The January 1966 Coup Was A Patriotic Effort To Rein In A Jihad Advancing To Finality – By Chukwuemeka Onyesoh
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
(James Madison, Jr.1751 – 1836) the 4th President of the U. S. (1809–17) and the “Father of the U.S. Constitution” for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights)
Recently some prominent Igbo leaders have joined the Fulani oligarchy in denigrating the heroic participation of Igbo officers and men in the Jan. 15, 1966 revolution. Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, First Republic Minister of Aviation, started this campaign which had no basis whatsoever in Nigeria’s checkered history of the end of the first Republic. Chief Amaechi was a very young handsome Minister in the 1960s; and now in his early 90s, has probably forgotten the various incidents that engineered the coup or is perhaps merely chewing the cud of the ministerial office he lost since 1966.
This derogation of the altruistic heroism of Igbo Army officer participants in the Jan. 1966 coup d’état seems to have gathered steam when 81- year old Prof. Anya O. Anya, zoologist and more importantly, the President of Igbo elitist group, “Ndigbo Lagos,” joined in spreading this obvious falsehood. The following extract from Anya’s round-about castigation of the heroism of coup was published in the Vanguard newspaper of 27th March, 2017, page 41 as per following extract:
“In 1964, Eastern Nigeria was the fastest growing and industrializing economy in the world. . . In other words, in 1964, Eastern Nigeria was in advantaged position in Nigeria. In 1964, there was a problem between the North and the West. There was no problem between the North and the East and also there was no problem between the West and the East. How come that by the time the circle went round the Igbo were now at the centre of the Nigerian problem to the extent that there was program? Out of that program came the war.”
First of all, the source of the information on Eastern Nigeria being the “the fastest growing and industrializing economy in the world” is from an article written by columnist, Ugo Harris Ukandu, and published by the on-line medium, igbonews.co.uk on 14th Jan. 2014. More correctly stated, what Mr. Ukandu wrote is as follows: “. . .by 1964, the Eastern Region was already touted as the fastest growing economy in the world by research reports commissioned by the World Bank and by Harvard University in the United States.”It has not been possible to verify this touted assertion from the World Bank or Harvard University, but the word “touted” meaning “shown off” must be noted. However, even if it is true that an economy is the fastest growing one, it does not necessarily entail political stability and peace. For example, Western Nigeria and Lagos precincts were the richest part of Nigeria by 1965/66 yet the “operation wetie” transformed the region into the “wild wild West” and was the last straw that precipitated the end of the First Republic.
The impression Prof. Anya created in his assertion is that all was well between the Igbo and the North. But this opinion is not supported by the facts of history. Everything about Nigeria was headed in the wrong direction. Major Adewale Ademoyega, the initiator and brain box of the revolution, summed up the explosive situation in the 1959/60 NPC/NCNC contraption (an alliance of incompatibles) in his 1981 book as follows, “Actually a time bomb had been buried deep into the foundation of the political edifice. So, with the passing of time, the bomb was bound to blow up the whole edifice . . .” (p.8).
Luckily, I had devoted a whole Chapter on “The Rationale for the January 15, 1966 Revolt” in my forth-coming 550-page title, “The Defeat of Biafra, the Conquest of Nigeria” and need not conduct any further research to deflate this false propaganda.
I had thought that my answer to Prof. Anya’s uninformed position on the 1966 coup would wait till the release of the book, but the joining in this misinformation by a friend of mine, a graduate of Economics and Law, Lawyer, politician, and more recently, a prominent leader in Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, makes it mandatory that I release these abstractions from my book to stem the tide of what now looks like a deliberate effort to tarnish the memory of our heroes. I am withholding my friend’s identity since his views on the issue has not, to the best of my knowledge, been published. I regard this as a warning to all Igbos to stop disparaging the only surviving memorial of these heroes of all times. After all, the Nigerian Army fully recognized Nzeogwu’s heroism by according him full military honours at his internment in Kaduna in 1967.
