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2023: Tinubu Will Regret Alliance With The North, Touched On Vast Nigerian Political Issues —Fani-Kayode

The Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode in this explosive interview with The Nigerian Express touched on very touchy past, present and future political issues in Nigeria.

He discussed about Buhari, Tinubu, Osinbajo, Awolowo, Obasanjo, Jonathan, IPOB, Biafra-Nigerian civil war, the North, The South and more.

Below is the interview.

Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister is a lawyer, essayist, poet and a political activist. He spoke to AKANI ALAKA on the contemporary political developments in Nigeria, relations among the ethnic groups in the country, the civil war, agitations for self-determination, the need to restructure the country, as well as the jostling for the 2023 presidency among politicians from the South, among other issues.

QUESTION: Just recently, Nigeria celebrated its 59 Independence anniversary. You also celebrated your 59th birthday some days ago. As an historian and somebody whose father also played a significant role in ensuring that Nigeria became an independent nation, would you say the country’s founding fathers will be proud of the position the country is in now 59 years after?

ANSWER: I think we ought to have gone much farther than we have gone. And if I am to be frank, I will tell you that those that fought for Independence of Nigeria, including my father and many generations before them, will not be too pleased with the situation we are in today.

We were meant to have gone much further, become much stronger, much more united. We were meant to be the greatest asset of the Black man on planet Earth. But we have failed in all these respects. And consequently, I will have to say that I am rather disappointed.

We are like a giant that has shrunk into the position of a dwarf. We have been dwarfed in many ways – even by countries that are far smaller, with less potential than us, even in the African continent. And that’s not good enough. And I think it all boils down to one thing – the fact that we have had leadership that has not been the best for much of the past 59 years.

And of course, the other part of the problem is that we have not been able to answer the fundamental questions like, for example, the national question and the outstanding issues concerning the Nigerian civil war and so many other things.

And I think this is why our development has been stagnated and in many ways, has become retrogressive.

QUESTION: You talked about the national question – what is that national question and do you think there have been sincere efforts to address it?

ANSWER: I don’t even think most political leaders or politicians in Nigeria even know what the national question is. And that is really, really worrying because as long as you don’t answer that national question or address that issue, we will continue to go round in circles.

Of course, it starts with one fundamental question, which was asked in 1947 by the great Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, The Path To Nigerian Freedom. And the question was simply this – “Is Nigeria really a nation?” He (Awolowo) concluded by saying, No, that it’s a geographical expression.

He added that there is as much difference as between a German and a Turk as there is between a Fulani man and an Igbo man and everybody ought to be able to develop at his or her pace within his or her own region or zone. That was essentially Awolowo’s contention in 1947. And many decades later, I still think he was right.

We pretend to be one nation, we tell ourselves that we are one, but deep down, we know how much we resent one another for various reasons. We continue to act as if this is a marriage that is eternal, even though we don’t want it. That’s the reality of Nigeria’s situation today.

Most politicians will not say this to you because they are interested in getting votes from all over the country and so, they prostitute their principles and compromise on so many issues. But the new type of politicians that I think will deliver this country will not think like that. I don’t think like that.

I will rather tread the path of truth and justice than to say things that are politically correct in order to gain favour with Northerners or anybody from any other part of the country.

The path of truth is the path that will deliver this country into the light of God and the greatness that she deserves and we must not shy away from treading that path. We are not a nation; we are a union of ethnic nationalities that are yet to resolve our fundamental differences and fundamental issues.

The questions that were raised before the Nigerian civil war and in the course of that war are still being raised today. And my prayer is that it does not take another war or civil conflict in this country for us to resolve those issues.

We can resolve them in amicable and peaceful way, so that everybody will feel equal before God and everybody will feel they have equal opportunity to aspire and to excel in this country as citizens and not that we have some that are born to rule and some that are destined to serve.

QUESTION: How can we, as a country resolve this question – because some like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, want every tribe in the country to go their separate ways as independent entities while others think restructuring of the polity will give every Nigerian a sense of belonging. On which side of the divide are you?

ANSWER: The battle for restructuring is dead and buried. Restructuring is not discussed in the National Assembly. It’s not discussed even in the main political parties. As long as they are concerned, restructuring is a dirty word.

To me, it is a way out of the mess that we have put ourselves in. But to most politically correct politicians, who are mostly insincere and cowardly, they won’t even talk about it. The leadership of the two main political parties – the PDP and APC – will not talk about it as a matter of policy and neither will most of the small political parties.

But this is something so obvious, that ought to have been done long ago, not now. And the problem now is that it may well be too late for that. The sentiment is so strong now for ethnic nationalism – it is happening all over the world. Look at what is happening in Germany, in the US with Trump, in the UK with Brexit, the right wing political parties in Europe like in Holland and Germany.

The rise of ethnic nationalism is going on all over the world and Nigeria cannot be isolated from that. In this country, we have major ethnic nationalities that see themselves as members of that nationality before seeing themselves as Nigerians.

There is nothing wrong with that. It’s the perfectly natural order of things and that is the conflict we have in Nigeria. This globalized hybrid state, that we must all become one, to my mind, is not natural. Yes, we can become one if we share common values, common vision, a common understanding about how life should be and common worldview.

But if we don’t have that, and if one believes that he is king and the others are slaves and must be slaves forever, then, on what basis can we continue to stay together? And why should we remain together, just because a rather misguided man in 1914 by the name of Lord Lugard, with his wife, decided that we should be together? I resent and reject that.

I am a proud Omo Kaaro o o jiire, I refused to use the word Yoruba. I am a proud son of Oduduwa and I believe proudly and passionately in the rights of the people of the South-west to self-determination, if that’s what they choose to do. I believe that the people of the East, the Igbo, have that right as well, if that’s what they choose to do.

And I believe in the power of referendum, self-determination and I think it is absolutely wrong for anybody to say I don’t have a right to exercise that right, provided I do it in a peaceful, logical and rational way.

