The Orkar Coup of April 22 — Volkswagen Pointer I

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The Orkar Coup of April 22,

Nowa Omoigui, MD

after dawn broke on 22, 1990, the following broadcast was over the Federal Radio of Nigeria (FRCN) in Lagos:

Nigerian Citizens,

On behalf of the and well-meaning peoples of the Middle and the southern parts of this I. Major Gideon Orkar, to happily inform you of the successful of the dictatorial, corrupt, drug evil man, deceitful, prodigalistic, un-patriotic administration of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. We equally commenced their for unabated corruption, mismanagement of economy, the murders of Dele Major-General Mamman Vatsa, other officers as there was no coup but mere intentions were yet to materialise and other rights violations.

The National already in its formative stage is with immediate effect. Number 2 and 46 are hereby abrogated. We to emphasise that this is not another coup but a well planned and executed revolution for the oppressed and enslaved peoples of the Belt and the south with a to freeing ourselves and children yet from eternal slavery and by a clique of this country.

Our is replete with numerous and instances of callous and insensitive repressive intrigues by those who it is their birthright to dominate eternity the political and economic of this great country to the of the people of the Middle Belt and the

They have almost in subjugating the Middle Belt and them voiceless and now extending to the south.

It is our unflinching belief this quest for domination, and marginalisation is against the wish of God and must be resisted with the

Anything that has a beginning have an end. It will suffice here to state all Nigerians without skeleton in cupboards need not to be afraid of change. However, those skeleton in their cupboards all reasons to fear, because the of reckoning has come.

For the avoidance of we wish to state the three reasons why we have decided to the satanic Babangida administration. The are as follows:

(a) To stop Babangida’s to cunningly, install himself as life president at all costs and by so retard the progress of this for life. In order to be able to this undesirable goals of he has evidently started destroying groups and sections he perceived as able to question his desires.

of groups already neutralised, against one another or completely are:

(1) The Sokoto caliphate by an unwanted Sultan to cause within the hitherto strong caliphate.

(2) The destruction of the peoples of State, especially the Lantang as a balancing force in the body of this country.

(3) The buying of the by generous monetary favours and the of State Security Service, as a tool of terror.

(4) The intent to cow the by the promulgation of the draconian decree 47.

(5) The cowing of the university teaching and staff by an intended massive using the 150 million dollar as the necessitating factor.

(6) Deliberately funds to the armed forces to them ineffective and also his diabolical scheme through the retrenchment of more than of the members of the armed forces.

pointers that give to his desire to become a life against the wishes of the people

(1) His appointment of himself as a minister of his putting under his direct the SSS, his deliberate manipulation of the programme, his introduction of inconceivable, and impossible political options, his fraternisation with other leaders that have themselves as life presidents and his determination to create a secret called the national guard, of the armed forces and the police will be answerable to himself both operationally and administratively.

It is our view that this of dictatorial desire of Babangida is to Nigerians of the 1990’s, and, must be resisted by all.

(b) major reason for the change is the to stop intrigues, domination and colonisation of the Nigerian state by the chosen few. This, in our has been and is still responsible for 90 of the problems of Nigerians. This has been the major clog in our of progress.

This clique has an penchant for domination and unrivalled of mediocrity and outright detest for all put together have been our as a nation.

This will remain our threat if not checked It is strongly believed that the intrigues perpetrated by this and misrule, Nigeria will in all ways achieved developmental comparable to those in Korea, Brazil, India, and even

Evidence, therefore, this dominance has as a factor constituted by a and unpardonable clog in the wheel of of the Nigerian state. (Sic) It is to mention a few distasteful intrigues by this group of Nigerians in past. These are:

(1) The and dishonourable treatment meted on the serving Nigerian general in the of General Domkat Bali, who in fact had given credibility to the administration.

(2) The wholesale hijacking of administration by the all powerful clique.

(3) The and inexplicable removal of Commodore Ukiwe, Professor Tam David-West, Mr. Adams and so on from office.

(4) The and on-going retrenchment of Middle and southerners from public and their instant replacement by the class and their stooges.

(5) The disruption of the educational culture and its place to suit the favoured to the detriment of other educational parts of this country.

(6) The impoverishment of the peoples from the Belt and the south, making working ghosts and feeding on the of 0-1-1- or 0-0-0 while the class and their stooges are in absolute affluence on a daily without working for it.

