Rejoinder: Regarding Orkarís Coup Attempt

By

Dr. Nowa Omoigui

nowa_o@yahoo.com

 

Sir

 

My attention has been drawn to an article titled "Corrections on the weekend musings with Dr Nowa Omoigui regarding Orkarís coup attempt " written by by Audu Zango - auduzango@yahoo.com  on October 12, 2005 at http://www.amanaonline.com/Articles/art_1228.htm

 

This is my response.

 

Audu disagrees my "musings" in two areas:

 

1. The circumstances of Lt.Col U K Belloís murder by his fellow officers

 

Audu paraphrases me as writing that "Dr Omoiguiís account was too simplistic in that when Bello couldnít start the armoured vehicle, he came out walking in his mufti, identified himself to the coup plotters and then got gunned down."

 

This is what I actually wrote: See http://www.gamji.com/nowa/nowa14.htm

 

"The assault on Dodan Barracks was in two phases. First, several Tanks deployed on the grounds were technically demobilized through the removal of firing pins. Later, the assault on the main living quarters (using infantry and two armored vehicles from the radio station driven by 2/Lts Umukoro and Uchendu) began. Earlier, when certain movements were noticed, the ADC to the President, Lt. Col Usman K. Bello came out to investigate. Without any supporting crew, he reportedly tried to climb into one of the Tanks which, unknown to him, had already been disabled. Having realized that he was in no position to use the Tank he came out, and tried walking alone, wearing mufti, toward the radio station, only to be summarily shot in circumstances that have never been fully clarified..........."

 

"...........Regarding the death of Lt. Col Usman K. Bello, Lt. Col. Gabriel Anthony Nyiam, formerly of Nigerian Army Engineers, then a Directing Staff at the Command and Staff College, Jaji, and the most senior officer involved in the uprising, (who is said to have been Col. Bello's course mate and personal friend) was quoted in an interview with the Sunday Vanguard Newspaper published on April 16, 2000: "Let me state clearly, may the soul of U.K. Bello rest in peace. It's sad that U.K Bello had to die because he was in effect used by IBB as a distraction and the poor chap was misled to be pushed out of Dodan Barracks that night, when Babangida already knew that there was danger. Babangida used U.K. Bello as a bait."

 

"But slightly over a year later, with a slightly different spin, on Friday 17th August, 2001, it was report ed in the same Vanguard newspaper interview noted above that Chief Duro Onabule, former Chief Press Secretary to President Ibrahim Babangida, told correspondent Paul Odili that Babangida "was as usual receiving visitors late into the night, but just as the last visitor left, he heard one gun fire. Maybe that was a signal for the coupist to commence operation, but he was the one who first got to know. And he summoned his ADC (U.K. Bello) and demanded to know what was going on; the ADC said nothing sir.' He told him 'don't be stupid son,' something is going on, go and find out. And the ADC came back to report that they were under attack. Of course, the duty of ADC was to counter whatever attack against them."
 

I stand by my account, based not only on eye-witness reports but also interviews I have conducted with at least one of the members of the two Orkar Coup Court-Martial P anels. The late Lt. Col. UK Bello was shot dead somewhere between the back gate of Dodan Barracks and Radio Nigeria in Obalende, wearing a simple white Kaftan. His body was initially deposited at the Radio Station from where it was later retrieved after the coup collapsed. After exiting the back gate of Dodan Barracks to continue his investigation of the strange events that were unfolding, he was walking alone toward the Radio Station when he ran into a small convoy of mutineers advancing toward Dodan Barracks. There were three officers in the group, one of whom was from the Armoured Corps. When Bello recognized him, he called out and announced himself, demanding, as ADC to the President, to know what was happening. Unfortunately, one of the other officers in that sub-group (who was not from the Armoured Corps), may have panicked (or maybe he did not), and shot him dead immediately.  May his soul rest in peace.

 

2. The motive for Orkarís coup.

 

Regarding the motive for the coup, I think Audu should recognize that in the course of a coup many intermediate events occur, including the implementation of personal agendas and "on-the-spot" exigencies which do not necessarily capture the main motive for the Plot. The so called "Orkar coup" was no different from other Nigerian coups in that regard.

 

Again, based on interviews with officers deep on the inside as well as details of statements made during the Courts-Martial, I wrote: "It has been said that the core Bendel (Edo/Delta) and Rivers (Rivers/Bayelsa) plotters were not remorseful about the rebellion. Captain Empere in particular was very defiant and identified the late Isaac Adaka Boro as his mentor and hero. He and others were driven by deeply held feelings that although their exploited lands produced Nigeria's oil wealth, their people had little to show for it. It is fair to categorize the rebellion, therefore, as a "resource control uprising"."

 

Based on all the information available to me, I still stand by that characterization, inspite of all the red herrings.

 

Someday, this and many other internet based accounts of coups in Nigeria will be the subject of a far more detailed Book. In the meantime I recommend that those who seek additional information from the perspective of one of the plotters should read the book by Ex-Captain Tolofari - "Exploitation and Instability in Nigeria: The Orkar Coup in Perspective." It is published by Press Alliance Network Limited, Lagos. Go to: http://www.afbis.com/store/system/index.html

 

Lastly, let me remind everyone that a coup is like an elephant. It looks and feels different depending on where one is standing.  It is very important to note that there are other ex-plotters out there who are still alive but who have not yet shared their perspectives and experiences.  In other words, the last word on that matter has not been written.

 

Thanks

 

Dr. Nowa Omoigui

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Additional Internet perspectives: