting for coup actually began after his death that year. 

Ribadu presided over a rapid expansion of the Army and Navy as well as the creation of the Nigerian Air Force. The establishment of the Defense Industries Corporation, the Nigerian Defense Academy, a second Recce Squadron (located at Abeokuta) and two new Artillery batteries occurred on his watch. He got practically all his budgetary requests through parliament including approval to spend 19.5 million pounds on defense from 1962-66 as compared with 5.5 million pounds during the preceding seven year period. Defense costs as a percentage of Federal recurrent spending from 1958-1966 ranged from 7.7 to 9.9%. Defense costs as a percentage of Federal capital spending during the same period ranged from 1.5 to 12.1%. 

Pressure to expand the military did not originate from within the military. It came from the political class. Resistance to additional defense spending did not come from the legislature or the public. It originated in 1962 and 1964 from other Ministers as well as economists in the Ministry of Finance concerned about failure to meet national economic targets. Ribadu lost the Chairmanship of the Economic Committee of the federal cabinet in 1964, a position he had used skillfully to protect and oversee his defense appropriations. Thus civilian oversight of military budgeting in the first republic was total and exclusive. In my opinion, the late Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu is probably Nigeria’s best Defense Minister since Independence – a point that belies the tendency these days to think that civilians with no military experience cannot run the Ministry of Defence. 

In addition to Ribadu there were Ministers of State for the Army and Navy. From February 1960 until August 1961 Dr. Majekodunmi, a physician, was the Minister of State for the Army. Then Jacob Obande held the position from August 1961 until December 1962. From January 1963 until January 1966 the position was held by Ibrahim Tako Galadima – a personality (unlike Ribadu) whose grasp of military affairs and protocol was not respected within the military. Mr. M. T. Mbu was Minister of State for the Navy from 1960 to 1966. Mr. AA Atta was the permanent secretary from 1960-64 while Alhaji Sule Kolo held the position from 1964-66. Like the substantive ministers of that era, both were northerners. 

One area in which there was direct political interference from the political class as a group in military professional policy was in the question of quotas for Army recruitment, which nevertheless reflected legislative pressures in a multiethnic society. Such political pressures to apply the federal character principle have found their way into subsequent Nigerian constitutions. Other than one or two alleged cases, politicians generally stayed out of purely military professional matters. Even when the departing GOC General Welby-Everard, (for a variety of reasons dating back to events in 1951 and 1961), recommended either Brigadier Ademulegun or Ogundipe as his successor, the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister chose to stick with the principle of seniority and chose Ironsi instead – perhaps mindful of NCNC sensitivities coming as it did, after the constitutional crisis in January and around the time of the acrimonious fight over the Vice Chancellorship of the University of Lagos. 

The literature reports that Brigadier Ademulegun lobbied for the position of GOC through his friend the Sardauna, but it would seem that the political leadership of the Ministry resisted all such pressures. Until just before the collapse, therefore, the link between the Army leadership and the political class was mostly formal and appropriate. Although informal liaisons existed on the basis of alma mater and other shared values, these did not rise to the level of the client networks (such as “IBB Boys” or “Abacha Boys”) that came to characterize future military regimes in the country. Nevertheless, in a country where ethnic identities were and are often stronger than professional identities, any perceived coincidences of liaisons with the ethnic, political and security map of the country were bound to provoke suspicion among officers who considered themselves outside those networks. 

The final intervention of predominantly eastern junior and middle ranking military officers resulted from the gradual decline in the cohesion and legitimacy of civilian institutions, signs of which were already evident from the time of the December 1959 federal elections before independence. 

Certain long standing colonial military policies, amplified by the fractious nature of Nigeria’s political framework set against Nigeria’s unique history provided a backdrop to contentious civil military relations after independence. As the role of the independent army evolved from external missions and its participation in internal security deepened, political antagonisms toward elements of the political class were amplified as it found itself making judgments and allocating values. 

Latent societal cleavages began to undermine esprit d’Corps. It was from among those who enlisted between 1957 (when the FDC took over from the British Army council and introduced quotas into the rank and file) and 1961 (when quotas were introduced into the officer corps) that the deepest schisms appeared, enabled by other political undercurrents in larger society. As the Roman military writer, Vegetius (De Re Militari), wrote in 378 B.C.: ‘An army raised without proper regard to the choice of its recruits was never made good by length of time.’
In the final analysis, driven by bitter fights for political control, lack of unity in the civil class between the coalition partners, NCNC and NPC, along with disenfranchisement of some stake-holders in the Action Group (who continued to be loyal to the jailed Chief Awolowo) played a crucial role in undermining whatever organized resistance (with or without British help) the political class might have put up to save democracy when some soldiers came calling in January 1966. Indeed, military intervention may have been sought by aggrieved elements of the political class. 

As the Police Special Branch report put it: “..sometime during August 1965, a small group of army officers, dissatisfied with political developments within the federation, began to plot in collaboration with some civilians, the overthrow of what was then the Government of the Federation of Nigeria.” 

Fearful of certain anticipated political decisions which might have involved the use of the Army to forcefully restore order in the Akintola-led Western region and cram the results of the controversial October 1965 election down the throats of voters, the coup was finally launched on January 15, 1966. But as I have noted previously, the paradox about this alleged NPC plan to “wallop” the West is that the late Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, in his last interview just before the coup was actually contemplating a political solution to the impasse in the Western region, one that might even have involved a coalition government and the release of Chief Obafemi Awolowo from jail. 

At the final meeting just before H-hour in Major Ifeajuna’s house in Lagos, the Police report says “Major Ifeajuna addressed the meeting on the subject of the deteriorating situation in Western Nigeria to which, he contended, the politicians had failed to find a solution. He added that as a result the entire country was heading toward chaos and disaster”. One of the key participants in the coup, Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi has also recently expressed the opinion that there was “information” that the NPC dominated Federal Government would declare a state of emergency in the NCNC dominated Eastern region in coordination with an agitation for the creation of Rivers state. 

In the Army’s Official history of the Civil War, Nwobosi said: “Adaka Boro was stationed in the Rivers area to start off some insurrection and the East would have been declared an area under a state of emergency like was done in the West under Dr. Majekodunmi.” Nwobosi also said that this information “is not something you will hear and go to sleep”. Such perceptions – some of which were plainly false-among officers with sympathies for (or views coincident with) the United Progressive Grand Alliance, set against the NPC-NCNC-Army constitutional crisis of January 1965 and the background tensions inherited at independence, provided fuel for the events of January 1966. 

Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi (rtd) who led operations in the West during the coup, holds the opinion that President Nnamdi Azikiwe was briefed about the coup plot by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna in Lagos – but points out that his own sub-group was not in on Ifeajuna’s duplicity. He has also said that one of the intentions of the plotters was to release Chief Awolowo from jail – a somewhat strangely coincident plan to what Prime Minister Balewa was contemplating before he was killed. 

In the state of confusion that reigned after the Prime Minister’s abduction on January 15, refusal of the President of the Senate (Nwafor Orizu, an easterner from the NCNC – who was also acting President) to accept the appointment by the NPC dominated cabinet of an interim Prime Minister (Dipcharima, a northerner) closed whatever option remained to formally invite British Troops in (with or without a pact). With no constitutional provision for such a move, Orizu and the rump cabinet chose to “hand over” to the Army Chief, Major Gen Ironsi, (himself an easterner) allegedly to give him needed authority to put down the coup attempt which had already collapsed in the south. 

It appears from testimony provided by former President Shagari that the British would likely have responded to an invitation from Acting Prime Minister Dipcharima in the same way as they did in East Africa two years earlier. Indeed, other sources claim that a British Battalion was already on standby. Interestingly, recently declassified American State department archives also show that American intervention was also contemplated in Nigerian government circles before the rump cabinet was advised to “hand over” to General Ironsi to “avoid disaster”.

Along with the brutal and regionally asymmetric murders that accompanied the coup, this fateful decision, which Orizu later defended as “patriotic”, ushered in a very bloody chapter in Nigerian history. However, surviving officers of the January 15 plot (like Nwobosi and Ademoyega) seem united in their belief that it was General Ironsi’s ‘misrule’, rather than their unfortunate actions that night, that led Nigeria to chaos in the months ahead.

The coup report was released to very few individuals in Nigeria and certain foreign governments in early August 1966 – and then leaked. The remainder of the report which allegedly implicated certain other persons has apparently never been released widely to this day. It exists, we are on its trail – and shall publish it on sight.

1. Due to unforeseen circumstance it has not been possible, so far, to inform the nation fully of events which took place in the Federation on 15th January 66 at Lagos, Ibadan, and Kaduna, events which were directly responsible for further military action on the 29th July 66.

2. It will be appreciated that events of this nature require prolonged, painstaking investigation. It is realized that the absence of legitimate information on this subject has produced a flood of undesirable rumours and speculation. It is, however, pointed out that without thorough investigation, the wisdom of any premature releases, unsupported by fact, was questionable.

3. Investigations have not yet been completed but it is now possible to put the nation, and the world, in possession of the facts so far collected. The civilian involvement and influence in the whole affair is not as far as possible, included in this report.

4. It has been established that sometime during August 1965, a small group of army officers, dissatisfied with political developments within the federation, began to plot in collaboration with some civilians, the overthrow of what was then the Government of the Federation of Nigeria. The plan which eventually emerged from their deliberations was that on a date not yet decided at the time, the following action would be taken by troops from selected units, led by the ringleaders of the plot: 

a). The arrest of leading politicians at Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Enugu and Benin. The plan stipulated that wherever resistance was encountered, the individuals concerned were to be killed. 

b). The occupation of key points such as radio and TV stations, telephone exchange and other public utilities, police headquarters and signal installations, by carefully selected troops who were not, however, to be informed in advance of the true nature of their operations. 

c). The movement of troops and armoured fighting vehicles to Jebba and Makurdi to hold the Benue and Niger Bridges with a view to preventing the movement of any troops, opposed to the plotters’ aims, to and from the North. 

d). The assassination of all senior army officers known to be in a position to foil, successfully, the conspirators’ efforts to topple the governments of the federation. 

e). The eventual take-over of the machinery of government by the rebels.

5. Although the original plan stipulated that the action intended by the plotters should take place, simultaneously, in all the Regional capitals, no arrangements were made to implement these intentions in Benin and Enugu. 

6. The date on which the plot was to be put into execution was decided by several factors. These include the return of the Premier of Northern Nigeria from Mecca and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference held at Lagos between the 11th and 13th January 66. An additional factor was the possibility that details of the plotters intentions might have leaked out, necessitating early implementation of the plot. In this manner, the night of 14th to 15th January was finally selected. 

7. The action which was well planned and conducted like a military operation was, in its first stages efficiently carried out. 

8. Immediately before “H” hour, which has been set for 2am on the 15th January, a number of junior officers were taken into the confidence of the ringleaders of the plot. It is known that a number of these were reluctant to comply with the wishes of the plotters. Confirmed information indicates that it was made clear to these junior officers that those who were not with the conspirators would be regarded as being opposed to them and might suffer death as a consequence. 

9. Non commissioned ranks involved in the night’s activities at Lagos, Kaduna and Ibadan, were given no previous information of the true nature of the action in which they were about to be engaged. 

10. The activities of the rebels, commencing at 2am on 15th January 66, resulted in the deaths of the following personalities:


a. Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of the Federation of Nigeria.
b. Chief F. S. Okotie-Eboh, Finance Minister of the Federation.
c. Brigadier Z. Mai-Malari, Commander of the 2nd 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 4th 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 1st Brigade NA
k. Colonel R. A. Shodeinde, Deputy Commandant, Nigerian Defence Academy
l. Ahmed Dan Musa, Senior Assistant Secretary (Security) to the North Regional Government
m. Sergeant Duromola Oyegoke of the Nigerian Army
n. The senior wife of Sir Ahmadu Bello
o. The wife of Brigadier Ademulegun 

11. In addition to the foregoing, four members of the Nigeria Police, one junior NCO of the Nigerian Army, and an estimated number of six civilians lost their lives during the night’s events. One major of the Nigerian Army was accidentally shot and killed at Ibadan on the 17th January 66, bringing the total loss of life to twenty-seven. 