(7) Other examples of the exploitative, oppressive, games of intrigues of its class, people and stooges that can be described by the fact that though they contribute little economically to the well of Nigeria, they have the years served and presided the supposedly national wealth in the main from the Middle and the southern part of this while the people from parts of the country have completely deprived from from the resources given to by God.

(c) The third reason for the is the need to lay a strong egalitarian for the real democratic take off of the state or states as the circumstances may

In the light of all the above and in recognition of the of the aforementioned aristocratic factor, the progress of the Nigerian state a decision to excise the following namely, Sokoto, Borno, Kano and Bauchi states the Federal Republic of Nigeria into effect immediately the following conditions are met.

The to be met to necessitate the re-absorption of the aforementioned are as following:

(i) To install the rightful heir to the Alhaji Maccido, who is the people’s

(ii) To send a delegation led by the and recognised Sultan Alhaji to the federal government to vouch the feudalistic and aristocratic quest for and operation will be a thing of the and will never be practised in any of the Nigeria state.

By the same all citizens of the five states mentioned are temporarily suspended all public and private offices in Belt and southern parts of country until the mentioned above are met.

They are required to move back to various states within one from today. They however, be allowed to return and the Federal Republic of Nigeria the stipulated conditions are met.

In the vein, all citizens of the Middle and the south are required to come to their various states when the so-called all-in-all meet the conditions that ensure a united Nigeria. A is enough for the wise.

This will not be complete without corrupt public officials and their ill-gotten wealth, the days of the oil boom till Even in these hard when Nigerians are dying hunger, trekking many to work for lack of transportation, a few Nigerians with complete are living in unbelievable affluence inside and outside the country.

We are determined to recover all ill-gotten back to the public treasury for the use of the of our people. You are all advised to remain as there is no cause for alarm. We are in control of the situation as directed by All airports, seaports and borders are forthwith.

The former Armed Ruling Council is now disbanded and with National Ruling to be chaired by the head of state other members being a vice-head of state, service inspector general of police, one each from NLC, NBA, and NANS.

A curfew is imposed from 8 p.m. to 6 until further notice. All of the armed forces and the police are hereby confined to their barracks.

All unlawful and criminal by those attempting to cause will be ruthlessly crushed. Be as we are prepared at all costs to defend the new

All radio stations are hereby to hook on permanently to the national programme until further

Long live all true of this great country of May God and Allah through his bountiful bless us all.


As is typical with military by the time this broadcast was made on the radio waves, had already transpired over the of the night — and more was to come before it was eventually about 12 hours later.

In the preceding the rebellion, seeing as felt that the plot had military retirees were recruited, predominantly from City in then Bendel They then mostly their way to Lagos unobtrusively in transportation.

The uprising reportedly at about 12.30am on April 22 having met for final briefing, by Major S. Mukoro at a civilian in Isheri/Ikorodu area (allegedly by Great Ogboru), the storm farmed out to their destinations. a Military Police officer a PhD in Law, was at that time the Assistant to the Director of Army Duties and Plans (DASP), a second only to the Chief of Staff at Army Headquarters. insider leverage as a staff in the headquarters may have given him in putting the plot together. But it was reported by newspapers that was the degree of compartmentalization ensured by Mukoro during the recruitment that many of the plotters met for the time that night. Nor did rely on normal military Instead they had civilian J-5 provided to shunt them

The first task under the was to secure weapons. This accomplished by first taking of an armory at the military police barracks at Apapa. A Sergeant accomplished this crucial phase. He then arrested Ajiborisha and Odaro both of were transported to Ojo cantonment and along with Major who was then commanding the Army HQ battalion at Ojo. [All officers were later

Next, subgroups headed for the radio station, Bonny Dodan Barracks, Ikeja and Ojo cantonment primarily to get additional caliber weapons and active soldiers as well as seize locations as they boot-strapped the There are unconfirmed reports, for that the armory of the 126 Guards at Bonny camp was liberated by a group of ex-servicemen led by Major himself. Then there is the angle of the case of one Lt. Obasi later escaped). He allegedly to a guardroom where some were in detention for various offences and released them to Most did but some did not.