False Assertions by an Ohanaeze Leader:
On Friday, 3rd August 2018, at a symposium/book presentation organised by De Mobin Initiative (DMI – Political educators) in Royal Palace Hotel, Enugu, in which I was the symposium lead speaker, invited to comments after my presentation on “The Right to Self Determination, “a well known Ohanaeze leader veered off the topic and went into an endorsement of Prof. Anya’s polemics on the January 1966 coup. I was tempted to strike down his untenable declarations with the hard facts which I could readily have done but was restrained by my respect for my age vis-à-vis what he is supposed to represent.
However, on Sunday 5th August, we met again in a meeting of a sub-group of the Enugu Sports Club and I took an opportunity of making a closing remark, to advise this Ohanaeze chieftain to check the history of Nigeria, 1960 to 1966, which exposes inexorably the falsehood of his and Prof. Anya’s position on the coup.
The above advice was not heeded and on Wednesday, 8th Aug. in a meeting of Select Igbo Leaders summoned by the erudite Constitutional lawyer and former Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. Ben. Nwabueze, to reconcile Ohanaeze and various Igbo youths Civil Society Organizations, this same chieftain again left the topic of the day, and pursued further the belittlement of the makers of the Jan. 15, 1966 coup d’état. In my speech in that same occasion, I was compelled to remind the Ohanaeze chieftain that his misinformed position on the coup would alienate him from patriotic Igbo youths, who are generally well informed on such topic.
However driven by James Madison’s ‘knowledge quote’ above and the persistence in the attacks on the heroes of the January 15, 1966 revolution by some members of the Igbo elite who ought to know, I am compelled to release the following abstractions from my coming book.
NIGERIA UNDER JIDADIST ATTACK FROM 1960 TO DATE
The ultimate purpose of Islam is the establishment by force of a worldwide Islamic state where Sharia law is enforced on all. (Remember Gen. Buhari’s 2001 Sharia declaration in Kaduna – “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria . . . God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.) Your guess is as good as mine, what ASO Rock is doing today doing about Sharia. To achieve the goal of subjugation and forcible conversion of all people to Islam and world domination is the ultimate goal of all the 8 forms of Jihad, namely Words, Deception, Sword (violence), Taxation, Financial Reward, Slavery, Sharia Law, Polygamy (population growth) and Spirits. Sharia Law is therefore incompatible with Common Law; and thus anti-civilizational. It is inconsistent with secular democracy and wherever they mix, there is crisis resulting in violence of a permanent nature. Fundamentalist Islam, which is at the core of Sharia, is therefore responsible for 90% of violence, the world-over, Nigeria being an example.
The Islamic fundamentalists’ attitude to secular democratic institutions is further exposed in their war cry “Allahu Akbar,” which is generally misinterpreted by the international media and Nigerians as “God is great,” but actually means “Allah is greater than your God, Constitution or Government.”It is the aggressive declaration that Allah and Islam are dominant over every other form of government, religion, law or ethic, which is why Islamic Jihadists in the midst of killing infidels, so often shout it, primarily in order to ‘strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Allah.” (Onyesoh, TO THE RESCUE, 2017, p.515)
- Jihadist Declarations by Northern Nigerian Leaders, 1940s to the 1960s
2.1. 1942: Northern Emirs’ Reaction to the West African Students Union (WASU) London Appeal for Cooperation with the South for Peaceful Coexistence: “Security operatives Holding this country (Nigeria) together is (meaning peace and unity) not possible except by means of the religion of the Prophet [Mohammed]. … If they [the South (Nigeria)] want political unity let them follow our religion” (Awolowo Obafemi: Path to Nigerian Freedom, 1947). In other words, for peace and unity to reign in Nigeria, Southerners must become Moslems and come under the Sokoto Caliphate. Chief Awolowo learnt to be more cautious in relationships with northern leaders from then on. Easterner Nigerian leaders never seemed to have bothered to have taken any note of this 1942 event.
2.2. 1947. Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa: “If the British quitted Nigeria now at this stage, the northern people would continue their uninterrupted conquest to the sea.” Extract from Abubakar’s address AT the first session of Nigeria’s new Legislative Council in Lagos. (Trevor Clark, Abubakar’ Biographer in ‘A Right Honorable Gentleman . .,’ 1991, p.99)
2.3. 1954.Alhaji Ahmadu Bello: “When the British leave, we shall sweep the Ibos into the sea”(Daily Times newspaper and Birch Geoffrey et.al: BIAFRA – The Case for Biafra Independence, London, 1968, p. 4).
