Flashback to January 1966. Nigerian’s government has just been overthrown in a military coup led by a group of young army Majors. Major Nzeogwu had declared martial law across the Northern Region of Nigeria, but by January 17, 1966 had agreed to stand down and hand over administration of the Northern Region to the officer designated by the army’s commander: Major Hassan Katsina. Katsina became the first Military Governor of the Northern Region and appeared for a joint press conference with Major Nzeogwu at which Katsina made the following speech:
“Fellow country-men and women. I, Major Hassan Usman Katsina, having been appointed by the Supreme Military Commander as the Military Governor for the Northern Provinces of the Republic of Nigeria wish to address you all on the responsibilities falling on all of us and the new philosophy we intend to follow.
It is our intention to build the nation on the foundation of honesty and hard work and to bring about unity among all Nigerians living in whatever part of the country with respect, love and understanding towards one another. Everyone must realize that we are one nation irrespective of the tribe from which each of us originates. At our present stage of development we need not be divided by tribal unions, political parties or trade unions. It is our experience in the past that such bodies had not worked for the common good but for sectional interest. I do not need their greetings or congratulations as this is not the time for jubilation or flattery but for hard work and selfless service. This is the way to reach our common goal in satisfying the aspirations of the common man.
My assumption of office does not change the administrative structure, and machinery set up by my colleague, Major Nzeogwu at the end of the last Government. Civil servants will continue to run the civil administration under my authority. I warn them, however, that they must be honest and show in everything they do concern for the rights of the common man. They are not masters but servants of the public.
In local administration the Native Authority system will continue but reform will be introduced. Native Authorities must cut down on unnecessary expenses, do away with redundant staff and use public funds correctly and efficiently. Misuse of authority will not be tolerated. Administrative Officers who are charged with advising Native Authorities in the Provinces and seeing to it that Government directives are carried out must wake up to their duty with vigour and zest.
The new Government will support private initiative in industry, commerce and agriculture. However we must wipe away immediately the attitude of the past when it was regarded that Government money could be borrowed with no intention of repaying. In future the Government will only help businessmen who are serious and honest. The Government will also see to it that past debts arising from loans by public corporations are repaid according to the terms of the loans. Those who refuse to pay will have to face the consequences.
Public funds must be spent wisely and honestly. The new Government has no intention to be vindictive but it will at the same time watch closely the activities of people who had in the past engaged in corrupt practices. Any subversive activity on their part will be severely dealt with. The Military Command will maintain vigilance.
I said at the beginning that I need your support. I expect this from those in the public services whether Government or Native Authorities or the private sector but what I particularly pray for is the support of the ordinary private Nigerian citizen.
Jama’a Allah shi ba mu alheri.”
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.”
There have been a lot of requests for me to post the full text of Lt-General T.Y. Danjuma’s interview with the Nigerian Guardian regarding his role in the July 1966 coup and the arrest/death of the then Head of State Maj-Gen Aguiyi-Ironsi. Here is the interview….
SUNDAY GUARDIAN-17th february,2008
You were quoted as saying that your memoirs would be one grenade of a book, why?
You know; there are so many versions of some the critical events that took place over the years in which I was involved. Some of the versions are sanitized; some of them are slightly inaccurate, which I will endeavour to correct. And in correcting them, there will be a few explosions. You know what a grenade is- it explodes.
Unfortunately, for me, each time I pick up my notes and try to write, I have to relive some of those very tense periods and I am so worked up. So, what I have decided to do is oral history- tell the story to a writer who’ll record, transcribe and so on and the book will bear his name and mine.
Will you, in the book correct, for example, the many stories around the coup in Ibadan in 1966 and your alleged role in the killing of Aguiyi-Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi?
The interesting thing about the Ibadan coup where Ironsi was arrested is that the full story is already in print. If you take the book written on me by Lindsay Barrett, the account given there with General ( Yakubu ) Gowon’s biography written by Professor Isawa Eliaugu – if you read that part of the book, the account there of what happened – if you put them together, a lot of the grey areas will be clear.