of the plotters were already on routine guard duty at the radio station and Dodan (formerly State House, road) — the seat and of the President. Lt. Okekumatalo of 123 Infantry was on duty at the Radio Station. A. B. Umukoro, was also on Armoured official duty at the radio but was not initially involved in the plot. Lt arrested him and most of his armored detail. Thereafter, Major gave the arrested armoured officers a pep talk and recruited of them into the scheme. with Okekumatalo’s inside the Radio Station proved to be a initially for Major Mukoro, Lt. Col and Captain Empere who secured the use of one of the armed armored vehicles Lt. Col Nyiam has been projected in the as being primarily responsible for the of Dodan Barracks and the arrest of the but he has never confirmed this. the assault on Dodan Barracks he had reportedly already been in and out on a visit to old friends and was rumored to been engaged in a game of with the President’s ADC. who know will hopefully reveal the details of how it was all contrived.

available accounts, however, that at the start of the operation, one Lt. reportedly grabbed an armored from the State House and to the radio station. This may been the commotion that alerted Babangida’s household. he arrived there, he and Umukoro then sent back (by Mukoro) in a convoy to attack the quarters at Dodan Barracks. The of the State House apparently the shooting death of Lt. Col. UK after he had openly identified as the ADC to the President. Captain Empere was actually a Military Police reportedly took one of the armored co-conspirators had secured from the station at Ikoyi back to cantonment and used it (almost handedly) to practically take the cantonment, which froze in paralyzed by the element of surprise and the of the shooting. He is said to have at and maneuvered around all opposition he ran out of fuel. His main target, which was to get a hold of keys to the Battle Tank transit failed. This failure to control of or neutralize the main tanks (such as the T-55s) and get light tanks at Ikeja is thought to be the primary reason the eventually failed because same Tanks were used to provide superior in support of loyal troops General Abacha bounced

Captain Dakolo on the other was reportedly an instructor at the Army in Zaria. However, he had only been posted there the 123 infantry battalion at Ikeja Thus he was quite familiar many of the soldiers in the battalion. On the of the coup, therefore, he was able to the cantonment gate without whereupon he allegedly opened on the guard detail. Some reportedly fell, dead or while others fled. The bus (or carrying other conspirators drove into the cantonment resistance. Incidentally, an innocent (of similar ethnic/state background) who happened to be passing by got into an over what had just and was also allegedly summarily

Newspapers further reported one Major Edosa and a Capt of the Military Police reportedly led the seizure of Ojo cantonment. They escaped when in the early of daylight they started control.


The on Dodan Barracks was in two phases. several Tanks deployed on the were technically demobilized the removal of firing pins. the assault on the main living (using infantry and two armored from the radio station by 2/Lts Umukoro and Uchendu) Earlier, when certain were noticed, the ADC to the President, Lt. Col K. Bello came out to investigate. any supporting crew, he reportedly to climb into one of the Tanks unknown to him, had already disabled. Having realized he was in no position to use the Tank he came and tried walking alone, mufti, toward the radio only to be summarily shot in that have never fully clarified. The details of really transpired at the State have since become a of minor controversy. During an with the Vanguard on Sunday Feb 25, General Babangida (rtd) was as saying: I had a routine and I went up, I was about dozing when my said something was happening and my window I saw it all. I wasn’t I was a soldier and I took my rightful on that fateful day. It however, my wife and children who the whole incident horrifying. I been at the war front and I know it means. I have escaped a lot of In fact, there are a lot of pellets in my What I have gone in life has toughened my heart. So, is no question of fear, in fact it come in…

More General Babangida revealed on Television, Ibadan that one Kassim Omowa insisted on him or being evacuated from Barracks. He is quoted as saying: insisted that he would fly me But on each mention, I told him no he was too junior to command me. But the young man I am here to do my job. So I must you out of this place.

According to Omowa evacuated him via a secret to a location (ostensibly a private in Surulere) where I was for some while the heat remained. did not shed light on other that he was physically knocked or grabbed, smuggled via the Ribadu gate and maze of adjoining and compounds, tucked inside a beetle and hidden at the National Theater, Iganmu from he made contact with and others. It has also been that one of his bodyguards was later by the plotters but did not betray his location. of this has been confirmed by sources.

Babangida’s former Press Officer, Chief Onabule, however, went with another version year. According to him, commotion was brewing, Babangida calm in the sitting room. All for him to leave the place by the security failed, he simply refused. when the shots were closer from Obalende he still would not leave. As I he remained calm under the but the saving grace was his wife, who dragged him out, and I mean dragged him out. Even IBB did not leave the premises, he stayed at the of Dodan Barracks; all pleas for him to the place, he refused. When the mounted, he then asked the people, who were asking him to ‘okay I appreciate your but if I am to leave, how about these boys defending me, so he stayed until the whole thing was under control. Before he left for the house.

