On this date in 1976, Nigeria executed the leading spirit of an abortive Nigerian coup was shot for the “abortive” part of that coup.
Good morning fellow Nigerians.
This is Lt. Colonel B. Dimka of the Nigerian Army calling. I bring you good tidings. Murtala Muhammed’s deficiency has been detected. His government is now overthrown by the young revolutionaries. All the 19 military governors have no powers over the states they now govern. The states affairs will be run by military brigade commanders until further notice.
Any acts of looting or raids will be death. Everyone should be calm. Please stay by your radio for further announcements. All borders, air and sea ports are closed until futher notice. Curfew is imposed from 6am to 6pm. Thank you. We are all together.
They were not all together.
Dimka himself managed to remain at large for most of that month, so he wasn’t among that crop. Instead, Obasanjo had the pleasure of announcing Dimka’s execution separately, along with that of
a former state governor, Joseph Gomwalk … “two of the principal actors” in the coup.
–New York Times, May 16, 1976
The coup was thought to have aimed at restoring the guy Mohammed deposed, Yakubu Gowon, who was luckily in exile in England and therefore escaped a similarly grim fate.
Years later, he received an official pardon; Gowon is still alive, one of Nigeria’s elder political statesmen.
* When next in Lagos to transfer several million in oil wealth from a secret bank account, be sure to visit Mohammed’s bullet-ridden Mercedes.
** Obasanjo handed power to a democratic government in 1979; that government was itself later toppled by the military, but Obasanjo eventually served as Nigeria’s elected president from 1999 to 2007.