Igbo Coup, Biafra: Damola Awoyokun, Too Small To Be A Hercules

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BY MAZI CHIKE CHIDOLUE

When I read your trilogy on Biafra, published in The NEWS Magazine of 25, February, 4 and 11 March 2013, based on 21,000 pages of American Secret Files, as you claimed, I wondered whether it was the same Damola Awoyokun who wrote EINSTEIN AND THE EXPRESSWAY CHURCHES in resplendent logic and language that is writing again. To read 21,000 pages is quite a feat, even if each page contains one line only! The time needed to read 21,000 pages will certainly tend to infinity as we say in mathematics.

I do not intend to take you up on the possibility of such a task. You sought to create the impression that since your source is American Secret Files, all you said is unquestionable truth. The USA being the world capital of present day CAPITALISM, every political opinion emanating from there is ideologically suspect by people of different political orientation. Reason being partly because of what John Buchan said in his novel – THE THIRTY NINE STEPS, ‐“ Capitalism has no conscience no fatherland!”, and partly because the USA is the sponsor of a very deadly type of international terrorism detailed by John Perkins in his book – CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN in which he said “Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who can cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections,payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. …..I should know; I was an EHM……Jaime Roldos, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government,and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We EHMS failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around,and the other type of hit men, the CIA – sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.

“……Because of my fellow EHMs and me, Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering. Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under – or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. …….Third World debt has grown to more than $2.5 trillion, and the cost of servicing it – over $375 billion per year as of 2004 – is more than all Third World spending on health and education, and twenty times what developing countries receive annually in foreign aid….” With this background of American insatiable quest for global economic domination established by an American, who was an insider, the credibility of your source of information on Biafra, is blowing in the wind, coupled with the
fact that you are apparently the Obasanjo type who swallows everything from the white man; as illustrated in his hiring of Baroness Lynda Chalker as his omnibus guide, counselor and supervisor.

21 million pages from American secret files cannot match the account of MAJOR ADEWALE ADEMOYEGA who was not only an ear and eye witness, but also, participated throughout in the planning and execution of the January 15, 1966 coup, from Genesis to Revelation so to speak. He was one of the SEVEN MAJORS who held the one and only formal meeting of the coup, one of the FIVE MAJORS that planned and executed the coup and also one of the THREE MAJORS that formed the inner core! Odia Ofeimun’s regrets and lamentations that the FORGOTTEN DOCUMENTS OF THE WAR including Major Ifeajuna’s account of the coup did not see the light of day is unhelpful. Ifeajuna and Nzeogwu being Igbos, their account, will not be accepted by most non – Igbo Nigerians because of the igbophobia that has poisoned their reasoning.

The unfriendly and destructive outburst from a section of the Yoruba nation against Achebe’s new book on Biafra, confirms that Ademoyega’s book on the coup ‐ WHY WE STRUCK, received scant or no attention from the Nigerian reading public. This has remained so even though it is known that ADEWALE ADEMOYEGA is non–Igbo, but a FULL AND RED BLOODED YORUBA IN NAME AND BEING! His ‘offence’ is that because of Nigeria’s victory over Biafra, in that war, facilitated by the strange and most unusual collaboration and collusion of COMMUNISM AND CAPITALISM, to suffocate a people struggling for survival, the first of its kind in world history and made possible by the intellectual domination of Ojukwu by Britain our former colonial master, he did not join the band wagon of anti – Igbo feeling to hold the Igbos as the sponsors of THE GLORIOUS JANUARY REVOLUTION. I will quote Ademoyega’s book copiously and extensively in an effort to bring out the true picture of that event even before an unwilling audience. .

History is also taken to mean his story. Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe has written his “THERE WAS A COUNTRY ‐ A PERSONAL HISTORY OF BIAFRA”, laying emphasis where he chose. Damola, you can write your own history of Biafra or Nigeria and lay emphasis as you like. Nobody has the right to task anybody on where emphasis is laid. It is most improper if not immodest of you to assault Achebe on this score.

On the January 15, 1966 revolution, it is now known, settled and agreed that the FIVE MAJORS who planned and executed it, had as the final part of the operation, to free Awolowo from Calabar prison and make him their leader. With this in view, why do you persist in calling it an Igbo coup? The best interests of Ndigbo will not and cannot be served by Awolowo, as the new leader of the revolution, were
the coup to have succeeded in Lagos. If it were an Igbo coup, the arrangement would have been that power would be ultimately handed over to an Igbo man not to AWOLOWO. Because of your uncritical obsession that it was an Igbo coup, which did not have the welfare of Awolowo at heart, you said “ In reality, there was no army unit heading to Calabar to spring Awolowo from prison.”

