1966 Nigerian coup d'état
|1966 Nigerian coup d'etat|
|Government of Nigeria||Rebel Army Officers|
|Commanders and leaders|
Abubakar Balewa †
Ahmadu Bello †
Samuel Akintola †
Festus Okotie-Eboh †
|Casualties and losses|
The 1966 Nigerian coup d'état began on 15 January 1966, when mutinous Nigerian soldiers led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna killed 22 people including the Prime Minister of Nigeria, many senior politicians, many senior Army officers (including their wives), and sentinels on protective duty. The coup plotters attacked the cities of Kaduna, Ibadan, and Lagos while also blockading the Niger and Benue River within a two-day span of time before the coup plotters were subdued. The General Officer Commanding, of the Nigerian Army, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi was compelled to take control of the government of a country in upheaval, inadvertently putting Nigeria's nascent democracy on hold. His ascendancy to power was deemed a conspiracy by the coup plotters, who were mainly Igbo officers, to pave the way for General Aguiyi-Ironsi to be Head of State of Nigeria. Consequently, the retaliatory events by Northern members of the Nigerian Army that led to deaths of many innocent Igbo soldiers and civilians caused the Nigerian Civil War.
In August 1965 a group of Army majors (Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Timothy Onwuatuegwu, Chris Anuforo, Don Okafor, Humphrey Chukwuka, and Adewale Ademoyega) began plotting a coup d'état against incumbent Prime Minister Abubakar Balewa. The coup was planned because according to the majors, the men at the helm of affairs were running Nigeria aground with their corrupt ways. Ministers under them were living flamboyant lifestyles and looting public funds at the expense of ordinary citizens.
The president of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe left the country in late 1965, first for Europe, then on a cruise to the Caribbean. Under the law, the Senate president, Nwafor Orizu, became acting president during his absence and had all the powers of the president.
In the morning of 15 January 1966, at a meeting with some local journalists in Kaduna seeking to find out what was going on, it was brought to Major Nzeogwu's attention that the only information about the events then was what was being broadcast by the BBC. Nzeogwu was surprised because he had expected a radio broadcast of the rebels from Lagos. He is said to have "gone wild" when he learnt that Emmanuel Ifeajuna in Lagos had not made any plans whatsoever to neutralize Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi who was the Commander of the Army. Therefore, Nzeogwu hurriedly drafted a speech which was broadcast on Radio Kaduna sometime around 12 a.m. and in which he declared martial law over the Northern Provinces of Nigeria.
Acting President Nwafor Orizu made a nationwide broadcast, after he had briefed President Nnamdi Azikiwe on the phone about the decision of the cabinet, announcing the cabinet's "voluntary" decision to transfer power to the armed forces. Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi then made his own broadcast, accepting the "invitation". On 17 January, Major General Ironsi established the Supreme Military Council in Lagos and effectively suspended the constitution.
Comprehensive list of casualties from the coup are below
- Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
- Premier Ahmadu Bello
- Premier Samuel Ladoke Akintola
- Finance Minister Festus Okotie-Eboh
- Ahmed Ben Musa (Senior Assistant Secretary for Security)
- Hafsatu Bello
- Mrs Latifat Ademulegun
- Zarumi Sardauna
- Ahmed Pategi, (Government driver)
Military and police
- Brig. Samuel Ademulegun
- Brig. Zakariya Maimalari
- Col. Ralph Shodeinde
- Col. Kur Mohammed
- Lt. Col. Abogo Largema
- Lt. Col. James Pam
- Lt. Col. Arthur Unegbe
- Sergeant Daramola Oyegoke (assisted Nzeogwu in the attack on the Sardauna's lodge and according to the Police report was murdered by Nzeogwu)
- PC Yohana Garkawa
- Lance Corporal Musa Nimzo
- PC Akpan Anduka
- PC Hagai Lai
- Philip Lewande
- Abubakar Ibrahim (29 July 2008). "The Forgotten Interim President". Daily Trust. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
- Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora Publishing, 2009. p. 237. ISBN 9780875867106.
- Omoigui, Nowamagbe. "SPECIAL BRANCH REPORT: "Military Rebellion of 15th January 1966". Gamji.com. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
- Kirk-Greene & Millard. Crisis and conflict in Nigeria: a documentary sourcebook, Volume 1; Volume 9. Oxford University Press, 1971. p. 124.
- Nzeogwu's Declaration of Martial Law - 15 January 1966
- "Radio broadcast by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu – announcing Nigeria's first military coup on Radio Nigeria, Kaduna on January 15, 1966". Vanguard. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- "SPECIAL BRANCH REPORT: "Military Rebellion of 15th January 1966"".
- Siollun, Max (30 October 2005). "The inside story of Nigeria's first military coup". kwenu.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
- Coutsoukis, Photius (June 1991). "Nigeria The 1966 Coups, Civil War, and Gowon's Government". photius.com. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
- Isiguzo, Christopher (20 July 2010). "Nigeria: Jan 1966 Coup Planned By Revolutionaries, Says Study". allAfrica. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
- Francis, James (29 March 2009). "The history of coup d'etat in Nigeria". It is all about the history of Nigeria. Retrieved 12 February 2015.