Well, you still have to clear some speculations here concerning your role. It is said that you broke Ironsi’s famous swagger stick, which was thought to be his magic wand. Did you? Did your people drag Ironsi on the road? Did you take him to Iwo road and shoot him?
No, it is not true. What happened was that after we arrested him, I lost control. Remember that I was a complete stranger. I came from Lagos with Ironsi as a staff in the Army Headquarters attached to him. I stayed in the barracks with the Adjutant ( the Chief of Staff of the Commanding Officer ). I stayed with him in his single officer quarters. And it was there, that at one or two o’clock in the morning – I was in bed – when he came and knocked at my door. He said, “sir, do you know what has happened.” I said, “no”. he said there was some trouble in Abeokuta, who was an Igbo officer holding secret meeting with all the Igbo officers in the officers’ mess and our boys went and shot all of them.
Who are the “our boys?”
Northern soldiers. Remember, Igbos did the killings that took place in January (1966 ).
They killed non-Igbo senior Army officers. Only one Igbo officer the killed but Igbo wiped out almost all the senior non –Igbo officers. We rounded up all the people, who did the killings, because we all help Ironsi to abort the January coup. They were rounded up and put in jail, where they were being paid their full salary.
They had television, they had everything there despite being detained and nobody was talking about court marshalling them. Instead, the newspapers including the Daily Times, in fact Peter Enahoro, who was named Peter Pan; in his Sunday newspaper(wrote a column) to the effect that The boys being detained were national heroes. National heroes because they killed corrupt politicians! He didn’t say anything about Army officers…
they killed corrupt politicians and replaced them with lronsi whom we would call Iron-side Very insulting and in my own opinion, very provocative article! He was saying that those boys should be freed. Tension started building. Riots broke out in the North and it was because of the riots that broke out in the North that Ironsi started going round to talk to traditional rulers and the Army leaders. I was in his convoy.
We got to Ibadan. We had a meeting with traditional rulers and leaders of thought at the end of which everybody was asked to sing the National Anthem. We all sang the National Anthem. In the night, we had dinner and we came back. We dropped him (Ironsi) at Government House, and then went to the barracks to stay with the AdjutantThen, at one o’clock in the night (there was) gbam, gbam, gbam on my door. I said what happened. He (Adjutant) said there was some trouble in Abeokuta. I said what was it? He said the man on duty – duty officer – saw the Commanding Officer holding meetings in the officers’ mess … all the officer that attended that meeting were Igbos. They left out non-Igbo officers. The duty officer called one or two soldiers; they cocked their guns, went there and rounded up every body. They thought it was a joke. One of them had his staff machine gun by his side and he bent down and attempted to pick it up; they opened up on him and shot him down.
They sprayed everybody, killed everybody there and started tele phoning.
They rang Ibadan. It was then that this boy woke me up. This was what happened. The press had been calling for the release of the January coup plotters. Now, our boys had created an excuse for the release. After killing these people, it is a draw – they killed Army officers in Lagos and all overNigeria. Igbos did it. Now,Igbos had been killed in Abeokuta; that’d be the end of it. I said no. I asked the Adjutant, who was in a position to know, if the Supreme Commander – at that time lronsi was known as Supreme Commander – had been told? He said, no; he didn’ think so. I said okay; he
should get me some soldiers. He brought soldiers. I didn’t come to lbadan with combat dress. I had to borrow the combat dress of an officer about my size. It was an American combat dress. This officer had just come back from the US. You know, when you travel with the Head of state you have to dress decently, wear service dress and so on. So, I borrowed fatigue, wore it. In fact, I wore it over my pyjamas and left with the Adjutant. I said, “take me to Government House”. We got there. We asked soldiers who
were on duty to ground arms. They all grounded their arms. I told the Adjutant what to do. Soldiers grounded their arms; we disarmed them and armed the soldiers that we brought.