QUESTION: Are you calling for the dissolution of Nigeria as a country then, because that is what this right to self-determination will amount to…

ANSWER: I’m calling for the self determination of any ethnic nationality that chooses to be self-determined based on referendum. This happens all over the world, international law backs it and it’s something that should be done, provided it’s what the people want and it is done peacefully. And that’s my view.

Even if I don’t believe in it, I don’t think it will be right for me to impose my will on others and deny them the right to believe in self-determination or the right to referendum to decide whether or not we should remain as one.

The UK that brought us together and declared our marriage one – between the poor husband of the North and the rich wife of the South – and said that we must remain one forever is doing that today.

They are brexit-ing, based on referendum, from Europe, and they are also doing it internally within the United Kingdom. Scotland had a referendum recently. They narrowly agreed to stay in the United Kingdom. If they hold another referendum in the next few years, definitely, Scotland is leaving United Kingdom.

All the polls suggest that, and they will be allowed to leave. It is on that basis of expression of freewill that you can say you will create and establish a nation. Now, if you don’t want that part to be taken by the people, the only way is to treat them with respect, love and apologise to them when you got it wrong. I will cite the case of the Igbo people and I have said it over and over again.

A situation where three million people -civilians- were killed during the civil war, the greatest act of genocide in the history of African continent -black on black, not white on black- because King Leopold ll killed 10 million Congolese.

But we killed three million Igbo -civilians, men, women and children- in a space of three years and we have not apologized for that. This is a crime against humanity. It is a war crime. And for that kind of thing, the Nigerian commanders in the field, the Nigerian Head of State at that time, all should be at ICC. But I haven’t called for that.

All I am saying is that, at least, we should have the decency to apologise and also apologise for the fact that between 30,000 and 100,000 of them were killed just before the civil war by mobs in the North. These are the fundamental issues.

Every country that has indulged in such barbarity in the past has apologised, including the Belgians. The only country that has refused to do so and has committed genocide is Turkey. And I don’t think we should be in the same bracket as Turkey.

They killed one million Christian Armenians and they haven’t acknowledged it. We don’t want to be in that category. Everybody else, including the Germans, what they did in the Second World War, 50 million people died, six million Jews gassed to death, they apologised.

Everybody at some time recognizes the power of apology, reconciliation and restitution but we haven’t done that. Instead, we are still killing Igbo people till today. Is that how a nation is built? And when they say they want to go because they are tired of being killed even now, we are still killing them.

It is unacceptable. Sadly, it is not just the Igbo now that are being killed; if you go to the Middle Belt, Niger Delta, the West, Mid-West you will find slaughter. All these slaughterings are being carried out by Fulani herdsmen and, of course, you have Boko Haram in the North-east. It is so bad that Fulani herdsmen are even killing the local Hausa in the North itself.

The ethnic group carrying out this havoc, seven per cent of the population, that’s what they are, and we will sit here and say we are one nation. We don’t have the right to retaliate, we don’t have the right to cry, we don’t have the right aspire to be leaders in this country because we are second class citizens, even, when we are the indigenous people of Nigeria.

And you are saying we must accept that? I will never do that. Unless they change and these things stop, Nigeria’s unity can never be something that will be accepted by all of us.

QUESTION: Some critics, especially from the North had always faulted the call for apology to the Igbo people over the civil war with the argument that the war was a reaction to the killings carried out in the first coup of 1966, led by officers who hailed mostly from the then Eastern region…

ANSWER: I am very conversant with the history; I am part of it. They came to my father’s house in January 1966; I was conversant with what they did. And my father was the only person that was taken away from home that night who was not killed. About 20 people -key leaders in the military and the government of that era- were killed.

My father only escaped by divine providence because the federal troops saved him at Dodan Barracks and I appreciate that. And I appreciate the pains that were caused that night because I felt the pains too. I will never forget it. I witnessed it. I saw it. And I suffered the consequences of that for many, many years because it traumatized me.

The killing of all those people was barbaric and unacceptable. I have said so. Definitely, the majority of the participants were Igbo, I am not disputing that. But the question that you have to first answer is did those Igbo officers conduct a referendum in the East before embarking on the coup? Did they do it on behalf of the Igbo people?

Because if you say you want to punish a whole ethnic nationality because of the action of a few people -barbaric action in terms of the slaughter. They killed 20 people. You now say you want to wipe out entire nationality, I think that’s an unacceptable behavior. The reaction is even more barbaric and quite unacceptable in my view.

QUESTION; The argument was that the killings took place during a war situation…

ANSWER: It was not a war, because there was a coup in January 1966, 20 leaders were killed from all over the country and only one leader was killed in the South-east. It was a tragedy. It was a wicked act. I accept that. But there was no war at the time, there was a coup, an attempted coup. The coup failed.

And what happened next? The Northerners now decided to do a counter coup. Again, there was no war. It was what they called a Northern revenge coup to avenge those that were killed in the first coup. And what did they do? Here is what they did.

They killed 300 Igbo officers in one night. They killed an Igbo Head of State – Ironsi. They killed a Yoruba Governor of the Western Region, Fajuyi and they killed a number of other people – all in one night. Now, look at it in numbers – 20 of yours were killed, you killed 300 of theirs, plus the Head of State and Yoruba Army officers six months later.

And there was no war declared. You didn’t stop there, but went a step further few months later and you slaughtered in the North -the official figure is 30,000, the real figure is close to 100,000- Igbo civilians who knew nothing about coup plotting, who did not participate in it, who are equally victims and were still mourning that their people were killed.

Those killings took place in few pogroms in a space of two months and again, no war had been declared at that time. But you didn’t stop there. When the Igbos said it’s enough, let’s go back to the East, as they were going back, you were killing them at train stations, firing bows and arrows at them.

And when they got to the East, they now said ‘look, if you want to wipe us all out, it is perfectly natural for us to say we want to leave’ and they now said they want to go. First, you agreed that they will go based on terms agreed to at Aburi, then, you now change your mind that even Aburi, which you have signed and agree on, you are not going to accept.

