Rejoinder to "Aloy Duru" on

By Dr. Nowa Omoigui



Dear Sir:


The recently posted piece titled "THE JULY 1966 COUP:

A Full Account and Chronology of Massacre and Mayhem" by one "Aloy Duru"

( ) is an exercise in fraudulent misattribution. 


Mr. Duru, assuming that is his real name,  starts by writing:  "I will begin by reproducing below an "excerpt" from Nowa Omoigui's account of the events of the July 29, 1966 coup by Northern Officers against the Igbos.   Nowa's account was published in the Hausa-Fulani and as expected, does not represent the true facts of the events as they happened. You can read Nowa's full account at the website:"


MY RESPONSE:  I have not yet written an account of the July 29 1966 coup.   The reference ""  was not about the July 1966 coup.  It was a summary account of the biosketch of late General Murtala Muhammed in which passing reference was made to the events of July 1966.


Mr. Duru then sets the stage for the assassination of my character by writing: "Unlike Nowa Omoigui, I refuse to inject my personal opinions, speculations, biased and one-sided interpretations, or make any attempt to conflate facts from fiction."  However, throughout his essay he appends his comments and ad libs in italics to the main quotations from his sources.


Mr. Duru goes on to plead with his audience to:  "read it with patience, it is only to set the records straight and to preempt any further prejudiced motives and deliberate misrepresentations and lies from Nowamgbe Omoigu, an Edo tribe indigene of Edo state, Nigeria. We should never let Nowa Omoigui write our history."


MY RESPONSE:  Mispelling my name apart, my tribal origin is irrelevant and betrays the crude and beclouded ethnic thinking process of the person hiding behind the pseudonym "Duru".  Further, the civil-military history I write about on is Nigeria's history - not "Igbo history" and I make no apologies about it.   None of the Igbo or non-Igbo actors, agents provocateur, bystanders or victims of the crisis were operating in a vacuum.  All Nigerians were impacted by events. 


Duru, however, plays his card by admitting that his comments are 'pre-emptive' meaning he is writing a rejoinder to an essay that has not yet even been written fearing that an authoritative and truthful rendition of the events of Nigeria's past may be unpalatable to him and his fellow travelers.  Readers will notice that I generally time my essays to coincide with the anniversaries of events in Nigeria's history.  During the week of July 29, 2002 I shall write an authoritative and (as usual) profound account of the July 29, 1966 uprising.  Stay tuned. 


Duru goes on to write: "I have asked the webmaster of (Dr. Iro) to publish this account on, at least to counteract Nowa." 


MY RESPONSE:  What exactly is Mr. Duru counteracting?  A future essay I have not written?  If he thinks his sources are totally inconsistent with the excerpt he takes from my essay on late General Muhammed he must be having difficulty with reading and understanding English.  What I wrote in was as follows: 


"Once it became obvious to northern soldiers in Lagos that killings had started in Abeokuta, Murtala Mohammed, Martin Adamu and others got themselves organized and launched operations in Lagos to "adjust" to the situation. Meanwhile, wearing a borrowed uniform, Major TY Danjuma, who was accompanying General Ironsi on a nationwide tour, cordoned Government House Ibadan with troops from the 4th battalion and arrested the General, along with Colonel Fajuyi. Shortly thereafter, certain junior officers and NCOs pushed Danjuma aside, took control of the situation and abducted both men. They were later shot. It was subsequently alleged that Muhammed used his key position as Inspector of Signals to communicate messages to northern conspirators in other parts of the country urging action. It was also alleged that he was the leader of the initially separatist faction among northern troops in Lagos and at one point commandeered a passenger jet to transport northerners out of Lagos back to the North in an apparent move to secede. This murky charge has never been satisfactorily explained and it is hard to get consistent accounts about it. As things settled down after the initial orgy of killings in Abeokuta, Lagos, Ibadan and Kaduna, the tentative Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon (who was then Chief of Staff, Army, professionally senior to Muhammed, and by no means privy to or part of the coup) emerged as the choice of the northern rank and file, barely edging out the charismatic Lt. Col. Murtala Mohammed from the position of C-in-C. The bad feelings generated by this power rivalry was to dog their relationship from then on."


However, Mr. Duru claims "But in the account written by Nowa Omoigui on the Hausa-Fulani website called, He unreservedly and falsely exonerated Major T. Y. Danjuma of "being there," of having any role and complicity in the abduction of General Ironsi and murder of the General......"  


MY RESPONSE:  What does Mr. Duru understand by my statement "Major TY Danjuma, who was accompanying General Ironsi on a nationwide tour, cordoned Government House Ibadan with troops from the 4th battalion and arrested the General, along with Colonel Fajuyi."?  How could I write that comment and yet be guilty of falsely exonerating Major TY Danjuma of "being there"?   


