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Dateline July 29, 1966: The Northern Revolt

Gowon; a beneficiary of the revolt
Tension still mounted in the barracks, against the background of alleged ethnic consideration which the Northerners alluded to the January 15, 1966 Nzeogwu Coup, particularly with the preponderance of Northern casualties. Consequently, it was a matter of time before the northern elements, spearheaded by Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon and Major Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma struck as a counter-offensive.
A meeting of some Eastern officers on July 28, 1966 at Abeokuta Barracks ignited fireworks that led to the July 29 1966 putsch. Northern officers, feeling that the meeting was another plan to exterminate them, moved into the venue of the meeting and mowed down almost all the Eastern officers.
Robertson: the last
Governor - General of
Nigeria
Incidentally, the Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi was on a visit to Ibadan where he was being hosted by the Western Region Governor, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi. Major Danjuma, who was in charge of Government House, Mokola, Ibadan, having been briefed by Lt. Col. Gowon on what had happened in Abeokuta the previous day, decided this was the best time to move against Ironsi.
Major Danjuma and a number of other officers from Mokola, Ibadan now went to the Government House and called on the Guards to line up. They selected the best soldiers and marksmen who were from the north among them and asked all others including a number of Igbo soldiers to go. They didn't harm or detain them. With a force that was supposedly loyal to them now, they secured the perimeters of the defence of Government House and put the next part of their plan into action. Major Danjuma with the other officers of the unit who were present, went around briefing the soldiers they could depend upon  to follow orders.
Late General Ironsi: addressing a press conference
after he took over power and promulgated the unification decree abrogating
Regional System of government
While they were doing this, the Supreme Commander apparently received a telephone call from Lagos Army Headquarters informing him of the situation.
The first person to emerge from inside Government House was a police security officer in civilian dress. Ironically, he was coming to tell the guards to be on the alert. He was arrested. Several other people came out of the house and were all quietly arrested and taken to sit on the ground beyond sight of the house...
Major Danjuma now decided to move closer to Government House itself to investigate the possibility of entering and it was then that a remarkably crucial coincidence happened. He moved back towards the guest house where he now heard a telephone ringing. He reached through the burglar bars, broke the glass of the window and picked up the phone which was on a table next to the window. According to General Danjuma, his memory of that conversation is as follows:
Gowon and Buhari; both actors in the script many decades later, both stricken with age
A voice said “Hello, hello, may I speak to the Supreme Commander?
Major Danjuma: Who is speaking?
Voice: This is Lt. Col. Gowon
Major Danjuma: Ranka shi dade
LtCol. Gowon: Who is that?
Major Danjuma: Yakubu, Yakubu Danjuma
LtCol. Gowon:  Yakubu, have you heard what happened in Abeokuta
Major Danjuma: Yes Sir. That is why I am here (He changes to Hausa) We want to arrest the Supreme Commander
LtCol. Gowon: (After a long silence) Can you do it?
Major Danjuma:  We’ve got the house surrounded and sealed Sir. We can do it.
LtCol Gowon:  (After a long pause) Alright, but please make sure there is no bloodshed. When you have done it, ring me at this number...(and he gave his direct phone number and rang off).
Bello, Balewa, Akintola, Okotie - Eboh; casualties of the previous January 15, coup of the same year
At the height of this trying time, Lt Col. Fajuyi came out of Government House. Immediately he was placed under arrest by Major Danjuma. He asked first what they wanted and Major Danjuma stated that all they wanted to do was arrest the Supreme Commander, but that nothing would happen to any of them.
The Supreme Commander, General Ironsi, asked Major Danjuma "What do you want?" Major Danjuma replied "You are under arrest. You organised 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".
General Ironsi said "Who told you that? You know it is not true".
Major Danjuma replied: "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"
General Yakubu Danjuma; fell for the scam of "One North"  and stuck out his neck; only to be insulted years later by urchins old enough to be his grandchildren from the same north
publicly on social media.
(Excerpts from "DANJUMA: the making of a General" by Lindsay Barrett published 1979).
One curious thing about this encounter was the boldness and audacity displayed by a junior officer to a senior officer. Suffice it to say that Lt-Col Fajuyi exhibited unusual courage at that period of madness when he stated that if Major Danjuma and his band of mutineers insisted in taking away General Ironsi, he should be arrested  along with him, since the Head of State was his guest. And the two officers were taken away and shot, opening a new chapter in the turbulent history of Nigeria. While General Ironsi was buried in his home town Umuahia Ibeku, Lt. Col. Fajuyi who was described by Lt. Col. Ojukwu as a "gallant host" was interred with full military honours at Ado-Ekiti, his home town. As an eight year-old boy, I accompanied my father to the burial and the unprecedented large crowd which witnessed the burial, is still etched in my memory till date.
Late Lt. Col Adekunle Fajuyicelebrated
 for his uncommon loyalty to
a boss and a friend. Buried with full
military honours, coupled
with a documentary in his
honour by BBC
Brigadier Ogundipe, who was the most senior officer in the Army felt the situation was too volatile and he demurred in taking over. He was not sure he would be accepted by the Northern Officers. Gowon (32) then assumed the leadership of the country and took Nigeria through a turbulent three year civil war (1967 - 1970) which was presaged by the pogrom of Igbos in the North"
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And our take at Soji Graphics:

  • We have it on good authority, well researched and verified that when Brigadier Ogunipe in an attempt to curtail this mutinous hullabaloo, gave orders to a sergeant from the north, the sergeant rebuffed him to his face that he will take orders from none other except from his superiors of northern extract.

The question to those blaming Brigadier Ogundipe is: if you were in his shoes, what would you have done? And remember the sergeant is well armed!
Another coup again ten
years later?
A Major in Ibadan just dared your boss - a General, with another superior in the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel. And here in Lagos, a sergeant dared you too. And both - in Ibadan and Lagos were armed and got reinforcements. If your boss can do nothing about it with his Lieutenant Colonel host in Ibadan, so what can you in Lagos do? Just like the Major in Ibadan got armed backing before daring a whole general, does Ogundipe know how many armed backers that sergeant got with him? Or can a sergeant dare a whole brigadier just like that? If not in a case of organised and orchestrated mutiny? Readers, let us learn to be fair in our judgements. Let's be averse to biased premordial tribal sentiments and idiosyncrasies, each time we asses a situation. A dicey situation like this especially. Even two situations with accurate similarities that took place simultaneously at two different locations - Ibadan and Lagos.
Never read in a book nor heard of where gun triggers and bullets respect civilian or military ranks
Gun triggers and bullets don't respect ranks, civilian or military. If they do, Fajuyi and his boss and friend Ironsi, would have survived. And common master Sergeant Samuel Doe of Liberia wouldn't have been able to kill his Commander - in - Chief, William Tolbert right in his bedroom. Maybe the bullets of Sergeant Clement Yilder would have bounced off Murtala Mohammed that fateful Friday.
             

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