Regarding the of Lt. Col Usman K. Bello, Lt. Col. Anthony Nyiam, formerly of Army Engineers, then a Staff at the Command and Staff Jaji, and the most senior involved in the uprising, (who is to have been Col. course mate and personal was quoted in an interview with the Vanguard Newspaper published on 16, 2000: Let me state clearly, may the of U.K. Bello rest in It’s sad that U.K Bello had to die he was in effect used by IBB as a distraction and the chap was misled to be pushed out of Barracks that night, Babangida already knew there was danger. Babangida U.K. Bello as a bait. But over a year later, a slightly different spin, on 17th August, 2001, it was in the same Vanguard newspaper noted above that Duro Onabule, former Press Secretary to President Babangida, told correspondent Odili that Babangida was as receiving visitors late the night, but just as the last left, he heard one gun fire. that was a signal for the coupist to operation, but he was the one who first got to know. And he his ADC (U.K. Bello) and demanded to what was going on; the ADC said sir.’ He told him ‘don’t be son,’ something is going on, go and out. And the ADC came back to that they were attack. Of course, the duty of ADC was to whatever attack against



Flag House

Flag Staff in Ikoyi, Lagos, (now Defence House) had traditionally been the official residence of the Nigerian Army and later the of Army Staff. However, he added the title of Chairman, Chiefs of Staff to his Army Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha on to the residence. This was the position the coup plotters struck in the hours of the morning of Sunday, 22, 1990.

As was his usual nocturnal Lt. General Sani Abacha was awake but busy with rest and recreational activities at a nearby. Thus, when the (led by one Lt. Ogboru of Military then a Law student at Uniben) at his official residence he was not available. A follow-up check at his nearby (which they were of) was unproductive because although fired heavily upon the and building they did not do a room-to-room up operation. Abacha was inside, and well. This lack of quarter follow-up probably his life — and the regime.

The Abacha’s first son (the Ibrahim) is rumored to have to find his father at the guesthouse the plotters left. With around him, Abacha deliberated calmly for about 10 calmly got dressed and emerged (in with two Uzi submachine guns one of which he handed over to his son he noticed was carrying a mere Thereafter, Abacha ordered his son to sit in as the driver of a civil Peugeot 504 he, Sani, the Army chief, sat as the side front seat Two security operatives occupied the seats. Then, in what was an extremely dicey move, ordered his son to drive back to the Staff House where gave orders to secure the At that point he knew the plotters had not cut off telephone lines nor had disrupted nationwide army networks, so he began making calls to other service and more specifically, Army in Lagos (particularly Bonny and Ikeja Cantonment) and other of the country to get information, alert who were ignorant of unfolding convince those who thought he had neutralized that he wasn’t, and pledges of loyalty. Like a officers later began to the Flag Staff House to for themselves and declare loyalty. fairly confident of the localized of the threat, he then gave orders that the coup was to be at all costs. There is word some officers specifically confirmation about Babangida’s of health before clearly themselves to Abacha’s destiny in tense and uncertain early Others simply ran away or lay

As word got around that Abacha and Babangida were alive, galvanized by the curious and expulsion of certain ‘far’ states on radio, confidence was wills stiffened, and officers and that would otherwise been disposed to take a and see attitude or perhaps even run tilted toward the regime.

armored vehicles at Ikeja firmly under the control of elements, Ikeja cantonment was (by Brigadier Ishaya Bamaiyi) and the to regain control of all other military barracks in the Lagos began. A young Lt. of the Recce for example, led the operation that to Ojo cantonment to rescue those detained there.

In mustering to retake Dodan Barracks and the station, the 126 guard infantry at Bonny camp under Lt. Col Tola Zidon, the 9th infantry under Brigadier Ishaya and the Recce unit at Ikeja with Scorpion Tanks, armored cars and some Battle Tanks in transit to locations in the country) reportedly the spearhead. They were by key AHQ elements like the Corp Artillery, Brigadier Chris Garuba and the Director of Armor, Abubakar Dada both of placed additional units and outside Lagos on standby in the need arose.

