Anniversary of Nigeria’s First Military Coup


Today is January 15 2009, the 43rd anniversary of Nigeria’s first military coup on January 15, 1966.  To commemorate this anniversary I have reproduced the full text of the famous radio broadcast made by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu announcing the coup in Nigeria’s Northern Region.
Also reproduced at the end of the text is a video chronicling the events leading up to, and after the coup.

Radio broadcast by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu – announcing Nigeria’s first military coup on Radio Nigeria, Kaduna on January 15, 1966.

“In the name of the Supreme Council of the Revolution of the Nigerian Armed Forces, I declare martial law over the Northern Provinces of Nigeria. The Constitution is suspended and the regional government and elected assemblies are hereby dissolved. All political, cultural, tribal and trade union activities, together with all demonstrations and unauthorised gatherings, excluding religious worship, are banned until further notice.

The aim of the Revolutionary Council is to establish a strong united and prosperous nation, free from corruption and internal strife. Our method of achieving this is strictly military but we have no doubt that every Nigerian will give us maximum cooperation by assisting the regime and not disturbing the peace during the slight changes that are taking place. I am to assure all foreigners living and working in this part of Nigeria that their rights will continue to be respected.

All treaty obligations previously entered into with any foreign nation will be respected and we hope that such nations will respect our country’s territorial integrity and will avoid taking sides with enemies of the revolution and enemies of the people. My dear countrymen, you will hear, and probably see a lot being done by certain bodies charged by the Supreme Council with the duties of national integration, supreme justice, general security and property recovery. As an interim measure all permanent secretaries, corporation chairmen and senior heads of departments are allowed to make decisions until the new organs are functioning, so long as such decisions are not contrary to the aims and wishes of the Supreme Council.

No Minister or Parliamentary Secretary possesses administrative or other forms of control over any Ministry, even if they are not considered too dangerous to be arrested. This is not a time for long speech-making and so let me acquaint you with ten proclamations in the Extraordinary Orders of the Day which the Supreme Council has promulgated. These will be modified as the situation improves.

You are hereby warned that looting, arson, homosexuality, rape, embezzlement, bribery or corruption, obstruction of the revolution, sabotage, subversion, false alarms and assistance to foreign invaders, are all offences punishable by death sentence.

Demonstrations and unauthorised assembly, non-cooperation with revolutionary troops are punishable in grave manner up to death.

Refusal or neglect to perform normal duties or any task that may of necessity be ordered by local military commanders in support of the change will be punishable by a sentence imposed by the local military commander.

Spying, harmful or injurious publications, and broadcasts of troop movements or actions, will be punished by any suitable sentence deemed fit by the local military commander.

Shouting of slogans, loitering and rowdy behavior will be rectified by any sentence of incarceration, or any more severe punishment deemed fit by the local military commander.

Doubtful loyalty will be penalised by imprisonment or any more severe sentence.

Illegal possession or carrying of firearms, smuggling or trying to escape with documents, valuables, including money or other assets vital to the running of any establishment will be punished by death sentence.

Wavering or sitting on the fence and failing to declare open loyalty with the revolution will be regarded as an act of hostility punishable by any sentence deemed suitable by the local military commander.

Tearing down an order of the day or proclamation or other authorized notices will be penalised by death.

This is the end of the Extraordinary Order of the Day which you will soon begin to see displayed in public. My dear countrymen, no citizen should have anything to fear, so long as that citizen is law abiding and if that citizen has religiously obeyed the native laws of the country and those set down in every heart and conscience since 1st October, 1960.

Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIPs at least, the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds.

Like good soldiers we are not promising anything miraculous or spectacular. But what we do promise every law abiding citizen is freedom from fear and all forms of oppression, freedom from general inefficiency and freedom to live and strive in every field of human endeavour, both nationally and internationally. We promise that you will no more be ashamed to say that you are a Nigerian.