They must stay by force and the war started. And what did you do during the civil war? You killed three million Igbo civilians. The number of Biafran soldiers that were killed was not more than between 30,000 and 40,000. But you killed three million Biafran civilians. One million of them were starved to death with the policy of starvation that you put in place.

And you justified that policy before the world when you, Nigeria, said starvation is a legitimate weapon of war. Have you ever heard anything as inhuman as that? I know who said that. I don’t want to mention the man’s name.

Another government official, a minister in Gowon’s government, went to America and when Americans were crying that we were committing genocides against the Igbo people, he said ‘no, we are simply defending ourselves, we will starve them to death.’ The people that said these were politicians, civilian leaders, but military commanders executed that policy.

Then, at the end of the war, you said ‘no victor, no vanquished,’ but that was the biggest lie from the pit of hell. You gave them 20 pounds and then, you took all their properties.

It is only in the South-west that their properties were not taken and you turned them into not second, but third class citizens. And today, one of those who participated in that war and all those atrocities is now our President.

Now, we have killed many in the last four years. You killed many IPOB people. And now, they are saying they want to go and you are saying they have no right to go. Is that just or right?

QUESTION: The civil war was followed by a succession of military regimes and in 1999, Nigeria returned to democracy. How well would you say we have done as a democratic nation since 1999?

ANSWER: I don’t think we have a real democracy and I will tell you why. In a real democracy, political parties can be formed based on whatever criteria you choose. Anybody can literally get up and say, this is my party, register it, I’m going to run as an independent, as whatever in my local government area.

But here, INEC, which is essentially a tool for government of the day controls everything in terms of elections. And if you have a man who is the chairman of INEC working against you as the president, which is what happened in 2015. (Attahiru) Jega worked against Jonathan at that time.

I’m accusing him of that right in this interview. And I’m also saying that there was time he was asked to resign and the evidence was clear on why he has to …. but, in my view, very naively, (former President Goodluck) Jonathan decided to keep him there. If you can control the INEC and the chairman of INEC as an opposition party or if you can put your man there to run INEC as this government has done since 2015, then, you know you have no democracy.

Yes, they can let you win some states as they did in 2019, but they can rig you out wherever they like. If you control the courts and you can remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria just like that or you can raid the houses of judges at night with the DSS and you have, more or less, captured the judiciary and intimidated the judges, you don’t have a democracy and neither do you have rule of law.

If you can send DSS officers to the National Assembly to go and raid the place and lock out legislators because you cannot control the place as happened some months ago, then you don’t have a democracy. Today, the APC, by design, controls the National Assembly.

They control it because they control virtually all the elections and so, they returned as many people as possible through INEC – mostly unfairly. They control the elections tribunals, in my view.

They control the courts, in my view, and they control the media, in my view, because this kind of interview, I will be surprised if you publish what I am saying. You may publish it online, but if you publish it in your paper, you may get into trouble.

They control the television. If you go there and you say anything against them that is strong, factual, the NBC will come down on the television station. And you called that democracy? It is tyranny. It’s a dictatorship. And everything that I, FFK, said in 2015 during the course of the election that would happen if Buhari became the President has happened.

And everybody that insulted me then, laughed at me then, and said I was talking rubbish, even from within the PDP itself, are now being prosecuted. All of them are now calling to say I was right.

And everybody that stood with them (APC) then, including Atiku, Obasanjo, Kwankwaso, Tambuwal, Dino Melaye, Saraki has come back now. And now, they are all victims of this monster that they helped to create in 2015.

Now, we fought them in 2015 and we are still fighting them up till today. And until the end of time, we will continue to fight them, not as individuals, because I have nothing against anybody personally. If anything, I have more friends in APC than in PDP.

That’s the truth. But in terms of ideology, politics and what I think is best for my country, I see them as immortal enemies; I see them as nothing but darkness. And I see those that seek to liberate this country from their shackles as the light and the vessels and the tools of God to fight that darkness. That’s my position.

So, if you asked me that do I believe that we have a democracy? My answer is, no. They have corrupted it, they have abused it and I knew this was going to happen. And let me tell you that it is going to get worse.

QUESTION: What has APC done to our democracy since they took power in 2015 that made you to arrive at this conclusion?

Since 2015, what have they done? First, they introduced religion and ethnicity into government. Every security agency in this country – whether the military, the one that have to do with external or internal security – 17 agencies in all – they are all in the hands of Northern Muslims, except for one, which is the Navy.

And that’s unacceptable in a multi-religious, multi-cultural society. A situation where the whole of the judiciary from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court has just changed now – but the three tiers of the judiciary were being headed by Northern Muslims.

It is just now that we have only one being headed by Northern Christian, that’s the Federal High Court. A situation whereby in the National Assembly, the Senate is headed by a Northern Muslim, House of Representatives headed by a Southern Muslim – Femi Gbajabiamila, he is a good friend of mine, I have known him for over 40 years – but he is a Muslim as well. So, you have Muslims heading both wings of the National Assembly.

And you know what they have done with Femi Gbajabiamila? They have surrounded him with Muslims – his deputy is also a Muslim and the four principal officers around him are also Muslims. So, what is there for us in that place?

In the executive, apart from the security agencies, look at all the key appointments – nine times out of 10, they go Northern Muslims. Go to the Villa today – the official language is Hausa, 90 per cent of the people that are working in the Villa are Northern Muslims.

Look at the appointment of chief executives for the key agencies – they were Northern Muslims, look at the ministerial appointments in terms of substance – the North-west where the President comes from, the Hausa-Fulani catchment area, you have 10 substantive ministries, those are full ministries, not Ministers of state, 10 in the North-west.

Next is the South-west where I come from, we have five substantive Ministers and everywhere else – the South-east, the North-central and North-east have three substantive ministers each.

