Saturday 30 July 2016

July 1966 Counter-Coup: Fajuyi's Hausa Aides Betrayed Him - His Sister Finally Opens Up

The sister of Lt-Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, the then military governor of the Western region who was with him on the day he was killed has narrated all that happened. 

Lt.-Col. Adekunle Fajuyi
In a recent interview with Kamarudeen Ogundele of Punch, the younger sister to late Lt.-Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, Mrs. Remi Ajayi, who was with him on the day of the coup, has said that Fajuyi's Hausa aides betrayed him before he was killed.
The counter-coup of 1966 led by Northern officers came as a result of the January coup allegedly staged by mostly Igbo officers. In response, Northern soldiers who were not happy with the murder of their revered leader and Northern Nigeria premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and the Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa staged a counter-coup that saw them murder top Igbo military officers including the then Nigeria’s first military Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi, who was visiting the Western Region. He was killed along with his host, Lt-Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, the then military governor of the region.
Late Fajuiyi's sister explained what really happened on the night that Colonel Fajuyi was killed. 
She said: "I was with him on the night of the incident. I was with him throughout the six months he was in the Government House in Ibadan as governor. That night, there was a cocktail party for all the Obas (monarchs) who came to Ibadan for a meeting and the Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi, was in attendance. I was watching them from where I was upstairs. After the meeting, everybody departed. Around 4am, I heard gunshots. It was strange to me because I had not heard gunshots before.
"I just closed my ears and went back to sleep. When I woke up, I went to the kitchen to greet the staff and to collect my meal. Then the staff asked if I heard gunshots. Then I remembered the noise I heard in my sleep, so I said oh! that was a gunshot. I quickly ran into my brother’s room because I thought he had been killed. On getting to his room, I saw him sitting quietly on a chair; that was unlike him. Nevertheless, I was very happy to see him. I rushed towards him and said to him, ‘Brother, I’m happy to see you, I heard there were gunshots in the night. I was afraid something bad had happened to you.’ Then he asked me, 

‘Why are you walking about in the house? Aren’t you going to work today?’ I said to him, ‘ I am not going to work. I don’t know what is going on."
She continued: "Then, I left him, but I didn’t go to my room. I was worried because of the way he looked. I saw him and Ironsi, they went to his office to make a call in pyjamas. As they were coming, I dodged. After that, I heard Ironsi saying to him (Fajuyi) that, ‘Francis, but you told me I was safe in your territory yesterday.’ Then he replied, ‘Yes, I thought you were safe. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t hear anything. But don’t worry, the two of us will stay together. Go and dress up and I will dress up.
"Anything that will happen will happen to the two of us.’ Ironsi then went into his room and my brother went to his room too. Before long, they dressed up and they were in the sitting room downstairs in their military uniform. My brother was there before Ironsi and he was pacing up and down in the room. Then Ironsi came down. Meanwhile soldiers were coming in through the main door. Before they saw the Head of State, they told my brother, ‘Give us Ironsi, we want Ironsi. Give us Ironsi, we want Ironsi.’ Then my brother said to them, ‘No, you cannot take him, he is my guest. Why didn’t you take him in Lagos or elsewhere? You cannot take him here. If you are taking him, then you are taking me along.’ At that time, Ironsi was already coming down. The soldiers then went to him and picked him up.
"That was how the two of them were taken away from the Government House. The soldiers seized the police vehicle that came to drop those on morning shift and took the two of them in it. That was how it happened. I wanted to go to the house of the Secretary to the Government, Pa Odumosu, in company with my elder brother, Sunday, who arrived the previous night to collect money for his farms. As the two of us were going towards the gate, soldiers sprang up from the bush using their guns to direct us and shouting, ‘go back, go back.’ We were terrified. Soldiers were on top of trees, hiding in the ground, they were everywhere.
When asked about the people who led the coup, she couldn't remember."I don’t know. But I remember that when my brother heard the gunshots, he sent messages to the guard house and the aid de camp, but they were all not there. They were all Hausa because my brother loved working with the Hausa, including the driver." she said.
She also said it was possible the brother was betrayed by his Hausa aides. When asked "Could that mean they were aware of the coup?" She said:"Yes, I think they were aware and they did not tell him." and added

"I should think so because, why didn’t they tell him when they got information about the coup?"

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