British secret files on Nigeria’s first bloody coup, path to Biafra

Jun 12 2016 - 3:01pm
Emmanuel Ifeajuna: the sports hero turned revolutionary. This University of Ibadan Zoology graduate was the brain behind the revolution. He recruited Nzeogwu (who said he could gun down corrupt politicians) into the revolution

Emmanuel Ifeajuna: the sports hero turned revolutionary. This University of Ibadan Zoology graduate was the brain behind the revolution. He recruited Nzeogwu (who said he could gun down corrupt politicians) into the revolution

For Nzeogwu and his soldiers had cut through the Premier’s Lodge fence by the side and at the entrance rounded up three policemen (Police Constables Yohanna Garkawa, Akpan Anduka, Hagai Lai) and a soldier (Lance Corporal Musa Nimzo) rubbing their hands together between their knees to resist the harsh harmattan. Nzeogwu asked them to face the wall and coldly pulled the trigger on them. He was trying to man up his fellow soldiers who were still acting like reluctant rebels and give them a taste of where the night was heading. He then posted two new sentries by the entrance while he and other soldiers conducted a room-to-room search in the main house for the Sardauna. Routine police patrol that sighted the mutineers converging menacingly in front of the Premier’s Lodge radioed the British Police officer on duty in the Kaduna Police Operations room. He in turn phoned Mallam Ahmed T. Ben-Musa Sardauna’s Senior Assistant Secretary (Security). He immediately sprang up and went to the Lodge. He was shot on arrival by the sentries who were motivated by Nzeogwu’s earlier example. They had accepted the transformation from reluctant rebels to motivated mutineers.

The general alarm had woken Sardauna. He was not in the main house but upstairs in the rear annex with his senior wife Habsatu, the daughter of Mallam Abbas, the Waziri of Sokoto, his second wife Goggon Kano, the third, Jabbo Birnin Kebbi and Sallama, a house retainer. They listened and rattled prayer beads in fear for an hour as Nzeogwu and his motivated mutineers booted down doors, pumped bullets into guards mounting resistance and shouted to others, “Ina Sardauna? Take us to the Sardauna.” It was dark, Sardauna and his wives went downstairs and into the courtyard connecting the annex and the main house. They were trying to escape. On finding them, Nzeogwu shot the Sardauna and his senior wife who was trying to protect him. He then blew a whistle which was the agreed signal for all soldiers to converge at the rallying point at the front gate for the final onslaught on their symbol of national decay. The rocket-launching party then began shelling the house. Boom! Boom! The ground shuddered like the cannon fire which the great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky laced into his 1812 overture. Nzeogwu was a lover of jazz and classical music.

Their beauty heightened his sensitivity to the decay which Nigeria was. He even mentored Captain Theophilus Danjuma to become a classical connoisseur. With the huge flame before him overpowering the harmattan and the night with abundance of light and heat, Nzeogwu was satisfied his own unit’s assignment was a success. He felt like a single note from an oboe, hanging high up there unwavering, avid for glory, above pulses from bassoons and basset horns till a drag from a clarinet took over and sweetened the note into a phrase of such delight, such unfulfillable longing making the coup’s failure unlikely with every passing bar. Nzeogwu then left for the brigade headquarters to await news from other units confident as ever like that high oboe note from Mozart’s Serenade for the Winds in B Flat that the news would be good news.

The mutineers had divided themselves into three groups. Nzeogwu headed the group that looked after the Sardauna, Captain Gbuile was to seize the 1st Brigade Headquarters, the TV and radio stations and Major Timothy Onwuatuegwu headed the group to delete the existence of Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun and his Deputy, Col Raphael Shodeinde. Ademulegun was startled when Onwuatuegwu entered his bedroom just after 2am. He was reported to have asked, how did you get in here? As the commander of the 1st Brigade of the Nigerian Army, he was the most protected personality in the whole of the Northern Region. While police personnel guarded the Premier and the Governor, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, his own guards were drawn from the 3rd infantry battalion. They guarded not only inside and outside his compound but around his main house too. But the guards had been compromised and they led Onwuatuegwu straight into the Brigadier’s bedroom. Had Ademulegun survived the assassination, he would have ordered all the guards, the guard commander and their officer commanding to face firing squad because as guards, they were supposed to die first before anything happened to him.