Lt. Col. GT in particular was said to be familiar Major GG Orkar, a fellow belter. It is said that he in tracksuit and jogged his way to the radio station in Ikoyi to chat him up and him into a false sense of while actually using the to conduct an appreciation of the troop and strength and disposition of the plotters. done so, he later returned troops, supported by armor, to them out from the radio I have no independent official of this newspaper account. But to familiar with the history of in Nigeria, the Abacha-Zidon-Orkar liaison, if was a similar — but not identical replay of the Danjuma-Babangida-Dimka liaison of and the Ironsi-Nwawo-Nzeogwu liaison of 1966. In case an officer friendly the coup spokesman went to him on of the Army Chief making to crush him.

The first to reach and dislodge the coupists at the station was carried out by a group of from the 126 Battalion Bonny reportedly led by one Lt. Jalingo. They repulsed near the Obalende flyover, by 2/Lt Umukoro in an vehicle. At least one soldier in the hail of co-axial MG fire. The were later co-opted at by Major Mukoro and made to mini-broadcasts in pidgin English and praising the coup.


though Orkar, Nyiam, and Idele, all principal plotters, either based in Jaji, Kaduna, or Zaria, the April 22 made no concrete arrangements to units outside the Lagos — probably because of the of planning at which it was preemptively as a contingency to avoid arrest to Nyiam). The coup plan was on the presumption that once and Abacha were out of the way and Lagos neutralized, the regime, based as it was on twin godfathers, would like a pack of cards.

in seeking to crush the plot, a domino effect, and reestablish the of the federal military government, Lt. Gen reached for all operational elements in all divisions all over the country (by phone) and indirectly through State Governors.

What in the 1st Division is the most detailed publicly available.

In Kaduna, the GOC 1st Major General Ike Nwachukwu was on His Colonel GS, (and acting Colonel Mohammed Dansofo contacting Brigade Commanders in the 1st Div of responsibility (Kano, Sokoto and In this manner he contacted the senior officer in the Division, Colonel Mohammed Chris Commander of the 3rd Infantry Brigade in for guidance. Dansofo knew that there was a coup in in Lagos but did not know who was involved or its coloration. The Kano State Colonel Idris Garba and Lt. Col Gwadabe calling in from also independently contacted It was not long before Orkar’s on radio Nigeria resolved any confusion about the putsch. All were placed on full combat alert and all passes Based on a dictation made the phone by Col. MC Alli, Col made a counter-broadcast on Radio thus:

We of the 1st Infantry Division ourselves from the coup and its and affirm our loyalty to the President and in Chief of the Armed Forces, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

MC also made an unambiguous to the people of Kano dissociating his from the Orkar announcement in

In Jos, Enugu and Ibadan, the apparently issued a similar message but at least one announcement by one GOC was vague, avoiding the specific of Babangida as C-in-C by name, generic loyalty only to the Military Government rather the regime. Some pundits interpreted this omission as a wait and see safeguard in case the eventually succeeded.


After the radio in Lagos was regained by loyal there was a brief announcement by Lt. GT Zidon followed by the following by Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha:

I, Sani Abacha, Chief of Staff, Chairman, Joint of Staff, have found it to address you once again in the of our nation’s history. In view of the development early this I’m in touch with the Service Chiefs, GOCs, AOCs, of the armed forces and have all pledged their support and loyalty to the federal government of General Ibrahim Babangida who is perfectly safe and whom I am in contact.

Early morning there was sporadic by a few disloyal and misguided soldiers in isolated parts of Lagos, by an embarrassing radio broadcast.

Fellow Nigerians, you will all with me that the reasons for this grave misconduct are motivated by greed and self-interest. The involved decided to constitute into national security for no other cause than avarice.’

‘Most of these elements have been and are already undergoing interrogation. The dissidents are advised in their own to report to the nearest military and hand over the arms and in their possession. All formation and commanders are hereby directed to effective command and control. At stage, let me reiterate our commitment to vigorously the transition programme. No of threat or blackmail will the federal military government’s in this regard. We are set to hand power to a democratically elected in 1992. I wish to assure all citizens that the situation is now control and people should go pursuing their lawful

Long live the Federal of Nigeria.

Thank you.


A broadcast was made by President Babangida:

Nigerians, I salute you all, and foremost, let me assure you further the unfortunate situation of this in some parts of Lagos has brought under control by troops as earlier stated by the of army staff and chairman, chiefs of staff, Lieutenant-General Abacha with whom I been in contact and he is with me evening.