Mr. Duru goes on to write:  "Nowa Omoigui wrote "that Danjuma was pushed aside at the Government house by junior officers," who then, arguably, took charge of the situation and thus proceeded to arrest and eliminate Ironsi. This assertion is a complete misrepresentation of truth and total lack of human conscience on the part of Nowa Omoigui. I will let you be the judge on Nowa Omoigui's ignoble role at disinformation and revisionism of the most disingeneous kind]."


MY RESPONSE:  I did NOT write the statement   "that Danjuma was pushed aside at the Government house by junior officers,".  Those precise words  (placed in quotes by Duru) were written by Duru himself and then falsely attributed to me  to set the stage for his next line which read "who then, arguably, took charge of the situation and thus proceeded to arrest and eliminate Ironsi." 


Duru goes on to say "This assertion is a complete misrepresentation of truth and total lack of human conscience on the part of Nowa Omoigui. I will let you be the judge on Nowa Omoigui's ignoble role at disinformation and revisionism of the most disingeneous kind."


MY RESPONSE:  To an unsuspecting reader, Duru seems to know what he is talking about. However, a careful read betrays his complete lack of  understanding of what actually transpired or a cunning effort to set me up.  I did NOT write that Ironsi and Fajuyi were arrested by junior officers and NCOs - because that is not what happened.  Both men were arrested by then Major TY Danjuma as retired General Danjuma has himself confirmed repeatedly in interviews.  However, AFTER they had been arrested by Major TY Danjuma at the Government House Ibadan complications set in.  As I indeed wrote, 'shortly thereafter, certain junior officers and NCOs pushed Danjuma aside, took control of the situation and abducted both men. They were later shot.'  Duru seems to fail to appreciate that Danjuma was NOT present when Ironsi and Fajuyi were shot outside Ibadan by the junior officers and NCOs who kidnapped both men from the Government House.   To further illustrate Duru's ignorance or mischief or both, I shall use his own sources. 


According to Duru, the book by Arthur Nwankwo & Samuel Ifejika titled: "Biafra: The Making of a Nation" published by Praeger Publishers, 1969, states "At about 9 am on July 29, Major T. Y. Danjuma, who was in command of the guards, took some men upstairs, and after quizzing the Supreme Commander, saluted him and ordered his arrest.   


The three captives were stripped naked, tied up and, amidst floggings and beatings, bundle into separate police vans. Led by Lt. Walbe, Lt. Paiko, Warrant Officer I. Baka and Company Sergeant-Major Useri Fegge, the special team selected for this purpose took the captives to a smal stream about 10 miles along the Ibadan-Iwo road, where the torture continued."


MY RESPONSE:  This account - assuming it is accurate and correctly quoted by Duru - confirms that Ironsi and Fajuyi were arrested by Major Danjuma.   After a story telling pause reflected by the use of a new paragraph, it also makes it quite clear that Major Danjuma did NOT accompany the captives to where they were shot.  The authors do NOT say Danjuma ordered Ironsi and Fajuyi taken to where they were eventually shot nor do they say he ordered them killed.  They do not say who 'selected'  the special team for this purpose.  They list a group of junior officers and NCOs ("Led by Lt. Walbe, Lt. Paiko, Warrant Officer I. Baka and Company Sergeant-Major Useri Fegge") who took charge of subsequent events but are conveniently silent (as paraphrased by Duru) on how  lieutenants came to be in charge of a situation which was initially led by a Major.  In January 1966, key targets (like Balewa, Sardauna, Akintola, Maimalari, Pam, Kur Mohammed, Unegbe, Ademulegun, Shodeinde etc) were personally murdered by the most senior officers on the spot.  Ifeajuna, Anuforo, Okafor, Nzeogwu, Onwatuegwu, Nwobosi etc  personally supervised or took part in the executions.  When a yoruba NCO refused to fire an anti-tank rocket into the house in Kaduna where Sardauna's wives and children were staying, he was personally executed by Major Nzeogwu.  It should, therefore, be obvious that something was very wrong when Major Danjuma, having secured Ironsi's arrest, was no longer leading the NCOs who took the C-in-C away from the Government House in July 1966.


Duru goes on to quote his second source:  "According to Aborisade & Mundt (2002, pp. 16), "At about the Government House (Ibadan) was surrounded and their guards disarmed. Ironsi himself was not confronted until when Major Danjuma of the 4th Battallion went upstairs in the Government House with an escort, saluted him, questioned him, and ordered his arrest."


