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Balewa "Died of Asthma Attack", not Killed by Soldiers - Mbu

Started by maxsiollun, September 19, 2010, 02:14:07 PM

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Forty-four years after, the controversy over how Nigeria's first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa died may have been finally laid to rest.

Contrary to the widely-held belief, Nigerian soldiers did not kill the country's first Commander- in-Chief in the bloody coup of 1966. Rather, Prime Minister Balewa succumbed to asthma, according to a key player in his government. He reportedly died while soldiers were taking him out of Lagos in the aftermath of the putsch.

Nigeria's first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and one of only three surviving members of the first Federal cabinet, Dr. Mathew Taiwo Mbu made this known to The Nation in an exclusive interview in Lagos.

Prime Minister Balewa died as a result of an asthmatic attack while he was being driven to Calabar by soldiers under the command of Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna who arrested him, Mbu said. Veteran journalist Chief Segun Osoba, who led the Police to the bodies of the late Prime Minister and his Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, could not be reached last night for a corroboration.

Previous accounts of what actually happened on the night of January 15, 1966 have been hazy. Even BBC archive reports on the day of infamy only spoke of a kidnapping of the Prime Minister by soldiers.

Most on-site acccounts to date, only reported that the body of the late Prime Minister was found in a seating position by a tree, in a plantation, on the road to Abeokuta, near Ifo, some 35 kilometres from his Ikoyi residence where he was arrested by soldiers on the night of January 15, 1966. The Prime Minister's body was found beside the bullet-riddled body of Chief Okotie-Eboh, Nigeria's first Minister of Finance.

No report of the macabre events of January 15, 1966, has been categorical that the Prime Minister was shot death; and no autopsies were carried out on the bodies discovered several days after the two had been reported kidnapped from their official residences by soldiers.

But Dr. Mbu, who was a close confidant of the late Prime Minister, recounted a momentous encounter 44 years ago, with the late poet Christopher Okigbo, one of the last people to see the late Prime Minister alive before he was arrested by the coup plotters.

He said Christopher Okigbo, who was also a close friend of Major Ifeajuna, who led the coupists in Lagos, recounted the arrest of the Prime Minister to him first hand. Okigbo and Ifeajuna themselves were killed in action during the Nigerian civil war.

Mbu, who many also regarded as Tafawa Balewa's de-facto foreign minister, was ironically sent out to India for a State funeral by the Prime Minister, only hours before the coup. He had warned the late Prime Minister of an impending coup just days earlier.

He said he was reliably informed that Prime Minister Balewa had been accosted by the soldiers who first gave him the salute due to a Commander-in-Chief before informing him that they were effecting a change of government. They allowed him to say his Islamic prayers before taking him in a car.

The plans of the putschists according to Mbu's account, did not include killing the Prime Minister. He was to be taken to Calabar and forced to release and handover power to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then in prison for treasonable felony.

Balewa unfortunately did not make it out of Lagos. He reportedly suffered an asthmatic attack and died in the car. The announcement by the Army chief, General Aguiyi Ironsi of a failed coup, led to the dumping of the late Prime Minister's body in the forest off the road to Abeokuta.

Okotie-Eboh, against whom the military high command then, had the most serious of the allegations of bribery and corruption the Balewa regime was accused of, was apparently executed at close range in the forest, leading to speculations that the Prime Minister too was shot to death. The several days that lapsed before the bodies were discovered must have made it difficult to find out the real cause of the Prime Minister's death. His body was taken to Bauchi for burial.

Mbu spoke with The Nation Databank, in one of several interviews the country's premier private digital archive conducted with senior Nigerian citizens and elderstatesmen. The interviews, on historical and contemporary events in Nigeria over the last 50 years, are to be packaged in special video and data discs to mark Nigeria's golden jubilee independence anniversary. Two million copies of the discs, coming as the Nigeria's premier national e-Reference ,will be given out FREE to Nigerians, particularly Nigerian youths.