- Declaration of Jihad on Newly Independent Nigeria: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate from our great grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to have control over their future” (Parrot Newspaper, Lagos, Oct. 12, 1960).
“Speech is the mirror of the soul” so declared Publilius Syrus as long ago as 85-43 BC.
- Jihadist Actions and Activities that Forced the 1966, Jan. 15 Coup d’état
3.1. Tiv Riots (1960-1964): There was a crisis of resistance of Tiv people, the major ethnic nationality in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, against the despotic rule and the misuse of Native Administration (NA) Police Force and NA Courts by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), dominated by the Hausa-Fulani and led by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, in subduing and using middle Belters as willing tools. Mainly Christians, the Tivs largely belonged to a northern opposition party, the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC). Ahmadu Bello, using all kinds of brutalities including detentions and imprisonments in unsavory environments of NA Police and Alkali Courts, including the burning of property, beatings and torture, murders, and forced population movement, was hell bent on compelling the Tivs to switch from their UMBC to his own regional party, the NPC. (Gbulie: Nigeria’s Five Majors, 1981, p.31)
3.2. 1945 Jos Riot and 1953 Kano Riot: In 1945, for no cogent reasons Northern politicians organised riots and killed 200 Igbo persons living in Jos. The same for 150 Igbos killed in the Kano riot of 1953. No arrests and no prosecutions.
3.3. The 1962/63 Census: In the 1962 Census, Nigeria’s total population after enumeration was confirmed by the Census Board as 60.5 million. The South numbered slightly more than the North. Abubakar, the Prime Minister, out-rightly rejected the figures; sacked the British Chairman, Mr. J. J. Warren, a demographer, and repatriated him back to Britain, out of reach for any court proceedings. He furthermore confiscated the Census Board into the PM’s (his) office and ordered a recount. The1963 recount gave a total figure of 65.66 million, after awarding the North extra 8.5 million and decreasing the South from 31 million to 28.8 million. After a protest, the West, whose premier had started a new romance with Ahmadu Bello, was awarded extra 2.5 million, thus increasing its population from 7.8 million to 10.3 million. The East & the Midwest regions reportedly decreased to 15.56 million. Jihad of Population in action! Dr. M. I. Okpara, Eastern regional premier, voiced the betrayal by denouncing the NCNC-NPC alliance as a huge mistake (M.I. Okpara – a Biography, by Chris Offodile, 1980, p.50).
Azikiwe felt so humiliated and hoping for hopes’ sake, uttered his disgust in his popular post–1963 census declaration, referring to the NPC-NCNC alliance which he enabled:“History will judge if I erred on the side of optimism” 10 (Ojiako James O.: NIGERIA: Yesterday, Today, And . . ., Africana Educational Publishers, Onitsha, Nigeria, 1981, p. 176)
(I participated in the 1963 Census as a supervisor in Takakume, a remote village on Nigeria’s boundary with Niger, in Goronyo district of Sokoto province; sent from the Ministry of Internal Affairs Lagos where I was a clerk).
3.4. The Western Nigeria Crisis: After the Census imbroglio, it became obvious to any active observer of political developments in Nigeria that the NPC did not need the NCNC in any alliance any more. The Western Nigeria crisis was fabricated to weaken the West using the Western Premier, Chief S L Akintola, who having lost his Action Group popularity in the Western House, desperately sought NPC support at whatever cost or condition. The result was the Western Nigeria crisis which sent Chief Awolowo to jail and foisted the sacked Premier back on the Western Region.
It was obvious that it was only a matter of time before the NPC returned to finish off the East. “Oru fulu ka eji mbazu eni ibe ya malu na mbosi nke ya ogabu otua,” goes an Igbo wise crack (A slave who helped in digging the grave of a fellow slave with forbidden spear, should note that similar future awaits him).