Victor Banjo

Victor Banjo

But he was not scheduled to survive. Onwuatuegwu asked the Brigadier, “Get dressed and come with us sir. Those are my instructions; to bring you to the headquarters.” It sounded like nonsense to him. As the head of that headquarters since 17 February 1964, he was the only person that could give such an order. His wife Latifah, 8 months pregnant, planted herself fearlessly between her husband and the pointed guns knowing full well that if she remained glued to the comfort of their bed those weapons would not be diverted away from her husband. The Sardauna’s senior wife did exactly that at that moment somewhere else. (Any other Nigerian woman would have done the same. Contrary to what the New Feminists led themselves to believe, Nigerian women were never born to be weak. In the top bedside drawer was a service pistol. As a Brigadier, Ademulegun knew a pistol was no match for 6 soldiers armed with SMGs. But he would rather fight and die gallantly than degrade the honour of his office by surrendering to subordinates.

As he made a dash for a quick draw, Onwuatuegwu opened fire on the Brigadier, his wife and the unborn. Cruelty resulted when anything stood in the way of the indefinite expansion of the will to power. Without Ademulegun dead, Nzeogwu could not preside over the biggest Brigade of the Nigerian Army. Ademulegun’s children Solape and Kole were in the next room. They heard all the clash and they were the first to see their lifeless parents surrounded by a pond of blood. Onwuatuegwu and his mutineers then strolled out across the street unchallenged by the guards to the home of Colonel Shodeinde, Deputy Commandant of Nigerian Defence Academy whom Ademulegun usually handed over the Brigade too when he was not around. They killed him too in cold blood with an angry grenade. They then left for the Brigade Headquarters satisfied their mission was a success. That was what Nzeogwu meant when he asked his fellow mutineers not to see the epic bloodbath that was about to start as an outbreak of evil but their unique and generous contribution to the development and welfare of the nation. Anything that benefitted their Revolution cannot be injurious to morals. That was their driving belief. And it freed them to be terrible.

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  • Mazi Arevalo

    Igbo will go to war, Fulani will send the Hausa and some Middle belt people to war, Yoruba will hide, wait for who wins to serve him. Today, if the Fulani says jump to Yoruba, jumping becomes a done deal. But Yoruba forgets that Fulani will never trust Yoruba, Fulani can only work with Yoruba to the extent of master servant type relationship. To the writer, there is nothing new about what you consider new revelation. Note also that 1967 is not 2016 and a lot has happened in human world.

    • michaelnze

      You are damn right … The third marine commando was hiding. Benjamin adekunle (black scorpion )was hiding. You must be playing some video games stuffs in your imaginations

      • Mazi Arevalo

        Where is he today, have they not used and dumped him. Remember, he regretted every part he played in the war because of the position he found himself after the war. You are right, Adekunle fought hard, even much more than Buhari and Babangida, and like Awolowo, he could never be a president of Nigeria. Give me more Yoruba names and I will tell you which dungeon they are placed by their owners – Fulani. Of recent is the former governor of Lagos, I have forgotten his name. Unless if you choose not to pay attention to the treatment you get from your masters, a problem common with the indentured mindset, I have nothing else to tell you. Remain serving Fulani and causing confusion to the Nigeria state. No nation survives acting in the manner of Yoruba; zero sense of originality, everything is based on copy. Whereas Fulani is too barbaric, some Yoruba people are the real danger facing Nigeria. And as I write, I wish to offer my strong apology to people like Governor Fayose, Femi Fani Kayode and few more brave ones whose characters are best served considered to be people of other nations other than Yoruba. God forbid a people.

