Flashback to History: Yakubu Gowon and Fani-Kayode


Dr. Nowa Omoigui



Shortly after daybreak on January 15, 1966, a small military convoy rolled into Ikoyi in Lagos after night operations at Ibadan, capital of then Western region. The convoy was under the command of Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi. Along with the soldiers, Nwobosi had, under custody, Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, then Deputy-Premier of the Western region. The Premier, Chief Ladoke Akintola, had been executed shortly after a gun battle at the Premier's Lodge in Ibadan which Chief Remi Fani-Kayode watched from the back of an Army Landrover.


According to the Police Special Branch report "On the way out of Ibadan, R.A. Fani-Kayode begged Capt. Nwobosi to be released. The Captain refused this request and informed Fani-Kayode that he had orders to bring him to the Federal Guard Officers' Mess in Lagos."


The convoy, initially unaware of the fact that coup co-conspirators in Lagos were in the process of being r outed, drove into Dodan Barracks at about 7 am, depositing their 'guest' at the planned Federal Guards Officers Mess rendezvous point, along with guards. While all of this was going on, they were under surveillance by loyal soldiers drawn from the 2nd Battalion Ikeja and a detachment from Dodan Barracks. Since everyone was wearing the same uniform no-one knew who was who.


Among the young officers in command of the counter-coup troops on patrol in Ikoyi and Apapa that fateful morning were then Lt. (Later Major General) Paul Tarfa and Lt. (later Colonel) William Walbe. After discrete investigations, it became apparent to soldiers and NCOs on the ground that the deputy Premier of the West was the 'guest' in captivity.


The loyal troops contacted their battalion commander to share the information. Their commander ordered the Mess to be stormed, the "guest" rescued and released, and all dissident soldiers arrested.


The Battalion Commander who gave that order to release the "guest" was then Commander, 2nd Battalion, then Lt. Col. (now General) Yakubu Gowon. The guest ofcourse was Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, (a.k.a. ‘Fani Power’) father of Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, the senior special assistant to President Obasanjo on Public Affairs.