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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

1966 coup plotters planned to make Awolowo Head of State - Olutoye

~The PUNCH Nigeria. Sunday, July 31, 2016.

The Owa of Ido-Ani, Oba Olufemi Olutoye, is a retired Major-General in the Nigerian Army. In this interview with PETER DADA, he shares his experiences as a soldier and his level of involvement in the 1966 military coup

Can you share your background with us?
My name is Olufemi Olutoye. I was born in Ido Ani town, Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State. I spent the early part of my childhood days in Benin City, Edo State, when my father was the headmaster at St. James' Primary School, Benin City. From there, I went to Government College Ibadan in 1945. I completed my secondary school education in 1949. I then gained admission to the University of Ibadan in 1950 and I graduated in June 1954. I also went to Cambridge University and concluded my course there in 1955. When I returned to Nigeria, I started teaching at the Olu-Iwa College, Ijebu Ode, (now Adeola Odutola College) . Later, I left teaching to join the Nigerian Army in 1957 and I retired in 1977.

What informed your decision to join the army, when you were a university graduate?
I believed then that I had attained the height of the teaching profession, because teaching then was different from what we have now. I worked in a private school and I believed I had already reached the limit and that there was nothing to look forward to again. Secondly, I wanted adventure. I taught briefly in a public school in England where there was a Cadet Corps, where young boys were given uniforms. I asked myself then that why couldn't we have such kind of school in Nigeria? I was the acting principal for a year, so I had to leave after that. That was when I got to the army where I rose through the ranks to become Major General before I eventually retired in 1977.

You were in the army when the first coup happened in Nigeria. Can you tell us your experience?
I hope that I will have time to write more about that coup but I am doing something on it right now. The coup was led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. He was a Major in rank and of course, I was a Major then too but I was his senior. So I knew about that coup. I can say that now but I could not say that then because, in the army, the mere knowledge of a coup is a problem. We were together in India. So, he informed me about it and I enquired more on how he hoped to carry out the plot. When he told me that it would involve killings, I told him to count me out. I told him that I did not join the Nigerian Army to kill Nigerians.

Was he the one that personally approached you to inform you about the plan?
Yes, he personally came to inform me about it in 1964 when we were in India and the coup was carried out in 1966. There are few other things that happened which we cannot say now until the time is ripe.

Did he specifically tell you that the coup was going to be bloody ?
Yes, that was why I told him to count me out. When I joined the Nigerian Army it was called West Africa Frontier Force. We were part of the Colonial Army. I did not join to kill fellow Nigerians. So, I told him I would not be a party to any military exercise that would result to loss of lives of any Nigerian. So, that was why I did not participate in the coup.

The coup seemed to have been targeted at military officers from a particular part of Nigeria and it was also tagged, 'Igbo Coup'. Why?
It later turned out to be so, although all the six majors who plotted it were Igbos except one - Major Adegboyega from Remo, Ogun State. I want to assure you that, that was not Nzeogwu's intention. As I told you, the coup was planned as far back as 1964. Maybe between 1964 and end of 1965, he changed his mind. I can't say why he did so but those that showed interest in the coup turned out to be Igbos. Even his utterances when the coup took place on January 15, 1966, showed that he didn't mean it to be an Igbo affair but unfortunately, it turned out to be so that an Igbo man could also become the Head of State.

Did he tell you that he planned the coup to become the Head of State?
No. Infact what attracted me to Nzeogwu at the early stage when the coup was being planned was that I asked him if he was going to make himself the Head of State and he said no. He said he was going to bring a civilian who was more knowledgeable and who had what it took to make Nigeria great. I then asked him who that person was and he said the man was in Calabar prison. I said is it Chief Obafemi Awolowo? He said yes. That was why I gave him my support but when he told me it was going to involve killings, I said no I was not interested again.

If the coup had been successful, do you think Nigeria would still be where we are today?
Because I happened to have known the whole genesis of the coup, my answer to that question is, Nigeria would have become a changed place now. Nigeria would have been one of the top countries in the world today. When he informed me about the plan when we were in India, I brought him to my room and asked many questions. I asked him why he wanted to do such a thing, what he hoped to achieve and he made some very good points. I then said let me help you write out some things. I wrote some of the papers for him because I was more knowledgeable than a some of them. Like I said earlier, he was my junior, though we wore the same rank. I was older and more educated than he was. Our plan for education then was superb, same thing for industrialisation and other good plans for the country. 

But immediately he told me it was going to involve the killing of people, I said sorry, I can't be a party to it because when I got enlisted into the army, I did not sign to be killing Nigerians. He said there was no way he could carry out the coup without loss of lives and I told him if that was his plan, then he should count me out. Fortunately when we came back to Nigeria from India, he was posted to Kaduna and I was posted to Lagos. So, we were separated and lost contact. So, I thought I had convinced him enough not to carry out any coup, and if he must, he should make sure that no life was lost. So, on January 15, 1966, I just heard on the radio that a coup had taken place and I recognised the voice. So, I told myself that this boy eventually carried out this coup! That was how it started. Later, we got to know that all the ring leaders of the coup were Igbos . The only exception was Adegboyega, a Yoruba man.