        • michaelnze

          If I can infer from your crooked logic, When Zik went into coalition with NPC. Igbos were slave of the FULANIS in 1960. when Ekwueme was a VP , you mean the IGBOS were never slaves to the FULANIS in 1979/83 . Your hatred of other tribes is be-clouding your reasoning. It is now for the very first time the Yorubas join with Fulanis to form government that’s it becomes an abomination. It shows your election loss was simply a pain you cannot bear. Did the IGBOS ever vote for ZIK in the second republic ??? They simply voted for Hausa – Fulani party NPN. This shows you don’t know your history. So you mean they too are slaves to the FULANIS. My friend, your logic is warped and your reasoning is shallow. It seems you don’t know about the THIRD MARINE COMMANDO . Go and read about the nigerian civil war and the formation of the third marine commando then you know that when the Southwest wants to fight, nobody can stop them. The real cowards are the ones that ran away to cotediviore and all the commanders that surrendered alive. Go and ask the Yoruba people, no one leads a war and surrender alive. I don’t know why you hated the Yorubas, have they ever massacred any Igbo group at peaceful time in the history of this country ?? They have been wonderful host to you people in their lands, giving you sways of lands to build your markets. I don’t just understand what warrants this caustic hatred. If anything, the south west has shown that politics is dynamic. They have lived as opposition without hating and insulting any NIGERIAN tribe. My final note- to be in the opposition you don’t have to hate anybody. It’s not a primitive tribal war, it’s democracy. Let’s learn to live in peace with each other rather than fanning the embers of discord. My dream for this country is to have a NIGERIAN president of Igbo extraction. It will never reduce anyone. As long as it is democracy. You can continue to hate as much as you like, but don’t forget the best societies or tribes in the world are the ones that can organize themselves and the ones that prioritized collective interests over individual interests .

          • Edeki Suku

            Honestly we don’t need the presidency of Nigeria,we need Biafra.

          • Ajah Exodus

            They have always been the rebel, double mouthed people who you think support you and yet go behind you to do otherwise. Why do you think God hates those who bear false witness and regards it as an abomination. In a murder case, the killer might just be ignorant of who he is killing but the person who points out the victims whereabout to the killer is the devil himself, the mastermind. Thats where the whole yoruba-Igbo facade comes in. Yorubas have not killed the igbos but have been responsible for their deaths in many ways. Is this not history repeating itself? We have a fulani head, cost of foodstuffs have skyrocketed, protests in the western region, politicians hunted and their houses seized or confiscated,militancy in the south south. I foresee another revolution but this time the south east and south south wont be tagging along with the yorubas. Nzeogu’s best friend was obasanjo, and he betrayed him. Ojukwu’s second in command and foreman was Banjo and he betrayed him which led to take over of Benin by Nigerian soldiers. Even when Soyinka rose against akintola, he ran to Micheal Okpara in the east. The igbo’s have always tried to ally with all tribes in the political sphere but didnt know they were dealing with people without integrity, whose Yes can turn to No.

          • Riot50000

            Yorubas Are The Problem With Nigeria says Sanusi Lamido Sanusi …
            pointblanknewsDOTcom/…/yorubas-are-the-problem-with-nigeria-says-sanusi-lamido-san…
            May 6, 2015 – The Yoruba political leadership, as mentioned by Balarabe Musa, has shown itself over the years to be incapable of rising above narrow tribalI …

          • michaelnze

            In your narrow reasoning and analysis. You will believe your handwriting. You are inferring that all other tribes and nationalities would have lived together in peace if the Yorubas don’t exist in nigeria your position like others of your background shows deep envy of the Yorubas. It’s only bigots and psychopaths who always believe others are the problem and not them. You refused to explain in your own words how the Yorubas have become nigerias problem. You also refused to summarize why lamido and Musa said the same. I’m not a yoruba, but I believe their geographical position continues to give them economic advantage in this country. Unless we practice fiscal federalism , that advantage cannot be removed .in nigeria, every tribe has a unique stereotypical perception of the others. It depends on which one you want to hate or envy most.

          • Riot50000

            YES.
            You are not Yoruba.
            You adopted an Igbo Name to write your none sense while denying being Yoruba, just like your people, the Yorubas adopt Igbo names when you do your international drug runs and 419 so that when you get caught, every one thinks you are Igbo.
            What other names do you go by, nwa Africa, michaelnze, and what.
            The Northerners are no fools.
            They know they can always count on the Yoruba to get whatever they want as long as they get offered Bones from the master’s dining table, DESPITE the fact that ALMOST EVERY PROMINENT YORUBA SON HAD AT ONE TIME OR THE OTHER BEEN VIOLATED BY A NORTHERN TYRANT RULER OF NIGERIA.
            Does the Yoruba Man have self esteem and shame?
            EVIDENCE over the past 50 years say NO!