MY RESPONSE:  Again, Duru, in quoting from  Aborisade & Mundt  simply confirms what I wrote that Major Danjuma arrested General Ironsi.  But as is not altogether surprising he does not go further to quote the rest of what those authors wrote or did not write to explain how Danjuma lost control of the situation. Yet he accuses me of "misrepresentation of truth and total lack of human conscience". 


FURTHER COMMENTS:  I could keep writing about all the various errors of grammar and fact in Duru's essay and his rendition of the passages he quotes from the said sources.  The Ifejika/Nwankwo book which was published in 1969 was published in the context of the propaganda battle during the war.  For example, when the authors wrote confidently about the aim of the July 1966 coup who exactly were they quoting?      They wrote:  "Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon was selected as the man who would replace Ironsi. He had been General Ironsi's Army Chief of Staff (Defense Headquarters) and a member of the Supreme Military Council. He had returned to Nigeria from Britain less than forty-eight hours before the Revolution of January 15, 1966, and subsequently a member of the Supreme Military Council. This shows the amount of confidence General Ironsi reposed in him - a confidence he betrayed. His position gave him the opportunity to study the inner workings of the National Military Government, preparatory to his revolt." 


MY RESPONSE:  In 1969 as the war was raging, neither Ifejika nor Nwankwo interviewed the northern leaders of and participants in the July 1966 uprising.  And yet we all know from numerous interviews, essays and books since the end of the war (from both sides) that what they wrote in 1969 WAS NOT the case.  In a recent newspaper interview, even former Biafran military chief, Alexander Madiebo said that until the very end Gowon was not privy to the July 1966 coup.  Late General Garba explicitly stated in his book
"Revolution in Nigeria: Another View"  that when planning for it they deliberately kept Gowon in the dark although Gowon obviously knew there was tension because Ironsi sent him on many missions to the barracks to calm northern soldiers down. Meanwhile, the Director of Military Intelligence, Lt. Col. Patrick Anwuna sent in intelligence estimates.   The leader of the coup was none other than the late Murtala Muhammed but what actually took place (courtesy of northern NCOs) did not transpire the way they planned - although the end result was the same - the overthrow of the Ironsi regime.


There are many other mistakes.  The person described as "Lt. Okonweze" was T/Lt. Col. Gabriel Okonweze. The statement that the "Supreme Commander's Military ADC, Lt. Bello (a Northerner) had disappeared" is another example of wartime propaganda.  Duru also quotes Ifejika and Nwankwo as writing:  "At this stage Lt. Nwankwo escaped. Enraged by this, Lt. Walbe and his men sprayed Major-General Ironsi and Lt-Col. Fajuiyi with machine gun bullets." 


MY RESPONSE:  How does one reconcile those passages from Duru's so called experts with the following passage from General Madiebo's book "The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War", Fourth Dimension Publishers, Enugu (1980):


[Page 85 ff]  "While Ironsi was being shot, Nwankwo said he ran into the bush and escaped. He emphasized that his escape was not due to his cleverness, but because his colleague, the Hausa ADC who was also present, wanted him to escape.  Nwankwo explained that during the month of June, 1966, he and his Northern colleague had discussed the possibility of another coup. The Northern officer was emphatic the Ibos were going to do it again, but Nwankwo swore it was going to be done by Northerners. According to him, at the end of a long but heated argument, they came to an agreement that whichever side did it, the man on the winning side should save the other's life. Based on this agreement, the Northern ADC whispered t Nwankwo to escape while Ironsi was being shot, and also discouraged the soldiers from chasing after him. Nwankwo said he later made his way to Lagos and contacted this Northern officer again, who not only hid him for a couple of days, but eventually took him out of Lagos in the boot of a car."


MY RESPONSE:  This "northern officer" or "Hausa ADC" was none other than then Lt. Sani Bello the same military ADC Duru says "disappeared" when Ironsi was surrounded at the Government House.   As a matter of fact Bello had a nasty exchange with Danjuma when Danjuma tried to arrest Ironsi and was himself almost killed later when NCOs took over.  But that story is for another day.  It should be evident by now that the nonsense "Duru" excerpted about Ironsi and Fajuyi being sprayed with machine guns in angry response to Nwankwo's escape is a figment of the imagination. People manipulate their accounts to suit the circumstances. 