This issue will not go away, other people are now claiming that Balewa was NOT shot dead, and was actually alive for FIVE DAYS after the coup. Read on:

It was a few minutes to 11 pm, on Friday, January 14, 1966, around Onikan, on Lagos Island, opposite the then Race Course, now Tafawa Balewa Square. A handful of Nigerian soldiers, led by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna abducted the country's first Prime Minister, Sir. Tafawa Balewa. The Prime Minister's abduction was a well planned operation that went well without any fatalities.

At about the same time, just about a kilometre away in Ikoyi Island, also in Lagos, another group of soldiers, led by another officer, arrested the country's Minister of Finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. That military operation too went well, although eye-witness accounts quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation then, gave hint of a violent abduction, referring to slaps and beatings the flamboyant Finance Minister was given, even before the soldiers drove away with him.

Another group of soldiers was at that same time being led by a Major Donatus Okafor, to arrest or kill, if necessary, the country's most senior Army officer, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi. This group failed to get the officer. The General was reportedly not found in his official residence. Neither was he to be found in his office.

The three groups and several others, were working in concert, coordinated by a Major Wale Ademoyega. The groups were communicating with and updating Ademoyega by radio. A few days earlier, Ademoyega himself had sent out a single message.

The Message said \" Major Ademoyega will leave Lagos for a forty one days holiday and will arrive in Kaduna after fifty one days.\" It was a terse radio message, made seemingly so innocuous as to arouse no suspicions.

Indeed it went on the operations signaling radio of the Nigerian Army. Yet it was a call to mutiny by soldiers. It was actually a signal announcing the D-Day of Nigeria's first military coup.

Major Wale Ademoyega, one of the three leaders of Nigeria's first coup, sent from Lagos to their leader, Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, incidentally Nigeria's first trained military intelligence officer announcing the readiness of Lagos for the coup.

Major Nzeogwu was waiting in Kaduna for the signal to begin operations that will take care of the Kaduna end of what the uninitiated were told there and then, was fairly routine \"special internal security operation\" by the military.

The message in reality, was only saying a firm date has been set for the coup in Lagos. Translated, the message meant \"the coup will take off on the night of the 14 and continue until the morning of the 15th.\" The coupists had, at a prior meeting, all agreed that the coup had to be in the month of January. This and so much more has always been known about the coup on January 15, 1966.

This much that is known for sure, has been more of providence than by design. Only one of the three coup leaders lived long enough to tell the world how they planned the coup over a four-year period. In fact only two of the five Nigerian Army majors who led different aspects of the operations nationwide, on coup day, lived for more than two years after the coup.

The very rare eye witness accounts which told the story of the country's first coup, has been largely facilitated by the direct accounts of Major Ademoyega, the only survivor of the troika whose coup set off a political tsunami that changed the story of Nigeria for ever.

Indeed Major Ademoyega's two other compatriots, Majors Nzeogwu and Ifeajuna, lived for barely three years after January 1966 coup. Both died during Nigerian civil war which ensued less than 15 months after the January 1966 coup.

Ademoyega lived for more than 40 years after the event and was able to write probably the most vivid recount of the January 15, 1966 coup in his book \"Why we Struck\".

But 44 years after the coup attempt, a seemingly small piece of detail that Ademoyega's true to life account, failed to resolve conclusively is now coming to the fore. It is the issue of how Nigeria's first Prime Minister Sir. Tafawa Balewa died in the early hours of Saturday January 15, 1966.

An investigation by The Nation now suggests that the late Prime Minister may have indeed been alive up to at least the 20th day of January, 1966.

Nigeria's first Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa was not killed on coup day, January 15, 1966, contrary to widely-held belief on the country's first coup.

Also curiously, 44 years after his death, no official reports have conclusively given any answers to the many loopholes in the many stories the world has been told of how Nigeria's first and last Prime Minister died. A curiosity it has become, considering that newspaper reports at that time, even indicated that the Prime Minister may not have been shot to death on January 15, 1966 by the coupists.

