I didn’t know the one to follow; the problem now depended on Lagos and the rest of the people. When I left Benin, I told T.K. Adamu that whatever happened, he should come and brief me when they finished the sports and that I was going to send my staff car to pick him at the airport. I sent my car and from the airport he came in and dropped his things and the car took him to the hospital where Dabang was.
When I came back around two o’clock, they told me he had already gone out, he was with my staff car. He said they should tell me he was going to spend the night with me. That was Sunday. When we finally met, he told me he didn’t want to have a personality clash between me, himself and Dabang. I asked what he was talking about. He said no, he had just gone to see him in the hospital and Major Dabang told him that I was pushing myself too far into it. He said my position was supposed to be a coordinator.
Anyway, he said he told him that it was not so and not to think so too. I said well, I didn’t know. I told T.K. Adamu that I was surprised that he was expressing the situation that way but I think I did not have such impression in me. So, I told him what the General had said. It should be within a week and this was Sunday and he was to go on Monday. T.K. Adamu was to be in Kaduna on Monday, but he said he had not had his booking, but if it was within a week which was what I spoke to the General two days early on, it was okay with him.
I said I think that was going to be on the 13th (thirteenth) he said well, that was okay if it was going to be early. I said no. So, the following morning, I saw him off at the airport. We discussed at the airport with Capt. Gotip and himself. We discussed the whole situation, date and who was going to be at the airport. Anyway, I left him there. It was after that I went to meet Major Mshellia and he told me that things were unfortunate that Major Dabang was asking him to wait until he was out of hospital.
Then I told him that the problem now is that I don’t know where we are heading to, because it seemed there was a division of opinions about something. But as far as I am concerned, we were to give, date and if the chap who was concerned has given us a date, we just have to agree with him. Well, this was on Tuesday. I didn’t give any date.
I thought Dabang was going to be out within two days. So, after two days, I went there, he wasn’t back yet. Then I called on Major Rabo, Capt. Gotip, I called Aliyu, Capt. Dauda, Lawrence Garba, Shagari and sent for Mshellia to join us. I said since the deadline was unfortunately fast, we never knew what arrangement was at hand.
So, when I got them, these were the people who I had meeting with almost daily since my return from Benin. It was a matter of trying to confirm the date. Mrs. Gomwalk came to me. She came to my house twice. She said she wanted to see me. Mrs. Gomwalk came to me for the first time even before I even started going to Benin. And said this message from Timdam that he wanted to know whether I have confirmed what he told me about the other group. I did not want to pass any message from her. I did not want any link with her anyway. But I found out that she knew more than I should hide so I told her she should tell Timdam that we are working.
She came back and asked if I had any message for the Governor, that is Gomwalk. I said no. So she left. After a week, she came back that she wanted me to listen to Dr. Okon and she wanted to take me to Dr. Okon’s house and she wanted me to hear what he got to say. In fact, I left the house, she waited and I told her that I will take her there. Although I was late.
So, we left for the house, unfortunately, he was not in, we met his wife who asked that we should wait. I told her I was not in a position to wait. But before Helen left, that was about six days, I told her to inform Governor Gomwalk and Timdam that for the mean time they should be expecting it. And she should talk toTimdam. She left, probably coming back to Lagos. When I was trying to sum up the meeting with the officers, the only difficulty I had was trying to get Major Gagara. Actually Gotip was around.
I said as it is now, there should not be any much concern about people from outside. We expect that the arrangement was okay. Whatever happens to Lagos, the people outside will give us the necessary support. I was convinced that most of these brigade commanders must have known about it. The most important thing was about this Benin affair. I think we met on Wednesday or so.
COMMENT: You met on Wednesday, where?
DIMKA: We met in a place in Ikorodu Road, in a friend of mine’s house that is Ibrahim. So,we were all together there.
We met twice in Ibrahim’s house with the NCOs; Aliyu could not come because he was at Badagry. We had two meetings in Ibrahim’s house. Rabo, Gagara,Peter, five, okay and myself.
