50 years after, OBA OLUTOYE, participant in Nigerian Civil War tells the world that NZEOGWU coup was meant to install AWOLOWO

 *50 years after, OBA OLUTOYE, participant in Nigerian Civil War tells the world that NZEOGWU coup was meant to install AWOLOWO*

1966 coup plotters planned to make Awolowo Head of State — *Olutoye*

*The Owa of Ido-Ani, Oba Olufemi Olutoye,* is a retired Major-General in the Nigerian Army. In this interview with *PETER DADA,* he shares his experiences as a soldier and his level of involvement in the 1966 military coup

*Can you share your background with us?*

My name is Olufemi Olutoye. I was born in Ido Ani town, Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State. I spent the early part of my childhood days in Benin City, Edo State, when my father was the headmaster at St. James’ Primary School, Benin City. From there, I went to Government College Ibadan in 1945. I completed my secondary school education in 1949. I then gained admission to the University of Ibadan in 1950 and I graduated in June 1954. I also went to Cambridge University and concluded my course there in 1955. When I returned to Nigeria, I started teaching at the Olu-Iwa College, Ijebu Ode, (now Adeola Odutola College). Later, I left teaching to join the Nigerian Army in 1957 and I retired in 1977.

*What informed your decision to join the army, when you were a university graduate?*

I believed then that I had attained the height of the teaching profession because teaching then was different from what we have now. I worked in a private school and I believed I had already reached the limit and that there was nothing to look forward to again. Secondly, I wanted adventure.  I taught briefly in a public school in England where there was a Cadet Corps, where young boys were given uniforms. I asked myself then that why couldn’t we have such kind of school in Nigeria? I was the acting principal for a year, so I had to leave after that. That was when I got to the army where I rose through the ranks to become Major General before I eventually retired in 1977.

*You were in the army when the first coup happened in Nigeria. Can you tell us about your experience?*

I hope that I will have time to write more about that coup but I am doing something on it right now. The coup was led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. He was a Major in rank and of course, I was a Major then too but I was his senior. So I knew about that coup. I can say that now but I could not say that then because, in the army, the mere knowledge of a coup is a problem. We were together in India. So, he informed me about it and I enquired more about how he hoped to carry out the plot. When he told me that it would involve killings,  I told him to count me out. I told him that I did not join the Nigerian Army to kill Nigerians.

*Was he the one that personally approached you to inform you about the plan?*

Yes, he personally came to inform me about it in 1964 when we were in India and the coup was carried out in 1966. Few other things happened which we cannot say now until the time is ripe.

*Did he specifically tell you that the coup was going to be bloody?*

Yes, that was why I told him to count me out. When I joined the Nigerian Army it was called West Africa Frontier Force. We were part of the Colonial Army. I did not join to kill fellow Nigerians. So, I told him I would not be a party to any military exercise that would result in the loss of lives of any Nigerian. So, that was why I did not participate in the coup.

*The coup seemed to have been targeted at military officers from a particular part of Nigeria and it was also tagged, ‘Igbo Coup’.  Why?*

It later turned out to be so, although all the six majors who plotted it were Igbos except one — Major Adegboyega from Remo, Ogun State. I want to assure you that that was not Nzeogwu’s intention. As I told you, the coup was planned as far back as 1964. Maybe between 1964 and the end of 1965, he changed his mind. I can’t say why he did so but those that showed interest in the coup turned out to be Igbos. Even his utterances when the coup took place on January 15, 1966, show

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