The trigger was pulled three weeks ago. The Nation began investigations of a hint given at a personality interview with Dr. Mathew Mbu, Nigeria's first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Nigeria's first private digital archive, The Nation Databank started going round the country interviewing elder-statesmen and senior citizens for the country's first-ever multimedia biographical databank.

While responding to a plea to write his memoirs, at the end of a four hour video interview, Dr. Mbu said he was told by the renowned poet, Christopher Okigbo, who was very close to the late Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, that Prime Minister Balewa was not shot to death by the coupists, but died of an asthmatic attack while he was been held by coupists.

But revelations now coming from investigations by The Nation have been even more shocking. The indications are that there may have been high level official cover-up and deliberate disinformation in the last 44-years, to the effect that Prime Minister Balewa was brutally killed in the course of the coup.

Indeed, books have been published, some even by foreign authors, suggesting that the late Prime Minister may have been tied to stake and executed by soldiers in the course of the coup. Some other books even suggest that he was driven round Lagos and tortured before he was callously shot at close range. Yet for reasons still unknown, the Nigerian government has never made a comprehensive official disclosure of where, when and how the late Prime Minister died. Even official publications which would have thrown more light on the dark events of January 15, 1966 have been glibly, at the best.

Forty-four years after, none of the newspaper reports on the discovery of the body of the late prime Minister, have ever been controverted. The young journalist author then, who, with many villagers near Ota, on the Abeokuta express road, saw the body of the Prime Minister, around Iyana Ilogbo, before it was retrieved and flown to Bauchi for burial, has never been questioned by security agents, on the account he reported in the Sunday Times of the 23rd of January 1966. No reporter has ever been reprimanded or even questioned simply because there were many other corroborative \"eye witnesses\" among the villagers near the site of the discovery.

Similar reports were made in The New Nigeria of Tuesday January 25, 1966, suggesting that the late Prime Minister's body was intact as at January 21, 1966 when it was found in the forest beside a badly decomposed bodies of Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the then Finance Minister. The reports specifically said the body of the late Prime Minister was in a sitting position, propped by a kolanut tree. The reports said Chief Okotie-Eboh's body was badly decomposed and bullet riddled. Yet the Prime Minister was supposed to have been killed on the same day, six days earlier. It is inconceivable that a dead body will be in an open forest for six days without decomposing.

More confounding was the first report in the Sunday Times of January 23, 1966, that the Prime Minister's body was actually fresh instead of been decomposed. The report said the late Prime Minister's body had a white babanriga which was still \"snow white\". The report said the body had no marks, while the white toga, had no blood stains. Yet the Prime Minister body was supposed to have been bullet riddled and dumped in the open forest for at least six days prior to the discovery.

The Sunday Times in the front page report on January 23, 1966, carried the official announcement of the discovery of the Prime Minister's body. But the official announcement was completely silent on the possible manner of the Prime Ministers' death or time of death. Yet the same front page had an eye-witness report from a young roving reporter, Segun Osoba, which suggested that Prime Minister may have been alive for at least five days after he was supposed to have been killed by his abductors.

The young Sunday Times reporter then, is now Chief Segun Osoba, two-time civilian governor of Ogun state. Last week, in Lagos, the veteran journalist insisted that the body of Tafawa Balewa he saw about 7pm on Friday January 21, 1966 was a fresh body. That was what he reported then and which has never been controverted.

Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode was however vehement in his defence of seeming official position, which flies in the face of logic and newspaper reports of the period. He only agreed that it may be somewhat difficult to see believe the official position that an autopsy done on the body of the late Prime Minister confirmed that he was shot to death.