That means the North-west where Buhari comes from, which is the Fulani heartland has over three times the number of substantive ministers that all the other zones have, except for the South-west. And south-west has only half the number the North-west have. Is that fair? (Nigeria Express)

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Gowon Must Apologise For Genocide, Nigeria May Not Prosper Unless Apologizes To The Igbo —Fani-Kayode

Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode

Femi Fani-Kayode, former Aviation Minister, has charged ex-military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon to apologise to Nigerians over the killings of Igbos during the Biafra civil war.

Fani-Kayode explained that he can’t celebrate with Gowon who turned 85 over the weekend due to killing of three million people of the South East during the Biafra civil war, hence the need to apologise to Igbos.

In a series of tweets, the chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said Nigeria must also apologise to Igbos due to the Biafra war.

According to Fani-Kayode, Nigeria would never progress until it apologises to people of the South East.

He wrote: “When the real history of the country is written the role of Gowon and the other Nigerian commanders during the civil war will be put in proper perspective.

“The slaughter of 3 million Biafran civilians in that war is the greatest act of black on black genocide in human history.

“I cannot celebrate the birth of a man who presided over such carnage and neither can I describe him as a hero.

“Nigeria cannot make much progress or truly prosper until she apologises to the Igbo and Biafrans for the great evil that we visited upon them during the civil war.”

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DSS Arrests Chido Onumah For Wearing T-Shirt With Inscription “We All Are Biafrans” At Abuja Airport |RN

Chido Onumah

The news of the Arrest Of Journalist , Chido Onumah, by men of the Department of State Service (DSS) on Sunday unsettled the media space and Vanguard can now confirm the real reason the author of the book, We Are All Biafrans was arrested and released after hours.

Upon arrival at Abuja airport 4pm on Sunday, Onumah spent sometime clearing his luggage and was expected to have dinner with a friend. He was waiting to confirm the venue of his appointment when a DSS official walked up to him, flashed his ID card and told him he was to be questioned in connection with a planned protest.

Onumah, who was wearing a T-shirt with the inscription, WE ARE ALL BIAFRANS, which happened to be the title of his new book, was led to the DSS office at Central Abuja.
During interrogation, he was asked why he was holding a Nigerian passport and he confidently replied that “I am Nigerian.”

The DSS officials queried why he was putting on the vest with the inscription, which he answered by telling them that was the titled of his new book. Onumah further told the DSS officials that he had more vests in his bag with the same inscription and won’t hesitate to wear either of them after leaving.

According to source, while at the DSS office, Onumah was reading a book while the officials ran a check on his profile. “That was when they discovered that he was more Nigerian as anyone can be.

“They (DSS) now told him (Onumah) that there was an intel they got about some people who were trying to cause unrest and he was picked because of the inscription on his shirt. They told him his shirt’s inscription could trigger an unrest and after much dilly daily, He Was Allowed To Take His Leave ,” the source said.

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How T.Y. Danjuma, Murtala Mohammed, Other Northern Officers Plan, Killed Aguyi Ironsi, Adekunle Fajuyi

The Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major Gen J T U Aguyi-Ironsi and the Military Governor of the then Western Region, Col Adekunle Fajuyi arriving at their last state function in Ibadan into a well coordinated trap set by then temporary Major Murtala Mohammed, Captain Martin Adamu, Captain TY Danjuma and some other Northern Army officers on July 29, 1966 exactly 51 years ago today.

The bloody events of that night at the Government House Ibadan and military formations in Lagos, Abeokuta and some other parts of the country were the major factors that led to the Nigerian Civil War which claimed over one million lives. 

May their souls rest in peace.

Here is a detailed report of the events of that faithful night as captured by the renowned military historian and heart surgeon, Prof Nowa Omoigui : IBADAN, FRIDAY, JULY 29, 1966 (“Paiko’s Wedding”)

The situation in Ibadan on July 28 was tense. Northern civil servants, chiefs and traditional rulers who had come for the Conference of Traditional rulers were eager to get out of the South, fearful that they would be targetted in the so called “Plan 15” Igbo Plot. Indeed there were false rumors that the conference Hall was slated to be blown up. At the regimental parade for General Ironsi a small controversy erupted in the Press about the observation that northern troops refused to (or could not) sing the National Anthem. Arguments went back and forth on TV about whether their lips were moving.

Nevertheless, there was a grand reception in the evening hosted by the Military Governor, Lt. Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, which belied the tensions that were simmering underneath. Fate was beckoning. Both Ironsi and Fajuyi were distinguished veterans of the Congo peace-keeping operations (ONUC) from 1960-64. Then Brigadier JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi was the overall Force Commander for the last six months of the operation. Fajuyi was well known as the first Nigerian officer to be honoured with an international military citation. As a Major, he was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for personal action in leading C company of the 4QNR in combat on November 27, 1960 and subsequently extricating it from an ambush during operations on January 3, 1961.

Nevertheless, following the call from Lt. Pam Mwadkon in Abeokuta, Lt. Garba Dada (Paiko) woke up other northern officers at the 4th Battalion, including Major TY Danjuma, a staff officer at AHQ who was temporarily staying at the Letmauk Barracks, having accompanied Major General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi from Lagos. The Barracks is named after a town called Letmauk, site of a bitter campaign in April and May 1944 to retake AN from the Japanese in Burma, by the 1st Nigerian Brigade of the 82nd West African Division during World War II.

Dada told Danjuma: “Sir, we will have to do the same thing. The most important target is the Supreme Commander. For as long as he is there, everything we are doing here is nothing. We should go there.”

