From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Second republic parliamentarian, Dr. Junaidu Mohammed, yesterday, declared that Nigeria’s first military Head of State, Major General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi can never be a hero or a patriot to the people of Northern Nigeria.
Speaking on the 50th anniversary of the demise of the former Aguiyi-Ironsi, who was killed in the course of the revenge coup, Mohammed said the former military leader failed in his responsibility to quickly prosecute the plotters of the Nzeogwu coup and get them executed in line with military tradition and law.
“The genesis of the July 29 coup was very straight forward. Igbo officers staged a tribal mutiny and it was directed against Northern officers and they killed many. Northern officers decided to stage a revenge coup and killed many Igbo officers too. This is as simple and straight forward as it can be,” he stated.
“I have not yet, and I am yet to see a single Northern politician worth the name who is ashamed as a result of the July 29 coup. That does not mean we love violence or we are in love with extra judicial killings, No!,” he added
“Ask any soldier what is the price for staging a coup? Death! But he (Ironsi) refused to kill them and went ahead to facilitate their exit to the East.
“Nobody can now come and tell the North that because General Ironsi died in the manner he died, we should elevate him to the level of a hero.”
Mohammed said he had no personal sympathy for the way and manner General Ironsi was killed, adding that there was nothing of particular importance to that. He recalled that the way some other military officers or other principal political characters from other part of the country died were equally pathetic.
He maintained that if at all he was to pick heroes among the affected Igbo military officers, he would pick those who were not invited to join the 1966 coup and did not participate in its execution, but were, nevertheless, killed in the course of the mayhem for no order reason than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nigerians of all walks of life have been reflecting on the events of 1966 following the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the death of the first Military Head of State. On Sunday, a Mass was held at St. Finbarrs Catholic Church, Umuahia, Abia State to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death.