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The Biafra Story: Part Two

"The Biafra Story Part 2"

Subsequently following the execution of the January coup, Major Nzeogwu ceded command and leadership of the Nigerian government to his superior, the highest-ranking officer of the Nigerian armed forces at that time, an Umuahia-born (in what is now Abia State) Major General by the name of Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi. Assuming office on the 16th of January 1966, Major Aguiyi-Ironsi served as Nigeria's first military head of state.

He inherited a country that was divided by ethnic tensions and even more so inflamed by the recent coup. To the dissatisfaction of the elites of the Northern Region, whose political class suffered heavy losses in the assassinations of the January coup, Aguiyi-Ironsi merely imprisoned Nzeogwu and his fellow coup plotters, who were of mostly Igbo extraction.

Aguiyi Ironsi's lax attitude towards the coup plotters led the North to develop the impression that the January coup was conspired by the Igbo to seize control of Nigeria. On July 29, 1966, 164 days after assuming office, while spending the night at the government house in Ibadan (in what is now Oyo State), Aguiyi-Ironsi was murdered in a coup by troops led by Theophilus Danjuma. Following Aguiyi Ironsi's death, Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon assumed the position of Head of State and unleashed a mass cleansing of Igbos in all sectors of Nigeria's politics, military, and civil services.





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