After a brief meeting with Lts. Ibrahim Bako and Abdullai Shelleng, a quick phone call was made to Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed in Lagos, seeing as Muhammed had earlier contacted the boys to stand down from their group’s pre-planned coup. But Muhammed initially urged restraint, seeing as he was unsure whether his earlier confrontation with Anwunah meant that Igbo officers and soldiers in Lagos were already armed and may well have the advantage – as Anwunah had threatened. However, concerned that exposed northern mutineers in Abeokuta would be isolated and thus likely arrested and charged if they delayed action, Danjuma, Dada, Bako, Shelleng, and the duty officer (James Onoja) decided to overrule Muhammed and proceed with operations in Ibadan. Because Danjuma did not go to Ibadan with combat dress, he borrowed one from Lt. James Onoja* who had recently come back from a course in the US, and wore it right over his pyjamas. Then Danjuma armed himself with a hand grenade for suicide in the event of mission failure.

(*Some accounts say it was Akahan’s uniform, but the Onoja version is likely more correct, confirmed by Danjuma himself. In any case Akahan was out of the loop until daybreak).

Soldiers were then hurriedly selected from infantry companies at Mokola commanded by Onoja and Shelleng. While Shelleng took one group to man checkpoints along the Lagos and Abeokuta roads to protect the southern approaches to the city, 24 soldiers under Lt. James Onoja, some say in two landrovers mustered by the MTO, Lt. Jerry Useni, accompanied Major Danjuma to the Government House in the early hours of July 29, 1966. The specific initial objective was to isolate the premises, disconnect the Supreme Commander from the chain of command and arrest him as a tool for negotiations regarding the boys who killed Okonweze and others at Abeokuta. The Government House was already guarded by elements of the National Guards company, led by Lt. William Walbe, who was in charge of a 106 mm recoilless rifle group, along with some soldiers on duty from the 4th battalion whose reporting relationship was to the adjutant of the battalion as well as the duty officer.

THE TAKE-OVER OF THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE, IBADAN

Upon arrival there, having established that the Supreme Commander was in, Major Danjuma was confronted by two command problems. Both arose from the fact that he neither belonged to the 4th battalion nor was he part of the National Guard, although he was senior to all the boys on the ground. First task, therefore, was to ensure the cooperation of those elements of the 4th battalion who were on duty there. The second was to secure the cooperation of the National Guard Commander on the ground. In order to address the first problem he asked the adjutant (“Paiko”) to issue a “legitimate” order that all his soldiers on duty be disarmed by the duty officer (Onoja) who was there to conduct a “legitimate” inspection. After being disarmed by the Duty Sergeant, they were illegitimately screened and those who could be trusted (ie northerners), illegitimately rearmed. Then they were supplemented by the pre-selected group Danjuma brought along from the barracks with Onoja. To deal with the second problem he confronted Lt. William Walbe directly and secured his cooperation. This wasn’t too difficult. Although they were in different cells, Walbe himself had been attending separate meetings in Lagos with Joe Garba and others and was well aware of the outlines of a coup plot although he did not expect one that night.

Once the building was surrounded and the 106 mm gun positioned in support, Danjuma came under pressure from the boys on the ground to proceed with the operation. There were fears, based on myths acquired in the Congo, that General Ironsi was assisted by “juju” and that he could disappear at anytime using his “crocodile”. Junior officers who had come to join the party urged immediate attack, some even suggesting a repeat performance of the Nzeogwu assault on the Nassarawa Lodge in Kaduna in January. They wanted the 106 mm weapon used to bring down the complex. Danjuma resisted the pressure.

Lt. Col. Hilary Njoku, Commander of the 2nd Brigade in Lagos, then emerged from the main building and was walking right past the soldiers on duty moving toward the gate. One account says he came up from Lagos with Ironsi, had been staying at the guest house next to the main lodge, but was at the main lodge where Ironsi was staying, socializing with both Ironsi and Fajuyi. Another account says he came up from Lagos that evening when rumors of a coup gained strong currency among senior Igbo officers in Lagos to brief the C-in-C. When he attempted to leave the premises, ostensibly to mobilize loyal units, he was shot at by soldiers who had been ordered not to let anyone out and he responded in kind. (Some say he shot first). Luckily he escaped with serious injuries, some say with no less than 8 pieces of shrapnel in his thigh. Njoku initially made his way to the University College Hospital but had to escape again when a “mop up” team came searching for him.

At this point, Lt. Onoja asked for permission to leave, saying he was going to get more ammunition from the barracks. However, he panicked and ran away in one of the landrovers, fearing that Njoku’s escape meant the coup would fail. He was later arrested at Jebba.

When it became apparent that Njoku had escaped, Danjuma, guarded by two soldiers, made rounds to check all guard positions around the lodge and was moving toward the guest house when he heard the phone there ringing. He asked one of his guards to break the window so he could reach in to answer the phone. According to General Danjuma (rtd), this is how the conversation went:

Danjuma: “Hello”

Gowon: “Hello. I want to speak to Brigade Commander. I want to speak to Colonel Njoku.

Danjuma: “May I know who is speaking?”

Gowon: My name is Gowon. Yakubu Gowon.”

Danjuma: “Ranka dede. This is Yakubu Danjuma.”

Gowon: “Yakubu, what are you doing there? Where are you?”

Danjuma: “I am in the State House here.”

Gowon: “Where is the Brigade Commander?”

Danjuma: “He is not around.”

Gowon: “Have you heard what has happened?”

Danjuma: “Yes, I heard and that is why I am here. We are about to arrest the Supreme Commander. The alternative is that the Igbo boys who carried out the January coup will be released tit for tat since we killed their own officers.”

Gowon: (after a period of silence) “Can you do it?”

Danjuma: “Yes, we have got the place surrounded.”

Gowon: “But for goodness sake we have had enough bloodshed. There must be no bloodshed.”

Danjuma: “No, We are only going to arrest him.”

At this point Danjuma replaced the phone as yet another command crisis with the soldiers on the grounds was brewing. It is not clear from available information what Gowon did with the explosive information he had just gained from Danjuma or how he and Ogundipe planned to deal with it. Danjuma does not say that Gowon or any other senior officer explicitly ordered him to desist from his activities. To what extent, then, did knowledge that Ironsi was already surrounded by elements of the 4th battalion affect efforts to send a Helicopter or the force structure of any potential rescue mission? It appears that, at least in dealings with Ibadan, a decision was made, by omission or commission, to adopt a negotiating rather than fighting attitude to the mutiny.

