THE HISTORY OF COUP D’ETAT IN NIGERIA
THE FIRST COUP IN NIGERIA
On January 15, 1966, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu led the first ever-military coup in Nigeria that led to the death of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Nigeria, Chief S.I. Akintola, the Premier of Western Region, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of Nigeria, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, Federal Minister of Finance and other military officers. The coup was poorly carried out in certain parts of the country and there was a strong accusation of tribalism. The Northern People accused Chukwuma as well as his fellow coup plotters of staging an Igbo coup. This is because most of the officers killed during the coup were those from other part of the country. The then general officer commanding the Nigerian army, Major-General Johnson Thomas Ununakwe Aguiyi Ironsi was sworn-in as the Military Head of State of Nigeria.
THE SECOND COUP IN NIGERIA
On 29 July, 1966, six months after the first coup plot, three young military officers of Northern background led by Lieutenant Colonel Murtala Muhammed staged a counter coup to even the score. This led to the death of Major-General J.T.U. Aguyi-Ironsi, Head of State, Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi Military Governor, Western region and other military officers. General Yakubu Gowon was then sworn-in as the Military Head of State.
THE THIRD COUP IN NIGERIA
In July 1975, a group of Colonel sacked the government of General Yakubu Gowon in a bloodless coup. General Murtala Muhammed also masterminded this coup. In this coup, no live were lost. General Murtala Muhammed assumed power in July 1975.
THE FOURTH COUP IN NIGERIA
On 13 February 1976, six months later, Lieutenant-colonel Bukur Suka Dimka with his loyalist stage an abortive coup which claimed the lives of three officers; General Murtala Muhammed, Head of State, Col. Ibrahim Taiwo, Governor of Kwara State and Lt. Akintunde Akinsehinwa, ADC to Muhammed. This led to their arrest and subsequent execution of one civilian and 38 soldiers, including Major-General Illya Bisalla, five Colonel, four majors and other officers for their role in the failed coup. Civilians involved in the coup include, Abdulkareem Zakari, a staff of Radio Nigeria, Lagos and Helen Gomwalk, sister-in-law of Joseph Gomwalk, were tried by military tribunal and punished. Zakari was executed for his involvement in the coup while Helen Gomwalk bagged a life sentence. She was later given amnesty by the Shehu Shagari administration.
THE FIFTH COUP IN NIGERIA
On 31 December 1983, General Buhari Muhammadu stage a coup which sacked the shehu Shagari’s administration. This coup led to the death of a loyal officer to the government, Brigadier Ibrahim Bako.
THE SIXTH COUP IN NIGERIA
On 27 August 1985, Babangida led a palace coup which terminated the Buhari’s 20 months reign.
THE SEVENTH COUP IN NIGERIA
In 1986, Major-General Mamman Vatsa led an abortive coup to overthrown the government of President Babangida. That same year, he and other 10 military officers were tried and were executed in March 1986.
THE EIGHTH COUP IN NIGERIA
On 22 April 1990, Gideon Orka staged an abortive coup to unseat the government of Ibrahim Babangida. The coup attempt has been describe as one of the bloodies coup and it was the largest execution of coup plotters in the nation’s history. This led to the death of nine loyal Soldiers. 69 soldiers of various ranks were accused of treason and they were killed by firing squad. The second in command and Chief of general staff, Vice-admiral Augustus Aikhomu, revealed that at least three of the plotters of the April 22 coup were arrested, caution and released in 1987 over an alleged coup plot to overthrow the government. They were G.T. Nyiam, a Lieutenant Colonel, S.D. Mukoro and Gideon Orkar, both majors. They were later released. Aikhomu also said that the officers regrouped once again in January to overthrow the government and had intended to kill not only the president, but also, the AFRC members and military governors, all civilian members of the council of ministers and senior military and police officers. The suspects were later tried by the treason and other offences special military tribunal headed by Ike Nwachukwu, Major-General and general officer commanding the 1 mechanised division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna. After the trial, 42 persons were found guilty and condemned to death by firing squad. This was the largest execution of coup plotters in Nigeria’s history breaking the record of the 1976 coup led by Buka Suka Dimka in which 32 officers and men were executed.
On October 2, 1993, there was a coup attempt by Lieutenant-Colonel Abubakar Umar, an army Colonel and Commandant of the elite Amoured corps centre and school.
THE NINETH COUP IN NIGERIA
On November 17, 1993, General Sani Abacha staged a palace coup to unseat the Interim National Government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan.
In 1995, there was an alleged coup plot which involve General Obasanjo (retired), former head of state; Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (retired) and other prominent Nigerians majority of whom were soldiers. The civilians among them include Beko Ransome-Kuti, chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), and his deputy, Shehu Uba Sani and four other Journalist. General Obasanjo and General Yar’Adua were jailed 15 and 25 years respectively. Yar’Adua died on Monday, December 8 1997 at Abakaliki prison, where he was serving his term while Obasanjo was released in 1998 by the then Head of State, General Abubakar.
In December 1996, some top military officers were accused by General Abacha of an alleged coup plot. The Chief of defence staff, General Abdulsalam Abubakar announced this on television. In his statement, he announced the arrest of 12 people who were planning to overthrown the federal government. They are, Lieutenant-General Oladipo Diya, Chief of general staff and vice-chairman of the provisional Ruling Council ( PRC), Major-General Abdulkareem Adisa, former housing minister, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, former minister of communications, Colonels Daniel Akintonde, former military administrator in Ogun State, Edwin Jando, artillery brigade-commender, Abeokuta, Emmanuel Shoda, military assistant to Diya, Femi Peters, National War College, Abuja; Lieutenant-Colonel Olu Akiode, former military assistant to Olanrewaju; Major Biliaminu Mohammed, administrative officer in the presidency; Major Oluseun Fadipe, Chief security officer to Diya; K.A. Yusuf Ishiyaku, Artillery Department, Abuja; and Professor Femi Odekunle political adviser to Diya. General Abacha to set up a 12-man committee to determined if indeed there was a coup plot.
Nigeria has had the following
· Five successful coups
· Two abortive coup
· One attempted coup
· Three alleged coup
CASUALTIES OF THE FIRST AND SECOND COUP PLOT IN NIGERIA ·
The first military coup (January 1966) in Nigeria claimed 12 lives (Eight soldiers and Four Top politicians).
· The July 1966 coup also claimed 12 lives (all soldiers).