12. Apart from the aforementioned killings, a number of political leaders and civil servants were arrested by the plotters and detained in military establishments 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 already dissatisfied with political developments in the Federation and the impact of these developments on the Army, held series of discussions between them about the matter and set about the task of searching for other officers who held views similar to their own and who could, eventually, be trusted to join them in the enterprise of staging a military coup d’Etat.
14. In September 1965, Major I. H. Chukwuka of Nigerian Army Headquarters Lagos was persuaded to join the group of conspirators, followed in October 1965 by Major C. I. Anuforo, also of the Army headquarters. Major C. K. Nzeogwu was brought in around that time through the efforts of Major Anuforo, an old friend of both Majors Nzeogwu and Okafor. Major Nzeogwu in turn secured the support for the plan of Major A. Ademoyega who had worked with him in the Nigerian Army Training College Kaduna.

15. By early November the recruiting activities of the group were completed and an inner circle of conspirators emerged, consisting of the following officers:
Major CK Nzeogwu
Major A. Ademoyega
Major EA Ifeajuna
Major CI Anuforo
Major IH Chukwuka
Major D. Okafor
Captain O. Oji

Planning for the execution of the plot started in earnest in early November 1965 at a meeting of the inner circle which took place in Major Ifeajuna’s house in Lagos.

16. The plan which eventually emerged from their deliberations was broadly as follows: 

a. The arrest of VIPs at Kaduna, Ibadan, Lagos, Enugu and Benin. The plan stipulated wherever resistance to arrest was encountered, the individuals concerned were to be killed 

b. The occupation of vulnerable points such as Radio and TV stations, telephone exchange, police signals installations, airfields and civilian administrative establishments, by carefully selected troops who were not, however, to be informed in advance of the purpose of their operations. 

c. The movement of troops to Jebba and Makurdi to hold the Niger and Benue bridges against any movement of troops opposed to the plotters’ aims, to and from the North. 

d. The killing of all senior army officers who were in a position to foil successfully the conspirators efforts to topple the Governments of the Federation and who resided in the areas of operations. 

e. The eventual take-over of the machinery 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 nationwide. 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 addressed the meeting on the subject of the deteriorating situation in Western Nigeria to which, he contended, the politicians had failed to find a solution. He added that as a result the entire country was heading toward chaos and disaster. He next acquainted the junior officers with the inner circle’s plans and asked them if they were prepared to assist to put an end to this state of affairs. Major Ifeajuna claims that all present pledged their support for his plans with the exception of Captain Adeleke who was, however, later persuaded to join. It was made clear to these junior officers that those who were not with the conspirators would be regarded as being opposed to them and might suffer death as a consequence.

28. When, at the end of the meeting, it was clear that all present were in support of the rebellion, tasks and targets were issued as follows:

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

b. Killing of Colonel Mohammed and Lt. Col. Unegbe: Major CI Anuforo, 2/Lt C. Ngwuluka
c. Killing of Brigadier Mai-Malari: Major D. Okafor, Capt. O. Oji, 2/Lt. C. Igweze
d. Killing of Lt. Col. Pam: Major IH Chukuka, 2/Lt. G. Onyefuru
e. Occupation of the Control Room at FT Police HQ Lion Building: 2/Lt NS Wokocha
f. Occupation of P & T Telephone Exchange: , Lt. PM Okocha, 2/Lt. CC Anyafulu
g. Occupation of N.E.T. Building: 2/Lt DS Nweke

But there were apparent last minute change of the plans as will be shown later in this paper.

29. Troops selected for these various tasks were to be drawn from the following units (all stationed or accommodated at Apapa and Dodan barracks, 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 rallying point for all teams on completion of their tasks. 

31. All other officers and other ranks to be involved, either consciously or unconsciously in the operations were called out for alleged Internal Security operations between midnight and 0100 hours to allow time for the issue of arms and ammunition and the provision of the necessary transport. With the exception of other ranks of the Federal Guard, they were all ordered to report to Headquarters of No. 2 Brigade NA in battle order, with their arms. Ammunition was issued to them by Lt. Okaka, assisted by Major Ifeajuna, RSM Ogbu of Camp 2 Bde and others. 

32. Officers and men moved off to their various assignments at around 0200 hours as planned.


33. The party charged with the abduction of the Prime Minister (PM) left HQ 2 Bde at approximately 0200 hours. The following have been identified as members of that group:


a. Major EA Ifeajuna (in command)
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 necessity, directly involved in the abduction of the PM. A number of them operated on the premises of the Federal Finance Minister, adjacent to the residence of the Prime Minister. 

34. The small convoy reached the Onikan roundabout at approximately 0230 hours and halted near the PM’s residence. Major Ifeajuna ordered all troops to leave their vehicles and divided them into three groups with targets as shown:


Major EA Ifeajuna – in command
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 command
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 command
L/Cpl RC Amadi
Pte NA Evulobi
L/Cpl S. Kanu
Sgt. E. Okonkwo

35. The latter group was given the task of stopping and turning back all vehicles approaching Onikan road. There is no record concerning their instructions as to what action they were to take in the event of any of the drivers refusing to obey the order to turn back. 

36. The Major knocked on the gate and was answered by a policeman who was on guard inside. The Major identified himself as an Army Officer whereupon the PC (Police Constable) granted them access. The Major asked the PC how many men were on guard with him and was told that there were six. The Major then ordered the PC to show where they could be found. 

The PC agreed whereupon the Major seized his rifle and passed it to one of his men. The PC then led the group to round up the remaining members of the Police guard. At the back of the house, ie. at the creek side, they found a PC armed with a rifle and accompanied by a Police dog. The Major ordered the PC to surrender his rifle, which he refused to do. He was then hit in the face by Sgt. Odunze whereupon he capitulated and surrendered his firearm. 

Major Ifeajuna ordered Sgt Odunze and Cpl. Okoh to stand guard over the PC and his dog with orders to shoot both if they made an attempt to abscond or raise the alarm. All the other members were disarmed and taken to the main gate where they remained guarded by Sgt Iberesi and 2 others. They were all informed that they would be shot if they attempted to escape or raise the alarm. 

37. Major Ifeajuna and few of his men then approached the back entrance to the Prime Minister’s residence having secured the police orderly, and the stewards under arrest, and broke into the lounge and thence to the Prime Minister’s bedroom. A voice from the inside asked who was there. The Major replied by kicking the door open, entering the room and pointing his gun at the Prime Minister and thereafter led out the PM wearing a white robe with white trousers and slippers. The PM was then led away by Major Ifeajuna along Awolowo Road where Ifeajuna had parked his car adjacent to the Onikan swimming pool. 


38. On arrival at the Onikan roundabout, at approximately 0230 hrs on 15 Jan 66, Major Ifeajuna divided his force into three groups as shown in para 34 of this report. Major Ifeajuna and his group proceeded towards the PM’s residence and 2/Lt Ezedigbo took his men to the compound of the Finance Minister. When they arrived at the front gate, they found this locked and were compelled to gain access by jumping over the wall. Inside they found a number of civilian guards, about 5, who were armed with bows and arrows. These offered no resistance and were disarmed and placed under guard. At least one policeman was encountered in the compound. He too was disarmed and escorted to the 3-Ton truck by RSM J. Ogbu. 

39. 2/Lt Ezedigbo then attempted to open the front door but found this also to be locked. He broke one of the panes of glass in the door with his SMG but even failed to open the door which he finally broke down by kicking it with his boot. He then entered accompanied by the following other ranks: 

WO II L Okoye
Sgt. I Ndukaife
Sgt. E. Okonkwo
Cpl. U. Eduok
Sgt. F. Impete 

Before entering 2/Lt Ezedigbo ordered his men to walk quietly and to make no noise, a rather superfluous caution considering the noise which must have been made when the door was broken open. They mounted the stairs to the first floor. Having arrived there, the 2/Lt posted one man on the balcony and 3 on the landing. 

40. The officer then shouted twice “Okotie-Eboh”, come out”. When this met with no response he entered a bedroom where he found the Minister dressed only in a loin cloth. He ordered the Minister to precede him down the stairs, and the Minister was escorted to the 3-Ton lorry. Rumors that the Minister was beaten and otherwise ill-treated on the way to the vehicle have been stoutly denied by all who took part in the operation. 

41. Whilst the Finance Minister was being loaded into the 3-Tonner, the PM was escorted from his house and placed into Major Ifeajuna’s car. 2/Lt Ezedigbo joined Ifeajuna whilst the ORs (other ranks) re-entered their respective vehicles. The convoy then moved off to the Federal Guard Officers’ Mess, stopping en route at a point in Ikoyi where Major Ifeajuna and 2/Lt. Ezedigbo killed Brig. Mai-Malari. (editors comment: Maimalari had escaped from the team that had been sent to kill him at home) 


42. Meanwhile Major CI Anuforo, assisted by 2/Lt. C. Ngwuluka and the following other ranks:

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

proceeded in the two private cars of Anuforo and Ngwuluka to No. 1, Park Lane Apapa, the residence of Colonel K. Mohammed. This was then being guarded by unarmed nursing orderlies of a Field Ambulance stationed in Apapa. 

43. On arrival Major Anuforo ordered all his party to leave the cars, which had stopped some distance from the house. They then advanced towards the house led by Major Anuforo. They were challenged by Pte L. Onyegbule, then on sentry-go. Major Anuforo told the sentry to “shut up” and to put up his hands. The Major then gave orders that the sentry and the other 3 members of the guard be banded together in one place in the custody of Pte. C. Unegbu, who although a member of a medical unit, was then bearing arms. 

44. Major Anuforo then went to the front door of the house and knocked. It would appear that he received an answer, because he was heard shouting “You first come out and see who is knocking”. With the Major at this stage was WO II B. Okugbe. When he received no further answer to his knocking, Anuforo ordered his men to cock their weapons. He then kicked open the door and entered accompanied by Cpl. E. Nwoke, WO II Okugbe and Cpl Egwim. 

45. The house was searched until the Colonel was found, in night attire, in his bedroom. The Colonel was forced out of the house by Major Anuforo and the other ranks who had accompanied him, and put into Anuforo’s car. It is believed that before being put into the car, the Colonel’s wrists were tied with a rifle sling which was still in place when later, his dead body was discovered along the Abeokuta road. 

46. Before leaving, Major Anuforo instructed the Colonel’s guard to return to their unit and not to discuss what they had seen with anyone. Sgt. J Oparah and Cpl. E. Nwoke could not get into the car of Major Anuforo because of the presence of the Colonel and were odered to follow on foot to the house of Lt. Col. Unegbe, situated on Point road, Apapa, not very far away. 

47. On arrival at Lt. Col. Unegbe’s house, Major Anuforo entered the house alone. They heard SMG fire inside the compound and were later ordered to bring out the dead body of the Lt. Col.

48. Whilst the men were inside collecting Lt. Col. Unegbe’s body, Col. Mohammed was compelled to leave the car by Major Anuforo. The latter told the Colonel to say his prayers as he was going to be shot. The Colonel did not plead for mercy or remonstrate in any other manner, but quietly prayed until he was shot in the back by Major Anuforo, using his SMG. 

49. Colonel Mohammed’s corpse was stowed into the boot of Major Anuforo’s car while the body of Lt. Col. Unegbe was placed on the floor in the back of the car. Anuforo and his men then entered the vehicle which was driven straight to the Federal Guard Officers’ Mess. At the Mess the two bodies were unloaded on the ground.

This is the Police Report on the official investigation into the coup of 15 January 1966. It was prepared by Police Special Branch Interrogators based on interviews with soldiers, other ranks and some officers who had been arrested after the mutiny. 