Meanwhile, the anti-tank gun (lronsi convoy) was there, the commander was there. The commander was from the garrison in Ibadan. We knew him; we told him. He said we should use the gun to blow down the building. I said no,There’s no need; the Head of State was there; we had to arrest him. We were there and waited. Any time anybody came out from the building, we arrested him. They removed their shoes and we asked them to sit down.
Why were you doing this?
We didn’t want any violence. we wanted to arrest him ( Ironsi ) alive and go and lock him up.we wanted to interrogate him, to find out the role he played in the coup ( January 1966 ); his stories didn’t add up about how he escaped from flagstaff House where he was staying at No.1,Glover (Ikoyi), and ended up in Ikeja.How it came about Njoku,who was supposed to have handed over the command of the largest garrison in lagos, which was then the Ikeja Garison, did not handover.Njoku was still in commandand he (Ironsi) went to join him. We were going to interrogate him about all those, or at least, that was what I thought we were
going to do.
So, every I told the soldiers to do or not to do,they obeyed until eventually, first, (Adekunle)Fajuyi (Millitary Governor of Western Region) came out of the building after he Waited… every time they sent somebody out of the building, nobody went back. So, Fajuyi Came down. As he came down the steps, I saluted-him-and said; “sir, you are under arrest; hands up’ He looked at me and called me, “Danjuma?” I said, “Sir, you are under arrest.”
He raised his hands, and came down. He said, “What do you want?” I said,
“we want to arrest you and we want to arrest the Head of State.”
He said,”and you are going out with him?” I said, “yes .. .”
And you were supposed to be on the Supreme Commander’s
I was;I was there. I went to Ibadan with him. What do you mean by,”supposed to?”
Because you were now arresting…
Yes, I was arresting. He (Fajuyi) pleaded with me not to go up with armed men;that he was going to go up and call him (Ironsi) provided I guaranteed his safety. I gave him my guarantee: I said, “I guarantee your safety.”
He went there, and didn’t come down. So, I decided to climb up. As I climbed up the steps, armed soldiers followed me. I had a grenade in my hand. I didn’t have any arm. As I came, lronsi was sitted; Fajuyi was by his side.
I said, “Sir, you are under arrest.” And I gave him the order to stand up.
Reluctantly, Ironsi stood up. He used to carry a staff crocodile. He had it in his hand. They both came down. Fajuyi was still asking me about guaranteeing safety. I guaranteed his safety absolutely. So, we came out of the building down toward the car.
One of the soldiers said we shouldn’t allow him to carry his crocodile, that there’s juju. I said no; there’s nothing in it. He said he’d disappear if we allowed him to carry it. He started to stop and I told him to shut up. That was the time I lost control. The soldier batoned me and pushed me aside and took charge. To my greatest surprise, the Adjutant, who was, you know, these were his troops – I was a stranger,
they were obeying me because everything I did they liked; they liked what I was doing, but the moment I told them not to do some thing they didn’t like, they rejected – I expected the Adjutant, who was there, to intervene. He probably incited them. He said,”Yes, the soldier is right. This thing here (Ironsi’s crocodile) is his Zasa; it’s juju that will make him disappear.”
So, they took the thing from him, pushed me aside and bundled him and Fajuyi in a vehicle and drove away. It was six O’clock in the morning.
The front of the Government House was littered with people without shoes; people who had come to get ready to go. They asked every one of them to sit on the floor and they removed their shoes. They all sat, including the then Head of Service (Chief P Odumosu). I came down. They (soldiers) drove away.
There was nobody to tell these people to go; so they all sat there. It was I who said, what’re you people still doing here. Quietly, they realized they were free to go. They (soldiers) had driven away Fajuyi and Ironsi.
What of you?
I had to hitch a ride to go to the barracks. They left; there was no vehicle even for me to leave that place; they Just drove away, taking them away.So, I had to make my way back to the barracks. If you read Gowon’s book, it’s there. They named names , of the people who actually took Ironsi away.
Now, there are a lot of lies. I read some very funny lies told by Ironsi’s ADC whose life I saved. He was an Igbo officer from Abakaliki area, tall, a good-looking chap. After the war he came back, I saw him, we shook hands and I gave him some money.