What do you think was wrong with the then government that instigated Nzeogwu to plan the coup?
The first thing was the census. There was no doubt that we were fed with wrong figures; that was the major defect in the running of government then, Nzeogwu did not like it. Secondly, those who were in government then were not doing well enough. We had mismanagement of public funds, some of them were semi-illiterates. Although some of them meant well for the nation but not all of them. Since Nzeogwu grew up in the North he knew most of them. He could speak Hausa language fluently because he was born there and knew them very well. 

He didn't want a change in government simply because he wanted to kill northerners, it was those who came and supported his effort that did that. Not only that, he ended up putting Ironsi, an Igbo man, as the Head of State. It then looked as if he killed the Hausa soldiers and put an Igbo man there. This was why Brigadier-General Ogundipe did not succeed Ironsi. It was a sergeant that told Ogundipe that they were not going to take orders from him, that they would rather take orders from a captain who was a northerner instead of Ogundipe.

Why did you have disobedience in the military then?
There was no military at that period; the whole thing had turned upside down. There was confusion everywhere in the military. Unfortunately many people outside the military did not know what was going on then. You see, coup was not being organised in the army, it was usually carried out by a few people and when they succeed, everybody will fall in line.

Few months after the first unsuccessful coup, General Ironsi was killed, what was going on in the military then?
Before Ironsi was killed, he brought about a lot of changes in the structure of the country. At that time, we had a federation of three regions. He cancelled the regional arrangement that we were practising and people saw this as the idea of Igbo domination of Nigeria and that it would be a question of time that the prediction of an Igbo leader would be actualised. Many top Yorubas were killed but majority of those killed were northerners. After this, an Igbo man was installed as the Head of State and this Igbo man surrounded himself with Igbo senior civil servants, who wrote most of the ideas for him, including the cancellation of the regional government, and adoption of the unitary government to the detriment of those people who thought otherwise.

In addition to that, there were many Igbo people in the North, and they were rejoicing. It would have been an easy thing if they had done that secretly. But for them, it was an occasion that the Sardauna was killed, they were telling the people in the North that 'we have killed your leaders and now we are in charge.' So it was annoying to the northerners. That type of thing did not happen in the West because not everybody supported Akintola. I am sure that if it was Awolowo that was killed, it would have been another story entirely in those days.

When Gowon became the Head of State, was he embraced in the military, considering the level of disobedience among the officers then?
At that time, we still had many Igbo officers in the army, it was part of this that led to the mass exodus of the Igbos. They left the West and North for the East so as not to be killed. Whenever a coup took place, it was not everybody that supported it. It is just like when you have a change of government, it is not everybody who will support the new government.

Can you compare the military during your time to what we have now?
Nowadays, we have more educated people in the military. Hardly can you see any senior officer now who is not a university graduate. Some of the senior ones that you see on the pages of newspapers have more than one degree in relevant disciplines. So, by any standard they are not illiterates. You cannot compare the military men that we had then with the military men we have now in terms of knowledge and wisdom because our military now can compete with any military anywhere in the world. In the past, if they were given orders to go somewhere, they went without any questioning, but now they are more educated.

What about in the area of discipline and commitment?
You still cannot compare the military that we have today to what we had in our time because when you are educated, your mind is open to other ideas, even when somebody tells you to go, in your own personal estimation, you put whoever tells you to go on the scale and weigh him. You can do that now but in those days we can't do that; all the thinking was done for us. That was the training of a soldier. Again, we have more officers now than then, not just officers but officers and men. So, it was possible for a small clique to get together in those days, it is not possible now, the situation must be nationwide and you can't have a good number of soldiers coming together. Reasoning together to do something together to bring a change by force, because we still have some people who will argue that why must we use force to talk to them, they will ask questions. They would ask why they were not invited first for a round-table talk or conference. These are the type of officers we have now. They can think for themselves and not have somebody sitting somewhere thinking for them. There is a lot of difference now.

It is 50 years now that a former Military Governor of old Western Region, Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, was killed. Did you have a relationship with him in the military?
Yes. he was my senior but we were friends, good friends.

How did you feel when you heard about his death as a military officer then?
When I learnt about his death, I felt very bad and sad as a military officer. I felt bad that a colleague of mine shouldn't have been treated or killed that way. As a Yoruba man, I felt proud that we had somebody who gave his life in an attempt to save his guest because that was what happened. He told those boys who came, the northern soldiers, that there was no way they could take Ironsi away because he was his guest. He was reported to have said that much. I am sure there were some people who would looked the other way when Ironsi was being taken away. You will find some Nigerians who would say that a Yoruba man looked the other way but he was not that type of person at all. He was brave, there's no doubt about that, he was one of the very brave soldiers we had then. He displayed bravery and valour in Congo and that was the reason he was awarded the Military Cross for his exceptional bravery in the face of enemies' fire. He was the first Nigerian to get a Military Cross.

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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