Last Tuesday, Fani-Kayode agreed with The Nation that it is \"really difficult to see how the supposedly badly decomposed body of the late prime Minister could have been evacuated to LUTH, Idi-Araba, some 30 kilometres from the site of discovery and an autopsy conducted on the same dismembered body, the body to be put together and packaged into a coffin and driven to Ikeja airport for the flight to Bauchi all within five hours\". That was last week.

At the weekend, Fani-Kayode said he has been reliably informed that the autopsy was indeed carried out, but not at LUTH. He said he has been reliably informed that the autopsy was carried out at the site where the body was found in the forest and at night, by a doctor from LUTH. It was after the autopsy that the body was prepared for a flight and taken under watch of heavily-armed soldiers to the Lagos Airport, for a flight that took off for Bauchi, at 12.30 am Saturday January 22, 1966, with only the pilot and the flight engineer as civilians.

Chief Osoba was however emphatic last Wednesday that he left the Iyana Ilogbo site where he saw the bodies of Balewa and Okotie-Eboh at 8pm, after spending about one hour interviewing people and generally looking around. And that no autopsies could ever have been carried out on the body of the PrimeMinister because the body was on the way to Bauchi by flight four hours later, considering the impossibility of the logistics such would have necessitated.

Investigations are continuing
has for example, confirmed that all newspaper reports on the discovery of the body of the late Prime Minister in January 1966, suggest that Prime Minister was probably alive until at least January 20, 1966.


Why is this coming out at this time?
Whether or not they killed him or not,the fact remains that he died as a result of the coup.

Another interesting twist to the story is the justification sought for his abduction,i.e the release of Awolowo from prison and handing him power. I see some intrigues here.
Surely after suffering comes enjoyment


The Awolowo angle is nothing new. All the key plotters: Ifeajuna, Nzeogwu, Gbulie, Ademoyega, Nwobosi etc, have all said they intended to release Awolowo and make him the new leader.

Ironsi foiled all that of course.


what i also don't understand is the continous publicity given
to the story after all these years.  i have no grudges against
setting the record straight, but its like the story trying to do
some exoneration and portraying that the death of sir balewa
is natural, which i see no difference, except if the coup has
not taken place in the first instance.

what happened in the 1966 coups needs no any form of
justification, it had happened.  police commissioner, ibrahim
ahmed babankowa was the officer who first saw the corpse
of sir tafawa balewa and his comments on wether balewa was
murdered or died naturally will be a first hand information. 
however, in an interview he granted to daily trust newspaper,
babankowa categorically said used the word "...well, the situation
was tense  and may be because I am a northern officer who had just seen
the corpse of his leaders murdered in cold blood. the use of the
word murdered in cold blood explains the situation he saw the corpse
of tafawa balewa.

femi fani-kayode, in his reaction to the news that tafawa balewa
was not killed but died of athma said "...Chief Matthew Mbu is a man that I
have tremendous respect and affection for and he is undoubtedly one of
our most eminent elder statesmen and nationalists. He is also a father to
me so I do find it difficult to say what I am about to say. Yet the truth
must be told no matter what and no matter whose ox is gored. And the truth
is that the elder statesman's assertion that Sir Tafawa Balewa, the former
Prime Minister of Nigeria, was not murdered by soldiers and that he in fact
died of asthma is a sordid and shameful attempt at distorting history.
It is nothing but historical revisionism. It is simply not true to say that
Ifejuana did not kill Tafawa Balewa and that the man just died of an asthma
attack after being abducted. The man was shot and his body was left to
decompose. It is not true to say that there was no autopsy report. There was.
After the body was found it was taken to LUTH and an autopsy was
conducted by the head of the pathology department in that hospital.
The findings were that he had been shot to death. Dr. Moses Majekodunmi,
who was the Minister of Health at the time, can confirm this. After murdering
Balewa in cold blood
on the Abeokuta road Ifejuana fled to Enugu because by
that time it was clear that the coup had failed"

i think we should stick to the original story that he was murdered just
as many other prominent nigerians were murdered, trying to distort
history for personal reasons should not be encouraged by any means.
"My mama always used to tell me: 'If you can't find somethin' to live for, you best find somethin' to die for" - Tupak


Not really sure why the revisionist stories are emerging. The people who recovered Balewa\'s body (including his ADC, police officers and the Madaki of Bauchi) have all testified that Balewa\'s corpse had terrible injuries from gunshot wounds. Every other victim in the Jan 66 coup was SHOT. Why would Balewa\'s death be mysteriously different?


