Nigeria has seen the rise and fall of many military regimes since she became a sovereign state in 1960 and this, at every turn, has altered the direction of the country.
A second coup since independence which happened on July 29, 1966, would see to the brutal death of Nigeria’s Supreme Commander, General J.T.C Aguiyi-Ironsi (the nation’s 1st military head of state) and his friend, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, who was the sitting and 1st Military Governor of the Western Region.
Aguiyi-Ironsi was a guest at the Government House, Ibadan, as he came to hold a meeting with traditional rulers in the Western region. Ironsi arrived Ibadan the previous day and unknowingly, he met his death during the counter-coup which is generally believed to be a retaliation to the January 15th 1966 coup in which prominent Northerners in power were killed.
The Northerners were believed to hold a grudge since the first coup as they lost leaders including Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (Nigerian Prime Minister) and Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region). They tagged it an ‘Igbo Coup’ as no Eastern casualty was recorded in both the military and public service as even the West lost Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola in the coup.
This counter-coup of July 29, 1966, led by General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma was tagged the bloodiest coup by many in the history of Nigeria. Ironsi and Fajuyi’s death which still remains a controversial debate among historians because how they were killed isn’t clear but both bodies were found in a bush in outskirts of Ibadan. Read a comprehensive account of how Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed here.
Aside from the Head of State and Western Military governor, many other casualties were recorded in the army and most killed or maimed were Easterners, particularly Igbos. This will be one of the many reasons the country would go into a civil war the following year as the Eastern region tried seceding.
54 years after, we remember this gruesome act done in the Brown Roof City and how much has happened or changed since then.
Thanks for reading, OldNaija.