Aguiyi Ironsi’s son on counter coup day: “I was disguised as a girl, put in a train to Lagos”

Aguiyi Ironsi’s son on counter coup day: “I was disguised as a girl, put in a train to Lagos”

Thursday, July 30, 2020 1:09 pm

Ambassador Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi. Photo credit: The Punch


Ambassador Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Togo, was with his father, the late Major General Aguiyi Ironsi, the Head of State when the counter coup happened in Ibadan on 29 July, 1966. It was 54 years exactly yesterday, 29 July, 2020.

In an interview with The Punch, he narrated what happened and how he escaped.

“My escape from Ibadan! Well, I was disguised as a girl by the Nigeria Police and put in a train to Lagos. I can’t remember how I made my way to State House, Marina, but I was met at the train station by my mother. I was more than traumatised. But what has to be stated is that the Nigeria police was very effective in the 1960s.

Major-General-Aguiyi-Ironsi holding his crocodile rod



Regarding the events of the morning of July 29, 1966, I would suggest that everybody read the book by Chuks Elegbunam. It is a well written book that talks about my father and the event.


For the purpose of this interview I can just state that when it was already 9pm to 10pm, there was light everywhere – we could see that soldiers had surrounded the Guest House. My father jokingly told me as we looked at them: “I don’t know whether they (soldiers) are friends or foes.” In hindsight, I now know that he knew they were foes.

Of course, my father stood by me and told me that I should look after my brothers and sisters regardless of whatever happened. He said he was sure that our mother would do everything to keep us together and well. He also told me not to exact any vengeance.

As I was looking at him, I didn’t even understand why he was telling me not to exact vengeance, but as the years went by, I was able to realise that the vengeance he was speaking about was spiritual and had to do with the fact that God is the one that exacts vengeance.

When your father was being led away by soldiers, you were said to be with him. How does his admonition that you should not exact vengeance resonate with you up till now?

When there was a knock at the door, he told me to stand by the side of the door as he did not want anybody to come into the room. From inside the bedroom, I heard a lot of heated arguments and words like “there will be no killing here. (Sorry, I can’t continue).”

-Read the full interview in the original source, The Punch

However, the gap Ironsi’s son did not fill was narrated by his own mother, Victoria Aguiyi Ironsi:

Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi

“He was with his father in the State House, Ibadan, when the soldiers came [to arrest his father]. His father put him in the wardrobe and went down stairs to meet the soldiers who came for him. He warned his son, ‘don’t enter any car, just take train and go back to Lagos.’ A very clever boy, he did as instructed and came back to Lagos on train.”

Read the full story in TheNEWS

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.