We were trying to find out how far we had gone talking to other soldiers. In the two meetings, I did not want to’ get Major Mshellia and Aliyu for obvious reasons; it was not their part then. The last meeting was to take place on the 12th. In fact, they came to my house around 12 noon. They were all in sports dresses. I told them we were going to meet in Major Rabo’s house and that they should come to the stadium at 6 or so.
I was in the stadium for the hockey final, Major Kassai and Ola came. At the end of the hockey we sat down talking, talking. I told them that I had meeting in Major Rabo’s house. Then they said they know. Then I said if they were interested they could come. When we got there, I spoke to them that this is the topic. I know that Kassai had been briefed. Major Ola, whom I did not tell fell into it.
I was expecting Capt. Aliyu,who said he was going to sleep in Bonny Camp because of the armoured cars. I asked them whether they were ready for the operations tomorrow. They said yes. I said they should realize that whatever assignment given to each of them they should be there immediately. When I left Major Rabo’s house, I was more concerned about Capt. Aliyu. I left for Ikeja to tell Major Bellia. I asked him whether he had seen Aliyu. He said no. I told him this thing was taking place tomorrow. Then Aliyu drove in. He said that he was sorry that he was trying to talk to the boys and I told Mazu to take care of Ikeja. Then I went to Gotip’s house who said that Gagara rang that why the delay.
Then he spoke to him that it was going to be tomorrow. We left with Capt. Aliyu. Then I told him whether he was able to take this CSM back and get whatever he wanted, he should take them at once. I asked him that I hope I would get to see him at Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation NBC at 8:30 with the two armoured cars. I went to Rabo’s house and they all agreed on the responsibilities distributed.
At one of the meetings when Dabang in the hospital was when they were talking about elimination. They included all the members of the SMC, the 4 GOCs, one or two officers. I told them that if we are to go by that way it was not going to work. They said the GOCs were going to turn against them.
That it should be bloody and wild. Names were listed and two names; Babangida and Yar’ adua came in. The Head of State, The 4 GOCs, C of AS, Chief of Staff(SHQ), Col. Babangida, Col.Bajowa, Col. Mohammed of Sokoto, Col. Taiwo of Kwara,Col. Abdullahi of Jos and Jemibewon of Ibadan.The original scope was all members of SMC but they wanted to narrow it to soldiers only.
I told them that I do not say they should not have it bloody but that they owe a duty to explain to the nation. When I expressed that, they knew that I was not going to fix in. It took me four to five days trying to convince them. At this ‘point was going to say is that when Clement was in the hospital I was very happy because he was more concerned about elimination. Major Dabang happened to be the coordinator of the Major’s Ops. I was happy that Clement was in the hospital.
When I finally met Rabo, he said that he has finally distributed the responsibilities. Rabo was for target I–head of state. Lt. Dauda was for target II–Lt. Gen.Obasanjo. Lawrence Garba was for target III—Lt. Gen. Danjuma. I enquired how they were going to do it. They said, that of the C of AS was not a problem. All they have to do is to wait for him at the jetty. As for the jetty, I mentioned that C of AS was not going alone. I said whatever happens if you find out that you are going to have more than 2 lives, do not do it.
I said you should not. I know actually it was not going to be possible. I am not saying this because I want favour. Who were responsible for the elimination of the other governors! Major Gagara was for Ilorin,Sokoto and Jos had nobody. The main centre of the operation was Kaduna, Ibadan, Benin where there are radio stations.
Enugu, I did not want to put. On Thursday, Sabo came from Benin to enquire the way the OPs were going to be carried out. I told him that the OPs were going to be tomorrow. In the morning, Dauda, Ola, Kassai and Lawrence were in my house. Lawrence had a Land Rover to himself and Dauda too. When Kassai and Ola came, I said I had nothing for them. That they should follow me to George Street.
