Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu

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Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu
Chief Instructor, Nigerian Military Training College
Personal details
Born1937
Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria
Died1967
Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria
Alma mater R.M.A. Sandhurst
Military service
Allegiance
Branch/service Flag of the Nigerian Army Headquarters.svg Nigerian Army
Rank

Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu was born on 26 February 1937 in Kaduna and died in a mysterious circumstance on 29 July 1967 in Nsuka sector during the Nigeria Civil War.

Contents

He was a Nigerian military officer who played a leading role in the January 15, 1966 military coup, an event that derailed Nigeria's nascent democracy and introduced military rule to Nigeria.

The 1966 Nigerian coup d'état began on 15 January 1966, when mutinous Nigerian soldiers led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna killed 22 people including the Prime Minister of Nigeria, many senior politicians, many senior Army officers, and sentinels on protective duty. The coup plotters attacked the cities of Kaduna, Ibadan, and Lagos while also blockading the Niger and Benue River within a two-day span of time before the coup plotters were subdued. The General Officer Commanding, of the Nigerian Army, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi then used the coup as a pretext to annex power, ending Nigeria's nascent democracy. It was one of the events that led to the Nigerian Civil War.

Nzeogwu was born in the Northern Region’s capital of Kaduna to Igbo immigrant parents from the Mid-Western Region-Okpanam Town, near Asaba in the present day Anioma Delta State.

Northern Region, Nigeria former autonomous division within Nigeria

Northern Nigeria was an autonomous division within Nigeria, distinctly different from the southern part of the country, with independent customs, foreign relations and security structures. In 1962 it acquired the territory of the British Northern Cameroons, which voted to become a province within Northern Nigeria.

Kaduna Place in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Kaduna is the state capital of Kaduna State in north-western Nigeria, on the Kaduna River. It is a trade centre and a major transportation hub for the surrounding agricultural areas, with its rail and road junction. The population of Kaduna was at 760,084 as of the 2006 Nigerian census.

Igbo people Ethnic group in south eastern Nigeria

The Igbo people are an ethnic group native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria. There has been much speculation about the origins of the Igbo people, as it is unknown how exactly the group came to form. Geographically, the Igbo homeland is divided into two unequal sections by the Niger River – an eastern and a western section. The Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa.

Background and education

Nzeogwu attended Saint Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Kaduna for his elementary education and for his secondary education attended the competitive Saint John's College in Kaduna, where he became close friends with Christian Anufuro. [1]

In March 1957, Nzeogwu enlisted as an officer-cadet in the Nigeria Regiment of the West African Frontier Force and proceeded on a 6-month preliminary training in Ghana, then Gold Coast. He completed his training in Ghana by October 1957 and proceeded to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst where he was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1959. He later underwent a platoon officer's course in Hythe and a platoon commander's course in Warminster [2]

Career

On his return to Nigeria in May 1960, Nzeogwu was posted to the 1st Battalion in Enugu where Major Aguiyi-Ironsi was the second-in-command under a British officer. [3] He was later posted to the 5th Battalion in Kaduna where he became friends with Olusegun Obasanjo. [3] His Hausa colleagues in the Nigerian Army gave him the name "Kaduna" because of his affinity with the town. [4]

Olusegun Obasanjo Nigerian politician

Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo, GCFR, Ph.D. is a former Nigerian Army general who was President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Obasanjo was a career soldier before serving twice as his nation's head of state: He served as a military ruler from 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979 and as a democratically elected president from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. From July 2004 to January 2006, Obasanjo also served as Chairperson of the African Union. Obasanjo is the first Nigerian to serve as a military head of state and a civilian president. Today, he is an icon in the Nigerian political landscape.

After serving in the Congo in 1961, Nzeogwu was assigned as a training officer at the Army Training Depot in Zaria for about 6 months before getting posted to Lagos to head up the military intelligence section at the Army Headquarters where he was the first Nigerian officer. [5] The forerunner of the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps (NAIC) was the Field Security Section (FSS) of the Royal Nigerian Army, which was established on 1 November 1962 with Captain PG Harrington (BR) as General Staff Officer Grade Two (GSO2 Int). The FSS was essentially a security organization whose functions included vetting of Nigerian Army (NA) personnel, document security and counter intelligence. Major Nzeogwu was the first Nigerian Officer to hold that appointment from November 1962 to 1964. As a military intelligence officer, he participated in the treasonable felony trial investigations of Obafemi Awolowo and other Action Group party members. According to Olusegun Obasanjo, "Chukwuma had some scathing remarks to make about [Nigeria's] national security, and about those who were being investigated. If he had his way, he said, his treatment of the whole case would have been different". [6]

An army or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branch or armed service of a nation or state. It may also include aviation assets by possessing an army aviation component. In certain states, the term army refers to the entire armed forces. Within a national military force, the word army may also mean a field army.

Corps military unit size designation

Corps is a term used for several different kinds of organisation. A military innovation by Napoleon, the formation was first named as such in 1805.

Organization Social entity established to meet needs or pursue goals

An organization or organisation is an entity comprising multiple people, such as an institution or an association, that has a particular purpose.