Major Adewale Ademoyega counters your stand thus “……Yet there was one arrangement we had left till the date was fixed. It was the arrangement for the release of political prisoners, particularly Chief Awolowo. Now that our own date had been tentatively fixed for mid ‐ January, it became necessary to gear up that arrangement. At the end of the first week in January, Major Anuforo and I arranged to meet Captain Udeaja……….Having briefed Udeaja generally and got his consent, we gave him his task. He was to fly in a special plane provided for the purpose to Calabar on the morning of the D – Day , to effect the release of Chief Awolowo and bring him to Lagos on the plane…”. Damola, you seriously need to note the above point even if it goes against the grain.Yet, if all the FIVE MAJORS were Igbos, their intention was national.

Entre Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu in ‐ 13 YEARS OF MILITARY RULE by James O. Ojiako, a Daily Times Publication. “We seized power to stamp out tribalism, nepotism and regionalism .There were five of us in the inner circle and we planned the details. On Saturday morning, the officers and men thought they were going out only on a night exercise.

It was not until they were out in the bush that they were told the full details of the plan. They had bullets, they had been issued with their weapons but I was unarmed. If they disagreed, they could have shot me.

It was truly a Nigerian gathering and only in the army do you get true Nigerianism…….They did it for the good of their country……” Where did Ndigbo come into this business in the light of Nzeogwu’s statement? Tell me Engr. Damola Awoyokun, the all knowing authority on the January coup and the Nigeria – Biafra war.

You said” Ojukwu”, said Stephan, (the West African correspondent of Bavarian Broadcasting, Munich) “was a supporter of the coup, the first in the country’s history. He sympathized with the January 1966 plot makers, but was careful enough to avoid any overplayed attachment to them. Ojukwu told me later that it had been him who had requested General (Aguiyi) Ironsi to crush the coup…” How amazing?Ojukwu an Igbo man, advising Ironsi another Igbo man, to crush an Igbo coup! The two parts of this sentence are mutually exclusive. Though your belief in an Igbo coup is very strong, you went on probably subconsciously to quote your American Secret files where they said, ‘According to Lieutenant Colonel Abba Kyari, military governor of North Central State, “there is no question that Major Nzeogwu, Ibo leader of 1966 coup in Kaduna, had been a nationalist, not a tribalist, who was acting for the good of all Nigeria.” Damola, Nzeogwu was acting for the good of all Nigeria not for the good of the IGBOS, SO SAID A NORTHERN MILITARY GOVERNOR! When Nigeria engages in dastardly behavior it does not attract your attention as in this case where your American files continued to quote Abba Kyari“….explaining that Nzeogwu having been falsely informed that Nsukka was in Biafran hands, boldly entred Ubolo Eke, near Nsukka at night and was killed. Nzeogwu’s corpse was transferred to the North and given full military burial, but not before northern soldiers had plucked out his eyes so that he would never see the North again.” What an effort, a dead man being prevented from seeing again!

With this type of treatment given to the corpse of a dead man, only God knows what they did to Colonel Tim Onwuatuegwu who was captured alive! They may still be killing Onwuatuegwu up to this day! Your American files said again, ”At the Kano airport, soldiers seized an Igbo stewardess from a plane on which she flew in from London. She was never heard of again.Chinua Achebe had extensively discussed the prevalent national resentment of the Igbos by other Nigerian ethnic groups. Ndigbo cannot help this unjustified, diabolical, conspiratorial, animosity against them by volunteering their extinction from the planet earth. Almighty God placed Ndigbo in this part of the globe, and they will not betray the responsibility of preserving their specie. You concocted all types of fables to portray the IGBOS as being unsympathetic on the size of the northern casualties during the first coup.

Ademoyega speaks again “….It would be recalled that by late 1965 the efforts of the Balewa Government to Northernise the top echelon of the army was already bearing fruit. Some Northerners were already holding most of the strategic positions in the Army. Those positions could easily be used to thwart our attempt to change the Government. Sheer caution dictated that we would be sure to neutralize those officers so that our revolution would have a chance of taking off and succeeding. Later events did fully justify our apprehension, since it was the escape of only one of those marked down for arrest that brought us intense hardship and finally compromised our success.