None of the soldiers and officers involved had come to formal trial in a court-martial as of the time of the July 29 1966 “counter-coup”. Indeed the fact they were not court-martialed was one of the grievances listed by those officers who carried out the unfortunate operations of July 28-August 1, 1966. 

The coup report was released to very few individuals in Nigeria and certain foreign governments in early August 1966 – and then leaked. The remainder of the report which allegedly implicated certain other persons has apparently never been released widely to this day. It exists, we are on its trail – and shall publish it on sight.


50. Major Chukuka assisted by 2/Lt G Onyefuru and the other ranks
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 accomplished the arrest of Lt. Col. JY Pam and was being guarded inside a landrover in the Mess premises. Majors Chukuka and Anuforo held a brief discussion after which both Majors entered the Landrover. The driver was ordered to proceed to Ikoyi. 

51. At a point inside Ikoyi the landrover was stopped and both Majors descended. Major Anuforo ordered Lt. Col. Pam to leave the vehicle, which he did. Major Anuforo then spoke to him and told him that he was going to be killed and would do well to say his prayers first. Lt. Col. Pam pleaded but Major Anuforo remained adamant, stating that he was carrying out orders. Then without warning Major Anuforo fired a burst from his SMG into Lt. Col. Pam’s body killing him on the spot. 

52. Major Anuforo then ordered the NCOs in the landrover to come down and load the dead body into the vehicle. The men, who were shocked and frightened by the killing were reluctant to comply with this order and refused to leave the vehicle until Major Anuforo pointed his SMG at them and threatened to kill them unless they did as they were told. They then obeyed and loaded the corpse. The party then drove back to the Federal Guard Officers Mess where the body was off-loaded and placed alongside the bodies of Col. Mohammed and Lt. Col. Unegbe.


53. The assassination of Brigadier Z. Mai-Malari as originally conceived in the conspirators Master plan failed.
54. Major DO Okafor and Captain Oji were present at HQ 2 Bde when troops were being mustered and issued with arms and ammunition. When these arrangements had been completed these two officers entered Major Okafor’s personal car accompanied by the following ORs from No. 1.

Signal 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, in the meantime, Lt. Ezedigbo and 2/Lt. Igweze had roused additional troops and arranged for the issue of arms and ammunition. By the time the troops were ready for the alleged IS operations, Major Okafor and Captain Oji had arrived at the barracks and were at the Unit guardroom. Major Okafor ordered that troops mount into 2 Federal Guard Landrovers detailed for the operation by Ezedigbo

56. Federal Guard personnel detailed for this operation were the following:
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. Eke
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 following vehicles were used:
Landrover NA 773 – driven by Pte. I Onoja
Landrover NA 957 – driven by L/Cpl N. Noji

58. The party drove direct to the house of Brigadier Z. Mai-Malari at 11 Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi. This is a corner house and situated at the point where Brown road runs into Thompson Avenue. On arrival at their destination, the troops were dismounted and divided into three sections commanded as shown: 

No. 1 Section – Captain Oji
No. 2 Section – 2/Lt C Igweze
No. 3 Section – Sgt. SA Umch (in reserve) 

59. The reserve section under Sgt. Umch was ordered to take post in a dark place opposite the house. The three officers, followed by their men then entered the compound which was guarded by NCOs and men of the 2 Battalion NA. Major Okafor ordered the Sentry to call the Guard Commander whom he informed that the situation was bad and that he, Okafor, had come to take over the guard. He instructed the Guard Commander to assemble his men and to take them back to his unit. The Guard Commander, according to some of the ORs interrogated, replied that he could not obey this order as he had received no instructions to that effect. Major Okafor and Captain Oji overruled the Guard Commander’s objections and entered the compound. 

60. Whilst Major Okafor was pre-occupied with the guard the telephone in the downstairs lounge of the Brigadier’s house started to ring. Some of the men present, including 2/Lt. Igweze, have stated that the Brigadier came downstairs to answer the telephone. No sooner had he picked up the receiver than a burst of SMG fire was heard in the compound. This was Captain Oji firing at a member of the Brigadier’s Guard, a L/Cpl of 2 battalion. The L/Cpl was killed and his body later placed into Major Okafor’s Landrover. At the same time, L/Cpl Paul Nwekwe of 2 Brigade Signal Troop who was on gaurd in the front of the main gate to the compound, was hit in the neck by a bullet, thought to be a richochet. 

61. Brigadier Mai-Malari, alerted to the presence of Major Okafor’s force in his compound by Captain Oji’s burst of fire dropped the telephone and, followed by his wife, was observed running into the boy’s quarters. From there he escaped into the road, and it is thought, tried to make his way to the Federal Guard Barracks. 

62. According to the ORs interrogated, Major Okafor flew into a rage when he discovered that the Brigadier had escaped and bitterly blamed the men of the Federal Guard for not shooting the Brigadier when they saw him running towards the boy’s quarters. He then ordered all present that the Brigadier must be shot on sight. 

63. Major Okafor then jumped into the landrover driven by L/Cpl Noji. He informed 2/Lt Igweze that he was going to get “that man” and to arrange for more troops to come to the Brigadier’s House. He drove around the area for some time but failed to find the Brigadier. By the time he returned to 11 Thompson Avenue, Major Ademoyega and Captain Adeleke had arrived there in a landrover driven by L/Cpl D. Omeru. 

Major Ademoyega had already informed Captain Oji that the Brigadier had been killed and that he had seen his body at the Federal Guard. Captain Oji was overheard telling Okafor that “the Jack had been killed”. It is presumed that by “the Jack” Oji meant the Brigadier. Major Okafor then informed the troops with him that Brigadier Mai-Malari had been killed by men from another unit. 

64. The time, by then, was nearly 0400 hrs. captain Oji was ordered by Major Okafor to proceed to 2nd Battalion in Ikeja to check the situation there. The Captain left in landrover NA 773 accompanied by Sgt. H. Irundu, L/Cpl H Okeke, Pte. S. Adekunle and Pte. I Onoja. 

65. As stated elsewhere in this report, Major Ifeajuna and his convoy, after the abduction of the PM and the Finance Minister, drove towards the Federal Guards Officers mess where he made a brief stop and then proceeded toward Ikoyi Hotel, still with the PM in the car. At a point in the Golf course, adjacent to a petrol station Brigadier Mai-Malari was walking towards Dodan Barracks when he saw Major Ifeajuna’s car. The Brigadier recognized his Brigade Major Ifeajuna and shouted and beckoned him to stop. Then Ifeajuna stopped the car and accompanied by 2/Lt Ezedigbo went towards Brig. Mai-Malari and killed him. 

66. After the Brigadier had been killed, his body was loaded into the 3-Tonner and driven to the Federal Guard Officers’ Mess.


67. Although not initially alloted to Major Ifeajuna as a target for assassination, Major Ifeajuna proceeded to Ikoyi Hotel to kill Lt. Col. Largema. On arrival at the hotel Major Ifeajuna told the receptionist on duty that he had an urgent message for Lt. Col. Largema of Room 115.
The time was between 0330 and 0400. He then asked the hotel receptionist to supply him with the master key which can open all doors in the hotel but was told that this was not available. He then ordered the receptionist to lead him to the room in which Lt. Col. Largema was staying, warning the receptionist on the way that he would be shot if he refused to comply with whatever he might be ordered to do. 

68. On their arrival on the first floor Major Ifeajuna, accompanied by 2/Lt Ezedigbo instructed the hotel receptionist to knock on the door of Lt. Col. Largema and to inform him that he was wanted on the telephone. It should be pointed out here that rooms in this hotel have no telephones. There are situated in small alcoves in the corridors. In the case of Room 115, the telephone alcove is only a few paces away. 

69. Lt. Col Largema responded and came out dressed in pyjamas and slightly dazed by sleep. In the meantime the two armed soldiers had stepped back into the corner near the lifts from where they could not be observed by Lt. Col. Largema when he came out of his door. The Lt. Col. then picked up the receiver, which was off the hook. At this moment both the soldiers near the lift opened fire with their SMG. Lt. Col. Largema fell down and died. 

70. The killers went downstairs and called the third man to come up. Between the three of them they then carried the dead body down the stairs and deposited it on the floor. They then called yet another soldier from the Mercedes car who helped the other three to carry the body to the car. The whole party then drove off. 

71. When Major Ifeajuna and party returned to the Federal Guards Officers’ Mess he learnt that the GOC was in town and was organizing 2nd Battalion NA at Ikeja to attack the rebels. He was then joined by Major Okafor and they drove off together in Major Ifeajuna’s car. 

At the Yaba Military Hospital they dropped 2/Lt Ezedigbo who had been wounded in the encounter with Brigadier Mai-Malari. The time was about 0400 hrs. Major Ifeajuna drove away on to the Abeokuta road. On the way they stopped and Ifeajuna asked the PM out of the car whence he shot and killed him. When he and Okafor became certain that the PM was dead they left the body in the bush at a point beyond Otta on the Lagos to Abeokuta road. They then opened the boot of the car and dropped the body of Lt. Col. Largema near that of the PM. 

They then drove on to Abeokuta. On the way after Abeokuta two other soldiers in the car were dropped and told to find their way back to Lagos whilst Ifeajuna and Okafor proceeded to Enugu. They arrived Enugu at about 1415 hours and proceeded to the Premier’s Lodge where they held discussion with Dr. MI Okpara, then Premier of Eastern region, after which they separated and went into hiding. Ifeajuna eventually escaped to Ghana where he was received by the former President Kwame Nkrumah who sent him to Winneba to stay with SG Ikoku. 

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

73. By this time Major A. Ademoyega and Major CI Anuforo were present on the Mess premises. Major Ifeajuna having departed, these two officers took command of his men and vehicles. They mounted into Major Anuforo’s Peugeot car accompanied by 2/Lt Igweze. Major Ademoyega entered the landrover. 

74. On the instructions of Major Anuforo, the little convoy moved off with Anuforo leading. They traversed Lagos and went along Abeokuta road. At a given point, unidentifiable by the men interrogated, Major Anuforo stopped the convoy and he, 2/Lt Igweze and Major Ademoyega left their vehicles. They came to the tailboard of the 3-Ton truck and detailed a number of men to take position in front and to the rear of the convoy with instructions to stop and turn back all approaching traffic. 

75. Major Anuforo then ordered the four corpses to be unloaded onto the road. The bodies were then carried into the bush on the left hand side of the road. Major Anuforo then observed FS Okotie-Eboh still seated in the truck and asked the question: “Who is that man”?, which leads to the belief that, until then, Anuforo was unaware of the presence of Okotie-Eboh in the truck. The Finance Minister replied “I am Okotie-Eboh”.

Major Anuforo then ordered the Minister to step down. The latter complied, whereupon Major Anuforo informed him that he was going to be shot. The Minister commenced to plead for his life. This met with little or no response from Anuforo who is reported as having confined himself to stating that he was acting under orders. The Minister was then forced to go into the bush, pushed along by Major Anuforo and Major Ademoyega and followed by 2/Lt Igweze and Sgt. Ndukaife to the spot where the bodies of the 4 senior officers had been deposited. Arriving there, without hesitation, Major Anuforo killed Okotie-Eboh with a short burst from his SMG.

77. Major Anuforo then returned to the road followed by the others but leaving 2/Lt Igweze, Cpl. Egwim, L/Cpl Nwankpa and Cpl. Nweke on guard over the five bodies.
78. The convoy drove off and returned later, accompanied by 3 Ferret scout cars which had been obtained from 2 reconnaisance Squadron at Abeokuta. Four spades were brought out from the landrover and used to dig graves for the burial of the corpses. The graves were dug by Cpl. C. Egwim, Cpl Z Chukwu, L/Cpl J Nwankpa and private N.A. Evulobi. When this task had been completed, they all boarded their respective vehicles and drove off to Lagos.