I leave you with a message of good wishes and ask for your support at all times, so that our land, watered by the Niger and Benue, between the sandy wastes and gulf of guinea, washed in salt by the mighty Atlantic, shall not detract Nigeria from gaining sway in any great aspect of international endeavour. My dear countrymen, this is the end of this speech. I wish you all good luck and I hope you will cooperate to the fullest in this job which we have set for ourselves of establishing a prosperous nation and achieving solidarity.”

26 responses

  1. Hi Max…..
    out of curiosity, what happened to Captain O Oji, one of the original coup trio….Also, Col Nwawo and Nwajei are they still alive??

  2. Hi Max.
    A couple of questions for you regarding the Jan. 15, 1966 boys.
    Who were the Northern officers who took part?
    Why have their names not been publicized?
    Why were they not arrested with the others?
    Were Northern officers like Captains Gibson Jalo, John Swanton
    and 2nd Lieutenants Atom Kpera and Tijani Katsina not involved?
    Whatever became of Major Humphrey Chukwuka? Is he still alive?
    When and under what circumstances did Major Wale Ademoyega die?
    Where is Major Emma Nwobosi?
    I look forward to your response.

    1. H Hi, Major Humphrey Chukwuka is still alive and lives in Enugu.He is actively involved in christian evangelism through the Anglican church.

      1. Wow, so why has Chukwuka remained quiet all these years? He has never spoken about what happened that night.

      2. There was also one Major Humphrey ChukwuEKE who was killed in the countercoup though he was not involved in the January 15 event. I am not quite clear on who we are discussing here. Granted Major Humphrey Chukwuka is real.

        1. I want to correct a mistake. In my reply I identied one Major Humphrey CukwuEKE when infact I meant to say JOHNSON ChukwuEKE who lost his life in the July coup. He was a light skinned and imposing Ibo army officer who hailed from Egbu, near Owerri. He was a very serious soldier who played absolutely no role in Nzeogwu’s misguided gamble.I had the opportunity to meet his family in 1970 in what was then the East Central State. I stand corrected.

        2. JOHN Chukwueke was killed in mid-1966 during the counter-coup. HUMPHREY Chukwuka is still alive and was one of the Jan 1966 Majors.

    2. Mbum Ferdinand | Reply

      Kiki,All the Northern Officers you mentioned took part in the Coup… Capt. Emma Nwobosi is still alive and was in charge of Col. Emeka Ojukwu’s business concerns before Ojukwu died.. After Ojukwu’s demise he left for the United States I am not sure if he has returned.. Maj. Hunphery Chukwuka is still alive & resides in Enugu where he is now deeply involved in Christain Works…

      1. Nwobosi is alive. Chukwuka has never spoken publicly about what he did on January 15, 1966.

  3. I just stumbled across this publication.Col Nwajei is dead he was my father contact me via my email for further enquiry.

    1. greg nwanjei please can you call or email me. i am so facinated by the first nigerian militay coup that i want to talk to you more. pls email of call 08033259998. thanks and god bless.

    2. my email address is email me soonest..greg nwajei

    3. my email address is email me soonest..

  4. the speech of the bravest army officer in Nigeria ever

  5. toochukwu henry | Reply

    hi, am so facinated by your grasp of the event of jan.15, 1966. i ve heard first hand stories about it (am only 35)bcos my dad was actively involved. he was with capt nwobosi’s group in ibadan. but pls i want to know major chukwuka’s whwerabout. is he still alive?
    thanks & God bless

    1. Tochukwu, who was your father? You said he was involved with Nwobosi in the Ibadan part of the coup…

      1. toochukwu henry | Reply

        Yes, he was involved with capt. Nwobosi at Ibadan. His name is sgt. major Timothy Ibelegbu. He was the battery sgt.major at Abeokuta. The man Nwobosi sent back to Abeokuta to mobilize more men and to get a 105mm howitzer and proceed to Ikeja cantonment. He is still alive. Thanks

