Friday, 2 December 2016


General Murtala Ramat Muhammed was assassinated on February 13, 1976. He was born on November 8, 1938, he joined the Nigerian Army in 1958, enrolled at the Regular Officers Special Training School in Teshie, Ghana. Emeka Ojukwu was his military tactics and military law instructor. He also served in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, Congo under JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi. 

Standing at the spot of his assassination and in my hand is a book: "DIMKA's CONFESSION" a 1976 publication of Bendel Newspaper Corporation.
He was among the soldiers that executed the counter coup of July 29, 1966, he played a very important role. In fact he wanted to be the head of state but because he got no support from the British and American embassies in Nigeria, who preferred Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon for seniority sake. Murtala eventually gave up and accepted Gowon. He did not understand why Gowon who did not participate directly in the revenge coup where General Ironsi was killed, should be Head of State over him, that took the bull by the horn. Gowon on assumption, appointed him Inspector of Signals. During the Nigerian civil war, he played yet another prominent role in the Asaba Massacre.

Murtala with his family

As General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Nigerian Army's 2nd Division, he was alleged to have ordered the summary execution of over 700 Biafran prisoners of war. On July 30, 1975, as a Brigadier, he overthrew the government of General Gowon in a bloodless coup. AS Head of State, he sacked over 10,000 public officers, the purge affected the civil service, judiciary, police and armed forces, diplomatic service, public corporations, and universities. Some officials were brought to trial on charges of corruption. 

Murtala Muhammed on the old twenty naira

Murtala Muhammad on the new twenty naira note

He also began the demobilization of 100,000 troops from the swollen ranks of the Armed Forces. On Friday, February 13, 1976 while he was on his way to the office with the aim of conducting his prayer later at the mosque with his Aide-De-Camp (ADC), Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa in his black Mercedes Benz saloon car, he was assassinated. Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka led the coup, I mean the assassination that took place at George street, Ikoyi, the spot I am standing in this photo, just by what use to be the Federal Secretariat. Dimka, Kassai, Ola, Maj. Rabo and LT. Williams where stationed at George street by what was then AP Filling station, but today 'Forte Oil Plc'. Their assignment was to wait for Murtala's car. Captain Malaki was to give the warning order, a signal that the Head of state car is approaching. Zakari had been stationed at the NBC by 7 am waiting to direct Dimka to the broadcasting station of the radio house.

When Zakiri could not wait any longer, he joined Dimka at George street. While Zakari and Rabo were planning on what to do, Murtala drove past in his car, it was Malaki that noticed that the car just drove past them, and Dimka and the others rushed in and followed the car. The car was held somewhere in a holdup just by the AP Filling station. Lt Seri Williams approached the car 1st, Dimka and Maj Rabo rushed and joined him and the firing started, when they were convinced that the Head of State was dead, Dimka took off for the radio house where he met about 15 or 19 soldiers there, Zakari joined him at the NBC. Dimka went in to make a broadcast, that was about 8.45 am on the network of Radio Nigeria. His announcement: "The deficiency of General Murtala Muhammad had been detected and his Government was therefore overthrown by young revolutionaries...".

Murtala's body during his burial

 The rest is part of history. My observation, while I thank Eti Osa Local Government for erecting the cenotaph, I am calling on the Local Government Chairman to visit the cenotaph and see the deplorable condition it is now It is not befitting for a Head of State of the statue of General Murtala Muhammad. They can keep it cleaner and it will attract tourists and history students to the spot and people will be willing to be a fee to visit and take photographs there.

No comments:

Post a comment