I also want to this opportunity to commend all of the Nigerian armed forces the police and security agents for the and professional manner the situation was

Let me also congratulate the civil for their continued support for administration. I wish to state all law-abiding citizens should go their normal duties and safety guaranteed. Let me also the diplomatic community and all foreigners in the that the security of their and property is hereby guaranteed.

live the Federal Republic of

Thank you for your co-operation.

From Left to Right: N. Empere (Military Police), Gideon G. Orkar (Armour), P.A. Dakolo (Infantry), Lt. Ozualor (Armour) and Lt. C.O.


Isolated and surrounded, with the clearly headed for failure, the senior officers involved, Lt. Col and Major Saliba Mukoro contemplated a suicide pact, but escaped from the radio and eventually left the country for in Britain and the US respectively. Great the civilian alleged to be a key co-factor, slipped out of the country to Europe. later became an Associate of Criminal Justice at a University in the Security agents detained and those elements of their families left behind. But reports later suggested on Major Mukoro’s wife walked away from house arrest at Ikeja in Lagos and found her way abroad. Ogboru’s brother was jailed and it is that even after serving his jail term, Abacha refused to release

How did Mukoro and Nyiam escape Radio Nigeria?

According to Nyiam, in a 2000 interview the Guardian: At the point of battle we had, as it were, allowed all loyal to us to engage, we decided we would walk like out of that zone with the that it will be better to be standing than crawling. And we there was no disguise. How we walked out of the is what I called the mystery and I that glory to where it I will say that when we the zone of the conflict itself 1.00 and 2.00 a.m. again we give credit to the Nigerians around the shore of the new mainland bridge. There a lot of poor people who lived who lived in the shanties. Those immediately created a force to anybody involved in the action the water to the other side and I say that when we got there were so generous that in the heat of it all when they giving us water to drink, felt that their was too dirty for me to drink and they and bought mineral — shows you the generousity of the poor. felt we were too good to their water so they us soft drink. It was these poor people who became our and helped us to walk through Eko and thereafter when we got to a point on the old Bridge, we asked them to go and we walked on foot. Again, were soldiers, how they did not see us that credit goes to In cases where soldiers, the and other forces saw us, they us and even helped us to go through. In people should not be over of the police or disown soldiers many of them have suffering from the same average people go through. In the mystery and experience of this and mind talking to you and Mukoro is but a demonstration of God’s power.

Volkswagen Pointer I

Major Gideon Gwaza was arrested along with 300 other military personnel and than 30 civilians. In the usual pattern of mass arrests and witch hunting, some considered unsympathetic to the regime also detained and newspapers closed.

Following a Board of cases were referred to a Tribunal chaired by Major Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu. The Prosecutor was Brigadier General Olurin while Lt. Col. Kejawa led the defence.

In July Major GG Orkar and 41 others convicted for treason and executed by squad after confirmation of by the Armed Forces Ruling (AFRC). Nine other were jailed while 31 were acquitted.

Following a controversy inspired by allegations by some of the convicts — as were about to be shot that those acquitted by the tribunal were fellow acquitted on ethnic grounds, the ordered the retrial of 31 of the surviving by a new tribunal headed by Major Yohanna Yerima Kure. The prosecutor this time was Lt. Col. Kemi Peters Lt Col JOJ Okolagwu led the defence.

In September therefore, a second batch of 27 was carried out.

It has been that the core Bendel and Rivers (Rivers/Bayelsa) plotters not remorseful about the rebellion. Empere in particular was very and identified the late Isaac Boro as his mentor and hero. He and were driven by deeply feelings that although exploited lands produced oil wealth, their people had to show for it. It is fair to categorize the therefore, as a resource control



Major GG Orkar

Major Gwaza Orkar was Tiv from State. He started his officer training at the NDA in 1972 with the Regular Combatant Course.

He was in December 1974 in the rank of Lieutenant and posted to the Nigerian Armoured Corps School in He did particularly well on the Armour Officers course and was later for some specialized courses in Indeed he was recognized as a gunnery by his colleagues.

There is an unconfirmed story as a subaltern, he was once granted six seniority over his colleagues on outstanding performance representing his officer back in the seventies.

As a officer he also attended courses in the Nigerian Army of Infantry. He was on the first Nigerian that was sent to Chad and he later served in the 22 Armoured

He passed both the junior and divisions of Staff College flying colours.

His last was as a member of the Directing Staff of the and Staff College.

Major GG was said to have been into the plot just a few before April 22, 1990.

Lt. Col Gabriel Anthony Nyiam

GA attended primary school in before going to the Nigerian School in Zaria. He subsequently the Nigerian Defence Academy as of the 9th Regular Combatant Course, in January 1971.

