Rejoinder to "Aloy Duru" on www.gamji.com
By Dr. Nowa Omoigui
[SOUTH CAROLINA, U.S.A.]
recently posted piece titled "THE JULY 1966 COUP:
Full Account and Chronology of Massacre and Mayhem" by one "Aloy Duru"
) is an exercise in fraudulent misattribution.
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 Gamji.com 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: http://www.gamji.com/nowa2.htm."
RESPONSE: I have not yet written an
account of the July 29 1966 coup. The
reference "http://www.gamji.com/nowa2.htm" 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.
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.
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."
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 www.gamji.com 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.
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.
goes on to write: "I have asked the webmaster of gamji.com (Dr. Iro) to
publish this account on gamji.com, at least to counteract Nowa."
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
www.gamji.com/nowa2.htm was as follows:
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
Mr. Duru claims "But
in the account written by Nowa Omoigui on the Hausa-Fulani website called
Gamji.com, 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......"
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"?
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]."
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
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
goes on to quote his second source: "According
to Aborisade & Mundt (2002, pp. 16), "At about 5.am the Government
House (Ibadan) was surrounded and their guards disarmed. Ironsi himself was not
confronted until 9.am when Major Danjuma of the 4th Battallion went upstairs in
the Government House with an escort, saluted him, questioned him, and ordered
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".
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:
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."
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.
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
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):
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
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
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.
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
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.
Omoigui, MD, FACC, MPH
Columbia, SC, USA