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General Olusegun Obasanjo ; on the morning of February 13, 1976, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed was assassinated in a failed coup attempt after six months he came to office. The coup was lead by Lieutenant Colonel Buka Suka Dimka, Head of the Army’s Physical Training Corps. Dimka and his partners in crime we’re all arrested in a nationwide manhunt after several weeks.

My hope in sharing these information is to enable you to know:

  • Officers who are on the Target list of the coup that lead to the assassination of General Murtala Ramat Muhammed.
  • How the promotion exercise was done and the reaction of other senior officers.
  • Members of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) 
  • General Olusegun Obasanjo Federal Commissioners or cabinet members.
  • State military governors appointed by General Olusegun Obasanjo and
  • The process of handing over of power from military to civilian rule.

Now let me hit the ground running


  1. General Murtala Ramat Muhammed
  2. Lieutenant General Olusegun Obasanjo 
  3. Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma 
  4. Brigadier General Julius Alani Ipoola Akirinade  GOC – 1 Mechanized Infantry Division, Kaduna.
  5. Brigadier General Martin Adamu, GOC-2 Mechanized Division, Ibadan.
  6. Brigadier General Emmanuel Abisoye, GOC-3 Armoured Division, Jos.
  7. Brigadier General John Obada, GOC, Lagos Garrison.

For reasons that are not clear, Colonels Ibrahim Babangida, Ibrahim Taiwo, David Jemibewon, Umaru Muhammed and Olu Bajowa were among the Target list. Of all those targeted Murtala Ramat Muhammed and Ibrahim Taiwo whose corpse was found in a shallow grave were unlucky.

General Olusegun Obasanjo

General Olusegun Obasanjo


You’re about to find out what transpired in the SMC meeting

After the death of Murtala Ramat Muhammed, the Supreme Military Council (SMC) met on February 14, 1976 to choose a new Head of State. Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma (the Chief of Army Staff) was chose but he wisely rejected it. He did this because the coup plotters were of similar ethnic minority group with Danjuma and he avoid the same circumstance that cast Aguiyi-Ironsi regime in a bad light.

Following this, Lieutenant General (later General) Olusegun Obasanjo who was previously Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters was chose as the Head of State. When they chose Olusegun Obasanjo he became emotional and started crying.

I can hear you asking why?

Olusegun Obasanjo was fortunate to escaped death because of mistaken identity. This made the coupists to mistakenly ambushed and shot Colonel Reis Dumuje who was in Obasanjo official car with the aim he was Obasanjo. On a similar note, to placate Hausa-Fulani feelings, Lieutenant Colonel Sheu Musa Yar’Adua who was northern aristocratic family was promoted above several non Hausa Fulani officers. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He was later elevated to the rank of Major General. He was appointed to occupy the position of Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters.

As been noted, this showed that no lesson was learnt from the previous promotion exercise that serve as one of the factors that brought about the coup. Yar’Adua promotion highly embarrassed some officers. To avoid shame of reporting directly to their former surbodinate they reported directly to Obasanjo.


The members are:

  1. Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces: General Olusegun Obasanjo
  2. Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters: Brigadier (later Major General) Sheu Musa Yar’Adua
  3. Chief of Army Staff: Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma
  4. Chief of Naval Staff: Vice Admiral Michael A. Adelanwa
  5. Chief of Air Staff: Air Vice Marshall John Namadu Yisa-Doko
  6. Inspector General of Police: Muhammed Dikko Yusuf
  7. Federal Commissioner for Works: Major General John Obada
  8. GOC of Infantry Division, Kaduna: Major General Alani Ipoola Akirinade
  9. Major General James J. Oluleye (1975 – 1977)
  10. Colonel Ibrahim Babangida (1976 – 1979)
  11. Major General Domkat Yau Bali 

Major General Domkat Yau Bali


On March March 16, 1976, Lieutenant General (later General Olusegun Obasanjo announced his cabinet. He did not mention the position of Federal Commissioner (Minister) for Defence. They are:

  1. Works: Major General John Obada (1975- 1977)
  2. Petroleum and Energy: Colonel Muhammadu Buhari (1976-1978)
  3. Internal Affairs: Ibrahim Tahir
  4. Housing, Urban Development and Environment: Lieutenant Colonel Mukhtar Muhammed
  5. Health: Alhaji Kafaru Tinubu (Police Commissioner)
  6. Economic Planning and Development: Mofia Tonjo Akobo
  7. Transport: Lieutenant General Muhammed Magoro
  8. Cooperation and Supply: Umaru A. Mutallab
  9. Industries: R. A. Adeleye
  10. Finance: Asumoh Ete Ekukinanam (1976 – 1977); Major General James O. Johnson (1977 – 1979).
  11. External Affairs: Major General Joseph N. Garuba (1975-1979)
  12. Labour: Major General Henry Adefope (1978-1979)
  13. Education: Lieutenant Colonel Ahmadu Alli (1975 – 1978); Dr. Garrick B. Letton – Military Officer.
  14. Trade: Brigadier General Muhammed Shuwa
  15. Federal Capital Territory: Mobolaji Ajose-Adeogun (1976-1979)
  16. Justice and Attorney General of the Federation: Augustine Nnamani

Don’t stop reading now…


These are state military administrators appointed by General Olusegun Obasanjo that controlled 19 states during his military regime. They are:


Anambra State

(1) Lt. Col. John Atom Kpera (Mar. 1976 – Jul. 1978)

(2) Col. Datti Sadiq Abubakar (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Bauchi State

