Major Nzeogwu's Anti-corruption Coup Speech

Nzeogwu's Declaration of Martial Law - January 15, 1966


In the name of the Supreme Council of the Revolution of the Nigerian Armed Forces, I declare martial law over the Northern Provinces of Nigeria.

The Constitution is suspended and the regional government and elected assemblies are hereby dissolved. All political, cultural, tribal and trade union activities, together with all demonstrations and unauthorized gatherings, excluding religious worship, are banned until further notice.

The aim of the Revolutionary Council is to establish a strong united and prosperous nation, free from corruption and internal strife. Our method of achieving this is strictly military but we have no doubt that every Nigerian will give us maximum cooperation by assisting the regime and not disturbing the peace during the slight changes that are taking

I am to assure all foreigners living and working in this part of Nigeria that their rights will continue to be respected. All treaty obligations previously entered into with any foreign nation will be respected and we hope that such nations will respect our country's territorial integrity and will avoid taking sides with enemies of the revolution and enemies of
the people.

My dear countrymen, you will hear, and probably see a lot being done by certain bodies charged by the Supreme Council with the duties of national integration, supreme justice, general security and property recovery. As a interim measure all permanent secretaries, corporation chairmen and senior heads of departments are allowed to make decisions until the new organs are functioning, so long as such decisions are not contrary to the aims and wishes of the Supreme Council. No Minister or Parliamentary Secretary possesses administrative or other forms of control over any Ministry, even if they are not considered too dangerous to be arrested.

This is not a time for long speech-making and so let me acquaint you with ten proclamations in the Extraordinary Orders of the Day which the Supreme Council has promulgated. These will be modified as the situation improves.

You are hereby warned that looting, arson, homosexuality, rape, embezzlement, bribery or corruption, obstruction of the revolution, sabotage, subversion, false alarms and assistance to foreign invaders, are all offences punishable by death sentence.

Demonstrations and unauthorized assembly, non-cooperation with revolutionary troops are punishable in grave manner up to death.

Refusal or neglect to perform normal duties or any task that may of necessity be ordered by local military commanders in support of the change will be punishable by a sentence imposed by the local military commander.

Spying, harmful or injurious publications, and broadcasts of troop movements or actions, will be punished by any suitable sentence deemed fit by the local military commander.

Shouting of slogans, loitering and rowdy behavior will be rectified by any sentence of incarceration, or any more severe punishment deemed fit by the local military commander.

Doubtful loyalty will be penalized by imprisonment or any more severe sentence.

Illegal possession or carrying of firearms, smuggling or trying to escape with documents, valuables, including money or other assets vital to the running of any establishment will be punished by death sentence.

Wavering or siting on the fence and failing to declare open loyalty with the revolution will be regarded as an act of hostility punishable by any sentence deemed suitable by the local military commander.

Tearing down an order of the day or proclamation or other authorized notices will be penalized by death.

This is the end of the Extraordinary Order of the Day which you will soon begin to see displayed in public.

My dear countrymen, no citizen should have anything to fear, so long as that citizen is law abiding and if that citizen has religiously obeyed the native laws of the country and those set down in every heart and conscience since 1st October, 1960. Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 per cent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIPs at least, the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds. Like good soldiers we are not promising anything miraculous or spectacular. But what we do promise every law abiding citizen is freedom from fear and all forms of oppression, freedom from general inefficiency and freedom to live and strive in every field of human endeavour, both nationally and internationally. We promise that you will know more be ashamed to say that you are a Nigerian.

I leave you with a message of good wishes and ask for your support at all times, so that our land, watered by the Niger and Benue, between the sandy wastes and gulf of guinea, washed in salt by the mighty Atlantic, shall not detract Nigeria from gaining sway in any great aspect of international endeavour.

My dear countrymen, this is the end of this speech. I wish you all goodluck and I hope you will cooperate to the fullest in this job which we have set for ourselves of establishing a prosperous nation and achieving solidarity.

Thank you very much and goodbye for now.

By Major Kaduna Nzeogwu Jan. 1966

Whatever flaws he had and whatever misgivings anyone has about Major Nzeogwu, what cannot be denied is that he carried out Nigeria’s first coup against corruption and misrule at those early stages when corruption and misrule was beginning to eat into the fabric of the nation.

With the ravaging corruption in today’s Nigeria Nzeogwu is my hero for being Nigeria’s Jerry Rawlings at that earlier time trying to rid the nation of corruption?





The 1966 Military Coup Was Not An Igbo Coup

The 1966 was not an Igbo coup although Yoruba branded it Igbo Coup to set Hausa against Igbo.

Here are the names and tribes of the plotters of January 15, 1966 military coup:

1. Maj. Adewale Ademoyega (Yoruba) author of "Why We Struck".

2. Capt. G. Adeleke (Yoruba).

3. Lt. Fola Oyewole (Yoruba) author of "The Reluctant Rebel".

4. Lt. R. Egbiko (Ishan).

5. Lt. Tijani Kastina (Hausa Fulani).

6. Lt O. Olafemiyan(Yoruba).

7. Capt Gibson Jalo (Bali).

8. Capt. J. Swanton (Middle Belt).

9. Lt. Hope Haris Eghagha (Urhobo).

10. Lt. Dag Warribor (Ijaw).

11. 2nd Lt. Saleh Dambo (Hausa).

12. 2nd Lt. John Atom Kpera (Tiv).

13. Maj. Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu (Delta Igbo).

14. Ifeajuna (Igbo).

From the list above how can someone termed the coup of 1966 Military Coup as an Igbo coup.

Truth is bitter:

“What has constantly escaped most Nigerians in this entire travesty is the fact that mediocrity destroys the very fabric of a country as surely as war – ushering in all sorts of banality, ineptitude, corruption and debauchery. Nations enshrine mediocrity as their modus operandi, and create the fertile ground for the rise of tyrants and other base elements of the society, by silently dismantling systems of excellence because they do not immediately benefit one specific ethnic , racial, political, or specific interest group. That, in my humble opinion, is precisely where Nigeria finds itself today.” - Prof Chinua Achebe

Prof Achebe summarized the origin and future of the problems of the Nigerian state in those few lines. Catchment area, federal character, state of origin, all these destroyed the country that was Nigeria My friends in primary school from the North scored less than 100 in the common entrance exams (note the word common) they all went to federal government colleges, while I scored 222 and was denied admission since I was from the south. These people are now heading organisation were the people they head are far smarter than them. What do you expect from such an arrangement. Disaster - Kelechi Anodere

Ogbuefi Ndigbo