Bloody Coup! Muhammed Assassinated

FEBRUARY 13 —  Nigeria’s head of state General Murtala Ramat Muhammed was in the early hours of Friday, February 13, 1976, assassinated by a sharp shooter in the army named Lt. Col. Bukar Suka Dimka. Soon after the murder, Dimka’s voice  was heard on air. He seized Radio Nigeria in Ikoyi, Lagos, and announced:

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.


Dimka had a second speech which he never got the chance to read before he was routed from the premises of the radio station in Ikoyi, Lagos. In it, he was to explain the reasons for the coup. The unread speech:

Fellow Nigerians:

This is Lt. Col. BS 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:

  1. Corruption
  2. Indecision
  3. Arrest and detention without trial
  4. Weakness on the part of the Head of State
  5. Maladministration in general and a host of other malpractice.

Every honest Nigerian will agree with me that since the changeover 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 favor 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 cost.  How many of you know that Maitama Sule is on a salary of N17, 000 per annum?

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.


The coup plotters, including Dimka much later, were rounded up, court-martialled and executed by firing squad. Muhammed’s deputy then, Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, took over as head of state.

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