          • michaelnze

            Mr ethnic jingoist, that shows how much you know Nigeria . So u mean michael is an Igbo name ?? Or u mean IGBOS are the only one with NZE in their names ???is nzebokhoale an Igbo name ?
            You must be enjoying your foolery and poor social education. My friend, who needs an Igbo name. Go and check the prisons in Brazil ,india thailand , holland Philippines etc nobody will tell you, you don’t need one. Good name is better than gold and silver

          • Riot50000

            Yep! Just another “MINORITY” still licking his wounds and still answering to “Mr NOBODY IN HIS FATHER LAND”
            Go away, FOOL!
            IGBOPHOBE

          • Timmy Okybay

            Thank u very much for this sensible comments..u are really a world educated person…

        • Riot50000

          Yorubas Are The Problem With Nigeria says Sanusi Lamido Sanusi …
          pointblanknewsDOTcom/…/yorubas-are-the-problem-with-nigeria-says-sanusi-lamido-san…
          May 6, 2015 – The Yoruba political leadership, as mentioned by Balarabe Musa, has shown itself over the years to be incapable of rising above narrow tribal …

          • George Abejide

            Everyone has an opinion
            The west at a point were voting Zik against their own kinsmen. That is no tribalism. Another glorious opportunity was missed in 1979 when Awo and Zik with parts of the middle west should have teamed up but Zik referred to as the beautiful bride then chose to go with the north.
            Today we have Igbo councilors, commissioner and house of assembly members in the west.
            Nowhere else will you find this in Nigeria, be it north south south or even the south east. Those are facts. Until all of us come together as one and put away primordial sentiments we shall continue to run from pillar to post

  • Ola66

    So this is the sin of the Igbo, interesting ha!

  • Ibro

    All are lies , the stupid Ahmadu bring nigeria into this present mess , may Allah punish him and his generation , usually a greedy person dies stupidly

  • Ibro

    The caption of the book suppose to read British report on why we joined nigeria side due to the fear that the oil region will be going for France

  • Ola66

    And the Fani Kayode junior knew all these?

  • May30th1967

    Well, I did not read where I signed the dotted line for Nzeogwu and Co to kill anyone, or take over the Govt.
    So, why am I marginalized and hated formething I did not do, and most likely would not have condoned?
    I was only a toddler then.
    YORUBA TROUBLE MAKERS WERE THE MAIN REASON WHY THESE YOUNG MEN OVERTHREW THE GOVERNMENT AND PRECIPITATED THE CURRENT ANIMAL FARM CALLED NIGERIA

    • barBeachBoy

      The major issue behind the coup was the open question “who was in control of Nigeria”?
      Here are two pages from Madiebo’s book: The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War that answer the question why the Nigerian Army rose up (not just Nzeogwu and co) to challenge a status quo where a regional administrator was deploying the Nigeria Army without even notifying Army high command. It starts with the paragraph headed by “the height of political manouvering”

    • barBeachBoy

      (2 of 2) from Madiebo

    • George Abejide

      The fact was simply that the west was making ground breaking progress at the time and in the effort to checkmate the rising star a lot of evil was devised and deployed. The Midwest was carved out, some of the judases were set against the western leaders to create chaos. That Nzeogu and co and exterminated the leaders of the north and the west while the eastern leaders miraculously escaped death was what led to the vengeful counter coup. How then can it be suggested that Yorubas caused nigeria’s or Igbo’s travails.

  • ola

    Coward and ethnic bigot revolutionaries

  • Ms. Thenjiwe Obong

    what an eye opener? very interesting story.

  • Ajah Exodus

    I like this story cos the revolutionalists were in their twenties and their decisions mattered and were felt. Present day politicians should take note. History has a way of repeating itself.