It was on my way when I was coming back from Ikeja on the 12th that I called on him and said whether he would be able to tell me where the radio house is. That he should be at NBC at about 0700 hrs. I also told him to wait for me there. When I ran in, he came to meet me and showed me where the broadcasting section was. It was not true that he gave me anything; I stood there with Major Rabo at George Street to wait until such a time when the head of state’s car was coming out.
But you know Lt. William has already been dropped at the filling station to wait there. Then, there was one Capt. Malaki who was to give the warning order. Captain Malaki was to be on the watch to signal Major Rabo and Lt. William Seri on the approach of the vehicle. So, I came up and I was at the petrol station, waiting, then Zakari came back again. That was around something to 0800 hours.
Then I told him he should go back that I was coming so that when I went back to George Street, I told Major Rabo that I will follow them behind. That whatever happens, I will then rush to the studio station. I was behind while we were talking when the C in C’s car passed. In fact, I did not even see it until when Malaki said the car had passed.
So, we rushed in and then followed and the car was held somewhere just opposite the Petrol Station. Lt. Seri was approaching the car when we stopped and Major rushed to him, then the firing started. Then I took off for Radio House and when I got to the Radio House I could only see about 15 or 19 soldiers around. Zakari came in.
I went up and when I saw the number of soldiers around I said I wasn’t going to start making any broadcasting because the number of soldiers expected there were not enough. So, I came down. Then Major Rabo actually drove up to the radio house met me and I told him that “look,” soldiers were not enough and within 3/5 minutes I saw some soldiers rushing out from the Bde HQ. The number became enough for me to go up and make the broadcast.
After the broadcast, I came down and then Duada Usman came to me that he had finished his own assignment. Lawrence came to me and said he could not because the C of AS, Col. A. Isama, Col.Bali, the Chief of Naval Staff and one or two officers were together so I told him that he should not attempt anything when it is more than one. So, he said he did not do anything. I said that was alright. All of them were in mufty with the exception of Rabo and myself.
They said they were going to dress. I was around in radio house. Lt. Seri said he was going to 20d to see what was happening. I said that was okay. Not very long I think the 2/Lt. from the Bde of Ods came in. I was within the Radio house, I heard some shooting, I had to rush down to find out what was happening I found out that it was Major Rabo disarming the 2/Lt. who came in. Apparently I think he may be the OIC of Inf. Coy, I do not know. When I came down I told Major Rabo that he should give back his rifle to the captain.
I asked him to give him back his rifle. Rabo said no, he should go back. If he was to stay here, he should stay around and I was expecting at this particular time that I will get a message from Seri. I told Seri since he was there; he should see whether he could see Captain Aliyu. I waited and waited, one hour, 2 hours nothing forthcoming. It was there I took off with a Land Rover. Captain Dauda Usman went and dressed. I did not know where he did.
In fact, I was on my way with one of this NBC L and Rovers when I saw Dauda Usman coming and stopped them and decided to use the Range Rover to go to the British High Commission and tell him about the change of government. I told him that there has been a change of government if he could send a message that Gowon should come to Togo and wait. He told me that he was not going to be our messenger. I think I have to make one remark here. This rush to the British High Commission was a personal affair.
It was not part of what I should have done. I think I did it through a sort of personal anxiety or whatever you want me to term it. When I left the British High Commission, after telling them about the change of government, I rushed to the airport. My aim was to see what was happening at Ikeja Airport and Gds Bn. I went there, Major Maro I could not see. So I went around to see the 2i/c of Gds Bin. He came to me and I spoke to him. I should be candid, I did not tell him about the coup. So I told him that all he has to do it to protect his own area, nobody was expecting him to move to anywhere.
That everybody was to stay calm. I enquired who was at the Reece Regt. He told me that Magoro and one or two officers were around with the Regt.Comd that is Lt. Col. Mayaki. I decided that I was going to speak to Lt. Col.Mayaki. I told him that he has heard the broadcast. I do not want him probably to start thinking of any counter measures.