79. These three cases have been treated jointly as they are of lesser importance and because the officers and men involved left Apapa together in the same vehicle. 

80. Although it is probable that the officers concerned in the occupation of these vulnerable points were fully aware of the purpose of their activities of that night, they have all denied this. It is certain that none of the ORs involved received any advance information on this subject.


81. After the distribution of arms and ammunition at HQ 2 Brigade, 2/Lt PN Okocha and 2/Lt OC Anyafulu were allotted a Landrover and 3 Ors and instructed to proceed to the P & T Exchange by Major A. Ademoyega and to wait there until he, Ademoyega, joined them. 

82. They drove there and, after waiting for a very short time, Major Ademoyega arrived in another Landrover accompanied by other officers and men. The Major went straight to the main door and knocked. The door was opened by one of the employees and Major Ademoyega, 2/Lt Okocha and 2/Lt Anyafulu entered, accompanied by the Ors. The Major sent the 2/Lieutenants upstairs with orders to bring down all the workers from the Exchange, whilst the 3 soldiers were ordered to guard the three entrance doors of the building. 

83. When all the workers were assembled, Major Ademoyega addressed them and ordered them not to pass any calls. He reassured them that there was no danger and advised them not to panic. He told them that he was leaving the two 2/Lts and the soldiers at the Exchange to ensure that his orders were obeyed. After speaking to the officer in charge of the exchange, Major Ademoyega instructed the 2/Lts not to molest any of the workers leaving instructions that they must not leave there until he, Ademoyega, returned to collect them. 

84. Neither of these officers have admitted that they took any steps to ensure that the automatic exchange would cease to function. An automatic exchange does not depend upon any human agency to continue functioning and it must, therefore, be accepted that one of these officers interfered with the installation. 

85. At 0500 hours 2/Lt Okocha complained that he was unwell and left in the landrover that had brought them there. 2/Lt Anyafulu and the 3 ORs remained in the exchange until about 0645 hours. Seeing no sign of Major Ademoyega, Anyafulu became worried. The workers of the day shift began to arrive but were prevented from entering by the soldiers. He then decided to return to his unit. He gave the soldiers some money to enable them to travel back to Apapa by bus. He too returned to Apapa in a commercial bus and remained in his office until arrested.


86. After the distribution of arms and ammunition at HQ 2 Brigade, Major A. Ademoyega ordered the following officers and ORs to enter with him into a landrover driven by L/Cpl Umoru: 

Captain 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. Eke – 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 party drove straight 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 spoke to the officer in charge and ordered him to cease receiving or transmitting all messages. He introduced 2/Lt Nweke as the officer who would see to it that his orders were obeyed. Major Ademoyega and Capt. Adeleke then drove away. 

88. 2/Lt. Nweke posted his men in strategic positions to prevent anyone entering or leaving the building and remained inside the building with L/Cpl Ejimkonye to ensure that no messages were received or transmitted. The party remained there until 0820 hours when, in the absence of any further instructions, 2/Lt Nweke and his men traveled to the Federal Guard Barracks in Ikoyi by taxi. On arrival there they were arrested. 

89. There is no doubt that 2/Lt Nweke was fully aware of the fact that his occupation of the NET was connected with the rebellion of which he was informed at the meeting of officers late on 14 Jan 66 in Major Ifeajuna’s house in Apapa.


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

91. They arrived at Lion Building around 0220 hours where Major Ademoyega, 2/Lt Wokocha, Sgt. F Agonsi, Sgt. F. Eke, Cpl Iroegbulam, Cpl S. Esonu and Cpl. D. Ohazurike left the vehicles and entered the building. Cpls Ohazurike and Esonu were posted downstairs at the security desk. Major Ademoyega spoke to the policemen on duty there and told them that they were engaged on military operations. He ordered them not to answer the telephone nor transmit any telephone messages. The two corporals were instructed to ensure that the police obeyed the Major’s orders. 

92. Major Ademoyega, 2/Lt Wokocha and the others then proceeded upstairs to the Police Control Room. Here they found 4 PCs and one WPC on duty. A SPO, rank not identified was also on duty there. Major Ademoyega spoke to the police and ordered them not to receive or transmit any telephone or radio messages. He informed the SPO that they were engaged in military operations and that the soldiers were there to protect the Police. 

93. At approximately 0320 hours. The GOC, Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi arrived at Lion Building in a Jaguar car. He entered the lobby holding a pistol in his hand and asked the two soldiers on duty what they were doing there. They replied that they did not know why they were there and that they had been brought by Major Ademoyega. They also told the GOC that 2/Lt. Wokocha and some others were upstairs. The GOC then ordered Cpl. Esonu to go up and to bring down the 2/Lt. Esonu complied but could not find the control room. He came down again and informed the GOC of his failure. 

94. The GOC, after having asked the men to which unit they belonged, then ordered them to return to their barracks immediately. He added that he did not know what was happening but that he was turning out 2 Battalion to attack the men then engaged on unlawful operations in Lagos. After this, the GOC left. 

95. Cpl. Ohazurike then ordered Esonu to go upstairs again, accompanied by a PC, to find 2/Lt Wokocha and to tell him of the visit of the GOC. Esonu complied and passed the message to 2/Lt Wokocha. The latter then decided that it would be wisest to comply with the GOC’s orders. He collected all his men and went to the Ministry of Defence where he succeeded in obtaining transport to take the entire back to Apapa where they arrived around 0430 hours.


96. As has already been demonstrated, Captain E. Nwobosi, OC 2 Field Battery NNA, was taken into the confidence of the conspirators either on 13 or 14 Jan 66, whilst he was attending a Brigade Training Conference at Apapa. During the afternoon of 14 Jan 66, he was given a set of written instructions by Major Ifeajuna. 

It is probable that these instructions included the arrest of the Premier and Deputy Premier of the West and an order to bring these VIPs to the Federal Guard Officer’s Mess. The instruction also probably included an order to make arrangements for a 105 mm Howitzer to be brought to Lagos after the operation. This written instruction has not been recovered and was probably destroyed by Capt. Nwobosi after his arrest. 

97. Capt. Nwobosi was further instructed by Major Ifeajuna to stand by his telephone in Abeokuta to await a message giving the all clear and “H” hour. 

98. Capt. Nwobosi returned to Abeokuta, where he arrived around 1800 hrs. Since the battery which he commanded was in the process of being formed and had not, as yet, been supplied with vehicles, Capt. Nwobosi went to 2 Recce Squadron, also stationed at Abeokuta, where he spoke to Capt. Remawa and 2/Lt. Orok. 

He gave them a message purporting to have come from Major OBIENU, CO 2 Recce Sqn, instructing these two officers to supply him, Nwobosi, with one 3-Ton truck and a landrover. Capt. Remawa agreed and arrangements were made for the vehicles to report to Nwobosi at midnight, with drivers. Later that evening, Capt. Nwobosi received a telephone call from Major Ifeajuna giving him the all clear 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 ordered the latter to turn out 25 men for IS operations and to tell the Battery Quartermaster Sergeant (BQMS), Ambrose Chukwu, to prepare all the Unit’s stock of small arms and ammunition for immediate issue to the men. Although Capt. Nwobosi claims that he gave no intimation to anyone about the night’s operations, the interrogation of the ORs involved has made it clear that around 1930 hours he instructed certain key NCOs to stand-by for IS operations. 

101. After the men had been roused, they were issued with arms and ammunition by the BQMS. A total of 15 SLRs and 12 Sterling SMGs were issued. The two officers drew SLRs. When issued, each SLR magazine contained 20 rounds of ammunition, whilst each SMG magazine contained 28 rounds. 

102. After the issue of arms, the men now marched to the parade ground where they were addressed by Capt. Nwobosi who informed them that they were proceeding to Ibadan for I.S operations. The men were then ordered to enbus. When this was completed the vehicles contained the following personnel:

(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. When all were seated, the convoy moved off to Ibadan. Whilst still in Abeokuta, Capt. Nwobosi stopped to pick up a pregnant woman in labour and take her to the nearest hospital. After this incident, the convoy continued on its way uninterrupted, reaching Ibadan around 0200 hours as planned.

104. They drove straight to the P & T automatic telephone exchange in Agodi, where Capt. Nwobosi and 2/Lt. Egbikor ordered all the employees to leave the building, believing that this would stop all telephone communication in and out of Ibadan. In the event, this was not the case, as the automatic exchange continued to function and telephone communication continued unimpaired throughout the night.

105. From the P&T the force drove to the Eleyele ECN Power Station. Here the employees were ordered to stop the generators and to leave the building. A number of the employees prevailed on Capt. Nwobosi to give them a lift into the town. He obliged and dropped them near Dugbe Market, on his way to the house of R.A. Fani-Kayode.

106. Arrived at the Deputy Premier’s residence, the 3- Tonner remained outside and the landrover drove into the compound. Of two policemen on guard at the gate, one escaped and the other was overpowered and put into the landrover. A number of persons believed to have been thugs were seen in the compound, but these absconded when they caught sight of the armed soldiers.

107. All the men were ordered to take up defensive positions around the house. Capt. Nwobosi then shouted “Fani-Kayode: Come down you are for lawful arrest by the army”. A voice from upstairs replied affirmatively to the Captain’s summons, but nothing stirred. Nwobosi repeated his call once or twice and eventually fired a round from his SLR into the ground. When this failed to produce any reaction from Fani-Kayode, the Captain ordered the following to accompany 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 gain entrance, Capt. Nwobosi was compelled to break a glass panel in the door with his SLR. He reached in, turned the key and opened the door. The small party then entered and mounted the stairs where they found Fani-Kayode in a bedroom. He raised his hands above his head and said “I surrender”. Capt. Nwobosi replied “you have wasted a lot of time – we could have shot you. This is a lawful arrest by the army”. Fani-Kayode was then escorted downstairs and put into the landrover after his hands had been tied together, with a rifle sling. From upstairs a-woman’s voice was heard shouting “Don’t kill him”.

109. All the men were then assembled and mounted into their respective vehicles. They drove straight to Premier’s Lodge, directed by Fani-Kayode. When they arrived, they had to overpower the police guard consisting of 1 Corporal and 5 PCs. These were put into the 3- Tonner under guard. The landrover then drove in and was parked facing the main entrance porch. At this time the security lights were burning and the lodge emergency generator was running.

110. The men were disposed around the building in strategic positions whilst Capt. Nwobosi went to the generator room to switch off the lights. Whilst he was there according to the landrover driver, Tpr. A. Itodo, a shot was fired. It was believed that this was the shot fired by Capt. Nwobosi, which killed the generator attendant. His body was later found with a bullet wound in the back of the head.

111. It is known that by the time S.L. Akintola had been informed by the wife of R.A. Fani-Kayode of what had happened by telephone. Akintola had returned from Kaduna only a short time before the arrival of Nwobosi and his men. He had been to the North to greet the Sardauna when the latter arrived from Mecca. Akintola must have been further alerted by the commotion caused by the overpowering of the police guard and the killing of the generator attendant.

112. All dispositions having been taken, Capt. Nwobosi stood in the middle of the courtyard and shouted “Akintola come down – you are for lawful arrest by the army on orders from HQ 2 Brigade. A voice from upstairs, presumably that of Akintola, replied “Yes, I am coming” Nothing further happened. Capt. Nwobosi repeated his summons a number of times without reaction from Akintola. He then fired from his SLR one round at the building. When this produced no result, the Captain ordered the following to accompany him into the lodge:

(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 gain entrance, Captain Nwobosi was compelled to force the main door to the lodge. They all entered and mounted the stairs. On the first floor they searched a number of rooms without encountering anyone, until they came to S.L. Akintola’s bedroom which was locked. When Nwobosi was about to force this door, Akintola opened fire from inside the room with an SMG, shooting through the closed door. This first burst of fire immediately wounded Gnr. S. Adefi in the hand, 2/Lt. Egbikor in the head and Capt. Nwobosi on the left cheek. None of the injuries were sufficiently serious to impede them. Nwobosi and his men immediately returned the fire whilst retreating down the stairs. They then left the house in a hurry and sought cover amongst the flowerbeds facing the back building.