I believe this will clear the air about Mbu's claim that Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa died of an Asthma attack.

How I Found Balewa's Body – Babankowa
WEDNESDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2010 23:21

Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed, popularly known as Babankowa, is a man of many parts. A politician, a prospective novelist and member of the traditional institution in Jigawa State, Babankowa is an adventurous retired police officer, trained in the United Kingdom, and rose to the rank of commissioner in the force. Early in his career, he was entrusted with many daunting and challenging tasks. Of all of them, one event that has remained indelible in his memory is his discovery of the corpse of late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was assassinated and "abandoned to rot like a worthless goat," as he put it. Babankowa is every reporter's delight. In this interview, he spoke with SALIHU OTHMAN ISAH in Kano.

Give us an insight into your brief history. Summarize it for us please?

I have a very straight-forward history, because I didn't do so many things. I concentrated in my career. I was born in Ringim, in present day Jigawa State on the 7th of May, 1937. I did my elementary school then in Ringim and I came to Kano and did my Middle School then, not secondary. And at the time I finished Middle School, they introduced secondary; then I continued and did my secondary school in Rumfa College here in Kano. That was why I spent nine years in Rumfa College where I did my Middle School and secondary education after which I joined the police. While I was in the police, I went to Continuing Education Centre, University of Lagos, and studied for my degree in Public Administration. Then, I went to UK and attended detective training at Wakefield in Yorkshire. Then I went to the United States to the School of Management. I got my Certificate in Management and then I served in the Nigeria Police from January 1960 to December 1983. I progressed within the police from Cadet Inspector to Commissioner of Police. And my period in the force was very eventful as I have mentioned earlier. I can write two volumes of books on it.

You are passionate about Ambassador Mathew Mbu's altercation over his recent account on what killed late Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Your own account was that M. T Mbu's claims that he died of asthma is distorted, saying he was shot alongside three others in Lagos. It is on record that you first discovered the dead bodies on a bush path. Why do you think he will come up now with such a claim at this point of national history?

Well, I read Mbu's story with great shock. This is because I did not expect that a person of Ambassador Mathew Mbu's caliber to come up with this kind of confusing account or conclusion on how the late Prime Minister, Alhaji (Sir.) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa died. I know Ambassador Mbu is not a medical doctor and was not a personal physician to the late Prime Minister, because I know the late PM. I have worked with them. I worked with the Sarduana (of Sokoto, Alhaji (Sir.) Ahmadu Bello as his security officer and I know the late Prime Minister very well; and I know who his doctors were. How he came to this conclusion, I don't know. But I am afraid Mr. Mbu may be sued by the family of the late Prime Minister for this serious allegation. It is there in the books of history that this gentleman, along with other officers and along with the late Minister of Finance in the person of Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh and prominent army officers like (Colonel) Kur Mohammed, Colonel Abugu, Brigadier) Ibrahim Maimalari, were all shot and killed. I am a living witness. I am not talking about what I heard from somebody.

Now do you have any documentary evidence to prove your submission that these Nigerians were killed?