We do not want any blood bath and I knew he was in a position to prevent it. He spoke to me that, that was fine, that was alright. When I finished speaking, I left for the airport to see Captain Gotip and he told me that there was nobody at the airport. It was after I have checked and found out that in fact that nothing happened at Ikeja so I decided that I was going to see Gen. Bisalla.
It escaped my memory. On Thursday when I came to see Gen. Bisalla in his house, I came in and I was told he was not in. They said he had gone out. Then I said okay, that was alright. I took it for granted that Monday the one week from the day we spoke he was expecting it the following day. So when I came up to the house, I wanted to go in, the boys told me that nobody was allowed in. I came out of my vehicle and forced my way in.
When I came in, one of the chaps came round the house and told me to go and sit down. There was nobody. I said he was lying. He said honestly, there was nobody in the house. I said where was the General, he said he was nowhere to be found. I think that he should be around, 1000 hours I can’t remember now. I went back to the radio house I stayed for about one hour, an hour and a half and then Babangida came in. At first, when I was up in the radio house and when I saw the first Ferret or Panhard, I thought it was Captain Aliyu.
One thing that did not actually come to my mind was to go to Gds Bn. The reason was not that I wasn’t sure that it was secured enough. In fact, it did not just occur to me that I should go to Gds Bn. In short, I did not go to Gds Bn to check. I was certain that Captain Aliyu was there. So, when I saw these two armoured cars, seconds later, Col. Babangida called my name. It was then I thought these chaps have come to capture the Radio house.
Then the remaining armoured cars drove in. I came out with my rifle in my hand. Col Babaginda said “look” he has not come here to do anything to me. He said if I should kill him he should be happy that I am the one who was going to kill him. If for any reason, he was going to be killed, he did not expect that I should be the one to do it. Anyway, after speaking that, I said okay. He carne up that we should go up and talk. So we went up. I told him, “look” I was not comfortable with his armoured cars around. I told him that he has come to play the game to Chukwuma and Nwawo with me now. He said no. What ever happened that Gen. Danjuma sent him that in any case he came in unarmed because he could have taken over the radio without bothering to call my name.
He came in with the belief that I was going to do nothing to him. And even if I did, it was okay. That if I should be the one to eliminate him, he was satisfied. So, I was okay. We chatted. I was telling him about this recording. In fact, that was the only topic that went between Babangida and myself. Where I was concerned was nothing that we discussed about. Then I informed him that he should realise he has made a lot of enemies within him. He is not popular enough. He was supposed to be killed. This I did not take it and I was not going to see that it was going to be done. I was telling him anyway (in any) case it was not necessary) to tell him before then. He said okay. He sent the armoured cars away.
Was he going to send them so that I could kill him or how? I said, look my friend, if I have to do it, I could have done it the moment you appeared. I could have done it and in fact, I would have escaped and your chaps would not see me in any case. Then he came in only with armoured cars. There were no groups. I said I would have done it. When we finished, he said he was going to meet or what did I want him to tell the Gen. I said he could go and tell him that we wanted something in writing to show to the boys. That was what I told him. He said he was going to come back at 3 p.m. That I should wait for him. He said whether I could arrange for a vehicle for him. I said Oh yes, by all means I called one of the chaps around NBC to make available a vehicle. They took him home. As he was going, I wanted to go to Lt.-Col. Tense’s house. (Did you know who made the arrangement for the vehicle for him?). No. One of the NBCs around. I did not know. All I wanted was that one of the NBC vehicles around to pick him.
I think he was to enter. He should know which one was that. I stopped him and told him that I was expecting him at 3 p.m. I took off for Yaba to see Col. Tense. When I got there, he was there alone’. I told him that on my way I branched to see Gen. Bisalla, but he was not in. He said, let me telephone him. He gave me the telephone number; sorry I cannot remember the telephone number now. I went and dialed. There was no reply I think he did not comment.