Nzeogwu reportedly antagonised some army colleagues in his capacity as a military intelligence officer and even clashed with the Minister of State for the Army, Ibrahim Tako Galadima also known as Galadima Bida. [5] Consequently, he was posted to the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna where he became Chief Instructor. [5]

1966 Coup

In the early hours of 15 January 1966, Nzeogwu led a group of soldiers [7] on a supposed military exercise, taking them to attack the official residence of the premier of the north, Sir Ahmadu Bello in a bloody coup that saw the murder of the Premiers of Northern and Western Nigeria. The Prime Minister (Abubakar Tafawa Balewa), a federal minister (Festus Okotie-Eboh), and top army officers from the Northern and Western regions of the nation were also brutally murdered. From the existing government, the premier of the Eastern region (Michael Okpara), the Igbo President of the Nigerian federation (Nnamdi Azikiwe) and the Igbo Army Chief (Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi) were notable survivors.

Maj. Nzeogwu had started his preparation by organizing a two-day night exercise "Damisa" (Operation Tiger) to train soldiers in new fighting techniques. The exercise was approved by authorities of the 1st Brigade Headquarters apparently unaware of the real intentions of Maj. Nzeogwu and the Brigade Major, Maj. Alphonso Keshi had sent circulars to all units operating under the Brigade to contribute troops towards the success of the exercise. By the time Maj. Keshi realized "exercise Damisa" was actually a Military rebellion it was absolutely too late to counter the operation.

Nzeogwu's modus operandi in the North contributed in no small measure to the success of the revolution in Northern Nigeria.

According to a Nigerian Police Special Branch Report, Nzeogwu executed at least 4 army and police security personnel including one of the men on his team (Sergeant Daramola Oyegoke). Nzeogwu also participated in the execution of Col. Raph Shodeinde, his superior officer at the Nigerian Military Training College and is reported to have shot indiscriminately at fleeing women and children. [8]

After waiting for an early morning radio announcement from Major Adewale Ademoyega in Lagos which did not take place because of the failure of the coup in Lagos, Major Nzeogwu made an mid-afternoon announcement, declaring martial law in Northern Nigeria.

Following the announcement from Kaduna, and information that Nzeogwu was gathering forces to attack Lagos which was a huge possibility at the time, Commander of the Army, Maj. Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi sent emissaries led by a man Maj. Nzeogwu heavily respected, Lt. Col. Conrad Nwawo, to Kaduna to negotiate peace talks with Maj. Nzeogwu and a possible surrender. Maj. Nzeogwu set conditions which Gen. Ironsi agreed to.

Aguyi Ironsi assumed power, and Nzeogwu was later arrested in Lagos on 18 January 1966 contrary to agreements earlier reached between Nzeogwu and Ironsi.

He was in the company of Lt. Col. Nwawo.[ citation needed ]

Nigerian Civil war and death

On 30 May 1967, Biafra declared its independence from Nigeria; this was spurred by the incessant killing of Igbos in Northern Nigeria and the refusal of then military head of state General Yakubu Gowon to mobilize security personnel to stop the killings. [ citation needed ]Nzeogwu was released from close observation, and asked to go into battle on the side of the Biafrans.[ citation needed ]

On 29 July 1967, Nzeogwu - who had been promoted to the rank of a Biafran Lt. Colonel - was trapped in an ambush near Nsukka while conducting a night reconnaissance operation against federal troops of the 21st battalion under Captain Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi.[ citation needed ]

He was killed in action and his corpse was subsequently identified. [9] After the defeat of Biafra and the end of the war, orders were given by the Head of the Nigerian government, Major General Yakubu Gowon, for him to be buried at the military cemetery in Kaduna with full military honours. [10]

See also

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References

  1. Obasanjo, Olusegun. Nzeogwu: An Intimate Portrait of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Spectrum Books, 1987. pp. 18–19. ISBN   9789780291341.
  2. Obasanjo, Olusegun. Nzeogwu: An Intimate Portrait of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Spectrum Books, 1987. pp. 29–33. ISBN   9789780291341.
  3. 1 2 Obasanjo, Olusegun. Nzeogwu: An Intimate Portrait of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Spectrum Books, 1987. pp. 45–47. ISBN   9789780291341.
  4. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora Publishing, 2009. p. 36. ISBN   9780875867106.
  5. 1 2 3 Obasanjo, Olusegun. Nzeogwu: An Intimate Portrait of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Spectrum Books, 1987. pp. 71–77. ISBN   9789780291341.
  6. Obasanjo, Olusegun. Nzeogwu: An Intimate Portrait of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Spectrum Books, 1987. p. 73. ISBN   9789780291341.
  7. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora Publishing, 2009. p. 44. ISBN   9780875867106.
  8. Omoigui, Nowamagbe. "SPECIAL BRANCH REPORT: "Military Rebellion of 15th January 1966". Gamji. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  9. Obasanjo, Olusegun. Nzeogwu: An Intimate Portrait of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Spectrum Books, 1987. p. 141. ISBN   9789780291341 . Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  10. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora Publishing, 2009. p. 242. ISBN   9780875867106.