I have my diary of 1966 in which I recorded all my movements while on my official duty. And it is there. The incidence of the coup which took place on Friday night-Saturday morning of 15th January; and until the discoveries of these dead bodies on the 21st of January which was exactly one week after these people were shot. I'm a living witness. I saw these vans, three vehicles; a Peugeot 403, a Land Rover and an army truck containing soldiers that passed in front of my roadblock. Of course, we were carrying on 'Operation Wetie'; we were trying to kill it. If you saw the army you would think they were there on normal patrol to assist us. So, I never, never suspected that these army vehicles were carrying these victims. Some few kilometers away from my roadblock, they took them into the bush and they shot them dead; and left them there. We did not recover them until a week later when I gathered information and I followed. I went on patrol with my people and we discovered these dead bodies decomposing. Even though, they were decomposing, the late Tafawa Balewa was wearing white gown and you can see bullet wounds on this gown. Though, he was decomposing and worms, maggots and so on, were coming out from his body, I could still recognize him.

The bullet wounds, how many were they? Did you bother to count?

No, no, no, no. I cannot remember because I didn't count them. But I saw bullet wounds.

As a crack police officer, you would know it was not a direct straight shot.....

Obviously, not one shot either?

It may have been a multiple shot....?

No, no, no, no. it was a rapid shot; a rapid shot, you know - several shots into the body of somebody. And he was not the only person who was shot in that place. I have told you, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh was there.

This your diary, do you still have it?

Yes, till tomorrow. I still have it.

You were saying the family of the late Tafawa Balewa may sue Chief Mathew Mbu. If this happens and the court asks you to present the diary as documentary evidence, will you be forthcoming? Will you have it to present? I have it. I can even show you. I can bring it for you to see now. (He dashed into a room and came out with an old, but well kept blue coloured diary with the inscription, 'Official Dairy 1966').

You mean you have been keeping this dairy for like forty-years now? (Expressing surprise)?

0' yes. I am a policeman. All the record of my service is still with me. Wherever I served, whatever I did, is documented in my diary and I have all my diaries here with me. They are in my office here.

Since you have been keeping this document, particularly this diary; did it ever occur to you that one day; it will come handy with a situation like this?

The reason why I have been keeping records is that I was thinking one day, I would write a book. And these diaries would help me, will remind me of certain things which probably I have forgotten but is there. So, and maybe, people have been coming - the media, you know, to interview me on certain things which I recorded in my diaries. For example, I was heavily involved in the Tiv riot; I was involved in this 'Operation Wetie'. I was involved in Orile-Agege disturbances. I was involved in Fela Ransome-Kuti's Kalakuta Republic demolition. I was the pioneer person who introduced odd and even (plate) numbers in the traffic of Lagos state, which you know sanitized the traffic of Lagos. I was in-charge of the National Theatre during Festac 77. So, with all these important things, you don't expect me to throw away my records, my documents without keeping them. I am in the process of writing a book, and I am sure this book will fascinate people.

You are hoping it's going to be a bestseller?

Yes, because it will make revelations of things which some people who weren't even born then will know. So, what I am saying is that I am praying for God to spare my life, to complete this book and then it will come out and you will love it.

When do we start seeing these books?

Well, you see, my time is limited. One, you know I have been contributing in your newspaper (LEADERSHIP on Fridays). That consumes a lot of my time. Secondly, I am in politics and that is also consumes a lot of time. You have to give your attention to so many people. So, when I have time I do some writing and then I stop. But there are people helping me now to do some aspect of the job.

We learnt that you were ordered to be detained when you unraveled your discovery of the corpses. Who ordered this detention and for what offence?

Now, I cannot tell you what offence I have committed, but I can say, maybe, my offence is that, why should I discover the dead bodies. They want them to ecompose and vanish without a trace; without knowing where the bodies are and so on. So when I came to the Force Headquarters to see the Inspector General of Police, the then Head of State, Major- General Aguiyi Ironsi was in the police headquarters - that was his office. He refused to go to the Army Headquarters; because he feared he might be killed in the crossfire.