    • barBeachBoy

      It makes for entertaining reading, the only trouble was that “the revolutionaries” were being “teleguided”; “NNA Plan To Wallop The West” written by Ademoyega “why we struck” (1 of 2)

      • Ajah Exodus

        Hmmm interesting …. thats true!!… Thanks, I’ll look for the book

    • barBeachBoy

      (2 of 2) NNA plan to wallop the west, quoted from a book written by one of the participants Wale Ademoyega

  • barBeachBoy

    At the time Kano was the international airport; if Ben was to have picked him up in Kaduna, who was supposed to have picked him up in Kano. The return to Nigeria as quoted by OBJ himself in the book he authored called “Nzeogwu”

  • Abiola Oludele

    Esterners are behind the Nigeria woes in all ramifications, leave the solders alone, if their Leaders Zik and Eastern Premier had not sponsored the Operation Weti e, I do’t think we will be here today!

    • Ajah Exodus

      Young man read ur history well, There was chaos in the west, the yorubas were very much against themselves. ok what will u say of Akintola rigging election and annoucing fake results and then Wole soyinka going on air to publish the real results and the ran to seek asylum in his friends place Michael Okpara in Abia state. Not long Akintola and conglomerates caught up with him and arrested him. many examples my man…. a lot happened. people like Nzeogu took actions according to their opinions when they say that the elites were behind the troubles in country especially in the west because that was the centre of development in the whole Africa.

    • Riot50000

      EMIR OF KANO BEGS TO DISAGREE, AND HE’S MORE IN TUNE WITH NIGERIA THAN A STUPID FOOL LIKE YOU.

      DOThttp://pointblanknewsDOTcom/pbn/exclusive/yorubas-are-the-problem-with-nigeria-says-sanusi-lamido-sanusi/

      The Yoruba political leadership, as mentioned by Balarabe Musa, has shown itself over the years to be incapable of rising above narrow tribal interests and reciprocating goodwill from other sections of the country by treating other groups with respect. Practically every crisis in Nigeria since independence has its roots in this attitude.
      The Yoruba elite and area-boy politics;
      Igbo marginalisation and the responsible limits of retribution; and
      The Yoruba Factor and “Area-boy” Politics.
      My views on the Yoruba political leadership have been thoroughly articulated in some of my writings, prime among which was ” Afenifere: Syllabus of Errors” published by This Day (The Sunday Newspaper) on Sept 27, 1998. There was also an earlier publication in the weekly Trust entitled ” The Igbo, the Yoruba and History” (Aug. 21, 1998).

      In sum, the Yoruba political leadership, as mentioned by Balarabe Musa, has shown itself over the years to be incapable of rising above narrow tribal interests and reciprocating goodwill from other sections of the country by treating other groups with respect. Practically every crisis in Nigeria since independence has its roots in this attitude.

      The Yoruba elite were the first, in 1962, to attempt a violent overthrow of an elected government in this country. In 1966, it was the violence in the West which provided an avenue for the putsch of 15th January. After Chief Awolowo lost to Shagari in 1983 elections, it was the discontent and bad publicity in the South-West which led to the Buhari intervention.

  • Ositadinma Egeonu

    Sidelining OBJ from the coup…well done?

    • George Abejide

      The one sidelined eventually became the one who received the instrument of surrender. Just imagine the stone which the builders rejected eventually rose to become the chief cornerstone

  • Blunt Arrow

    This is certainly different from any thing I have read concerning the 1966 coup.

  • Blood really flowed that night and Nigeria has never remained the same.

  • Battleaxe

    Hard men of those days in their 20s

  • Riot50000

    Yorubas Are The Problem With Nigeria says Sanusi Lamido Sanusi …
    pointblanknewsDOTcom/…/yorubas-are-the-problem-with-nigeria-says-sanusi-lamido-san…
    May 6, 2015 – Yorubas Are The Problem With Nigeria says Sanusi Lamido Sanusi …. Mobile-friendly – CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to the National .

  • Riot50000

    https://wwwDOTyoutubeDOTcom/watch?v=_WSosECbcmM

    SUMMARY OF HATRED FOR IGBO MAN

  • Riot50000

    Yorubas Are The Problem With Nigeria says Sanusi Lamido Sanusi …
    pointblanknewsDOTcom/…/yorubas-are-the-problem-with-nigeria-says-sanusi-lamido-san…
    May 6, 2015 – Yorubas Are The Problem With Nigeria says Sanusi Lamido Sanusi …. Mobile-friendly – CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to the National .