The NCOs and junior officers who pushed Danjuma aside at the Government House Ibadan and then took Ironsi and Fajuyi away MEANT to kill them both right from the beginning.   In fact THAT IS WHY MAJOR DANJUMA WAS PUSHED ASIDE - for giving an unpopular order that Ironsi and Fajuyi were to be detained at a Police rest house pending formal investigation into their role in the coup of January 1966.  Even though Danjuma had initially given his word to Fajuyi that he and Ironsi would not be harmed, the emotionally charged northern NCOs on the ground had other ideas and threateningly told Danjuma so, accusing him and other relatively senior northern officers of standing aside while those who murdered their people in January were running free.   One NCO from the 4th battalion even tapped Danjuma's shoulder with a loaded automatic rifle, hinting that he should stand down.  Because Danjuma originally came with Ironsi from Lagos, the boys from the restive 4th battalion at Ibadan (which lost two former commanding officers during the January coup) thought he was trying to protect Ironsi by merely ordering his confinement.  In a private conversation with then Major Emmanuel Abisoye while they were both at the Staff College in Camberly,  Danjuma confessed that faced with mutinous NCOs, he became concerned even for his own life.  So the junior officers and NCOs took control, kidnapped and then later tortured both Ironsi and Fajuyi, seeking to confirm their complicity in the events of January 1966 after which they summarily carried out their own sentence in the bush.  It had absolutely nothing to do with Nwankwo's escape.  Some of those involved are still alive and do not deny their role.  Among the NCOs who were present that day at the Government House Ibadan, one eventually rose to retire from the Army as a Brigadier.   Others, (like CD Dabang who was later executed in 1976 for the Dimka coup) are not.


Note that from a legal standpoint, the fact that Major Danjuma did not actually order Ironsi's execution at Ibadan does not mean he was not a party to the revolt once events were set in motion. Having arrested his C-in-C, he was clearly part of the rebellion.  So it is totally frivolous to suggest that having clearly stated that an officer arrested his C-in-C  I am exonerating him!  However, as a matter of historical record, it is important to recognize that those who were driving the events of July 28-August 1st 1966 were predominantly NCOs and subalterns.  As was so clearly demonstrated at Abeokuta, it was primarily a northern NCO/junior officer rebellion - and most experts are agreed on this point.   The same northern NCO cohort decided they would not obey orders from non-northern officers like Brigadier Ogundipe.  This is why some writers describe the July 29 1966 rebellion as an other ranks mutiny, which was later brought under control by northern officers who then rode with it, rather than a conventional coup per se. Splitting hairs?  Maybe.  However, at the Aburi conference of January 1967, David Ejoor made a similar observation.  Former Biafran Intelligence Chief  Odogwu also made a similar comment in his book "Crisis and Conflicts in Biafra".


Much has been written on the events of July 1966 - including some clever propaganda pieces. There are numerous references - most of which do not even bother to interview or get the opinion of or incorporate the testimony of THOSE WHO ACTUALLY CARRIED OUT OPERATIONS OR WERE ON THE GROUND.   How many Nigerians know for example that there were at least three separate aborted plans to stage a formal military coup against Ironsi and that what eventually took place on July 29 1966 was a freak development after certain NCOs at Abeokuta killed their commanding officer and others in the mess?    The adhoc nature of events is why the so called "coup" took place over several days (Abeokuta - July 28, Ibadan - July 29, Kaduna - July 30 etc until August 1st) and there was no organized radio announcement on July 29.  Northern officers and men in other locations slowly got to know  that  their coup  (which had originally been put off by Murtala Muhammed on July 27 after it leaked) had actually eventually started in an unplanned manner at Abeokuta.  What  actually triggered off operations in Lagos was a distress call from an Igbo officer at Abeokuta which was picked up by a northern officer at Ikeja.  In trying to rally help, the last person General Ironsi spoke to on the telephone on July 29 from the surrounded Government House at Ibadan was  Major Samuel Ogbemudia, then Brigade Major at the 1st Brigade HQ in Kaduna?  This phone call along with the previous detention of Lt Dimka on July 27 almost cost Ogbemudia his life.  There was never an officer in the Nigerian Army called 'Lt. Paiko'. That name ('Paiko') is a fake name (pseudonym) for a well known retired General (not Danjuma).  One can go on and on about such titbits.  But that is for another day. is a serious website.  I really do not care whether it is Hausa-Fulani or Efik.  It is not for nothing that it has become a frequently visited site on the web for persons seeking to know more about Nigeria's civil-military history from serious contributors who know what they are talking about.   My account of  the events of July  1966 (incorporating testimony from many of the actual planners,  operatives, and direct witnesses) will be clear when posted on gamji in the week of July 29, 2002. Only then will all the nuances of what transpired from July 28 to August 1st 1966 be better understood.   In the meantime, my honest advice to the character who hides behind the pseudonym "Mr. Aloy Duru" is to desist from fraudulent misattributions of quotes and character assassination. 




Nowa Omoigui, MD, FACC, MPH

Columbia, SC, USA