JAN 1966 Coup Echoes Again: Ohanaeze shuts down Fulani apology claim

•Calls insinuation wicked, false, malicious

  • ‘All Igbo govs are calling for Nnamdi Kanu to be released’

•Biafran group also kicks

By Chinonso Alozie

As angry reactions continued to trail viral audio alleging plans by Ndigbo to apologize to the Fulani community over the 1966 coup in Nigeria, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, denied any such move.

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation described the viral audio as wicked, false and malicious.

The January 15, 1966, led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu and called ‘Igbo coup’ in some quarters because the major participants were from Eastern Nigeria, killed 22 people including then-Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, many other senior politicians, senior Army officers of northern extraction and their wives.

However, the coup was not well received by some northern soldiers led by then – Lt. Cols Murtala Muhammed and T.Y. Danjuma who staged a counter-coup in July 1966. The counter-coup resulted in the murder of Nigeria’s first military Head of State, General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, and Lt Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi (who was hosting a visiting Aguiyi-Ironsi as Western Region Governor) in Ibadan.

Reacting to the voice note in Owerri, the Imo State capital, the President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, maintained that the Igbo were not responsible for the coup in 1966 and, therefore, have no reason to apologise to anyone.

Iwuanyanwu also said all Igbo governors were calling for IPoB leader Nnamdi Kanu to be released from custody.

Kanu is facing trial for alleged secession and treason before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

“I was shocked to read a voice message alleging that we held a retreat at Enugu State, and it was poorly attended and that in the meeting we said we were going to Sultan of Sokoto to apologize to them for the killing of Ahmad Bello and the other things that happened in the 1966 coup. The voice message was false, malicious and wicked”, Iwuanyanwu stated.

“Igbos are not responsible for the coup in 1966, It was entirely a military affair. It was not carried out to make any Igbo man a leader and a beneficiary. You remember that the coup failed and if there was any tribe that suffered from that coup, it was the Igbos because the Igbos were massacred. We lost our businesses.

“So how can we go to beg anybody when we did not kill anybody? We did not have anything to do with that coup. We, Ohanaeze object to anybody profiling it to be Igbos. So, anybody who says we are going to apologize is lying. Even from the books I wrote, we never sent anybody on that coup. So it pains me people tell lies to damage my name that we are going to apologize over that coup.

“So, the story is a lie. It did not happen. This false report was done by one Mr. Ugwuh and Obasi. They were making caricatures of me. The next day, another record went viral where the same Ugwuh was saying that what they earlier said was wrong, fortunately, most people who called at that time, knew it was fake.

“Let me say this, the retreat in Enugu was for the setting up of committees for the development of Igboland. I commend the Governor of Enugu State for his support in hosting the meeting. We did not want governors, it was for just committees and over 200 people came. It was only Governor Peter Mba who came. We did not bother other governors to come because it was a meeting of committees so there was no need to invite other governors.

“Part of what we agreed in that retreat was that we are going to publish a book called; ’This is our story’. It will tell our story starting from the time of war till this moment. So, as a father, I will forgive those who did the evil voice message. So far, Ugwuh has apologized and I have forgiven him.”

On Nnamdi Kanu, the Ohanaeze leader said: “I have done a lot, I am the one who started the move to free Kanu, and many were bold to join me because they have respect for me. All our governors are calling for Kanu to be released.”
Meanwhile, the Igbo-Biafra Nationalists, has said it would not accept any plan to apologize to any person or group of persons over the issues surrounding the coup.

The Convener of the group, Uche Mefor, denounced any such suggestion or plan of extending apologies to the Fulani community.

He said: “Our attention has been drawn to a purported shameful plan by some unscrupulous individuals from the South-East, contemplating the notion of extending an olive branch to the Fulani community, seeking forgiveness for the events surrounding the military coup of 1966. Such contemplation, however, must be met with resounding condemnation and a vehement refusal to tow such an ignoble, abominable path to destruction.

“The Igbo-Biafra Nationalists and the Indigenous People of Igbo Nation for Self-Determination categorically denounce any such suggestion or plan, whether genuine, perceived, or manipulated, of extending apologies to the Fulani community. This proposed action, if indeed true, represents a betrayal of the memory of the abominable atrocities committed against the Igbo race throughout the various chequered history of Nigeria’s bumbling political development.

“The onus of apology lies squarely on the shoulders of the Fulani community for their complicity in orchestrating genocide and perpetrating heinous crimes against the Igbo race. To entertain the idea of soliciting forgiveness from the very perpetrators of such atrocities is not only absurd but also the height of collective amnesia.”

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