So, he resorted to staying in the police headquarters where he can get protection from the police. And the headquarters was surrounded with armoured cars. So, when I went to see Alhaji Kam Salem; to my surprise I saw him seating together with Gen. Ironsi. And I was interviewed by Gen. Ironsi himself, who spoke to me even in Hausa. He asked me whether I knew the Prime Minister. I said yes, I knew the Prime Minister very well, because I was a security officer to Sarduana of Sokoto. And since I was working with the Sarduana of Sokoto, I should know the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister normally comes to Kaduna to see the Sarduana and we normally go to Lagos to meet the Prime Minister. So I told him I know him very well and he is the one.

His cap was there, his carbi (prayer chaplet) was there. It was Ramadan period. He was praying when they picked him up in the night. He was praying. So, he had his tasbaha and his cap. He was in his white robe. I know him very well and his head didn't decompose. So I could see the face, everything.

That was one week after he was killed with the others?

Yes. One week after they were shot. Exactly one week.

What were your feelings that day when you discovered that the Head of State (Government), the Prime Minister was lying on the ground like a common man dead?

Well, in the eyes of God we are all equal. But a person of his own status to be thrown away like a dead goat or a dead dog in the bush like that, it touched me very much. I was really moved. In fact, I shed tears when I saw his body. I cried.

For how long was your detention?

No, you see, the detention was a brief one, because there was an intervention by Alhaji Kam Salem who was then the acting Inspector General of Police. He intervened when Ironsi said I should be taken to Naval Base in Apapa and be detained. Alhaji Kam Salem came to my rescue by saying that he will take me and detain me in the police cell and when I am required by the Head of State he will produce me; and Ironsi accepted that. So, I was taken to Yaba Police Station and detained in the cell. But only briefly because in that very night they came and picked me up from the cell and we went to the scene where these dead bodies were. I think you understand me.

But why do you think they came for you in the night to go and check the 'scene of crime' as you will refer to it in police parlance?

Yes, because they want to do it all in the night. It is quieter. If it is during the day, it will attract attention of people and you know, at that time, the country was in a volatile situation. Everybody doesn't know what will happen next. Already, there was 'Operation Wetie' where people threw petrol on other people and start matches on them and they got burnt down completely. That was in the Western Region, then; and this problem started from the Western Region House of Assembly where they hit themselves with chairs and trouble erupted. Then, there weren't sessions you know. They just started doing this 'Operation Wetie'. They will be splashing petrol on top of someone and lit matches on it and that was it.

Even though I learnt from history that you were a very brave cop, as you were being taken away from your cell, what went through your mind? Were you not scared that you were being led to be killed?

Yes and no. When they shouted where am I, when I was inside the cell, I felt okay they are going to take me this night and go to shoot me. But when I came out of the cell and came out of the police station, I saw the Madawakin of Bauchi who I know. I saw the Aide de camp (ADC) to the late Prime Minister. I saw Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, the Danmasanin Kano. When I saw these three people I said ha, they want me to take them to the venue where I saw these dead bodies. So, I came back to my sense that I am not going to be killed; that I am being led or I am going to lead them to the place where the dead bodies are. And let me tell you one fascinating thing. It was around 11-11:30am since I left my policemen to guard this place, the place where the dead bodies were. We came back around 2-30am, the following morning; these policemen were still there waiting for me. You can imagine, in the bush with dead bodies, including the Prime Minister of the country. You stay in the bush guarding dead bodies. No telephone, no nothing. Even ordinary camera, we don't have good cameras that time. Otherwise, I should have taken photos. If it were now, even with my telephone (GSM) you can take photographs and record everything. But that time, the civilization has not blown up to this proportion where we are now. This is the situation.

Like how many people, army and police officers led you to the 'scene of crime'?

I told you; already there were the ADC of the late Prime Minister, Mr. Kaftan. Then there was Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, the Danmasanin of Kano. There was the Madawakin of Bauchi who is in-law to the late Prime Minister. He is late now. There were doctors, about two or three doctors. There were military officers who I do not even know. You know in the night, they were in uniform and so on. Maybe to give cover, escort us as we were going into the bush to recover these dead bodies. These doctors they came with coffins. So, the dead people were put inside the coffins. When they put the Prime Minister in the coffin, I scratched his name, bubakar on top of his coffin so that he would not be mixed up with the others.

