1983 Nigerian coup d'état

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The Nigerian military coup of December 31, 1983 was coordinated by key officers of the Nigerian military, led to the ouster of the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari, and the installation of Major General Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State.

Shehu Shagari President of Nigeria

Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, was a Nigerian politician who served as the first and only President of Nigeria's Second Republic (1979–1983), after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo's military government. Shagari also served seven times in a ministerial or cabinet post as a federal minister and federal commissioner from 1958–1975.

Muhammadu Buhari Nigerian president

Muhammadu Buhari is a Nigerian politician currently serving as the President of Nigeria, in office since 2015. He is a retired major general in the Nigerian Army and previously served as the nation's head of state from 31 December 1983 to 27 August 1985, after taking power in a military coup d'état. The term Buharism is ascribed to the Buhari military government.

Contents

Background

Civil-military tensions were testy as evidenced by the Gaius of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3rd Division (Major General Muhammadu Buhari) to cut off fuel supplies and food into Chad, an action caused by border disputes between Nigeria and Chad and which was opposed by President Shehu Shagari. Against further orders by Shagari to avoid breaching Chadian Borders, Buhari's units pursued Chadian intruders about 50 km into Chad. These unilateral actions in the words of military historian Nowa Omoigui "undermined civil-military relations and eventually contributed (among other reasons) to a successful coup on December 31, 1983". [1] Prior to December 31, 1983, the Director General of the National Security Organization, Umaru Shinkafi detected chatter associated with up to 10 coup plots but the NSO was unable to act because of the tenuous and vague nature of the intelligence gathered. [2] One of the key coup participants, Major General Ibrahim Babangida noted in Karl Maier's 'Midnight in Nigeria', the media and financial collaboration of business mogul Moshood Kashimawo Abiola in the coup plot.

The National Security Organization (NSO) of Nigeria, or Nigerian Security Organization, was created under Decree number 27 of 1976 by the military regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, after the failed Dimka coup which claimed the life of former Head of State Gen. Murtala Mohammed. The NSO was given a mandate of co-ordinating Internal Security, Foreign Intelligence and counterintelligence activities. It was charged with the detection and prevention of any crime against the security of the state, with the protection of classified materials, and with carrying out any other security missions assigned by the president.

Ibrahim Babangida Head of State of Nigeria

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, is a retired Nigerian Army General who was President of Nigeria from 27 August 1985 to 26 August 1993. He previously served as the chief of army staff from January 1984 to August 1985. Babangida was a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria.

Coup details

Colonel Tunde Ogbeha was tasked by the coup plotters to negotiate the peaceful surrender of President Shagari's Brigade of Guards army unit. Ogbeha was unable to reach Colonel Bello Kaliel, the Commander of the Brigade of Guards and engaged in a Lagos-to-Abuja-and-back seeking game which made Kaliel suspicious. Brigadier Ibrahim Bako was given the responsibility of arresting President Shagari after Ogbeha's successful negotiation of a peaceful surrender. Unknown to Bako was the fact that no such surrender had been negotiated. Additionally details of the plot had not only been leaked to President Shagari but also Captain Anyogo and Lt Colonel Eboma of the Brigade of Guards mounted a defense of the presidential villa in anticipation of an attack. As expected Brigadier Bako arrived at the Presidential villa to arrest President Shagari but President Shagari's guards were not pacified as expected. A firefight ensued leading to the killing of Brigadier Bako. [3]

Brigadier Ibrahim Bako was a senior officer in the Nigerian Army who played a principal role in two Nigerian military coups: the July 1966 counter-coup and the December 1983 coup. The 1983 coup ousted the democratic government of Shehu Shagari while the July 1966 coup ousted the military government of General Ironsi. Bako was killed while attempting to arrest President Shehu Shagari during the December 1983 coup d'état.

Participants

Sani Abacha Military leader, politician

Sani Abacha was a Nigerian Army officer and dictator who served as the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. He is also the first Nigerian soldier to attain the rank of a full star General without skipping a single rank.