114. Two of the men, L/Bdr. Uloh and, Gnr. Ajao remained upstairs and sought refuge in one of the other rooms. Akintola came to the room covering the entrance porch and continued to fire at his assailants with his SMG without, however, hitting anyone. Capt. Nwobosi ordered his men to return the fire which they did, massively. Akintola continued firing until he ran out of ammunition.

115. Around this time R.A. Fani-Kayode was heard shouting from the landrover to Akintola urging him to surrender. Akintola, now defenceless, decided to surrender and was next seen coming out of the front room, by Gnr. Ajao. When Akintola saw Ajao and Uloh he raised his hand in surrender and went downstairs. Capt. Nwobosi in the meantime, was heard shouting repeatedly “bring him out, bring him out”.

116. Capt. Nwobosi then ordered 2/Lt. Egbikor and BQMS A. Chukwu to shoot the Premier. These two opened fire on Akintola with their SLRs, joined, shortly afterwards, by Nwobosi himself. S.L. Akintola fell down dead or dying with several bullets in his body.

117. After the killing of Akintola, Capt. Nwobosi assembled his men, released the captured policemen and drove off. This time he was joined in the landrover by 2/Lt. Egbikor. They stopped at a roundabout near the Central Police Station, where Capt. Nwobosi ordered Sgt. T. Ibelegbu to proceed independently to Abeokuta with orders to collect a 105 mm Howitzer from the battery gun park together with a team of 12 gunners, and to drive to 2 Battalion, Ikeja. There, Ibelegbu and his party were to await the arrival of Capt. Nwobosi.

118. On the way out of Ibadan, R.A. Fani-Kayode begged Capt. Nwobosi to be released. The Captain refused this request and informed Fani-Kayode that he had orders to bring him to the Federal Guard Officers’ Mess in Lagos.

119. The party drove direct to Dodan Barracks where they arrived around 0700 hours, having left Ibadan at approximately 0400 hours. On their arrival they were all arrested.

120. The party travelling in the 3-Tonner with the 105 mm Howitzer was arrested on arrival in 2 Battalion lines, Ikeja.


121. Major C.K. Nzeogwu of the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) at Kaduna was appointed by the “inner circle” as the commander of the rebellion in the North. The manner in which this was to be organised appears to have been left entirely to him.

122. The record does not show that any officers, other than Major Nzeogwu, in the North were taken into the confidence of the inner circle. It is, however, probable that some time before the rebellion Major Nzeogwu obtained the co-operation of Major T. Onwatuegwu and Captain G. Ude, both of the NMTC.

123. Whereas in the West and in the Lagos area military movements by night were not unusual as a result of the disturbed conditions then prevailing, this was not the case at Kaduna. It was, therefore, necessary that a cover be provided for the proposed rebellious activities, at the same time creating a reason for bringing troops out of barracks by night without alerting the senior officers of 1 Brigade to Nzeogwu’s intentions.

124. It has been established that Military night exercises in the Kaduna area, organized by the NMTC, then under the command of Major Nzeogwu commenced in early December 65, leading up to Exercise Damissa on 13 and 14 Jan. 66. By then the population of Kaduna and the Police were accustomed to troop movements after dark.

125. The master plan of the inner circle made provision for the arrest of a number of leading political personalities who were not to be killed unless they offered resistance. This may well have been true as far as the West, Mid-West and the East were concerned. In view of Major Nzeogwu’s activities at the Premier’s Lodge in Kaduna, however, it is thought that this officer had no intention of abiding by these decisions but was determined, from the start, to kill the Premier of the North at any cost.


126. The details of exercise DAMISSA are not relevant to this report. Suffice it to say that the night exercise of 13 Jan 66 took place in the area of the Ministers’ quarters in Kaduna, whereas that of 14 Jan 66 was held in the bush some 5 or 6 miles outside Kaduna along the Zaria road.
Units involved

l27. On 14 Jan 66 troops from the following units took part in Exercise DAMISSA:

(1) 3rd 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 proceeding on military training exercises by night or by day were normally issued with their arms, either without ammunition or with blanks. 

129. As far as can be established, this practice was first deviated from on Jan 13 66 when, at approximately 0900 hours Major Nzeogwu handed the Acting RQMS of the NMTC, Ssgt. J. Daramola, a list of live ammunition required for Exercise DAMISSA. This NCO handed the list to Cpl. E. Aiyikere, the arms storeman, with instructions to draw this ammunition from the NMTC Magazine at Kawo. This was done and the ammunition was issued in bulk at approximately 1730 hours on 14 Jan 66 by Ssgt. Daramola and CMS Oko (also of NMTC).

130. This list of ammunition issued is not available but it has, however, been established that at least 6 x 84 mm projectiles for the Carl Gustav Anti-Tank gun were issued to Sgt. Yakubu Adebiyi, an instructor in the Tactical Wing of the NMTC. These were loaded into a landrover whilst the bulk of the small Arms Ammunition drawn was loaded into a 3-Tonner driven by NA/ 18266054 Pte. Clement Agbe of 1 Bde. Transport Coy. This driver subsequently transported the ammunition to the DAMISSA exercise area.


131. Exercise DAMISSA terminated at approximately 0130 hours on 15 Jan 66. Around that time all officers engaged in the exercise with the exception of the officers of 1st Field Battery NAA, were called by Major Nzeogwu to attend an “O” Group in the bush at which, they believed, the success or otherwise of the exercise was to be discussed. Identified as present at this discussion are the following:

(1) Major C.K. Nzeogwu )NMTC
(2) Major T. Onwatuegwu )NMTC
(3) Captain G. Ude ) NMTC
(4) 2/Lt. S. R. Omeruah )3rd Bn NA – “C” Coy
(5) 2/Lt. D.K. Waribor )
(6) Capt. B. Gbulie )at the time in command of lst and 2nd 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 ) 2nd Field Sqn NAE
(12) 2/Lt. H.O.D. EGHAGHA )

132. The officers of 1st Field Battery NAA were not called to the “O” Group for reasons which are not altogether clear. No direct use in connection with the rebellion was made of this Battery that night.

133. When all the officers were assembled, Major Nzeogwu addressed then on the subject of the rapidly deteriorating political and security situation in the Federation. He claimed that a stage had been reached at which the politicians should be told to quit. To accomplish this, he announced, the army had decided to take over power by force of arms. 

He compared the incomes of the politicians with those of Nigerian workers and urged the officers to support the rebellion. He further announced that the revolt was taking place simultaneously in all regional capitals and at Lagos and that, therefore, they need fear no repercussions as a result of the activities in which they were about to participate that night. It would appear that none of these present raised a dissenting voice. In fact, their subsequent actions showed, in most cases, enthusiastic support for the plan.

134. Major Nzeogwu then proceeded to issue set tasks to each officer present. Events have shown that, subsequently, last minute changes in these plans were made. The tasks allotted have been established as follows:
Occupation of Vulnerable Points

135. The officer in over-all charge of this part of the operation was Capt. B. Gbulie. He claimed to have distributed tasks as shown below on the spur of the moment:

(1) Ammunition Service Depot (ASD) -2/Lt. Ileabachi
(2) P & T Telephone Exchange -2/Lt. P. Ogoegbunam Ibik
(3) N.B.C. House -2/Lt. Kpera
(4) BCNN Radio & TV Station -2/Lt. Ezedima
(5) State House -2/Lt. Okafor
(6) Road Blocks on Kachia Road near PMF Barracks -2/Lt. Eghagha

136. In addition, Capt. Gbulie was instructed to rouse the following officers to inform them of what was taking place and to ask for 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 stated under interrogation that he complied with this order and caused these officers to foregather at HQ 1 Bde where he informed them of the situation.

137. As far as has been established, the following officers were then detailed for tasks as shown:

(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
Major T. Onwatuegwu

(3) Assassination of Colonel R.A. Shodeinde
2/Lt. K.D. Waribor

(4) Abduction of Sir Kashim Ibrahim
Major T. Onwatuegwu

(5) Abduction of Makaman Bida – Regional Finance Minister
Major C.K. Nzeogwu

138. After the officers had been briefed they were sent to join their men and to proceed immediately with the execution of the tasks allotted to them. It is not clear whether or not Major Nzeogwu instructed the officers to inform their men of what was afoot. It is certain that the men of 3rd Battalion who were to be used for the attack of the Premier’s Lodge were not briefed. It is equally certain that Capt. Gbulie addressed all the men of the Engineers under his command and spoke to them along the lines in which Major Nzeogwu had briefed the officers.

139. Immediately after the “O” Group, senior NCOs of all units represented were sent to the 3~Tonner containing the ammunition and order to draw ammunition for their men. In the case of the “C” company this raised a problem. The men believed the exercise to be finished and a number of them queried the reason why they should be issued with live ammunition. This was explained to them by 2/Lt. Waribor who told them that they were proceeding on Internal Security Operations.

140. After the issue of ammunition had been completed, the entire force left the exercise area and proceeded to its allotted targets.

141. The following officers and ORs have been identified as having been involved in the attack on the Premier’s Lodge:

(1) Major C .K. Nzeogwu – NMTC
(2) 2/Lt. K.D. Waribor – “C” Coy, 3rd BN NA
(3) 2/Lt. S.E. Omeruah – “
(4) Capt. G. Ude

Other ranks

(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 – 3rd Bn NA
(5) NA 2405 Pte Bello Mbulla – 3rd Bn NA
(6) NA 18151763 L/Cpl . Samuel Amajo – 3rd Bn NA
(7) NA 18151319 L/Cpl Danyo Mbulla – 3rd Bn NA
(8) NA 5684 Pte. Abu Odiedier – 3rd Bn NA
(9) NA 18148998 Pte Lekoja Gidan-Jibrin – 3rd Bn NA
(10) NA 163287 Cp1. Bako Lamundo – 3rd Bn NA
(11) NA 5860 Pte. Joseph Wadu Goji -3rd Bn NA
(12) NA 1982 Pte. Alexander Agbe – 3rd Bn NA
(13) NA 18151864 Pte Lagwin Goshit – 3rd Bn NA
(14) NA 18266006 Pte Augustine Oguche Agbo – 3rd Bn NA
(15) NA 634212 Pte Effiong Atkinson – 3rd Bn NA
(16) NA 18147284 Cpl. Tunana Bangir – 3rd Bn NA
(17) NA 18l49368 Cpl. Abibo Elf – 3rd Bn NA
(18) NA 18151873 Pte. Uguman Monogi – 3rd Bn NA
(19) NA 1562 Pte Felako Kwa – 3rd Bn NA
(20) NA 18149363 Cpl. Reuben Nwagwugwu – 3rd Bn NA
(20) NA 502542 Cpl. Yakubu Kaje – 3rd Bn NA
(21) NA 505092 L/Cpl. Mamis Hundu – 3rd Bn NA
(22) NA 18151861 L/Cpl Thaddens Thamyil Tsenyi1 – 3rd Bn NA
(23) NA l8148269 L/Cpl Issna1m Tayapa – 3rd Bn NA
(24) NA 18148272 L/Cpl Ali Shendam – 3rd Bn NA
(25) NA 18151771 Pte. Usuman Gabure – 3rd Bn NA
(26) NA 18149613 Pte Emmanue1 Ekwueme – 3rd Bn NA
(27) NA 4887 Pte Erastus Nakito – 3rd Bn NA
(29) NA 3659 Pte Jonathan Anahiri – 3rd Bn NA

142. When this force left the DAMISSA exercise area, it was led by Major Nzeogwu who was travelling in a landrover accompanied by a driver and two OR’s. He was followed by another landrover containing Sgts. Adebiyi, Manga and Oyegoke who were armed with two 84mm Carl Gustav Anti-Tank Guns and 6 projectiles.

