1966 Nigerian counter-coup

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The Nigerian counter-coup of 1966, or the so called "July Rematch", was the second of many military coups in Nigeria. It was masterminded by Lt Colonel Murtala Muhammed[1] and many northern military officers. The coup started out as a mutiny at roughly mid-night on July 28, 1966[2] and was a reaction to the killings of Northern politicians and Officers by mostly Igbo soldiers on January 15, 1966. The July mutiny/counter coup resulted in the murder of Nigeria's 1st military Head of State General Aguiyi Ironsi and Lt Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi (who was hosting a visiting Ironsi) in Ibadan by angry northern Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs).[3] Upon the termination of Ironsi's government, Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon was appointed Head of State by the July 1966 coup conspirators.

Reasons for the counter-coup

According to historian Max Siollun northern soldiers had a list of grievances[4] following the aborted January 15, 1966 coup which led to the planning of the counter-coup. A list of their grievances were:

  • The murder of northern military and civilian leaders in the aborted January 15, 1966 coup
  • The January 15, 1966 coup conspirators (mostly Majors) had not been tried for treason and were being paid while in detention
  • The passage of the Unification Decree
  • Rumors of an "Igbo coup" to eliminate northern soldiers
  • The promotion of several Igbo Majors to Lt Colonel
  • Rumors of General Ironsi's ethnic favoritism toward Igbos
  • Plans to swap the 1st and 4th battalions and plans to rotate the military governors of the different regions

Coup participants

The principal coup plotters are listed below:[5]

  • 2nd Lieutenant Sani Abacha (3rd Battalion Kaduna)
  • Lieutenant D.S. Abubakar (Abeokuta Garrison)
  • Major Martin Adamu (2nd Battalion Lagos)
  • Lt Colonel Joseph Akahan (Commander, 4th Bataillon Kaduna)
  • Major Shittu Alao (Nigerian Airforce HQ, Lagos)
  • Lieutenant Ibrahim Babangida (1st Reconnaissance Squadron, Kaduna)
  • Lieutenant Ibrahim Bako (4th Battalion, Ibadan)
  • Lieutenant Muhammadu Buhari (2 Brigade Lagos)
  • Captain Isa Bukar (Federal Guards Lagos)
  • Lieutenant Yakubu Dambo (3rd Battalion Kaduna)
  • Lieutenant Garba A. Dada (Adjutant 4th Battalion Ibadan)
  • Major Theophilus Danjuma (Principal Staff Officer, Army HQ, Lagos)
  • Sergeant Paul Dickson
  • Lieutenant Buka Suka Dimka (Nigerian Military Training College Kaduna)
  • Lieutenant Garba Duba (1 Reconnaissance Squadron Kaduna)
  • Captain Joseph Garba (Federal Guards Lagos)
  • Lieutenant Mohammed Balarabe Haladu (4th Battalion, Ibadan)
  • Major Abba Kyari (Artillery, Kaduna)
  • Sergeant Sabo Kwale (Abeokuta Garrison)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Murtala Muhammed (Inspector of Signals, Lagos)
  • Second Lieutenant Muhammadu Gado Nasko (Artillery, Kaduna)
  • Lieutenant Malami Mahe Nassarawa (2nd Battalion, Lagos)
  • Lieutenant James Onoja (4th Battalion, Ibadan)
  • Corporal John Shagaya (2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, Abeokuta)
  • Lieutenant Abdulahhi Shelleng (Company Commander, 4th Battalion, Ibadan)
  • Captain Ibrahim Taiwo (Lagos Garrison Yaba)
  • Lieutenant Paul Chabri Tarfa (Federal Guards, Lagos)
  • Captain Baba Usman GSO (Grade II), Army HQ, Lagos)
  • Major Musa Usman (Nigerian Air Force, Lagos)
  • Lieutenant William Walbe (2nd Battalion, Lagos)
  • Lieutenant Mamman Vatsa (4th Battalion, Ibadan)
  • Captain Abdul D.S. Wya (3rd Battalion, Kaduna)

See also


  1. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora. pp. 98–102. ISBN 9780875867090.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Joe Garba- A Revolution in Nigeria, another view
  3. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora. p. 110. ISBN 9780875867090.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966 - 1976). Algora. p. 97. ISBN 9780875867090.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966 - 1976). Algora. pp. 245–248. ISBN 9780875867090.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>