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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

July 29,1966 counter-coup: The quest for vengeance

Written by Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
~Vanguard Nigeria. Friday, July 29, 2016.

Even though he was famed as Ironside on account of his sheer physical prowess and escapades, the cascade of events that overwhelmed Nigeria in the first seven months of 1966 was enough to devour the boldest of men. General JohnsonThomas Aguiyi Ironsi, Nigeria's first military head of state was unprepared for the duties of statecraft thrust upon him by the events of January 15, 1966, when the political leadership of the country was removed.

There was also no indigenous experience of a military junta to draw lessons from. He had been a sort of pioneer, having been the country's first Major General, the first indigenous Commander of the Nigerian Army, first Nigerian to command a United Nations Peace Force among many other caps earned locally and internationally.

Reaping from January 15 coup

Aguiyi Ironsi was thrown unto the national sphere by the events of January 15, 1966, which led to the overthrow of the country's civilian government by a group of young officers styled as the Five Majors. By happenstance or coincidence, Aguiyi Ironsi, who was the GOC of the Army (Chief of Army Staff) escaped the bullet of the military usurpers. All but one of the five Army Majors, Major Wale Ademoyega, were all of Igbo ancestry. Even more remarkable was the fact that the tide of the killings during the January 15 failed coup was heavily tilted against the North.

Following the coup, Ironsi outsmarted the coup leader, Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, who was tricked into coming down to Lagos from his Kaduna base where he had taken almost total authority at the 1st Infantry Division headquartered in Kaduna.

Power vacuum

The disappearance of the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa after the disturbances of January 15 had, meanwhile, left the federal cabinet in much confusion. An attempt by the members of the cabinet on January 16 to nominate Zanna Bukar Dipcharima, a northerner as acting prime minister did not receive the endorsement of the Acting President, Dr. Nwafor Orizu, a development that was to create room for further suspicion.

Orizu relinquish power to Ironsi

Meanwhile, Orizu against the grains of the constitution, handed over power to Aguiyi Ironsi allegedly voluntarily.

It was, however, to be further revealed by the likes of Alhaji Shehu Shagari that Ironsi stampeded the remnant of the Tafawa Balewa cabinet to handover to him.

Shagari's account

Shagari, who was a member of the cabinet in his book: ''Beckoned to Serve,'' disclosed that Ironsi had at the point of tears narrated how some of his best officers were killed by the coup plotters and how he was under pressure by soldiers to take over control.

"When we reminded Major-General Ironsi if he needed to avail himself of the British pledge of assistance, he replied it was too late as the army was pressing him to assume power. Indeed, he confessed his personal reluctance to take over because of his ignorance of government; but insisted the boys were adamant and anxiously waiting outside. He advised it would be in our interest, and that of the country, to temporarily cede power to him to avert disaster. Accordingly, we acceded to his request since we had no better alternative. Ironsi then insisted that the understanding be written," Shagari wrote.

Ironsi forced us to handover to him - Akinjide

Another account by another cabinet member, Chief Richard Akinjide given at a book launch in Lagos in July 2000 spoke of a more coercive effort by Ironsi.

"Ironsi told us that "you either hand over as gentlemen or you hand-over by force." Those were his words. Is that voluntary hand-over? So we did not hand-over. We wanted an Acting Prime Minister to be in place, but Ironsi forced us, and I use the word 'force' advisedly, to handover to him. He was controlling the soldiers," Akinjide was quoted as saying.

Ironsi's unitary decrees

Following the takeover, Ironsi churned out a number of decrees to establish his firm control over the country. However, his actions continued to be received with suspicion especially in the light of the fact that Nzeogwu and others who inspired the January 15 coup were not tried.

In fact, rumours continued to go round the country that they were, in fact, being treated like kings in detention.

Unification decree

Meanwhile, in his bid to further draw the country together, Ironsi issued the unification decree.

The enactment of the decree was despite strong condemnations of the move by the Northern Intelligentsia which upon first getting wind of the move had cautioned the Ironsi regime against it.

Suleiman Takuma, a journalist, who later gained fame as national secretary of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN in the 80s, was arrested by Ironsi's soldiers after writing a critical opinion against the perceived moves to enact the unification decree. Takuma had also criticised the delay in the trial of the January 15 plotters. The suspicion of a move towards unification was not helped after Ironsi ordered the four military governors at that time to start attending the meetings of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.

Meanwhile, around the North and in barracks in the South tension continued to escalate.

Ogbemudia's account, brewing northern coup

Brigadier-General Samuel Ogbemudia who was at the time brigade-major in the 1st Infantry Division, Kaduna told Vanguard of how Lt. Col. Hassan Katsina the then military governor of the Northern Region warned that the North was not afraid to carry out its own coup.

"We Northerners are not cowards and if we want to carry out coup it would be in the day time and not in the night," Ogbemudia quoted him as saying during a peace building meeting summoned by Lt. Col. Philip Effiong, the commander of the 1st Infantry Division sometime around May, 1966.

Meanwhile, some notable, northern figures including the Sultan of Sokoto were also appealing for peace across the region.

Their efforts nonetheless, there were insinuations that Ironsi had become hostage to a secret set of advisers whosome alleged were mostly Igbo.

Among them were Francis Nwokedi, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs; Pius Okigbo, who advised him on economic matters, and Lt. Col Patrick Anwunah.

Ironsi, on May 24, made a nationwide broadcast affirming the Unification Decree a move that quickly led to riots across many parts of Northern Nigeria. About the same time, despite a moratorium on promotions, the military announced the promotion of 25 military officers mostly of the ranks of Major and Lt. Cols. Of the 25, 19 were either Igbo or Midwesterners; five were from the North, and one was Yoruba.

Properly interrogated, the promotions were seen to be deserving to all, but it was believed to be another image disaster for the Ironsi regime as it portrayed the new regime as trying to consolidate on the Igbo gains from the January 15 coup.

It was not surprising that the rank and file mainly comprising Northerners soon began to openly despise their Southern superior officers.

Three northern military officers, including Lt. Col. Murtala Mohammed and two others, who were Christian northerners including one who rose to become army chief, allegedly conceived the plan to overthrow Ironsi under an operation that was code named "Aure," Hausa term for "marriage."

Various plans on where and how to carry out the coup were reportedly analysed until it was resolved to capture the Head of State in Ibadan during a state visit, a plan that was executed exactly 50 years ago today.

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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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