143. Following this were a number of other vehicles, landrovers and 3-Tonner containing 2/Lts. Waribor and Omeruah and troops from “C” Coy 3rd BN NA.

144. On arrival at the main gate to the compound, Major Nzeogwu found 4 PCs on guard in front of the gate. They were the following:

(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 armed with a sterling SMG, ordered the constables to face the wall. Attah complied with this order but the three others refused. Without further ado, Major Nzeogwu immediately opened fire on them with his SMG killing all three on the spot.

146. Immediately after the killing of the policemen, Major Nzeogwu ordered the two men with the guns and the 3 NMTC Sergeants to follow him into the compound, bringing with them the Carl Gustav guns and the projectiles for these weapons.

147. Immediately inside the compound, Major Nzeogwu stationed the Carl Gustavs some 10 yards apart facing the lodge. The gunners were Sgts. Oyegeke and Manga, whilst Sgt. Adebiyi acted as ammunition number. As soon as both guns had been loaded, Major Nzeogwu ordered the NCOs to open fire at the Lodge. Both fired their projectiles bursting inside the ground floor rooms of the building. Sgt. Adebiyi stated that he then ran towards Sgt. Manga to help this NCO reload. 

Whilst he was with Manga he heard Major Nzeogwu shouting repeatedly “Fire you bastard, fire”. Immediately after this both Manga and Adebiyi heard a burst of SMG fire. They turned round and observed Sgt. Oyegoke slumped on the ground bleeding from multiple wounds. It was clear to both that their colleague had been killed by Major Nzeogwu either for refusing to obey or because he attempted to run away.

143. After the killing of Oyegeke, Major Nzeogwu ordered Sgt. Adebiyi to take over Oyegeke’s gun and to continue firing at the house. Both Adebiyi and Manga, frightened by Oyegoke’s killing, continued to fire as ordered. They used a total of 5 projectiles. As a result the building caught fire.

149. Whilst all this was happening, 2/Lst. Waribor and Omeruah had arrived with the men from 3rd BN who were rapidly deployed around the outer perimeter wall of the lodge. Although these men heard the bursting of the Carl Gustav projectiles, the SMG and SLR fire and the screaming of women and children inside the compound, they were in no position to observe what was happening.

150. 2/Lt. Waribor, whilst deploying his men, instructed them to shoot anyone they observed attempting to leave the compound. A number of civilians, including women, however, were seen running and crying and Major Nzeogwu firing at them with his SMG.

151. NA 502342 Cpl. Yakubu Kaje of 3rd BN NA reports that, at a given moment, he observed a civilian coming out of the Lodge armed with a sword. The corporal and the men with him stopped the civilian and ordered him to drop the sword. At this moment, according to the corporal, Major Nzeogwu arrived on the scene and asked the civilian, in Hausa, for the whereabouts of the “master of the house”. The man replied that he did not know, whereupon Major Nzeogwu threatened to kill him unless he led him to his master. The man then agreed and led Major Nzeogwu to the back of the building. A shortwhile afterwards, the corporal states, he heard a number of shots fired. Assuming that Kaje is telling the truth, it is probable that the Sardauna of Sokoto died at that moment.

152. Cpl. Kaje has further reported that when the firing ceased, Major Nzeogwu came from the compound and was met at the gate by 2/Lt. Waribor, who asked the Major: “Did you get the man?”, to which Nzeogwu answered, “Yes”. When Major Nzeogwu left the compound he stated for all to hear, exultantly, “I have been successful, he is dead”.

153. It has not been possible to establish the circumstances in which the senior wife of the deceased Premier was killed. The same applies to the death of one Zaruni, the Premier’s personal body-guard. It is presumed that they died at the same time as the Premier.

154. With regards to the killing of Ahmed Ben Musa, Senior Assistant Secretary (Security) in front of the Lodge, none of the men interrogated has admitted to having witnessed this. Ahmed Ben Musa was shot dead in his car by a number of unidentified soldiers, having arrived at the Premier’s Lodge after being alerted by the police. Presumably the soldiers had ordered Musa to drive away but he could not do so for some unexplained reason. They then killed him.


155. The following have been identified as having been involved in the killing of this senior officer and his wife at No.1, Kashim Ibrahim Road, Kaduna at approximately 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 briefing 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. Coy. With the exception of L/Cpl. Lawrence Akuma all the men mentioned were made to enter this vehicle and another landrover.

157. Before leaving the exercise area these men drew ammunition from the 3-Tonner already referred to in this report. They had already been briefed as what was expected from them that night by Capt. Gbulie, the OC. The two vehicles then moved off to the junction of the Lagos Zaria roads where they stopped. Here the men from one of the landrovers were transferred to a 3-Tonner whilst the empty landrover containing only the driver and L/Cpl. Muli was despatched to the Air Force Base by Major Onwatuegwu.

158. When L/Cpl. Muli returned, the convoy, now consisting of 2 landrovers and one 3-Tonner, proceeded to the residence of Brigadier Ademulegun. At some distance from the house, variously estimated at between 100 and 400 yards, all three vehicles stopped. Major Onwatuegwu ordered a section of men under L/Cpl. Muli to accompany him towards the house.

159. The Brigadier’s house was guarded by L/Cpl. Lawrence Akuma and three sappers of 2 Field Squadron NAE. When the Major and his party arrived, L/Cpl. Akuma and the two sappers were on the verandah of the house whilst one sapper was patrolling the grounds. The latter challenged Major Onwatuegwu when he approached. He was disarmed and escorted to the house where he was made to join the guard commander and the other two members of the guard. They were all placed in the custody of a number of soldiers.

160. Major Onwatuegwu, accompanied by a number of soldiers entered the house. A short while after this, the guard heard several shots fired upstairs after which the Major and his men returned. The guard were placed into the 3-Tonner truck and driven to HQ 1 Brigade where they remained until released in the morning.


161. The only persons positively identified as having been involved in the murder of this senior officer are the following:-

(l) Major C.K. Nzeogwu – NMTC
(2) Major T. Onwatuegwu – NMTC
(3) Lieut. G.E. Nwokedi – NMTC

162. It will be recalled that at the briefing by Major Nzeogwu, it was 2/Lt. Waribor who was allotted the task of killing the Colonel, after the attack on the Premier’s Lodge 2/Lt. Waribor has stated that after the completion of his task at the Premier’s Lodge, he was ordered by Major Nzeogwu to effect the arrest of Makaman Bida before proceeding to Col. Shodeinde’s residence. He was unable to do so, because he did not know the address of the Colonel, and therefore, returned to Brigade

163. Mrs. Shodeinde has stated that at approximately 0300 hours on Jan 15. 66 she heard the sound of three vehicles stopping in front of her house. Immediately afterwards she heard a voice which she identified as that of Major Nzeogwu, calling her husband’s name. The Colonel was fast asleep. She left her bed and switched on the lights. As she did so, the men outside started to shoot at the doors and windows of the house and she was immediately wounded in the left hand. The door then flew open and about ten soldiers rushed into the room. Amongst these she identified Major Nzeogwu, Major Onwatuegwu and Lieut. Nwokedi.

164. By this time the Colonel was awake and sitting up in bed. Mrs. Shodeinde started to cry and beg for her life. Nzeogwu assured her that they had not come to kill her but her husband the Colonel. When she continued shouting, the other soldiers shot at her legs, wounding her several times.

165. Major Nzeogwu and the others then commenced firing at the Colonel whilst still in bed, who fell down dead or dying by the side of the bed. Mrs. Shodeinde then fled from the room and ran for shelter to the servant’s quarters where she remained until the attackers left.


166. This abduction was accomplished by the persons involved in the assassination of Brigadier S. Ademulegun. Their names are, therefore, not repeated here.

167. After killing the Brigadier, Major Onwatuegwu ordered his men to re-enter their vehicles and drove straight to the Governor’s residence. On arrival a number of men were deployed around the house whilst the Major entered accompanied by a number of unidentified soldiers.

168. The house was then being guarded by the following police constables:-

(1) No.11258 PC Benson Sihindatiya
(2) No.185 ” Yohana Garkawa
(3) No.1391 ” Johnson Lamurde
(4) No.18909 ” Warzar

169. At approximately 0245 hours Major Onwatuegwu and his party reached the residence, according to PC Lamurde. The Major was then in the landrover. The first landrover containing some 7 men stopped. The man jumped out and overpowered the PC on duty. The Major then entered the building.

170. Whilst the Major and his party were inside, the military personnel who remained outside the building heard a burst of SMG fire. It is certain that this burst of SMG fire killed PC Yohana Garkawa. PC Sihindatiya was disarmed by 4 soldiers and dragged to the police guard room where he saw the dead body of PC Garkawa. The soldiers pointed at the body and said “Do you see your brother?”. They then instructed him to lead them to the bedroom of the Governor. When he stated that he did not know where the Governor was sleeping they threatened to kill him. By that time, however, the Governor had been found by other soldiers reaching the residence. He was brought out and made to enter the 3-Tonner and was driven to HQ 1 Brigade

171. Simultaneously with the Governor, his two ADC’s Messrs. Noman Dikwa and Garba Lango, were abducted and driven to 1 Bde HQ in the landrover containing Major Onwatuegwu.


172. This attempted abduction (or assassination) failed because the Minister was not in his house that night, having traveled to Bida, his home town, the previous day. The incident is, however, worth reporting, because during the search of the Minister’s residence one man, Ahmadu Pategi, a Government driver, was killed by Lieut. Waribor who mistook him for the Minister.

173. Among those taking an active part in this incident the following have been identified:-
(1) 2/Lt. Waribor – NMTC (other names are illegible)

174. After the completion of the operation at the Premier’s Lodge, 2/Lt. Waribor met Major Nzeogwu near the main entrance to the Lodqe. The Major had been wounded during the attack and had bloodstains on the right side of his face and his shirt. The Major ordered Waribor to take his platoon to the house of Makaman Bida, to arrest the Minister and to take him to Brigade Headquarters.

175. Waribor complied with the order, and drove straight to the Minister’s house. On arrival he deployed his men around the house and called in a loud voice upon the Minister to surrender. This brought no reaction so he forced open the door with the intention of searching the house. At this moment Major Nzeogwu arrived. The Major ordered Waribor to search the ground floor whilst he, accompanied by a number of men from 3rd Brigade NA went upstairs.

176. Waribor’s search downstairs proved fruitless. He collected about 3 house servants and questioned them as to the whereabouts of their master. They claimed that the Minister had traveled to Bida and was returning in the morning. Whilst he was questioning the servants outside the house, Waribor observed a man running from the house with his face covered.

Believing this to be the Minister, Waribor fired at the man and killed him. He then went to the body, and after removing the cloth from the man’s face, found that he was mistaken. It was later established that the body was that of Ahmadu Pategi, a Government driver attached to the Minister.

177. Major Nzeogwu, having failed to find the Minister upstairs then came down and enquired from Waribor why he had fired his SMG. Waribor explained after which Nzeogwu ordered him to accompany him to the house of Colonel Shodeinde, who according to the plan was to be killed that night. The Major then drove off before Waribor had a chance to assemble his men and to mount into the vehicles. Since Waribor did not know Col. Shodeinde’s address and the Major had departed without him, he had no choice but to return to Brigade Headquarters.


178. This was carried out by the officers named in paragraph 135 of this report without producing any incident of interest to this enquiry. 2/Lt. H.O.D. Eghagha whose task it was to set up a road block on the Kachia Road near the Police Mobile Force Barracks was instructed to prevent the PMF from travelling into Kaduna. This, it is thought, implied that he and his men were to attack the PMF should they move out in strength. It has been established, however, that 2/Lt. Eghagha instructed his men not to molest the PMF as these were too few in number to affect materially the rebellious operations of that night. It is a fact that the majority of the Northern PMF were, at that time, serving in Western Nigeria.


