Gripping details of how Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern region was killed by mutinous soldiers led by the late Major Patrick Chukwuma Nzeogwu on January 15, 1966 have been revealed in a series of dispatches by British diplomats and intelligence officers during the period.
Titled:British Secret Files on Nigeria’s First Bloody Coup, Path to Biafra, the details are contained in the current issue of TheNEWS magazine which is out today on the newsstand. It was written by Damola Awoyokun, an engineer and historian.
According to intelligence dispatches on the death of Ahmadu Bello, he was not in the main house but upstairs in the rear annex with his senior wife Habsatu; his second wife Goggon Kano, third wife Jabbo Birnin Kebbi and Sallama, a house retainer when Nzeogwu and his soldiers started breaking down doors asking for Sardauna.
”They (Sardauna and his wives) listened and rattled prayer beads in fear for an hour as Nzeogwu and his motivated mutineers booted down doors, pumped bullets into guards mounting resistance and shouted to others, “Ina Sardauna? Take us to the Sardauna.” It was dark, Sardauna and his wives went downstairs and into the courtyard connecting the annex and the main house. They were trying to escape.
”On finding them, Nzeogwu shot the Sardauna and his senior wife who was trying to protect him. He then blew a whistle which was the agreed signal for all soldiers to converge at the rallying point at the front gate for the final onslaught on their symbol of national decay.
”The rocket-launching party then began shelling the house. Boom! Boom! The ground shuddered like the cannon fire which the great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky laced into his 1812 overture. Nzeogwu was a lover of jazz and classical music. Their beauty heightened his sensitivity to the decay which Nigeria was. He even mentored Captain Theophilus Danjuma to become a classical connoisseur.
”With the huge flame before him overpowering the harmattan and the night with abundance of light and heat, Nzeogwu was satisfied his own unit’s assignment was a success. He felt like a single note from an oboe, hanging high up there unwavering, avid for glory, above pulses from bassoons and basset horns till a drag from a clarinet took over and sweetened the note into a phrase of such delight, such unfulfilled longing making the coup’s failure unlikely with every passing bar.
”Nzeogwu then left for the brigade headquarters to await news from other units confident as ever like that high oboe note from Mozart’s Serenade for the Winds in B Flat that the news would be good news.