This Day (Lagos)

20 July 2010

Nigeria: Jan 1966 Coup Planned By Revolutionaries, Says Study

Enugu — Forty-four years after the January 15, 1966 coup, a team of researchers from the University of Southern Florida, United States, yesterday faulted the widely held belief that the action was masterminded by the Igbos, saying that it was not an Igbo coup.

The study revealed that the coup was organized by revolutionaries who were motivated by events that took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo that led to the death of Patrice Lumumba.

They also pointed out that the intention was to make the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo the Prime Minister, stop the mayhem in the West and the genocide in Tiv land.

Addressing newsmen in Enugu yesterday as part of activities lined up for the planned anniversary of the 1966 coup, a member of the group and Conflict scholar, Emma Okocha, said the revelation was the outcome of a 22-year study undertaken by the team of scholars from the university on the subject matter.

He described as unfortunate, the way and manner General Theophilus Danjuma, who was then the Chief Security Officer to late Aguiyi Ironsi had told the story, insinuating that it is the root cause of Igbo marginalization in the country.

Okocha said that he is prepared to face the retired general in a debate to prove that Ndigbo never masterminded the coup.

According to him, declassified information from some US Libraries and Nigerian Police reports about the end purpose of the coup, indicated that Ndigbo never executed it. He added that it was Igbos that stopped the coup.

"The January 15 coup was organized by revolutionalists who were motivated by the events that took place in Congo, the murder of Lumumba and the end purpose of that coup was to install as Prime Minister of Nigeria, the late Obafemi Awolowo and the immediate impact of that coup was to stop the mayhem in the Western part and the genocide in the Tiv land.

"We have studied critically the actors and we have had literature review and we may be rewriting the Nigeria history because it is only the lost tribe that allows its literature to be written by others. I will like the respected media of Nigeria to organize a serious debate between Emma Okocha, one of the conflict scholars with another actor in the series of the Nigerian coup who has continuously accused the Igbo of being the masterminds of the January 15 coup: General Danjuma. I need him to come around for a debate so that we end this thing and rewrite the obscure and unkind history of Nigeria that put the Igbos as the masterminds of that coup," he said.

The scholar alleged that Asaba, Delta State where he hails from was victimized to the extent that it lost its best. He added that declassified information on the event has shown how the people were massacred.

"In fact the January 15 coup is a fathom of Igbo coup and I still maintain that Major Kaduna Nzeogwu was not Igbo. He was a Hausa boy. Asaba was victimized to such a catastrophic scale that the crème of the Asaba generation of 1966 were wiped out.

"Infact the in-law to the Babangidas, the man who came to read the welcome address for the passing soldiers, Mr. Okobo was massacred. As I am talking to you now, I lost my father, I lost my family and anybody who said I should be afraid of those who killed my people is talking a marine story. I have here letter of those who perpetrated the act because they thought Nzeogwu came from Asaba, that Nzeogwu was Igbo that he killed their own brother generals. But our study, especially with the 22-year that have elapsed with the declassification of information on this coup have proved that it was not an Igbo coup," he said.

The scholar who claimed to have written several books on conflicts in Africa stated that it would be "madness" for Ndigbo to have staged the coup since they were in control of the affairs of the country.

"Eastern Nigeria had a lot of peace at the time, they didn't lead a coup; the Igbos were Commander-in-Chief, the President of the Senate, they had two regions out of the four in that federal set up. So it would be madness for an Igboman to offset a structure that favoured them. So our analysis, scientific studies have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the January 15 coup was probably the last Nigerian revolution," he argued.

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