179. Although not directly involved in any of the incidents reported on in this document, there is no doubt that the Nigerian Air Force played a comparatively important role in the rebellion under the command of 2/Lt. Godfrey Ikechukwu Amuchienwa of the Military Training and Security Squadron NAF at Kaduna.


On July 29, 1966, mutinous soldiers, taking a cue from their colleagues elsewhere surrounded the premises, arrested the General and his host and eventually kidnapped them both, taking them to mile 8 on Iwo road where they were shot and buried.

July 1966 coup, many Northern officers, including Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed argued for the secession of the North from Nigeria. [Note that it was the irascible Murtala Muhammed who along with Major T. Y. Danjuma and Martins Adamu planned the July 29 coup, and Muhammed used his role as Inspector of Signal to expedite and facilitate the unfolding dynamics and ruthlessness of the blood-letting that followed the coup]. However, many prominet civilians argued strongly against the breakup of the country, and the Northern officers acquiesced to keeping their units in Lagos only on the condition that Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, the Army Chief of Staff and the most senior Northern officer, assume control of the government. On August 1, 1966.

[Excerpt in Quotes]

“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. 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, and by no means privy to or part of the coup) 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.” [Nowa Omoigui, cited from:]


Below is a transcript/complete account of how the July 29, 1966 coup was reported by Arthur Nwankwo & Samuel Ifejika in their book titled: “Biafra: The Making of a Nation” published by Praeger Publishers, (c) 1969, pp. 156-159. In presenting this account, I have relied exclusively on excerpts and corroborative accounts of Nwankwo & Ifejika (1969), and a recent book “Politics in Nigeria” (2002) published by Oladimeji Aborisade (a Yoruba) and Robert J. Mundt( an American), both of them internationally recognized scholars in the academia. There is a 30 year gap between both texts, but despite the time lapse, the original account remain the same and both of them corroborate each other. Unlike Nowa Omoigui, I refuse to inject my personal opinions, speculations, biased and one-sided interpretations, or make any attempt to conflate facts from fiction. Please read this with great objectivity and save it for history. I have asked the webmaster of (Dr. Iro) to publish this account on, at least to counteract Nowa Omoigui’s incessant lies and bigoted anti-Igbo misrepresentations of events in Nigeria’s tumultuous history. If the webmaster can be fair as well as professional, he would publish this account of the event of the July 29, 1966 Northern coup and the accompanying pogroms directed at the Igbos. For a complete list of the more than 300 Igbo military officers killed during the July 1966 coup, please consult Chuks Iloegbunam’s “Ironside,” or Robin Luckham,s “The Nigerian Military” (1971), Cambridge University Press. [Please compare to Nowa Omoigui’s adulterated and superficial account above and you can see why Nowa Omoigui remains an unreliable and dubious individual and has no credibility at all in relating the actual events].


The aim of the July 29, 1966 coup (massacre) was two-fold: (1) To split the country and effect the secession of the North from the rest of Nigeria; and (2) in the alternative, to re-establish the hegemony and domination of the North in the federation. In accordance with these aims, the Federal Military Government, as led by General Aguiyi Ironsi had to be overthrown and the General himself must be eliminated. Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon was selected as the man who would replace Ironsi. He had been General Ironsi’s Army Chief of Staff (Defense Headquarters) and a member of the Supreme Military Council. He had returned to Nigeria from Britain less than forty-eight hours before the Revolution of January 15, 1966, and subsequently a member of the Supreme Military Council. This shows the amount of confidence General Ironsi reposed in him – a confidence he betrayed. His position gave him the opportunity to study the inner workings of the National Military Government, preparatory to his revolt.

On July 28, 1966, General Ironsi addressed the country’s natural rulers at Ibadan. In the evening he retired to the Government house, Ibadan, with his host, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, the West Military Governor. With him were Lt. Col. Hilary Njoku, Officer Commanding the 2nd Brigade, Lt. Nwankwo, the Supreme Commander’s Air Force aide-de-camp, and Lt. Bello, his Military aide-de-camp. Late that evening, the “Araba” was launched into operation in many parts of the Federation, Southern Nigerians in General Ironsi’s body guard were removed, and a group of twenty-four Northern soldiers was sent to reinforce the remaining Northerners. Before midnight the Ibadan Government House was already surrounded.

Meanwhile operations had started at Abeokuta in Western Nigeria. A group of Northern soldiers broke into the officer’s mess and shot Major Obienu, Lt. Orok (both Easterners, and Lt. Okonweze (Mid-West Igbo). An alarm was sounded, and Southeners who responded to it were arrested and locked up in the guardroom and the armoury, which had by now been emptied of its contents and converted into a guardroom. The Northern troops, now fully equipped with arms and ammunition taken from the armoury, went hunting, both in the barracks and in the adjoining civilian houses, for Southern troops who had failed to answer the alarm. Some of those caught were locked up, others were shot at sight, depending on the whims of their Northern captors. Later the Westerners were sifted out from the other Southerners and released. At sunrise, the non-commisioned officers (NCOs) amongst the detainees were brought out and shot, their bodies being bundled into a vehicle which was made available for the purpose.

Back in Ibadan, news of the disorders had reached the Government House. The Supreme Commander’s Military ADC, Lt. Bello (a Northerner) had disappeared. So had Lt. Col Fajuiyi’s ADC. Following a brief conference between the Supreme commander, his host and Lt. Col Njoku, it was decided that Njoku should hurry down to Lagos in plain clothes, take over control and quell the uprising. On his way, a group of Northern soldiers fired at him, wounding him in the thigh. He returned fire and made straight for the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan. He had scarcely been admitted there for treatment when his assailants tracked him to the hospital. Fortunately, with the help of some hospital staff, he managed to escape to the Eastern Region.



The sound of the exchange of fire warned Ironsi and his host that they were in trouble. So they sent Lt. Nwankwo downstairs to find out what was happening. When he got downstairs, the Lt. was arrested and detained by the guards. When he did not return for some time, Lt. Col. Fajuiyi himself went downstairs and was himself arrested and detained. At about 9 am on July 29, Major T. Y. Danjuma, who was in command of the guards, took some men upstairs, and after quizzing the Supreme Commander, saluted him and ordered his arrest.

The three captives were stripped naked, tied up and, amidst floggings and beatings, bundle into separate police vans. Led by Lt. Walbe, Lt. Paiko, Warrant Officer I. Baka and Company Sergeant-Major Useri Fegge, the special team selected for this purpose took the captives to a smal stream about 10 miles along the Ibadan-Iwo road, where the torture continued. At this stage Lt. Nwankwo escaped. Enraged by this, Lt. Walbe and his men sprayed Major-General Ironsi and Lt-Col. Fajuiyi with machine gun bullets.

[NOTE: This very chronology of events is equally corroborated by Oladimeji Aborisade & Robert J. Mundt, in their recently published book: “Politics in Nigeria” (2nd Ed.), New York: Longmans Publishers, 2002. Dr. Aborisade is a Lecturer in Political Science at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife; and Robert J. Mundt was a late Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill].

According to Aborisade & Mundt (2002, pp. 16), “At about the Government House (Ibadan) was surrounded and their guards disarmed. Ironsi himself was not confronted until when Major Danjuma of the 4th Battallion went upstairs in the Government House with an escort, saluted him, questioned him, and ordered his arrest.”

[But in the account written by Nowa Omoigui on the Hausa-Fulani website called, He unreservedly and falsely exonerated Major T. Y. Danjuma of “being there,” of having any role and complicity in the abduction of General Ironsi and murder of the General. Nowa Omoigui wrote “that Danjuma was pushed aside at the Government house by junior officers,” who then, arguably, took charge of the situation and thus proceeded to arrest and eliminate Ironsi. This assertion is a complete misrepresentation of truth and total lack of human conscience on the part of Nowa Omoigui. I will let you be the judge on Nowa Omoigui’s ignoble role at disinformation and revisionism of the most disingeneous kind].

At the Letmank Barracks, Ibadan, the process was the same as at Abeokuta. The armoury and magazines were siezed by Northern troops, the alarm was blown, the Southern soldiers arrested, and the non-commisioned officers of Eastern origin among them were shot and bundled away in a waiting van. Then there followed a room-to-room hunt for Eastern soldiers, but this time the killings and arrests were accompanied by the raping of wives and looting of property of Easterners.

There were, however, a few differences. At 10 am (July 29), Lt. Col. J. Akahan, Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion at Ibadan, called an officer’s meeting. He did not attend. The officers of Eastern origin who attended were arrested and locked up in the guardroom. At night they were transferred to the tailors’ shop, into which were thrown hand-grenades. The few surviving officers were shot as they tried to escape. Their corpses were bundled into a van and conveyed to a mass grave already prepared at the outskirts of the town. The next day, Lt-Col. Akahan disarmed the Northern soldiers and caused it to be announced that the fleeing officers should return, as their safety was now assured. Some Eastern officers who were in hiding in the city returned, but, at night, Northern soldiers attacked them with guns and knives, killing all they caught. Those who escaped fled to the East.

The same pattern was followed in the remaining Southern military stations – Apapa, Ikeja, Lagos island and Yaba. [Major Okafor, the erstwhile Commander of the vaunted Brigade of Guards was buried alive].In the absence of General Ironsi, Lt-Col. Gowon was in overall command, and thus had a free hand to direct the operations. He later moved to Ikeja, where he established his headquarters. It is pertinent to note that, for over twenty-nine days after July 29, the Northern Nigeria secessionist flag of red, yellow, indigo, green, and khaki stripes was flown in the Ikeja Barracks. (So Eastern Nigeria was not the first to embark on a secessionist bid).

In the North, the pattern was not much different except that operations did not start until the night of July 29. Here, however, ghastly bestialities were committed in broad daylight, and here too the atrocities were committed by both civilian and military authorities alike. In Kaduna, The Eastern officers were rounded up, sentenced to death and taken in batches to a waiting firing squad in the outskirts of town. In Kano, an alarm summoned the soldiers for parade at the basketball pitch. Then, as in other places, the Easterners who were present were arrested and locked up. Some were removed to unknown destinations. Others were tortured and eventually murdered. Some managed to escape and, after sleeping in the bush for days, finally found their way to the East. There were many who did not make it, however. The unfortunate ones ran into search parties of Northern soldiers, who invariably shot them at sight. [Elsewhere, Lt-Col. Okoro was tricked to a side ‘garage’ by one of the Northern soldiers under his command who proceeded to shoot him point blank]

One thing that is perculiar to the July operations is the revolting bestiality that marks every aspect of it. Some victims were not even given the ‘mercy’ of a quick death from a bullet, but were slaughtered with knives. Others were made to swim in ponds of faeces for several hours before being finally shot. It is difficult to understand the depth of hatred that must have driven Northern soldiers to these sadistic acts, the more so when it is realised, that, a few hours before the holocaust, the Eastern soldiers shared the same sleeping accommodations and dined at same table with their executioners. It cannot be argued that these killings were a sudden outburst of pent-up grievances. All available evidence points to a detailed and exhaustive programme – a premeditated and cold-blooded extermination of Easterners in the army. This is borne out by the uniformity of the procedure for carrying out the massacres in the different military stations, with slight modifications depending only on the degree of bestiality of the commanding officer and the whims of the executioners. The scrupulous separation of Western Nigerians from the Easterners before the latter were executed goes a long way to support pre-meditation. The genocide of the later months of 1966 is still more conclusive as evidence.

Another point which must be mentioned here is that the killing of the Eastern soldiers was indiscriminate. No attempt was made to ascertain whether any Eastern soldier was Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, Ijaw or Ogoja. As soon as the Yorubas were sifted from the detained Southerners, the rest, including Mid-Westerners were marched off to the firing squad, which is usually preceded by some torturing. Of the total 43 officers killed, 33 were Easterners, 7 from the Mid-West, and 3 from the West. The number of other ranks killed is estimated at 200, but, due to the fact that records of newly trained soldiers are not available, only 170 can be accounted for. Of these 153 were easterners, 21 Mid-Westerners, and 3 Westerners.