Babatunde "Tunde" Abdulbaki Idiagbon was a Nigerian Army major general who served as chief of staff at Supreme Headquarters under the military regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari from 1983 to 1985. He was also a key member of Nigeria's military governments between 1966 and 1979, serving as a military administrator of Borno State under General Olusegun Obasanjo's military government. He died on 24 March 1999 in Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria. Idiagbon was one of Nigeria's egalitarian military leaders.

Halilu Akilu or Haliru Akilu is a retired Nigerian Army Brigadier General who served as Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Chief of Defence Intelligence, and Director of the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

Additional notes on Buhari's role

General Buhari has denied his involvement in the December 1983 coup however the example of the late Major Daniel Bamidele betrays Buhari's complicity in the December 1983 coup. Nigerian military historians Max Siollun and Nowa Omoigui note that when Major Bamidele got wind of the coup to oust Shagari, Bamidele reported the issue up the chain of command to his GOC 3rd Armored Division (Major General Buhari) who was allegedly in on the plot. To prevent Bamidele from leaking the plot, Buhari ordered the arrest and detention of Bamidele for 2 weeks. Bamidele wasn't released until the successful execution of the coup. Learning from this unfortunate experience, Bamidele didn't report any rumors of the so-called Vatsa coup (between 1985 and 1986) and was executed for it. [4] [5] Bamidele's words to the Special Military Tribunal that tried and convicted him are:

Major Daniel Idowu Bamidele was a Nigerian army officer who was executed by the government of Major General Ibrahim Babangida for failing to report an alleged conspiracy against the government, what is popularly referred to as the "Vatsa Coup". Bamidele was charged with conspiracy to commit treason.

Max Siollun is a Nigerian historian that specializes on Nigerian history with a particular focus on the Nigerian military and how it has affected Nigeria's socio-political trajectory from the pre-colonial era to the present. Max Siollun was born in Nigeria and educated in England, graduating from the University of London.

Nowamagbe Omoigui is a Nigerian military historian and cardiologist.

"I heard of the 1983 coup planning, told my GOC General Buhari who detained me for two weeks in Lagos. Instead of a pat on the back, I received a stab. How then do you expect me to report this one? This trial marks the eclipse of my brilliant and unblemished career of 19 years. I fought in the civil war with the ability it pleased God to give me. It is unfortunate that I'm being convicted for something which I have had to stop on two occasions. This is not self adulation but a sincere summary of the qualities inherent in me. It is an irony of fate that the president of the tribunal who in 1964 felt that I was good enough to take training in the UK is now saddled with the duty of showing me the exit from the force and the world." [4]

Additionally, in a 2015 interview, Sambo Dasuki alleges that he and two other military officers (co-conspirators) travelled to Jos to brief Major General Buhari, who was then the GOC of 3rd Armoured Division, on the status of planning for the 1983 coup. [6]

Major General Buhari's Supreme Military Council (SMC) observed a minute of silence for the slain Brigadier Bako during the SMCs first meeting. [7]

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References

  1. Omoigui, Nowa. "HISTORY OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS IN NIGERIA (5)*: THE SECOND TRANSITION (1979-83, Part 2)*". Gamji. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  2. Siollun, Max. Soldiers of Fortune. Nigerian Politics from Buhari to Babangida 1983-1993. p. 8. ISBN   9785023826.
  3. Siollun, Max. Soldiers of Fortune. Nigerian Politics from Buhari to Babangida 1983-1993. pp. 15–18. ISBN   9785023826.
  4. 1 2 Siollun, Max. Soldiers of Fortune. Nigerian Politics from Buhari to Babangida 1983-1993. pp. 86–87. ISBN   9785023826.
  5. Omoigui, Nowa. "The Vatsa Conspiracy". Gamji. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  6. http://thenationonlineng.net/1985-coup-dasuki-denies-arresting-buhari/
  7. May, Clifford. "DEPOSED NIGERIAN PRESIDENT IS UNDER ARREST". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2015.