3.5. Corruption of the Judiciary by the Executive at the Highest Level: Corruption was rife with public servants, including Ministers, who commonly extracted 10% from government contractors; but the worst was political corruption indulged in by the Prime Minister (PM). Chief Awolowo revealed one of the worst of it in the judiciary. Awo’s letter of 28th March1966 to Gen. Ironsi from Calabar prison pleading for the prerogative of Mercy and free pardon exposed Sir Abubakar, the PM, as a masquerade of democratic governance under the Rule of Law. The letter revealed how Sir Abubakar, recruited Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, KBE, GCON, PC, SAN, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to serve as his political negotiator and black-mailer of Chief Awolowo whilst the latter’s appeal on his 10-years prison sentence for treasonable felony, was pending before the CJN. The CJN had sent Chief Awolowo’s friend, Chief W. A. Elias, to cut a deal on the judgment the Supreme Court would give in the appeal. Awo was required to break the UPGA alliance with the NCNC (which the PM branded an Igbo party) and join the NPC/NNDP alliance; OR, refuse and remain in jail. He refused and his jail term was merely reduced to 7 years by the Supreme Court (Awolowo: Adventures in Power, Book One, “My March through Prison,” 1985, pp.296-302).
3.6. Mis-governance –
3.6.1. Messing with the Army High Command: The PM was messing with the Armed Forces in obvious northernisation in the name of Nigerianisation. Drastic lowering of standards for recruitment and promotions of Northerners critically affected performance and discipline in the Armed Forces. Northern Regional Premier assumed command of units deployed in the North and officers who resisted that interference were openly punished.”
Even Gen. Obasanjo acknowledged this as follows:
“Tribalism, favouritism, double standards and general indiscipline had set in as a result of over-politicisation” of the armed services (Obasanjo: “NZEOGWU, An intimate Portrait of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, 1987, p.78). Major Gbulie confirmed this in pages 10-11 of his 1980 epic, NIGERIA’S FIVE MAJORS; and in pages 10-13 of his 1980 book, The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafra War, Madiebo also identified and exposed the several abuses in the Nigerian Armed Forces.
In recruitment and promotions, the Federal Civil Service was as abusive of Southern officers’ rights as in the Armed Forces. Efforts for total control of the Army by the NPC, is, like what is presently happening under President Buhari, in efforts to convert the armed forces of Nigeria into a Jihadist war machine.
90% of Nigerian Armed Forces units were located in the North, just as major federal industrial projects were located in the North regardless of expert opinion. Ajiokuta Steel mill remains stunted dogged with complications in the disregard of expert advice of Onitsha as its preferred location.
3.6.2. The 1964 General Election Campaigns: The massive irregularities that took place, particularly in the North, during the 1964 general elections campaign can be appreciated from the expressions and activities of Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the ceremonial President of Nigeria in the following extracts from my coming book on the Biafra War – recorded broadcasts and newspaper interviews in the months of Nov. & Dec., just before the 1964 elections.
“From Broad-cast to the nation of Dec. 10, 1964:
‘. . . There have been complaints about denial of the most elementary courtesies to political leaders campaigning in Regions other than their own. It is said that accommodation was refused them in public hotels and rest houses, food and victuals denied them in restaurants, shelter refused them in public buildings during rain storms, and road barriers used to blockade the entrance to towns where they intended to campaign.’ 27 (Ojiako O. James: NIGERIA: YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND. . ., Africana Educational Publishers (Nig.) Ltd. Onitsha, Nigeria, 1981,p. 190).