There was no plan to arrest or kill all the officers above the rank of Major as was later claimed by extreme Northern propagandists. Even among those earmarked for arrest, only four were Northerners, two were Westerners and two were Easterners. But the North had always had more than 50% of the intake of officers into the Army since 1961, and more than 70 % of the intake of the other ranks. Therefore if casualties were to happen, it was more likely to be in that proportion than anything else.

The wicked propaganda that followed the coup was only made possible by the weakness and non – revolutionary principles of the Ironsi regime, which bore no semblance to the well ordered and well controlled government that was envisaged and could have been run by us if our plans were fully executed…”

In your prejudiced mind, you trivialized the critical and crucial safety valve that ABURI ACCORD provided by saying “All his (Ojukwu’s) performances in Ghana that culminated in the Aburi Accord of January 1967, or discussion with the Awolowo led National Conciliation Committee five months later, turned out to be ruse. ” You overlooked the very important fact that at Aburi, an agreement was reached, signed and sealed by Ojukwu and Gowon. When they returned to their countries, instead of implementing the accord as signed, Gowon allowed his ‘super’ permanent secretaries, to interpret that document which was not written in Greek or Latin language, but in plain simple English language, and ended up, refusing to implement it and therefore PRECIPITATED THE WAR. If Gowon had implemented the ABURI ACCORD as signed in Ghana, on January 5, 1967, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO WAR. I should have closed my case here in ABURI, but could not resist the urge to respond to some of your other foibles.

biafra-awo

Nigerian commentators on the civil war always fight shy of the ABURI ACCORD and its tremendous and strategic importance, because by so doing, IGBOS are set up for the kill on the guillotine of ethnic cleansing. Every unbiased umpire will agree that THE CIVIL WAR WAS CAUSED BY GOWON BECAUSE HE REFUSED TO IMPLEMENT THE ABURI ACCORD! Any objective and sincere inquirer on the cause of the war, should go no further than the ABURI ACCORD! In Biafra, we had as our mantra, ON ABURI WE STAND, while Gowon, instead of standing on ABURI with Biafra, torpedoed and demolished the good work done at Aburi.

Even though the credibility of your American Secret Files is hanging in the balance, I am curious to note what they said here. “The secret US document called Njoku the best Enugu has (and one of the very best Nigeria has produced).The UK defence advisor who had known Madiebo as subordinate officer First Recce Squadron for several years, said he is “perfectly charming socially, but quite worthless
professionally. He is weak, ineffective commander and consistently had worst recce squadron.” To affirm what he was saying, he showed the US defence attaché, Madiebo’s file at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Madiebo’s records were abysmal…..”

The coup was purely a Nigerian enterprise by patriotic citizens. Ndigbo or The Igbo State Union as at the time had no hand in the coup, as confirmed by Ademoyega when he said “It was in mid – November 1965 that we held the one and only formal meeting that preceded the coup .The meeting was held in Lagos, in the military quarters of Major Ifeajuna……The meeting was very short. There was a consensus
that something had to be done quickly to save Nigeria from anarchy and disintegration and to restore peace and unity to the nation. It was agreed that only the use of force could bring immediate end to the violence being perpetrated in many parts of the country. It was, however, agreed that the use of force should be minimal. Political leaders and their collaborators were to be arrested, but wherever an arrest was resisted, it was to be met with force. Otherwise, no one was to be killed. Only the heads of government, that is, the Prime Minister, the four regional premiers and their right – hand men, were considered most essential to arrest throughout the country. And among their military collaborators, only the top echelon and those holding strategic positions were named for arrest. These included the GOC of the Nigerian Army, General Ironsi, the commanders of the two brigades, Brigadiers Ademulegun and Maimalari, the Chief of Staff Army HQ, Colonel Kur Mohammed, and the Adjutant General of the Army, Lieutenant – Colonel Pam. Others were the Deputy Commander of the NDA, Colonel Shodeinde, the Quartermaster – General of the Army, Lieutenant – Colonel Unegbe and the Commander of the 4th Battalion which was based in Ibadan and was the most politicised unit of the Army, Lieutenant-Colonel Largema.