Upon of his program at NDA he was inducted into the of Engineers. He attended Earthwork in Edinburgh and undertook a second at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. this period he was seconded to the Army, where he says he the culture that soldiering is an profession in the defence of the weak.

he returned to Nigeria he joined Babangida’s staff at the AHQ. He was a officer at the AHQ until just the putsch when he was posted to the and Staff College at Jaji as a Staff.


Lt. Col UK Bello

Lt Col K Bello was an indigene of Niger Gwari by tribe, he started his Cadet training with the 9th Combatant Course in January at the Nigerian Defence Academy He was commissioned in the rank of Second in June 1973 and posted to the Regiment.

He attended several in the Nigerian Army School of and some Armour officers’ in Britain and the United States.

He was ADC to SM Yar Adua when the latter was of Staff Supreme Headquarters. He was the Brigade Major 24 Armoured before he proceeded to the Command and College (CSC) for his Senior Course. At CSC he did very well and first in order of merit.

was not a university graduate but he put all his energy making a career of the army. His posting before being to Dodan Barracks was as the CO of the Recce in Kaduna. As a Lt Col, he replaced MS Dasuki as ADC to President Babangida. as ADC he sought permission to undergo training in the Nigerian Army of Infantry. This was not a normal for one at his age and rank

Bello commanded amount of respect from all The President had a lot of confidence in him.


(For full details, see and Vanguard newspapers dated 15 16, 2000)

What was the objective of the 1990 rebellion?

According to Lt. G Anthony Nyiam, who was the most officer involved in the uprising not the leader), the aim was to have a caretaker with a view to do two things at time. One was to do a proper national and a proper election and also set up a for a national conference. In an interview the Sunday Vanguard Newspaper on April 16, 2000, Nyiam said With that in we never had any idea that we going to govern anybody. It was to restore power to the people. is to restore democracy. Our aim was that was going to be a caretaker committee was going to be headed by a former under President Shagari.

How did get involved?

Nyiam volunteered that he was recruited into the in February 1990 when junior officers approached me to their discontentment with the Because, I did not completely trust I did not give any word whether I support the plan or not. I started to watch them. I them for about one month to see if were serious or the intention was to set me up. were young officers who meant business because were full of zeal. of their enthusiasm and anger, were anxious that the be carried out almost with But, I continually urged as what they wanted not have given room for planning. Eventually, we came in to try to and look at things, how we could do it But, along the line, the leaked. We had envisaged the possibility of a and had, as a result of that, put in contingency plan so that we not be arrested like General Vatsa and co.

How did the plot leak?

The of the contingency plan was that we move if the coup plot And true to what we thought, days before action was to be out, our intelligence reports that the plan had leaked. obviously forced us to immediately up arms. He went on: In fact, senior officer, a mate of who was the link between the young and myself, eventually sold that is, he was the source of the leakage. we realised that our plans had that led to the pre-emptive action we I remember we took our action any arm, it was in that night our resources were got by first of all over Apapa.

Why was the so called Far excised from Nigeria?

On the about the excision of some far states, Nyiam said: If you our speech (on the coup), you will out that our position was based on the that the then Sultan was on the people of Sokoto and that the act was the of the destruction of the traditional institution. The act destroyed the Sokoto caliphate by division between the two houses. It was on the of this that we said state would not be re-absorbed (if we had in taking over government) the country until that stool had been restored to the person. If you read the conditionalities, you are to discover that what we saying was that sultanate not have fitted into the new that we envisaged. We did not see the action as a but as an uprising, to correct some

But in a separate interview with the Guardian newspaper, Nyiam was reported as having ‘defended the broadcast in which some in the far North were exercised the country, saying he is more now that the action was proper. He We saw it coming [excision]. After the Vatsa’s coup attempt, I with Abacha within the to meet traditional rulers and Commanders to speak to soldiers. we went to the Hausa areas in the we were given Hausa and regalia and if you didn’t wear it, would not be happy with It got to a stage that if you were in the you have to speak Hausa. I am saying in effect was that, was a gradual acculturation of other who have superior culture.

What was Nyiam’s relationship General Babangida?