Dr. Azikiwe concluded the broadcast by advising the politicians to summon a round-table conference to decide how Nigeria’s national assets should be shared if they had decided to destroy Nigeria’s national unity, for, according to him, it would be better to disintegrate in peace and not in pieces.31” (Ojiako,1981, p.190)
“In Oct. 1, 1964, independence anniversary broad-cast, again Ojiako recorded Dr. Azikiwe’s out-pouring of rage in following extract:
‘The atmosphere of the nation reeks with mutual antagonism, bitter recriminations and tribal discrimination. The causes are the enemies of Nigeria. They are tribalism, nepotism, perfidy, bribery and corruption. With tribalism on the ascendance, the personality of our nation becomes decomposed and stinks. With nepotism influencing their judgments the will of the nation becomes stifled and immolated. With perfidy as the vogue among some of our politicians, the morals of our nation vanish to zero as no faith can be placed on the words of a crooked, double-faced, double-tongued scourge of the human race. With bribery and corruption permeating their way of life, the prestige of our nation dwindles to vanishing point, defacing our national image, and bringing shame and contumely to those who wear the “agbada” of Nigerian citizenship.’ 33 (Ojiako, p.190-191)
Referring directly to election campaign infractions, the President continued: “Some leaders had carried hate to the point when private armies are said to be organized in order to liquidate political opponents.’(Ibid)
Again in President Azikiwe’s 60th birth day interview of 16th Nov. 1964, granted to Peter Enahoro (Peter Pan), the editor of Daily Times, he painted gloomier pictures of politics in Nigeria.
‘What is happening in Nigeria today does not inspire me to be optimistic that we shall survive as one nation. It is possible that Nigeria will disintegrate because I cannot conceive of a united country where the citizens of one region always regard their compatriots as interlopers. 35 (Ibid pp194-195)
Rounding off the interview he despairingly declared:
‘. . . In Nigeria, where it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for some opposing political parties to campaign and have the right of audience in the territories of the opponents during a crucial election that is supposedly democratic, the existence of a Federation rests on creaky props 36 (Ibid).
It is remarkable that President Azikiwe who had been the most outstanding enthusiast of united Nigeria, ended his broad-cast to the nation of Dec. 10, 1964 on this following very sad, sour and disillusioned note:
‘If this embryo republic (Nigeria) must disintegrate, then in the name of God, let the operation be a short and painless one. . . Let it not be featured by violence which we shunned during the dark days of our national humiliation. . . If the nation’s politicians had decided to destroy our national unity, then they should summon a round-table conference to decide how our national assets should be divided before they seal their doom by satisfying their lust for office. . . I make this suggestion because it is better for us and for our admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces.’38”
(Trevor Clark: A RIGHT HONOURABLE GENTLEMAN, Biography of Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, 1991, p.688)
Furthermore, it is unimaginable that Dr. Azikiwe who asserted that he coined the “One Nigeria” slogan during the independence struggle and was in an interview to New Nigerian newspapers in 1979, unapologetic for fighting for the unity of Nigeria, was so pushed during the 1964 campaigns, that he called for a peaceful dissolution of Nigeria.”
“As reported by Ojiako and Trevor Clark, he was driven to a break down before the election and was confined to bed by State House Doctors several days before the election.”
3.6.3.The 1964 Election Results: “What resulted from his warnings and the wrangling before the 1964 general election, was what a daily newspaper termed “the drama of the unopposed candidates” – 64 candidates of NNA were declared returned unopposed in the North at the close of nominations on 20th Dec. 2014; and that number tallied with the 64 opposition (UPGA) candidates declared by UPGA lawyers, who conducted a fact-finding tour of the North, as unable to file their nomination papers on account of contrived obstacles imposed in their way – disappearance of election officers meant to receive the nominations papers or detention of the would-be candidates until after the close of nominations.
The Chairman of the Federal Electoral Commission, Mr. E. E. Esua, admitted the lapses of ‘unopposed candidates’ in an emergency broadcast he made on the 22nd Dec, confirming the mystery lapses.51 (Ojiako, p.203)
The UPGA alliance which included the NCNC, Action Group, NEPU and UMBC had called for the postponement of the election on account of these glaring irregularities, but NNA which controlled the federal government, went on with it, regardless of UPGA boycott. Thereafter UPGA rejected the result of the election and ‘called on the President to summon a conference of all political leaders to ‘break up the Federation peacefully’ (Ojiako, p.205). It further insisted that to accept the authority of any government formed from the warped polls “would be to compromise with evil and to sentence millions of Nigerians to servitude.’ 53 (Ibid)
3.6.4. Five-Day Stand-off: “President Azikiwe on 1st Jan. 1965 rejected the results of the elections and called for a repeat nation-wide, as against the Prime Minister Abubakar’s position that he, Abubakar and his party, NPC had won and therefore should form the new government based on the announced results. Furthermore, the PM insisted that bye-elections should be conducted later in places that boycotted the elections. A stand-off between the President and Prime minister lasted for 5 days with the President refusing to swear-in the PM and threatening to resign instead. The NPC was declared to have won 162 out of 312 seats in the parliament with additional 57 seats from the West declared for its ally – NNDP.