This is an area which will attract considerable attention of researchers in the future. Some have used it to implicate Gowon in the coup but depending on what other information he had at that point about availability of loyal fighting units, this may be too harsh a conclusion to draw without additional clarification from Gowon himself. He may well have been stalling to allow him time to make alternative plans. Certainly, neither the National Guard company, 2nd (in Lagos) nor 4th (in Ibadan) battalions nor the garrison at Abeokuta were usable at that point. Even if they were willing, battalions in Enugu, Kaduna and Kano were too far away to be useful, particularly considering the lack of emergency strategic airlift capability. In any case, any thinking along these lines was quickly neutralized by Murtala Muhammed’s decision to seize Ikeja airport at dawn. Lastly, Gowon may have viewed Danjuma as the lesser of two evils – the other being an all out effort by mutinying junior officers to get their hands on the General (which is what eventually happened). In retrospect, at that point only a foreign power could have mustered the might to stage a complex night-time military rescue operation to save Ironsi. But there is no evidence that such an option was ever considered.

In any case, when Onoja ran away, TY Danjuma was isolated. With no duty officer on ground, and no other officer from the 4th battalion on the premises, the NCOs began to wonder if they should take strange orders from this Major they had never met, wearing a mis-sized American satin combat uniform on top of pyjamas and who wasn’t even from their unit. They began to wonder if Danjuma might even be an Igbo officer based on his physique and bearing and perhaps even his reluctance to destroy the building. Fortunately for Danjuma, Lt. Abdullai Shelleng returned briefly from his checkpoint on Abeokuta road to check on things and persuaded the NCOs to obey him, assuring them that he was a northerner.

Other officers also arrived back on premises as daybreak approached, including “Paiko” himself. Nervous soldiers then appealed directly to Garba Dada (Paiko) to blow up the house but he refused to do so unless Danjuma gave the okay. Danjuma chose to maintain the siege, waiting patiently for the occupants to emerge from the building. The opportunity would come at 8 am when the Governor and Head of State were scheduled to go for official engagements in town. The one curious oversight, though, was that no effort was made to cut off the phone lines at the lodge.

At 6:30 am General Ironsi’s Army ADC, Lt. Sani Bello emerged from the building to find out what was going on. After a brief confrontation with Danjuma and a group of hostile northern NCOs, he was arrested, told to remove his shoes and sit down on the ground. As members of the Head of State’s convoy and delegation began arriving from guest chalets they too were detained and asked to sit on the ground. They include many others like Colonel Olu Thomas, an army physician, and Chief C. O. Lawson, Secretary to the Government, arrested at about 7:30 am.

At this point, Lt. Col. Fajuyi personally emerged from the building. Some accounts claim that his ADC had absconded during the night and switched sides. Danjuma describes his conversation with Fajuyi as follows:

Fajuyi: “Danjuma come. What do you want?”

Danjuma: “I want the Supreme Commander”

Fajuyi: “Promise me that no harm will come to him”

Danjuma: words to the effect that no harm would come to Ironsi and that he was only being arrested.

Fajuyi: “I will go and call him.”

Chorus of northern NCOs: “No, Sir. Don’t allow him to go.”
Danjuma: (talking to Fajuyi who had briefly turned around) “Sir, you see what I have. This is grenade. If there is false move two of us will go.”

At this point Fajuyi led the way into the building with the grenade bearing Danjuma and five armed soldiers (including Lt. Walbe) right behind him, essentially using him as a cover as they climbed the staircase and went upstairs to meet General Ironsi.

Ironsi: “Young man”

Danjuma: “Sir, you are under arrest.”

Ironsi: “What is the matter?”

Danjuma: “The matter is you, Sir. You told us in January when we supported you to quell the mutiny that all the dissident elements that took part in the mutiny will be court-martialled. It is July now. You have done nothing. You kept these boys in prison and the rumours are now that they will be released because they are national heroes.”

Ironsi: “Look, what do you mean? It is not true.”

At this point Ironsi and Danjuma began arguing, with Fajuyi getting in between them and reminding Danjuma again and again of his promise that no harm would come to Ironsi.

Danjuma: “Fajuyi get out of my way. You, just come down.”

Danjuma: (to Ironsi) “….You organized the killing of our brother officers in January and you have done nothing to bring the so called dissident elements to justice because you were part and parcel of the whole thing.”

Ironsi: “Who told you that? You know it is not true.”

Danjuma: “You are lying. You have been fooling us. I ran around risking my neck trying to calm the ranks, and in February you told us that they would be tried. This is July and nothing has been done. You will answer for your actions.”

At this point Danjuma and Lt. Andrew Nwankwo, Ironsi’s AirForce ADC, had a fierce verbal exchange, with one holding a grenade with the pin pulled and the other holding a pistol. But with the fingers of five other soldiers on the triggers of automatic weapons, Nwankwo was outgunned.

IRONSI AND FAJUYI ARE KIDNAPPED

When the group got downstairs, Danjuma instructed the 4th battalion adjutant, Lt. Garba Dada (“Paiko”), to arrange for both Fajuyi and Ironsi to be taken to the guest house on the cattle ranch at Mokwa “pending date of full inquiry”. Lt. “Paiko”, however, informed Danjuma that he was not a party to the commitment he made to Fajuyi (or Gowon) about their safety and a fierce emotional argument erupted between Danjuma and the others. At this point a northern soldier tapped Danjuma on the shoulder with a loaded rifle and, speaking in Hausa, said:

“These foolish young boys. That is the kind of leadership you have given us and messing us up. They killed all your elders and you are still fooling around here. The man you are fooling around here with will disappear before you know it.”

The other soldiers agreed with this soldier and pounced on both Ironsi and Fajuyi, wrestling them to restrain any movement. Danjuma, faced with one command crisis after another all night, had finally lost control.

