The First Military Coup in Nigeria- January 15, 1966 Coup de’tat: History and Facts!

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The first military coup in Nigeria took place on January 15, 1966. The coup was carried out by young officers in the Nigerian army, and it was also a boldly one, making it the first bloody coup in the history of the country. The person in power at that time was President Nnamdi Azikiwe, while Tafawa Balewa was the Prime Minister.

That military coup completely rewrote the military, social and political history of Nigeria. Take it or leave it, Nigeria is yet to recover from the damages done to this country by that first military coup.

The first military coup in Nigeria

The First Military Coup in Nigeria was said to be not entirely successful. Be that as it may, that first military coup in Nigeria laid the infamous foundation for coups and counter-coups in Nigeria, a situation that seems to have been laid to rest since 1999. One can only hope the last has been heard of a military coup in Nigeria.

The First Military Coup in Nigeria

Those who led the coup were 4 Igbo and 1 Yoruba Majors. They started their plot against the then Prime Minister, Abubakar Balewa from August 1965. It is clear to all and sundry that the January 1966 coup was what gave birth to the July 1966 counter-coup. This was also the cause of the first and only civil war that occurred in 1967 between the eastern Nigeria and the rest of the country.

The individual at the head of the coup plotters was Major Kaduna Nzeogwu from the southeastern part of Nigeria. The entire exercise started as a night-time training exercise tagged Exercise Damisa, which suddenly transformed into a full-blown military coup.

What was the reason given by Kaduna Nzeogwu and his fellow culprits for staging the first military coup in Nigeria?  They claimed that those at the helm of affairs in the country were corrupt and they needed to put an end to the corruption problem.

The major beneficiary of the 15th January 1966 coup was General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi. He used the coup as an excuse to take over power and end democracy. Nigeria’s nascent democracy was just about six years old when Kaduna Nzeogwu, Aguiyi-Ironsi et al. decided to snuff the life out of it.

Aside from Kaduna Nzeogwu and Aguiyi-Ironsi, the other officers involved were Major Timothy Onwuatuegwu (Igbo), Capt. Ogbu Oji (Igbo), Capt, Ben Gbulie (Igbo), Capt. Emmanuel Nwobosi (Igbo), Maj. Humphrey Chukwuka (Igbo), Maj. Adewale Ademoyega (Yoruba), Maj. Don Okafor (Igbo), Maj. Chris Anuforo (Igbo), Maj. Emmanuel Ifeajuna (Igbo).

Some of the victims of the first military coup in Nigeria are Maj. Hassan Katsina (Fulani), Lt. Col. Conrad Nwawo (Igbo), Lt. Col Arthur Unegbe (Igbo), Jasmers Pam (Berom), Lt. Col. Abogo Largema (Kanuri), Prime Minister Abubakar Balewa (Bageri), Premier Ahmadu Bello (Fulani), Premier Samuel Akintola (Yoruba), Finance Minister Festus Okotie-Eboh (Itsekiri), Brig. Samuel Ademulegun (Yoruba) and so on.

In the course of the first military coup in Nigeria, up to eleven senior politicians were assassinated by Kaduna Nzeogwu and his fellow coup plotters. They also killed two soldiers and kidnapped up to three other soldiers. Sir Samuel Ladoke Akintola, was the premiere of the Western Region; he was also killed during the coup same for the wife of the Northern Nigeria’s Premier’s wife, Mrs. Lateefat.

 In Conclusion

The first military coup in Nigeria took place on January 15, 1966. The coup was carried out by young officers in the Nigerian army, and it was also a boldly one, making it the first bloody coup in the history of the country. The person in power at that time was President Nnamdi Azikiwe, while Tafawa Balewa was the Prime Minister.

 

 

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