He said whether I wanted beer? I said yes. He brought me a beer. I told him what happened between Col. Babaginda and myself. He said since that was the situation, I should get in touch with Col. Garba, Gen. Oluleye, Gen. Shuwa, to try to meet Gen. Danjuma to talk it out. I told him well, that would be fine I would go back to do it. I left him.
At this particular point, in fact, Iknew it was all over because I could not start asking when you talked about this feeling thing, infact, it did not occur to me that he was supposed to be responsible. So I left, went back to the radio station, waiting even though in mind, I knew I was not going to receive any message from Gen. Danjuma. Probably Babangida could have gone back to tell him the truth what has happened and it was going to be the same message back. Anyway I stayed.
As I was up and Kolade came and asked whether I have any message to pass over, I told him that he should just wait that I was coming back to see him. So as we were chatting, he said it was necessary for me to change the time of curfew, and take off the morning and fellow Nigerians. I could make another broadcast to erase the morning one. I told him it was okay. So he sent in for a new tape as the tapes were coming the armoured cars moved in so quickly. Nobody knew what was happening.
Just before 8:30 a.m. on February 13, 1976, the following curious announcements were heard on Radio Nigeria:
“Good morning fellow Nigerians,
This is Lt. Col. B. Dimka of the Nigerian Army calling.
I bring you good tidings. Murtala Muhammed’s deficiency has been detected. His government is now overthrown by the young revolutionaries. All the 19 military governors have no powers over the states they now govern. The states affairs will be run by military brigade commanders until further notice.
All commissioners are sacked, except for the armed forces and police commissioners who will be redeployed.
All senior military officers should remain calm in their respective spots. No divisional commanders will issue orders or instructions until further notice.
Any attempt to foil these plans from any quarters will be met with death.
You are warned, it is all over the 19 states.
Any acts of looting or raids will be death.
Everyone should be calm.
Please, stay by your radio for further announcements.
All borders, air and sea ports are closed until further notice.
Curfew is imposed from 6am to 6pm.
Thank you. We are all together.”
A few days later, the address was found on a tape at the radio house which was believed to be another broadcast
This is Lt. Col. B.S Dimka. I now explain why we the Young Revolutionaries of the Armed Forces have found it necessary to overthrow the six month old government of Murtala. On the 29th July 1975, the Government of General Gowon was overthrown. Some of the reasons given for the change were:
- Arrest and detention without trial
- Weakness on the part of the head of state
- Maladministration in general and a host of other malpractices.
Every honest Nigerian will agree with me that since the change over of government there has not been any physical development in the whole country generally.
All we have is arbitrary dismissal of innocent Nigerians who have contributed in no less amount to the building of this great nation. A professor was arrested, detained, dismissed and later taken to court on an article which every honest Nigerian will agree that all the points contained in that article were 100% truth. The sad point about it all is that those who initiated the retirement or dismissal exercise are the worst offenders. You will be informed about the ill-gotten wealth in my next announcement.
The acting General Manager of the Nigerian Airways was invited to the Dodan Barracks and detained without trial. The people of this country have been living in a state of fear. The Armed Forces promotion exercise is still fresh in your minds. Whatever reasons they have for the promotion, one can only say that they are ambitious. They, in fact took over power to enrich themselves.
We are convinced that some of the programmes announced for a return to civilian rule are made to favour of a particular group. To mention only one. Maitama Sule is a politician but has been appointed Chief of Commissioners for Complaints. This is to prepare him for the next political head at all costs. How many of you know that Maitama Sule is on a salary of N17,000 p.a.?
In view of what I have just said and a lot more which time will not permit me to mention, we, the Young Revolutionaries have once again taken over the government to save Murtala from total disgrace and prevent him from committing further blunders and totally collapsing the country before he runs away in the name of retirement to enjoy the huge fortune he got through bribe which he has now stored outside this country. I believe that charity should begin at home.
Please stay by your radio for further announcements.
We are all together.”