        1. Senate Approves N1.5 Billion For Ojukwu, Ex-briafran Soldiers….i really dont understand this this money for the entire soldiers that fought the war or just a little fraction of them?Please i need

          1. Senate Approves N1.5 Billion For Ojukwu, Ex-briafran Soldiers….i really dont understand this this money for the entire soldiers that fought the war or just a little fraction of them?Please i need answers. my email

            1. Why even bother? Are you entitled to any of the loot?

            2. charles king | Reply

              Hi Mr. Jon Okoro, the said N1.5Billion is for Ojukwu and the Biafran soldiers. Though Ojukwu was not supposed to receive a dime from this fund because he had been benefiting a lot from Nigeria since he came back from exile. What about the civillians that lost their lives?
              But who were those Biafran soldiers? where will they find them? Only few disabled ones can be seen at Oji river settlement. Many had staved to death due to Gowon’s animal mentality. Gowon was the one who could had took care of these people since those soldiers did not cause the war rather they were commanded to fight the war. Gowon promised Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction but none was done rather Gowon and his peers keep transfering Nigeria treasure to their foreign account. I used to wonder why some people said that Gowon is best Nigeria president while he was the most bloody and croocked president who did not even wanted to leave power after 9years rather he sponsored and instructed Dimka to Kill Muritalla Mohammed in order to brought power back to him. Even his junior brother Isiah Gowon was involve in planning and execution of Muritalla Mohammed while Yakubu Gowon was in his luxirous mansion in London instructing the coupist what to do. Gowon starved many little kids to death while his wife is pregnant for their first kid at that same time. Gowon’s animal brain made him to unilaterally handed over 800miles of Bakasi penisular crude oil land to the Camerounians. United states and British were helping Nigerian soldiers during the war and was enough for Gowon to won the civil war. why did he involved the camerounians and waisted a whole lot of Bakasi Land as a prodigal son and President of NIgeria.

  6. I am a Political scientist.i want to implore all and sundry,pls if there is anyway anybody here can connect me to Major Humphery Chukwuka i will gladly appreciate that.i hv a research am doing on biafra.08066764474 my number

  7. Mbum Ferdinand | Reply

    Its rather very unfortunate that some can refere to the January 15 1966 Coup as “Nzeogwu’s misguided gamble”.. I am ashsmed of lot of Nigerians.. Most of us are only so good in unleashing lip Service…

  8. Col. Ojukwu killed NZEOGWU by setting him up at the Nsuka sector along with his half brother Tom Bigler bcos he was afraid the larger than life image of the outspoken Delta Man could be too big for him to handle…. Bt today, the name Nzeogwu remain fresh in the memory of all,particularly for us Students of History who were born sevetal years after jan 15 1966 .. God bless MAJ. CK NZEOGWU in death..

  9. Mbum Ferdinand.. | Reply

    Totally true.. Ojukwu killed Nzeogwu & lot of People knew about it yet they couldnt speak out for obvious reasons.. He was killed alongside Tom Bigglar & Poet Chris Okigbo on the 29th of July 1967 in Nsuka.. Ojukwu’s babarism was the highest display of Executive Cowardice… It was evident he was afraid of Nzeogwu as he commanded a “cult statute”at dat time all over Nigeria including Biafra but assasination should not have been an option.. Killing two other Persons including his blood brother to establish his alibi was even more babaric.. The Ikemba was never a hero….

  10. Without getting into the merits, or lack of it, of the experiment called Biafra, I would like to correct the narrative that Okigbo was killed alongside Nzeogwu and Tom Biggar. This is completely false, and is simply regurgitated half-truth, by the less discerning. Perhaps reading Obi Nwakanma’s Thirsting for Sunlight could shed some light.
    Furthermore, I doubt that Ojukwu wanted Nzeogwu killed, or even facilitated his killing. It seem to me Nzeogwu, who for unmerited reasons gained a near-cult status, was reckless and continuously put his life in danger by making forays into enemy territory. Something, or someone, had to give in at some point. Unfortunately, it was his life.

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