January 15, 1966 coup and Biafra: Myth and realities, Alaigbo Development Foundation, 2018; Forth Dimension Publishers
The book,January 15, 1966 Coup and Biafra: Myth and Realities, is presented as the authentic account of the events of the January 1966 Coup and the incursion of the Biafran military incursion into the Midwest, on their way to Lagos and the Western Region, as a Liberation Army under the command of Col Victor Banjo, a Yoruba man.
The authors, Uzodinma Iweala, Luke Aneke, Sam Ohuabunwa and Obi Thomson, contend that the January 15, 1966 coup was not just an action to correct some political problems bedevilling the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the time, but also a strategic and pre-emptive strike to counter and frustrate another bloody coup plot that had been in the making and scheduled for January 17, 1966. That other coup, reveals the cbook, was being master-minded by the NNA (Nigerian National Alliance) axis and was to be effected as a jihadist push engineered by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and his allies in both political and military circles.
They hint that, among numerous other sources, this was confirmed by the late M.T. Mbu, the Minister of State for Defence at the time, a non-Igbo, in his recent book, Dignity in Service, where he states that when he visited Kaduna on January 5, 1966, where soldiers under Brigadier Ademulegun were openly discussing an upcoming coup to overthrow the Prime Minister Balewa’s (a moderate) Federal Government. When he confronted Ademulegun with what his soldiers were discussing, Brigadier Ademulegun assured him he was not one of the targets.
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However, when Mr. Mbu explained returned to Lagos and intimated his observation to Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, told him: “Matthew, you worry too much…” (See Dignity in Service by M.T. Mbu, 2018, Berkhout Publishers).
The author cites the real mastermind of the January 1966 coup, Captain Adewale Ademoyega, corroboration Mr. Mbu’s statement: “The Federal Government was to use loyal troops for this purpose and the 4th Battalion in Ibadan commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Lagerma and the 2nd Battalion in Ikeja temporarily commanded by Major Igboba, but soon to be taken over by Lieutenant-Colonel Gowon, were designated for this assignment.”
Ademoyega] had carried out the investigations with his friend and co-plotter, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, and their discovery was that the Jihad operation was fixed for the third week of January 1966, when Ahmadu Bello would have returned from his pilgrimage, and Gowon’s takeover of the Ikeja Battalion would have been completed.
The Federal Government had, as a build-up to this act, carried out a reshuffling of the high echelons of the Army and the Police. Major-General Ironsi, the Army Commander, was ordered to proceed on leave from mid-January. Brigadier Maimalari was standing by as his replacement, in the stead of Brigadier Ademulegun, while the 2nd Brigade Headquarter at Apapa was to be temporarily commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Njoku. In the Police Force, the shuffling had Inspector-General Edet sent on leave from December 20, 1965, whereas the officer closest to him was retired and the third officer, Alhaji Kam Salem, was brought in as the new Inspector-General.
From all indications, according to the book, the ball was set rolling for a thorough walloping of the anti-Akintola intellectuals and UPGA politicians and “rioters” of the West. The January 15, 1966 coup was, therefore, necessarily staged as a counter-measure to the planned January 17 1966 coup.
Captain Ben Gbulie, one of plotters of January 1966 coup, said the authors, confirmed that, indeed, a coup operation code-named “Jihad” under the scheming of NNA politicians, consisting of the Ahmadu Bello-led Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC), with their allies in the Akintola-led Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), and with the military backing of topmost military stalwarts.
Among the later were said to be Brigadier Maimalari, Brigadier Ademulegun and Col. Shodeinde, who were being prepared in the quest to spread Islamic domination across the country, after the fashion of Uthman Dan Fodio. As narrated by Gbulie, he was informed by Major Nzeogwu, a one-time military intelligence chief, that the operation was directed against the leading UPGA, United Progressive Grand Alliance (of Awolowo-Okpara) politicians and their Christian followers in the Southern parts of the country.
January 15, 1966 Coup and Biafra Myth and Realities attempts toexpose in graphic details the truth about that coup and the list of the participants and victims. By default, it was the last minute refusal to participate in the coup by an Igbo officer, Major Obienu, who failed to bring up the armored cars to back up the seizure of Lagos as planned that made it possible for Gen Ironsi to successfully round up the coup plotters.
The author contends that Gowon knows this truth, as well as T.Y Danjuma, whose group (ironically) murdered Obienu on July 29, 1966. The authors find it curious that the alleged Igbo coup plot was unknown to the highest ranking Igbo officer in the North at the time, Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who mustered his troops in Kano to march down to Kaduna to crush Nzeogwu and those loyal to him.
They echoed Gen Obasanjo, who, in his memoir, narrates his ordeal in the hands of Ojukwu, who suspected that he (Obasanjo, being Nzeogwu’s best friend) must have been one of the plotters. Ojukwu promptly put him under arrest until a signal came from Army Headquarters in Lagos for Ojukwu to release him.
Yet, we have an alleged “Igbo Coup” where, the most senior military officer, in the whole country, an Igbo, foiled the coup in the South and Lagos, while the most senior Igbo military officer in the North, Lt. Col. Odimegwu –Ojukwu, frustrated it in the North by denying Major Nzeogwu fighting troops he needed to challenge Lagos. These facts, they claim, are known to both T.Y Danjuma and Gen Gowon.