In the East, the operation Araba was a a complete failure in spite of the fact that, of the 950 soldiers in the 1st Battalion at Enugu, 700 were Northerners. By a stroke of sheer luck, Captain Ogbonna had escaped the killings at Abeokuta. Not realising the extent of the plans, he phoned the Quarter-Master General of a number of military stations to report what he believed to be an isolated mutiny. Fortunately the Quarter-Master General at Enugu (a Northerner) did not receive the call having gone out to get the Northern soldiers ready in full war dress. As soon as the report reached Lt-Col. Ogunewe, the officer commanding the 1st Battalion, he contacted Lt-Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eastern Military Governor, who took immediate precautionary actions. He ordered the immediate disarming of all soldiers, sealed off the armoury, called in the mobile police Force, and moved into the Police Headquarter from where he contacted Brigadier Ogundipe, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, and the next senior officer in the absence of General Ironsi, whom he urged to assume command and leadership. In the course of his discussions with Ogundipe, he learned that the rebels were in firm control of Lagos and would only agree to a ceasefire on two conditions: 

(1) the the republic of Nigeria be split into its component parts,
(2)that all Southerners resident in the North be repatriated to the South, and all Northerners resident in the South be repatriated to the North.

As Aborisade & Mundt (2002, pp. 17-18) report that “in the confusion following the July 1966 coup, many Northern officers, including Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed argued for the secession of the North from Nigeria. [Note that it was the irascible Murtala Muhammed who along with Major T. Y. Danjuma and Martins Adamu planned the July 29 coup, and Muhammed used his role as Inspector of Signal to expedite and facilitate the unfolding dynamics and ruthlessness of the blood-letting that followed the coup]. However, many prominet civilians argued strongly against the breakup of the country, and the Northern officers acquiesced to keeping their units in Lagos only on the condition that Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, the Army Chief of Staff and the most senior Northern officer, assume control of the government. On August 1, 1966, Gowon announced by radio that he had taken the title of Supreme Commander and Head of the Military Government. One major figure was not a party to this agreement and immediately denounced it: the Military Governor of the Eastern Region, Col Ojukwu.


There is no doubt that fairly soon after January 15, the motive for a northern counter-coup also known as “return match” was established. What remained were the means and the opportunity. In Kaduna, the Platoon Commanders Course at the NMTC provided an opportunity for young northern subalterns to come together to share ideas and vent frustration. These officers included Lts. Shelleng, Hannaniya, Muhammadu Jega, Sani Abacha, Sali, Dambo and others. They held secret meetings and even wrote a letter of protest to the Chief of Staff (Army) – Lt. Col. Gowon – openly stating that if senior northern officers did not take action within a certain time frame, they would, and that senior northern officers would have themselves to blame for the catastrophe. Indeed, the Ironsi government was sufficiently alarmed that on at least two occasions the course was suspended. For a brief period, thereafter, things were relatively quiet, but not for long. Matters began to stir in Lagos. 

Although it is said that practically all northern officers serving in Lagos, Abeokuta, Ikeja and Ibadan eventually became involved, three officers formed the innermost circle of the plot to overthrow 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 (2nd Battalion, Ikeja). The coup leader was T/Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed. 

According to late Major General Garba (rtd), others involved in planning in the South include Captain JN Garba, Lt. William Walbe and Lt. Paul Tarfa (Federal Guards), Lts. Muhammadu Buhari and John Longboem (2nd battalion), Lts. Pam Nwatkon (Abeokuta garrison, Recce), Lts Jerry Useni, Ibrahim Bako and Garba Dada (4th battalion, Ibadan), and Lt. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (Adjutant, 1st battalion, Enugu). Air force conspirators included Majors Musa Usman and Shittu Alao. However, other officers were clearly involved because Muhammed compartmentalized the planning and also encouraged officers to recruit additional local conspirators and storm troopers. Examples include 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. 

Active planning for the coup began after the promulgation of the Unification decree. In fact there was a brief scare in Kaduna when false rumors of Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina’s arrest in Lagos by Ironsi after the May riots rent the air. Katsina had gone to Lagos for a meeting at which fruitless efforts were made to get the decree repealed. When he eventually returned to Kaduna he found the airport surrounded by irate northern soldiers. 

Captain Garba was recruited in Lagos by being told that northerners were planning a coup to “pre-empt” an expected one by Igbo officers. This so called expected Igbo coup was also known as “Plan 15” – part 2 of the so called final solution to the northern problem perhaps (as the propaganda went) made all the more urgent by the killings of Igbos in the North during the May riots. Lagos conspirators, who were being closely watched, met in various locations, including their private cars, Muhammed’s house, Garba’s house, and during games at Abalti barracks.
At Ibadan, Lt. Col. Muhammed would often drive into town from Lagos, pick up Ibrahim Bako and Abdullai Shelleng at a pre-arranged location and drive around without stopping while they discussed. 

The Kaduna group was not as formally organized as the Lagos-Ikeja-Abeokuta-Ibadan axis at this stage although it later consolidated and was in the habit of having meetings at Lugard Hall with northern civilians. However, Capt. Ahmadu Yakubu was the liaison who would 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 also passed to the 5th battalion in Kano under Lt. Col Shuwa primarily for reasons of coordination. But Lagos was to be the fulcrum. 

In order to keep tabs on what was going on inside the government, Lt. Col Murtala Muhammed maintained contact with northern civil servants in Lagos (like Muktar Tahir), while Captain Baba Usman of military intelligence provided insights into what the Army knew and did not know. Nevertheless, the Ironsi government had other mechanisms of information gathering outside official channels. For example, at least one officer, Lt. Jasper, then the intelligence officer at the 4th battalion in Ibadan, was suspected of passing information directly to Supreme HQ and perhaps even to Ironsi himself, bypassing the Army. All sorts of self appointed civilian informants were also known to mill in and out of Army formations passing rumors to Igbo commanders who would then find ways to get it to Ironsi. Major Danjuma, at that time a staff officer, was attached to General Ironsi as a military scribe, dutifully taking notes at his public hearings. 

At the outset of planning for the coup, late General Garba says in his book ‘”Revolution in Nigeria”, Another View’, that “We intended explicitly to kill no one. The aims were, firstly, to get Decree No. 34 abrogated; secondly, to bring the coup makers of January 15 to trial; thirdly, to accord due honour to the military and political leaders – especially the Prime Minister – who had been killed.” 

However, as we now know, the rebellion was anything but bloodless as other agendas took center stage when all hell broke loose. Garba insists that there was no specific plan to annihilate all Igbo officers and soldiers – although it appeared so to neutral observers from the way many northern NCOs (aided by some officers and civilians) were carrying on with reckless abandon and total disregard for life and property. Garba himself admits that they went “berserk”. The late General says, though, that had there been such a formal plan, specific Igbo officers would have been targeted and “no one would have escaped”. 

In my view, it is hard to know what to make of this comment, seeing as it means little considering the scale of killings. Nevertheless, thankfully to God, although many died, most Eastern officers, the vast majority being completely innocent of any connection either to the January 15 coup or to the Ironsi government, survived the July 29 rebellion. Unfortunately, thousands of innocent civilians were murdered in orgies of deliberate and mindless bloodshed that began in May and continued until September. There can be no justification for what transpired, although the circumstances have been explained and the sensitivity of the issues involved better understood with the passage of time. Interestingly, the vast majority of those soldiers detained for the January coup escaped primarily because they had been kept in jails located in the eastern region. 

As planning developed, loose as it was, it was influenced (as are all coups) by issues of timing and opportunity. It is said that at least four plans were discussed. The first was to seize State House and place the Head of State under arrest. However, this would have entailed much bloodshed because of the security set up inside the State House grounds, bristling with weapons. In any case the General was also fond of leaving without warning to sleep on a Boat along the Marina which, on occasion, would set for sea. A decision was, therefore, made to stage the coup when he was outside Lagos to minimize bloodshed. The second was when initial plans were being considered for the transfer of the 1st battalion at Enugu to Ibadan in exchange with the 4th battalion. Lt. Shehu Yar’Adua was to be the coordinator of that plan. He would create some kind of confusion as a signal for the coup. This too was put off, likely because the decision to exchange both battalions also kept being put off and was not formally announced until late July. In any case, rumors (again, without foundation) soon had it that the regime may have been aware of a “battalion switch plot” and that the 4th battalion would be derailed by Igbo sappers. 

On July 14, however, the government announced plans for General Ironsi to undertake a Nationwide tour. The tour would take him first through Abeokuta, Ibadan, Kano, Kaduna, Zaria, Jos, and Benin. He would return to Ibadan from Benin for a meeting of traditional rulers on July 28, spend the night, return to Lagos on July 29 and then resume his tour in early August to the East. The third plan, therefore, was to abduct General Ironsi during a visit to the North on July 19th. It too was put off, some say in deference to northern traditional leaders, while others say it was for reasons of military coordination. For one, Ironsi hardly slept outside Lagos thus reducing the window of opportunity to get him, and secondly, then Captain Garba, who was practically in command of the Federal Guards company in Lagos was scheduled to be in Fernando Po for a basketball game and would not be on the ground to help seize the capital.

The fourth plan, therefore, was to take place on July 28/29 during Ironsi’s visit to Ibadan for the National conference of traditional rulers when he would be arrested by troops from the 4th battalion. His decision to spend the night there, guarded by the 4th battalion, provided a perfect opportunity. The code word for the coup was “Aure”, a Hausa word for “marriage”. Conspirators in southern Nigeria made coded reference to it by talking about “Paiko’s wedding”, Paiko being the nickname for (and hometown in Niger Province of) one of the northern subalterns at the 4th battalion who was to be the spearhead. But even this plan was put off by Lt. Col. Muhammed when it became apparent to him and Captain Martin Adamu that it had leaked, likely through Lt. Jasper. This is why Major Danjuma did not go to Ibadan with his combat dress. 

A rough plan for early August when Ironsi would be in the East was thus discussed but not finalized. Nevertheless, Captain Baba Usman (GSO II, Int) had left for Enugu to coordinate with Lt. Yar-Adua when news of what happened in Abeokuta on July 28 came through, taking him by surprise. He is not the only one who was taken by surprise. Difficulty in getting the message of cancellation across to all parts of the country and all conspirators without using regular Army signals (then dominated by southerners) led to some complications elsewhere, including Kaduna, where Lt. BS Dimka was arrested on July 27/28 by Major Ogbemudia for attempting to break into the armoury, albeit drunk. As will be apparent later, a combination of panic, unplanned coincidences and accidents eventually triggered off the July 29 rebellion when northern NCOs at Abeokuta took matters into their hands.


Shortly 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 long anticipated Northern counter-coup was scheduled to begin that night. What Anwunah did not know for sure was that the coup had in fact, once again, been put off by its chief planners on account of a leak.

Earlier that evening Anwunah had confronted Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed in Yaba, Lagos with information that he was behind a planned counter-coup, leading to a mean-spirited (some say violent) exchange between them. Anwunah initially thought this confrontation would in fact deter the plot from going forward, and planned to do nothing. But having been prompted by Lt. Col. Alexander Madiebo to take some precautionary steps, and perhaps being in receipt of additional information, he took it upon himself to alert some unit commanders, one of whom was Okonweze. (An alternative account says Okonweze was also alerted 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 announcement:

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 NCO went 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 Mess under 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 (2nd Battalion), Ibadan (4th battalion) and much later to Enugu (to Lt. Cols Ogunewe – 1st Bn – 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 Barracks saying “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 before 8am, 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 from Col 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 to Murtala 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 told before 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 allegation.

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 proceeded to 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 up to expectations. Thank you.”

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.

Very Special thanks to the Dr Nowa Omoigui………Overthrow General Ironsi

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