Fajuyi turned to Danjuma and said: “You gave us the assurance.”

Danjuma replied: “Yes, Sir. I am sure you will be all right.”

He was wrong.

Two landrovers took the captives away while Danjuma hitch-hiked back to the barracks. 
Both Ironsi and Fajuyi were squeezed into the front seat of one vehicle while Ironsi’s ADCs, Lts. Bello and Nwankwo were behind. Two officers, Lts. Walbe and Dada, accompanied the group with one joining the driver of the lead vehicle. The command vehicle led another vehicle full of armed troops. Among those soldiers said to have been present include the 4th battalion unit RSM Useni Fagge, Sergeant Tijjani (from Maiduguri), Warrant Officer Bako, and other soldiers including Dabang, Wali, and Rabo. Some of those involved were later to come to prominence during the unsuccessful Dimka coup of 1976.

They drove to Mile 8 on Iwo road, where the group dismounted and went into the bush, crossing a small stream. Ironsi and Fajuyi were subjected to beatings and interrogation. General Ironsi acted a soldier as he was questioned, refused to be intimidated and remained silent, refusing to confess any role in the January 15 coup. Indeed, according to Elaigwu, “It was reliably learnt from an officer and a soldier on the spot that it was Ironsi’s muteness amidst a barrage of questions that led to his being shot by an angry Northern soldier.” Other sources suggest that the “angry northern soldier” may have been Sergeant Tijjani. Details are murky.

Fajuyi was also shot. Although the western region publication “Fajuyi the Great” published by the Ministry of Information in 1967 after his official burial said he had offered to die rather than “abandon his guest”, those involved in his arrest and assassination insist that he was an even more critical target than Ironsi .

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Sit-at-home Order: You Are Proscribed, Your Activity Is Illegal – Police Warn IPOB

RN file photo: IPOB members during a protest march

The Anambra State Police Command has warned the Indigenous People Biafra not to dared it or be ready to face the consequences. The police warning followed insistence by IPOB that it would on 30th, May paralyse economic activities in the South-East and beyond with a sit-at-home protest.

According to the secessionist group, it would use the day to honour people of Biafra allegedly killed during the civil war of 1967-1970 and others allegedly killed recently by security agencies in different parts of the geopolitical zone.

But in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Haruna Mohammed, the command warned IPOB not to dare it by going on with the planned protest, reminding the pro-Biafra group that it remained a proscribed organisation.

The statement read in part, “Information at the disposal of the Anambra State Police Command has revealed that the outlawed group, Indigenous People of Biafra is perfecting plans through public announcement and threats in Nnewi and other parts of the State in order to enforce a “sit-at-home,” warning people to stay at home and not to come out for any business activities on the 30th of May,2019.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Indigenous People of Biafra is still a proscribed organisation hence all its activities remain illegal.

“The Commissioner of Police Anambra State, Mustapha Dandaura enjoined all Anambra people to disregard alleged calls by any group urging them to sit at home on the 30/5/2019 and go about their lawful businesses.

“The CP further assured the public that adequate security arrangements have been put in place by combined security forces in the State to nip in the bud any threat emanating from such groups.”

The statement added, “The Command will therefore not hesitate to deal decisively with and in accordance with the law any individual or groups under any guise that will disrupt public peace in the State”.

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Biafra: Police Warn IPOB Over Sit-at-home Order On May 30th |The Republican News

RN file photo: Female mobile police officers taking salute during parade

By Chibiko Ikenna Offor

The Anambra State Police Command on Wednesday urged people of the State to disregard the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, on May 30. Warning that IPOB as a proscribed group remains unlawful and any activity by them is illegal


The Command urged people of the state to go about their lawful duties as its men would be on ground to ensure their safety.
A statement by the Command’s spokesperson, Haruna Mohammed
insisted that IPOB remained proscribed and all its activities are illegal.

The statement from police reads:

“Information at the disposal of the Anambra State Police Command has revealed that the outlawed group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are perfecting plans through public announcement and threats in Nnewi and other parts of the State in order to enforce a “SIT AT HOME ORDER” warning people to stay at home and not to come out for any business activities on the 30/5/2019.

A lot of Biafrans have reacted to the news from the police, calling it wasteful effort to stop something the people have long accepted as a norm and must be observed.

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May 30: Alaigbo Development Forum Backs IPOB, Others |The Republican News

…Seeks Ohanaeze, town unions’ endorsements

Magnus Eze, Enugu

 

TheAlaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) has backed the call by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other pro-Biafra groups for the observance of May 30 as Biafra day of remembrance.

The body appealed to the apex Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU), churches and other Igbo organisations to set aside the day as it would help in recreating and enhancing Igbo national consciousness and rebirth.

IPOB had last week, through a statement by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, declared a sit-at-home on May 30, throughout Biafraland in remembrance of its fallen heroes and heroines, who paid the supreme price in the struggle for Biafra.

The group said it would also remember all victims of Fulani herdsmen’s attacks, Boko Haram violence and those that died at the hands of security agencies over the years that nobody remembered. 

A statement by ADF President, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, Secretary, Prof. Nath Aniekwu and Public Relations Officer, Chief Abia Onyike, noted that the people of the South West, through persistence and with the support of their legislators would soon have a legislation recognising June 12, date of the annulment of the 1993 election, as Democracy Day.

“ADF is aware that several groups and individuals have annually been celebrating this auspicious day in our history as a remembrance day in one form or the other. Many religious groups and several pan-Igbo organisations, including pro-Biafra groups such as Ekwenche, MASSOB, IPOB, Coalition of Pro-Biafra Groups, etc, have been celebrating this for some years.

“ADF is of the view that we, as a people should collectively do this in remembrance and honour of millions of our brothers and sisters who died for our sake.

“We should also honour several nationalities and their governments, churches, humanitarian organisations and heroic individuals including those, who burnt themselves for the sake of our liberty, we should hold May 30 as a solemn day in our history.