The Nigerian Army, still under the command of a colonial officer – Major-General Christopher B. Welby-Everard – called out a motorized column of 400 troops, in full fighting kit with fixed bayonets in the streets of Lagos, on a show of force in support of the Prime Minister’s position”54 (Clark Trevor, 1991 pp.692-3).
On the 5th day of the standoff, however, non-executive President, Azikiwe, now blackmailed and intimidated, got the message and capitulated. He swore in the Prime Minister and a so-called “broadly-based government” whose only goal was to share offices, was formed in spite of the obvious cleavages between the parties. Later, bye elections were held in the East and other places where there were total boycott of the general elections. The nation came back from the brink, but the fire stoked by that stand-off, left Nigeria on a permanent edge.” (Clark Trevor, 1991, pp.698 – 703)
3.6.5. All of the Above Information in the Public Domain: From September 1964, I was in my first of a 3-year direct entry degree program in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and had followed these developments closely. Our Students Union led by Adaka Boro as President, had sued the Federal Government in a High Court in Lagos, after the election. I was one of 15 students who journeyed by road with the Union President from Nsukka to Lagos to witness the Court proceedings. Besides, on the date Sir Abubakar was eventually sworn in, we demonstrated from Nsukka to Enugu, the East regional capital. The Police had blocked all the roads to Enugu and we had to find our way through the bushes and eventually were able to make an audience with the regional Premier, Dr. M.I. Okpara, in his official residence – the current Governor’s lodge.
It is surprising that Prof. Anya could forget all these events that took place when he was at least 27 years old.
- Igbos must be expelled from the North
The other major issue that drove the revolution, was The “Igbo must go” campaign, which raged in the northern media, streets and the Northern House of Assembly throughout 1964-5, for what the northern politicians regarded as an affront of Dr. Michael I. Okpara (premier of Eastern region and leader of the UPGA alliance and Igbos generally for daring to lead campaigns into what NPC regarded as its exclusive enclave – the North – before, during and after the 1964 elections (Gbulie, 1981, pages 14 & 15).
Major Nzeogwu, Nigerian Army first indigenous commander of Army Intelligence, confirmed the Igbos-must-go resolution to Capt. Gbulie, who operated under Major Nzeogwu that eventful Jan. 15, 1966 night:
“. . . the NPC planned “no-mercy” operation had tripartite objectives. . . ”first, to eliminate all the powerful Southern politicians opposed to the NNA; second, to enforce the present “Igbos-must-go” hue and cry in the North; and third, to impose Islam on the Christian south – and subsequently to establish Nigeria as a theocratic Muslim country…Sir Ahmadu Bello is behind it all . . . and he will be calling the shots” 18 (Gbulie Ben: NIGERIA’S FIVE MAJORS –1981, p. 39).
The vituperations of northern legislators against Igbos, in debates in the Northern House of Assembly between February and March, 1964, clearly attest to the decision on Igbo expulsion in violation of the clear provisions of the 1963 Constitution on freedom of movement and settlement in its Chapter III, Section 27.-(1). (Excerpts of relevant Hansard, see Obumselu Ben: Report of Onyiuke Tribunal on Massacre of Ndigbo in 1966, pages18 & 19; and also the Northern House of Assembly Proceedings, February-March 1964 – OBLONG MEDIA – www.oblong media.net>2017/06/05>n…)
5.1965 Western Elections
The blatant rigging of the Western Nigeria elections of 1965, which enabled the NNA to re-instal Chief SL Akintola, who was known to have lost the election badly, as Premier of Western Region was the limit, hence the revolt in the West and consequent operation” wetie.” The Eastern premier, Dr. Michael O. Okpara campaigned in the West as vigorously as he did in the North.