Did you do this with your finger or with..... (Interrupted)?

No. I used a bayonet. I removed bayonet from the gun of one of my policemen. I used it to scratch Abubakar on the coffin.

When you people got there, did you feel the pulse of the people, the atmosphere at the scene?  Who recognized him first among them?

No. The Danmasanin Kano and the Madawakin of Bauchi. They all saw him. They saw his cap. They saw his tasbaha. They saw everything. So they know him. They recognized him. They saw his face. You can see the face. We had tele-lamps. We brought tele-lamps along with us into the bush. You know tele-lamps, they don't use it nowadays. It is a very powerful lamp with a mantle inside into which you pump air and it gives very bright light. And remember I told you the head was not decomposed. It was the body because of the intestine and other things. From the face, you can see it belonged to Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa. You could say this body belong to this so, so person. You could differentiate who is Tafawa Balewa, who is Abugu, who is Okotie-Eboh, who is (Kur) Mohammed.

Now with these impression in your mind, juxtaposed with Chief M.T Mbu's asthma theory, in this era when there is obviously confrontation between the Southern part of the country against the North over zoning. Do you think there is any political underline over his claim?

Well, I should think so. But why should they link it with the death of the late Prime Minister? Ambassador Mbu is a thankless person. He was not up to thirty years of age when he was made an Ambassador. In fact, he was made the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from Nigeria and he was given that position by the late Prime Minister. Look at him today saying the late Prime Minister died of asthma attack when he is not a doctor. He was not his personal physician. That time he was only about thirty years or thirty years plus of age and he's not a medical officer. He is not his personal physician. Why should he come to this awful conclusion? Who told him? Who told him that even the late Prime Minister was suffering from asthma? I was very bitter when I read his views in the newspaper.

Apart from this media exposition to the fact that you are trying to correct history, what else do Nigerians expect from you as per putting the records straight?

Well, I have said what I know for which I have the records. I am not saying this just like a story. I have records to back it up. Whatever I have said, I have records. And all these people I have mentioned their names, they have all passed on, except one person. That is Danmasanin of Kano, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule who is still living, healthy and hearty. You can talk to him.

This forty-four years old diary in which you record events when you were in the police force as an Assistant Inspector, how do you hope to prolong its lifespan, in view of these new developments?

Let me correct you first. I was not Assistant Inspector then as published in the media. I was Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). I was ASP in-charge of a police unit on operations duty in Western Nigeria during this incident.

How do you hope to preserve the documents that you have as proof of your account in future, especially since they are cherished documents?

I have a stake and you know for documents, you can have a document of a hundred years old. If it is well kept, you can still have it. So, I decided to keep it. I told you, I am trying to write a book and these documents will help me, because they are my records. Even my files; all my files while I was in service, I will bring them. I can still reach them.

I have gone through some portions of the diary, particularly that area that affects the discovery of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa's corpse alongside others. I observed the meticulous manner you penned the dates, time- minutes and hours and locations. Do you think this articulate record keeping and policing still exist in the force?

Where? Are we policing now in this country? We are not policing. They don't even have the diaries to start with. So, if you don't have diary how do you record events. During my time, during my days in the police, once you are even a constable, you will have what is called a notebook. It's not a diary, it is a notebook. You put it in your pocket and you record everything and it is an official document.

Is it different from the incident file, the incident notebook you have on the counters today?

Exactly. That is the station diary, an incident diary and routine diary you are talking about. But this one is called police notebook. You always put it in your pocket. Whatever happens you bring it out, record it and put it back in your pocket. Then, once you are an Inspector, then you are issued with an official diary. In the official diary you record all your movements, particularly official movements.
Surely after suffering comes enjoyment