The Fateful Day General Murtala Ramat Muhammed Was Assassinated in A Coup D'état
Friday, February 13, 1976 has remained an unforgettable day in the political history of Nigeria and in my memory.
It is over 40 years ago, but the most tragic incident of that fateful day was the assassination of General Murtala Ramat Muhammed in one of the bloodiest coups in Nigeria since the first coup executed by the late Major Kaduna Nzeogwu on January 15, 1966. The coup plotters led by Lt. Col. Buka Suka Dimka also murdered General Muhammed's Aide-De-Camp (ADC), Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa and his driver, Sergeant Adamu Michika. But his Orderly, Staff Sergeant Michael Otuwu miraculously survived after he regained consciousness later in the morgue.
The official black Mercedes Benz 600 saloon car of the Head of State had been ambushed at the popular Alagbon Junction on Ikoyi Road whilst on the way to his office at Dodan Barracks in Obalende, Lagos.
I was in class one in secondary school at the famous St. Gregory's College in South West Ikoyi, a walking distance from the nearby Dodan Barracks. My parents had gone to work and I had gone to school without knowing that a bloody coup d'etat was already going on nearby. It was about 10am when we heard echoes of gunfire and pandemonium broke out as both teachers and students panicked in fear and trembling. As we rushed out of our classrooms, we saw some parents coming to take their children away. We saw a Nigerian Army soldier with a gun running on the street of our sister school, Holy Child College.
The coup potters and loyal soldiers of the Nigerian Army were having gun battle from Ikoyi Road to the Obalende Road leading to the State House at Dodan Barracks.
I found my way to our house at No 28, Obalende Road from the adjoining streets connecting to St. Gregory's College, because many houses in Obalende had thoroughfare passages or corridors connecting one street to another.
My parents and siblings were already back home with our cotenants and their families and we cowered indoors as sporadic gunfire continued for hours. But peeping from half closed doors, we could see some armed soldiers using the big gutter on the Obalende Road as their trench in the gun battle.
Then later we were told that the coup had been aborted by the loyal soldiers of the Nigerian Armed Forces. There was a radio announcement of dusk to dawn curfew. And everyone remained indoors waiting for more announcements on Radio Nigeria and Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) News network.
The tragic event of Friday, February 13, 1976 has become the thriller of a new historical period drama aptly titled '76, directed by Izu Ojukwu, an award winning Nigerian filmmaker. The film is a must see for everyone who wants to see the principal characters of the tragic coup d'etat and the trauma suffered by their wives and children afterwards.
'76 is showing at all the cinemas in Nigeria. See http://76themovie.com/.