(1) Col. Muhammed B. Khaliel (Mar. 1976-Jul. 1978)

(2) Col. Garuba Duba (Jul. 1978 – Oct.1979)

Benue State

(1) Col. Abdullahi Shelleng (Mar. 1976 – Jul.1978)

(2) Grp. Capt. Adebayo H. Lawal (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Borno State

(1) Lt. Col. Muhammadu Buhari (1975 – Mar. 1976)

(2) Grp. Capt. Mustapha A. Amin (Mar. 1976 – Jul.1978)

(3) Col. Tunde Abdulbaki Idiagbon (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Cross River State

(1) Lt. Col. Paul Omu (Feb. 1976 – Jul.1978)

(2) Navy Capt. Babatunde Mufutau Elegbede  (Jul. 1978 –  Oct. 1979)


Edo State

(1) Agbazika George Innih (Aug. 1975 – Mar. 1976)

(2) Commissioner of Police Husaini Abdullahi (1976 – July 1978)

(3) Major General Abubakar Waziri (Jul. 1978 – Sept. 1979)

Gongola State (now Taraba State)

(1) Maj. Gen. Muhammed Jega (Mar. 1976 – Jul. 1978)

(2) Maj. Gen. Abdulrahman A. Mamudu (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Imo State

(1) Lt. Cmdr. Ndubuisi Kanu (Mar. 1976 – 1977)

(2) Navy Capt. Shamsudeen Adeleke Lawal (1977 – Jul. 1978)

(3) Col. Sunday Ajibade Adenihun (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Kaduna State

(1) Lt. Col. Usman Jibrin (Jul. 1975 – 1977)

(2) Wg. Cmdr. Mukhtar Muhammed (1977 – Jul. 1978)

(3) Grp. Capt. Ibrahim Muhammed Alfa (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Kano State

(1) Lt. Col. Sani Bello (July 1975 – Sept. 1978)

(2) Grp. Capt. Ishaya Shekari (Sept. 1978 – Oct.1979)

Kwara State 

(1) Col. George Agbazika Innih (Mar. 1976 – Jul.1978)

(2) Col. Sunday Orinya Ifere (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Lagos State

(1) Navy Capt. Adeleke Lawal (Jul. 1975 – 1977)

(2) Navy Cmdr. Ndubuisi Kanu (Mar. 1977 – Jul. 1978)

(3) Navy Cmdr. Ebitu Ukiwe (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Niger State

(1) Navy Capt. Murtala Nyako (Feb. 1976 – Dec. 1977)

Murtala Nyako

(2) Navy Cmdr. Okoh Ebitu Ukiwe (Dec. 1977 – Jul. 1978)

(3) Col. Joseph Oni (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Plateau State

(1) Col. Abdullahi Mohammed (Jul. 1975 – Mar. 1976)

(2) Dan Suleiman (Mar. 1976 – Jul.1978)

(3) Col. Joseph Anaja (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Ondo State

(1) Grp. Capt. Ita David Ikpeme (Mar. 1976 – Jul.1978)

(2) Col. Sunday E. Tuoyo (July 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Ogun State 

(1) Col. Saidu Ayodele Balogun (Mar. 1976 – Jul.1978)

(2) Col. Harris O. D. Eghagha (Jul.1978 – Sept. 1979)

Oyo State

(1) Col. David Jemibewon (Aug. 1975 – Jul.1978)

(2) Col. Paul Tarfa (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Rivers State

(1) Lt. Col. Zamani Lekwot (Jul. 1975 – 1978)

(2) Navy Cmdr. Suleiman Saidu (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)

Sokoto State

(1) Lt. Col. Umar Mohammed (Mar. 1976 – 1978)

(2) Lt. Col. Gado Nasko (Jul. 1978 – Oct. 1979)


On September 21, 1978 Constituent Assembly submitted a draft constitution which created a presidential system of government in Nigeria. The president is both the Head of State and Head of Government, Commander – in – Chief of the Armed Forces. The president will be chosen by the electorate in a general election. There was also an Executive Governor for each state who is the State Chief Executive. 

The legislature was bicameral which was made up of the Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate then had 95 members (but recently the House of Senate have 109 members) while the House of Representatives had 450 members then (presently, it have 360 members). The State House of Assembly on the other hand, operated unicameral legislature. The federal legislature had the power to impeach the President. The state House of Assembly had the power to impeach the State Governor.

The Judicial Service Commission was reintroduced. It had the powers to recommend judges for appointment subject to assent or approval by the president and screening by the legislature. The judiciary was also given the power to interpret the Constitution and declare acts that are contrary, null and void.

Three political parties – the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), the Nigeria People’s Party (NPP) and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) – were organized on September 22, 1978. Legislative election was held on July 14, 1979 and the NPN won 168 out of 499 seats in the House of Representatives. UPN won 111 seats in the House of Representatives. Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was elected on August 11, 1979 and he was inaugurated as President on October 1, 1979 after handing over by General Olusegun Obasanjo making him the FIRST Military Head of State to hand over power willingly to civilian president in Nigeria and THIRD in Africa.


University of Central Arkansas: Political Science – Nigeria (1960 – present)

Tam David West: January 12, 2919, Military – Civilian: Obasanjo, third not first in Africa – the Sun.

Lanrenwaju Olamide, The Jet Lawyer: History of Nigerian Constitutional Development.

Orlando E. Pacheo, The Library of Congress Country Studies, Nigeria: The Obasanjo Regime 1967-79.





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