Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu was a Nigerian Army Officer who took part and spearheaded the January 15, 1966 military coup in the Northern Region, especially in Kaduna, the Region’s capital, which led to the deaths of the Premier of the Northern Region and Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji (Sir) Ahmadu Bello and a host of others.
In an interview with journalist, J. Osman of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, Commonwealth Correspondent in Kaduna, the Major explicitly narrates how he eliminated the Sardauna below.
BBC: Major Nzeogwu, can you please give me an account of the night of the coup in Kaduna?
Nzeogwu: Well, it’s a rather something like the longest day. We started…on the night of the 13th of January when a night exercise was planned by the Military College which I command. We took out troops to the ground and taught them how to do night attacks. We didn’t tell them what we are planning for, but ehm…at the end of the exercise we took them out and showed them various places where they were stand. The next day, we went out again for the same type of exercise and at the end we issued them with ammunition, with live ammunition and told them that they were going back to the same place as they went yesterday but this time they were to get certain people.
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BBC: (cuts in)…They were with you. Were they?
Nzeogwu: Oh, sure they did. They all supported us. When we went in there, there were lot of guards, policemen and some of us…naturally, they tried to shoot at us, so we shot them first.
BBC: Were there many casualties?
Nzeogwu: Oh, not very many, no.
BBC: Can you give me an idea?
Nzeogwu: I don’t know. On our side, yes, one…and our injured….and the number of policemen, I think about three or four have been killed.
BBC: Did the Sardauna himself attempt to fight?
Nzeogwu: Well…No, we didn’t see him until the time we actually shot him. He ran away from his house when we fired the first shots from an anti-tank gun into the building. The whole roof was blown off and the place was set alight. Then we went into the rear of the house and started searching from room to room until we found him among the women and children hiding himself, so we took away the women and children and took him.
BBC: Were the women and children safe, or did they die?
Nzeogwu: Oh, they were safe. No problem at all. We didn’t bother much with them. We had to get them out in the front because they tried to surround him and protect him. They were mostly the women of his harem, and children.
BBC: There was one report that one of his wives died. Is this true in fact?
Nzeogwu: Oh, that is possible, because we fired many shots and in the darkness, you know, accidents are bound to occur, yes.
Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.