“We do this also for the sake of our national consciousness, solidarity and to unite with all our neighbours who suffered with us and still believe in the unity and progress of our region.

“We shall formally address this appeal to all governments, churches, state Assemblies, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, clans, town unions and other bodies for endorsement of this call,” the group stated.  (The Sun)

 

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I Became President Because I Want Best For Nigeria – Buhari |The Republican News

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has for the umpteenth time recalled that he contested elections four times and ended up in Supreme Court three times, before he finally won the election in 2015, all because he wanted the best for Nigeria.

President Buhari said this when he met 71 retired army generals, admirals, marshals, and former military governors/administrators who visited him at State House, Abuja.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement quoted Buhari as saying, “God has made this country great. We have human and material resources, and may God continue to give us the right leaders. My objective is very clear, and I will continue to do my best.”

He recalled that in his days as military head of state, “we had no other country but Nigeria. We will stay here and salvage it together,” noting that even if one was blessed enough to send their children for training abroad, “after such training, they will still have to come back here. We must, therefore, give our best for our country. The patriotism imbued in us by the military will ever remain relevant. Let’s do our best for this country.”

The President described Nigeria as “a fabulous country,” adding that if it was not so, “the country could not have survived the damage done to it materially and morally in the past,” glorifying God that after 30 months civil war, with over two million lives lost, “we are still one country.”

President Buhari prayed that Nigeria would not lack people who can exploit its human and material resources, adding: “The higher you go in Nigeria, the hotter it becomes, and not the other way round. But I can’t complain. I tried so hard to be here three times, ending up at the Supreme Court. So, I can’t complain over anything I am going through now.”

He described the military as an institution that gives amazing opportunities to know the country, its different people and cultures, “and I am very grateful that you have claimed me back as one of your own. I was governor of (defunct) North-Eastern State, which is now six states, Minister of Petroleum for over three years, head of state; I was arrested and detained, but did not lose my rank, because nothing was found against me.”

The leader of the delegation, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa, who was military governor of Borno State, and later military administrator of Lagos State, said the retired top officers thought it right to visit the president, “to say that you have represented your constituency very well. You announced a simple three-point agenda on assumption of office namely security: fighting corruption, and the economy. You have kept your words as an officer and a gentleman.”

The most senior of the retired officers, Vice Admiral Jubrila Ayinla, a former Chief of Naval Staff, who said future generations would acquit President Buhari “most creditably,” added: “On behalf of the generals here today, I congratulate you on the tremendous work done by this administration, and wish to state unequivocally that we are proud of you and fully behind you in the presidential elections next week. We pledge our full support and continued loyalty.”

The delegation was made of one Vice Admiral, two Lt-Generals, 15 Major Generals, two Rear Admirals, eight Air Vice-Marshals, 12 Brigadier-Generals, three Commodores, nine Air Commodores, and 17 former military governors/administrators, among others.       (The Sun)

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Biafra War Remark: Ajibola Is No Longer Our Staff, Does Not Represent Us – Babcock University

Alaba-Ajibola

Alaba Ajibola

By Ike A. Offor

Following the outrage generated in the social media by a hateful remark by one Mr Alaba Ajibola, who claims to be a staff of the prestigious private university,  Babcock University has distanced itself from the said fellow.

The remark on his Facebook wall that ” the Igbo should have been wiped out during the Biafra-Nigeria civil war” caused outrage that went viral on the social media and attracted the attention of the university and they had to make a disclaimer.

The only serious issue still pondering many readers is that the young man in question still has on his social media accounts profile that he is still the staff of  Babcock University.

Related: The Igbo Should Have Been Wiped Out During Biafra War – Babcock University Staff, Ajibola

The University’s disclaimer is as follow below:

The attention of Babcock University has been drawn to a story titled”Babcock University staff goes on a rant; Says Igbos Should Have Been Wiped Out During the Biafran War”.
The story is credited to one Alaba Ajibola.

This is to inform the public that the said Ajibola is neither a staff of Babcock University nor does he represent the University in any way whatsoever. The said Ajibola was once a staff of the Institution but his engagement with the University in that capacity ceased long ago. There is no longer any relationship, whether imagined or real, between the said Ajibola and Babcock University. Therefore, the University dissociates itself from him and his comments.

Babcock University’s pride is in its diversity of people and cultures. It is a global institution, and accommodates people, without bias, from every continent of the world. This confers upon the University its mark of uniqueness and identity as a global brand. The Institution celebrates the diversity of humanity because it gives a sense of beauty, and an acknowledgement of the power of God, the creator of all.

Babcock University values every and all persons irrespective of creed, culture, race, religion, and political persuasions.

The noble achievements of the University have been made possible by the contributions of the exceptionally gifted and immensely great individuals from the different parts of this country, and those from other nations of the world, who have found joy working in the University.

Whereas Babcock University believes in freedom of expression, and places premium on autonomy and responsibility, it is never supportive and does not wish to accede to any divisive tendencies intentionally or unintentionally couched, and are capable of inflaming the embers of discord or potentially devised to dismember the nation.

The University wishes to thank members of the public for their continued faith in the Institution, and for believing in it as socially responsible.

The University will continue to promote love, unity, excellence, integrity and accountability in all it does.

Yours sincerely,
Joshua Suleiman,
Director, Communication and Marketing, Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria.

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The Igbo Should Have Been Wiped Out During Biafra War – Babcock University Staff, Ajibola

A Babcock University staff identified as Alaba Ajibola is currently trending on social media after his rant against the Igbos of South-East Nigeria.

Ajibola who revealed how much he loathes the Igbos in a Facebook comment stated that the Igbos should have been wiped out during the Biafran war.

According to him, ‘If this happened, Nigeria would have ‘gone far off’ as the tribe is the most hated tribe in the world’.

 

Babcock University Staff, Alaba Ajibola

Source: Oriental Times

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