Nyiam was (by the Sunday Guardian) to have being an IBB boy. The newspaper ‘The former military he added, commissioned him to work on a based on Egypt’s Abdel model where the military, the president while the civilians the prime minister. Explaining it was part of the self-succession agenda of and the late Abacha, he said being so close to Babangida, he had to privileged information which that the former military was not at all in a hurry to quit the political except by an uprising.’ Further, explaining his initial attraction to the President, also stated In a nutshell, we all came in to help whom we thought was a man who meant If one goes back to his earlier he was doing very well and we all him our support. But then, when we saw the that were coming up; like the way people from the were being maginalised, in how Ebitu Ukiwe was thrown out of to make room for Abacha, and a of other things that It was also at this period the OIC thing started. All these put made one reason that one just be an officer in name and his people being marginalised or made victims or killed. At the also, Dele Giwa was



Like all failed coups it, the April 1990 coup led to reactive (i.e. witch measures by the military against the units or corps that thought to have been involved in it. Military Police were downsized. A similar occurred after the Vatsa However, this angle is the scope of this article.

In his work The Federal Republic of Army, Major General Alli, former Chief of Staff, who as a Colonel in Kano had himself and his Brigade from the described the Mukoro/Orkar et al coup as one with undue radicalism. He that in execution, the revolt communication disconnection (whatever means) but that it had nevertheless the nation and the northern hegemony to very foundation and fabric. says that the 1990 like its predecessor in 1966 a more precarious and frightening pointing to and crying for fundamental in the nation’s political structure and the of existence and control of the Armed However, as soon as it was subdued and the nation went back to as usual. One obvious consequence to was the acceleration of the movement of the federal from Lagos to Abuja in by the Head of State, General Babangida. It was also reported by pundits that he was rattled by the and lost a considerable amount of for quite some time. temporary newfound humility to some of his apologists but it was also with passive-aggressive behaviors by fear and insecurity.

The failure of the however, marked the beginning of the of Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha who was now being referred to in the Press as the (successor). Whatever anyone of him, few could doubt his and deliberate calm under of extreme danger that him on April 22. He had proved his mettle. As Panamanian dictator General once said: The ultimate of virility is the ability to hold on to It was widely acknowledged that could quite easily taken power for himself if he — although he was not highly of by so called ‘IBB boys’. Babangida owed him plenty and increasingly beholden to his attitudes particularly since there was discussion of the merits and demerits of abandonment of Dodan Barracks albeit involuntarily.

Another who benefited from the failure of the rebellion was Brigadier Ishaya of the 9th Brigade. He was rewarded with the of the Brigade of Guards and it marked the of his eventual ascendancy into the atmosphere of service chiefs. It is possible that Major Chris Alli’s eventual as the first Chief of Army under General Abacha may been influenced by the standing he with the caucus during coup attempt.

According to Amuwo, who carried out a research on General Babangida’s personal project, the 1990 rebellion, as it did in the setting of Babangida’s permanent undermined his credibility and may have a factor in the way the public reacted to the of over 150 middle grade in a subsequent C-130 plane in 1992. Amuwo holds the that ‘Even though lamented that a whole of young officers (mainly has been wiped out by the air crash, the thought his government may have had a in it. During their trials, Gideon Orkar and his men reportedly the military tribunal that coup was in three layers; unless all young officers killed, there was no hiding for the regime. Over 160 officers in the crash. That the public to give credence to this is, itself, a measure of lack of in the General as his tenure dragged to an The public’s reaction to the gutting by a fire of the Ministry of Defence in 1993 followed similar

But there were other Although most people the so called conditional expulsion of the far as a silly gamble, according to Julius Ihonvbere, the coup certain deep-rooted conflicts and issues to the front page of the discourse. Never too distant national institutional memory right from the days of the Willink Commission report, the insurrection of January 15, 1966, the Boro Niger-Delta rebellion, the and Land Use Acts, these to play out in later years as the crisis, small concessions by on the ‘onshore-offshore’ issue, creation of June 12 imbroglio, and more undercurrents of the Sovereign National Power Shift, Resource Federalism, and Sharia polemics. are observers who say that these lines in Nigerian politics an inevitable earthquake. I prefer the Chinese interpretation (as was once by the late President Kennedy) that every crisis both danger and opportunity.


A full accounting of the and injured from the April rebellion is not yet possible, in part of the secretive nature of events the incident. However, it is widely to be the bloodiest attempt to seize in the history of Nigeria.


Major Gideon Orkar

Volkswagen Pointer I
Volkswagen Pointer I
Volkswagen Pointer I
Volkswagen Pointer I

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