*Gowon and Ojukwu

*Gowon and Ojukwu

Contrary to the load of wicked propaganda that has since been heaped on us, there was no decision in our meeting to single out any particular ethnic group for elimination or destructionOur intentions were honourable , our views were national and our goals were idealistic. We intended that the coup should be national in execution so that it would receive national acclamation. We planned that the use of force should be minimal so that our methods could at once be seen as superior to those of the politicians, who simply went on killing the very people they were called upon to govern. The need to bring more of the middle level officers (Majors and Lieutenant – Colonels) was discussed. But the few names that could be mentioned had to be dropped because their interpersonal connections would compromise the security of the planning. After ninety minutes of discussion, the meeting was over. We dispersed as if from a prayer meeting since it was a Sunday and the Lord was in our midst……..“

NNA Plan to Wallop the West

“It was at this time that I met Chief H. O. Davies for the first time. He was a famous politician who had been in the nationalist struggle since 1941. He was a Federal Minister under the Balewa Government….I soon got into deep conversation with him on the political situation in the country, I was particularly interested to know what the Federal Government’s view was, apart from Balewa’s public statements.

Chief H. O. Davies made it clear that the Federal Government had no, solution to the political crisis” (Damola are you hearing this? Since the Federal Government had no solution to the crisis the January boys not the IGBOS had to step in.)” He said that everybody was just waiting to see what would happen next and that nobody knew exactly what that would be; but surely something was bound to happen. I
left Chief Davis feeling that the Balewa Government had something up its sleeve .Otherwise, the minister would not be so emphatic that something was bound to happen…“ .

On January 3, 1966, I went to work with Ifeajuna. After extensive prodding, we discovered that the Balewa Government had a terrible plan to bring the Army fully to operate in the West for the purpose of eliminating the elites of that region, especially the intellectuals who were believed to be behind the intransigence of the people against the Akintola Government. It was for this reason that the government
had attacked the intellectuals of the Region, especially those at Ife, intimidating and victimizing them for their refusal to support it. People like Solarin of May Flower School, Ikenne, were among those marked down. It was also intended that if the plan succeeded in the West, the next target would be the East. The Federal Government was to use loyal troops for this purpose and the 4th Battalion at Ibadan
commanded by Lieutenant – Colonel Largema and the 2nd Battalion temporarily commanded by Major Igboba, but soon to be taken over by Lieutenant ‐Colonel Gowon, were designated for this assignment.”

If the January boys had not intervened, Sardauna and the Balewa Federal Government would have recolonised and severely subjugated Southern Nigeria and placed it in a condition far worse than Southern Sudan experienced before her independence. Damola, I hope you can now see that the January coup was very divinely timely. Ademoyega continued ” The operation was fixed for the third week of January 1966, when the Sardauna would have returned from his pilgrimage, and Lieutenant – Colonel Gowon would have completed his takeover of the Ikeja Battalion. In preparation of this horrible move by the Federal Government, the high echelons of the Army and the Police were being reshuffled.

Major – General Ironsi was ordered to proceed on leave from mid – January. He was to be relieved by Brigadier Maimalari, over the head of Brigadier Ademulegun…..In the Police, Inspector – General Edet was sent on leave from December 20,1965.The officer closest to him was retired and the the third officer, Alhaji Kam Salem was brought in as the new Inspector – General. The stage was thus set for the proper walloping of the West…….

“Late on the 14th, news reached us that the Sardauna had been having a meeting in Kaduna on that day with Chief Akintola of the West, and that both Brigadier Ademulegun and Lieutenant Colonel Largema were in attendance. It was obvious to us that they were putting finishing touches to their planned “walloping of the West”. But we felt confident that we were one step ahead.”

After the revenge coup, neither the triumphant NORTH nor you Damola, expressed sympathy to Igbos because of the over 200 Igbo casualties compared to the about 26 casualties of the first coup by your account from the American secret files! .” You went on to say” that the Igbos in the North were widely taunting their hosts on the loss of their leaders. Celestine Ukwu,a popular Igbo musician, released songs titled Ewu Ne Ba Akwa (Goats Are Crying) and others celebrating “Igbo power….”. I do not intend to comment on your assertion that Igbos in the North celebrated the death of northern leaders because it is neither here nor there. But the record song you referred to, was a high life number released by Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson a Kalabari, long before the first coup. You had to foist authorship of that highlife record, on Igbos to further criminalise and calumnise them. At that time, once a highlife record was released, whether by Bobby Benson, E.C.Arinze, Stephen Amechi. Victor Olaiya, Eddy Okonta, Chief Bill Friday, Roy Chicago, Victor Uwaifo, Agu Norris, Baby Face Paul, Ambrose Campbell and His West African Rhythm Brothers, Stephen Osadebe or any others, those of us in the know, would immediately and correctly name the author. May be, you were not in circulation then.

To be continued.

MAZI CHIKE CHIDOLUE , was  former Officer, 12 Commando Brigade, Biafra Army.

 

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