I read his account. You know we captured a lot of literature in Enugu. The Igbos named his account, including what happened in Ibadan, and what happened in the North – as pogrom. I read all the accounts there. It was there that I saw the evidence given by this man in order to … he must have felt guilty, when his boss was arrested and taken away and he went away and he went home empty-handed, without anything even though he was his ADC and nothing happened to him. He had to tell a lie to justify how he came out with his limbs intact. He gave a long story of how he escaped, what happened and so on.
That man told a lot of the lies that gained currency. Ironsi had two ADCs. One of them was Col. Sani Bello and the other was this man. I prevailed on the soldiers not to do anything to anybody. We arranged even for him to escape, and go away. He went home and started telling lies. He told a lot of lies, which I read in the account he gave in Biafra. We had an inquiry. People came to give account and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep it, but I remember that the stories that gained currency were from that man.
The Adjutant created the problem?.
He didn’t create the prob1em. The Igbos who killed our senior officers all over the place created the problem; they created the problem. They sowed the wind and reaped the problem; it wasn’t him (the Adjutant). They were reacting;they were avenging what happened in January. The July coup was a revenge coup.
What’s the name of the Adjutant?
Was he a major?
Major! He was a Second Lieutenant.
You were his senior?
Oh yes! But when it comes to coup-making, there’s no rank. Coup is abandwagon of hierarchy. This was his unit. He knew the boys; I didn’t know them. But he knew me.He used me…
You’re lucky they didn’t mistake you for an Igbo.
Oh, easily! I was lighter in complexion than I am no. Many times, they took me for an Igbo.
So, he (Adjutant) didn’t create the problem?
I don’t think you people know what happened. What would you do when you went to bed and woke up and found that all the people from your area in the Army, innocent people were killed in their beds, some of them even with their wives – all done by Igbo officers? We bottled up this for six months from January to July. Then, the opportunity came for revenge.
In the Army, you are taught that when you are fired upon, you take cover and return fire. We didn’t return fire immedi¬ately. We gave Ironsi a chance to deal with the people who killed our seniors. He did not. Then foolish people like (Peter Pan) Enahoro were talking about national heroes ¬that people who did the killings were national heroes.
We couldn’t understand! If politicians were corrupt, why didn’t you confine yourself to killing politicians? If it was necessary that the Army should take over, why was it that this same Army should eliminate the cream of that Army and leave us With absolutely useless people, like Ironsi who was a desk-clerk Head of State? We couldn’t understand it. But we bottled this up till July and when the opportunity came, we decided to revenge. This is what happened…
People blame you for what happened in Ibadan, but as it is, the Adjutant more or less, instigated the soldiers..
Yes, this is what I suspect. My suspicion is borne out by the fact that he did not do what I would do if I were in his position. He (Adjutant) approved of what the boys did.
This is another series of documentaries on Biafra. Produced by Nigeria’s own NTA, these videos feature interviews with the key players such as Gowon, Ojukwu, Babangida, Maj-Gens Mohammed Shuwa, Adeyinka Adebayo, Godwin Abbe, George Innih, and David Ejoor, Brigadiers Samuel Ogbemudia and Mobolaji Johnson, plus civilian participants like Philip Asiodu and Ahmed Joda who were key players in the abortive negotiations prior to the war.
Of great vintage is the footage of the Aburi debate in Ghana in 1967. Amazing footage of Ojukwu chatting with Gowon, Hassan Katsina, Commodore Joseph Wey and other members of the federal delegation to Aburi.
This is a nice selection of videos. The first is a series of old clips from famous Nigerians, including one of the Sardauna of Sokoto Ahmadu Bello who speaks in an impeccable old school British accent.
These three videos are a run down of Nigeria’s leaders over the years starting from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa through to the current incumbent, President Yar’Adua. Also click the “Nigeria’s Leaders” and “Nigeria’s Great Speeches” pages on this site if you want to see more regarding these personalities.