For Igbo Army officers and men to have excluded themselves from the Jan. revolution of 1966 as their critics suggest, would have been as foolish as the Nazis whom Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), the Protestant pastor, ridiculed in his figurative poem, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a socialist . . .”
- The Jan. 15, 1966 Coup was Preemptive
There was evidence that the Balewa/Sarduana Federal government planned to subdue the South, starting from the West, with a ruthless military operation which was scheduled to commence on 17th Jan.1966 or any time in the 2nd half of that January. Major Wale Ademoyega (1933-2007), one of Nigeria’s genuine but unsung heroes, expatiated on this plot in his 1981 book, “Why We Struck – The story of the first Nigerian Coup, 1981, p.67):
“. . . the Balewa Government had a terrible plan to bring the Army fully to operate in the West for the purpose of eliminating the elites of that region, especially the intellectuals who were believed to be behind the intransigence of the people against Akintola Government. . . It was also intended that if the plan succeeded in the West, the next target would be the East.” 14
Lieutenant-Col. Hilary Njoku was commanding officer of the2nd Battalion, NA, Ikeja and Lt-Col. Gowon who returned to Nigeria on 13th January from a 6-month’s overseas course, was to take over from Njoku on 16/17th Jan. 1966.15
Command of the Army and the Police were scheduled to be transferred to officers loyal to NPC’s objectives. Louis Orok Edet, an Efik from the East, who was Nigeria’s first indigenous Inspector-General of Police, was sent on retirement leave at the unripe age of 52, and third – ranked Kam Salem, a northerner, was appointed Acting Inspector General, after terminating the contract of a 2nd ranked expatriate officer and repatriating him back to UK. Brigadier Zakariya Maimalarin, a Kanuri from the North, was to take over from Ironsi, as GOC of the Nigerian Army, over and above his senior, Brigadier Samuel L. Ademulegun – a Yoruba, from the West, in readiness for the “no mercy” operation. 16 Gen. Ironsi, an Igbo and GOC, Nigerian Army, was to be promoted out of command in the Army. Obasanjo confirmed Ironsi’s out-of-command promotion in his NZEOGWU biography, as revealed to him in Kaduna by Brigadier Ademulegun, who thought he would succeed Ironsi as GOC. 17
(NZEOGWU – An Intimate Portrait of Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, 1987, p. 85)
Finally, Gbulie further confirmed Major Nzeogwu’s revelation of smuggled arms from across the northern porous border, which arms were stored in the Kaduna Brigade Armoury for Ahmadu Bello by Ademulegun, the Brigade Commander and an Akintola’s collaborator. The finding that Arab soldiers had already infiltrated Nigeria in mufti positioned for the Jihad by Gbulie confirmed the Jihadist content of the operation. The content and attendance of recurring nocturnal meetings in Ahmadu Bello’s Kaduna official residence determined that the coup was brought back to Jan. 15, in order to preempt the Ahmadu Bello Jihadist coup scheduled for 17th January 1966 or thereabouts. (Gbulie 1981 pp. 39-40)
Ademoyega, Nzeogwu, Ifeajuna, Okafor, Anuforo, Chukwuka, Onwuatuegwu and Captains Gbulie, Nwobosi, Adeleke, Ude and their other associates, were indeed the only known altruistic heroes Nigeria has ever had, having staked their lives on the altar of patriotism – to save Nigeria from an impending Jihadist over run.
All other Nigerian Army coups Nigeria have been for one personal or group selfish interest or another. That Igbo officers were in the majority among the coup makers, decided to spring Chief Awolowo (a Yoruba) out of Calabar prison and enthrone him as head of their new government, confirms the nationalistic patriotic intentions of the coup.
The suggestion that Ndigbo were having a good time in Nigeria and therefore ought not to have participated in the Jan. 15, 1966 coup is Caliphate propaganda and any Igbo man who joins in that campaign is serving the best interest of the Caliphate.
As Mahatma Gandhi did say “When a slave begins to take pride in his fetters and hugs them like precious ornaments, the triumph of the slave-owner is complete.”
Chukwuemeka Onyesoh @ www.emekaonyesoh.blogspot.com.ng
22nd August 2018.