The Reason Why General IBB Overthrow General Buhari
The Reason Why General IBB Overthrow General Buhari
History – The Reason Why General IBB Overthrow General Buhari
Buhari’s overthrow is one of the most dramatic in the history of Nigeria. He was eased out by the same set of officers who propped him into power (a historical parallel with Gowon). According to the analysis done by Naiwu Osahon, General IBB and his clique had to get Buhari and his rigid boys out of the way.
They had to shift back their planned day of the coup to August 1985 when news started filtering out that they General IBB and co were already pencilled for retirement. They would wait for an inauspicious moment and grab Buhari by the jugular. On the 27th of August 1985, millions of Muslim faithfuls in Nigeria were celebrating the Odun Ileya (Eid el Kabir) and the stern Idiabon was safely away in Saudi Arabia on Lesser Pilgrimage (Umrah).
There was a public holiday and the national mood was festive. No one expected General IBB and his boys, or anyone for that matter to stage an ouster at such a period. They were wrong. Instead of General IBB to be enjoying fried agbo (mutton) with his beautiful wife and kids at home, he summoned his boys at their various formations all over the country -it was time to make history.
David Bonaventure Mark, the former third most powerful man in the nation by virtue of his office as the Senate President of the Federal Republic was the military governor of General IBB’s Niger State at that time and he provided enough cover for General IBB during the coup plotting. As the army chief, General IBB would visit Niger State on ‘routine inspection tours’, and later, he and other generals would meet clandestinely to hatch their plot on how to remove Buhari. Osahon would also state that General IBB and co planned the coup that brought Buhari in so as to destroy the evidence of the NNPC’s $2.8 billion that suddenly developed wings and transformed into a peregrine falcon (and punish the whistle-blowers).
At a point, when Buhari hinted at stepping down and Idiagbon insisted he would take over, General IBB disagreed saying the throne was his, citing experience in plotting coups amongst other things. The SMC was divided. To worsen matters, when General IBB proposed that Haliru Akilu, just returning from a course from India be made the new head of the Secret Service, Idiagbon spurned his proposal and even went ahead to select a new head for the agency without consulting General IBB, who was the Chief of Army Staff. The stage was set for a showdown.
Then the Gloria Okon issue came up, she was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport with cocaine, and upon being interrogated, she pointed at two top- ranking members of the SMC. Trouble was brewing. While that was on, the late Chief MKO Abiola imported a massive consignment of newsprint (a contraband) into the nation, and Idiagbon had no option but to impound the newsprint worth millions. Again, the Buhari/Idiagbon regime had just made another very powerful enemy (some reports indicate that MKO dropped millions of dollars to fund the Buhari overthrow).
As if the turn of events was not bad enough, one Ikuomola was caught while attempting to fly out with a huge batch of cocaine. He was interrogated and in the process, implicated one of the Dantatas, one of Nigeria’s most influential families. Both of them were sentenced to death. Immense pressure was then put upon the SMC by the Dantatas that the sentence be commuted to at least a life sentence. Later on, the King of Saudi Arabia, Fahd ibn Abdulaziz ibn Al Saud would invite Idiagbon as a Special Guest (MKO, Shehu Yar’adua and the Dantatas were said to have arranged the whole thing using their immense influence to convince King Saud to invite Idiagbon to the Kingdom, (hope you get the whole plan? General IBB baited MKO with the promise of his contesting for the presidency in a little while) . Idiagbon, a man of integrity, was deeply honoured by the invitation, and he would leave for the KSA with a team of his supporters in the SMC, and that included the late soldier-poet, Major General Mamman Jiya Vatsa. With Idiagbon out of the country on Umrah, with his supporters, the coast was clear for the gap-toothed General General IBB.
It was time to strike. And they struck. Later, the putschists would celebrate their success and later met at Bonny Camp on how they would go about selecting a new leader. The meeting was a very colourful one as all the guests arrived in their full combat attire, kitted from head to toe. You can guess those present: General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida Major-General Sani Abacha Brigadier-General Joshua Dogonyaro Brigadier-General Aliyu Mohammed (Head of the Military Intelligence) Navy Commodore Murtala Hamman- Yero Nyako (now Governor of Adamawa State, former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and owner of one of the largest dairy and mango farms in Nigeria) Lt. Col. Tanko Ayuba (Commander, Nigerian Army Signal Corps) Lt. Col. Ahmed Abdullahi (Communications Minister) Lt. Col John Nanzip Shagaya (Commander, 9th Mechanized Brigade, Ikeja, Lagos, later Senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District) Major Abubakar Umar (Administrator, Federal Housing Authority) Lt. Col. Anthony Ukpo NB: Other General IBB ‘boys’ included Mohammed Buba Marwa, Chris Garuba, Lawan Gwadabe, Joshua Madaki, John Mark Inienger, Tunde Ogbeha and Ndong Essiet Nkanga.
General IBB had taught them as an instructor back in the Nigerian Defence Academy or was their superior when he was in charge of the armoured tanks. Idiagbon, far away in the desert kingdom of Arabia was livid with rage. Against all advice (not even an offer of a lifetime retirement in a posh mansion in the oil-rich nation could convince the Kwara General to stay back), he thanked his hosts and headed back to Nigeria where he was hailed as a hero and courageous soldier. But trust the General IBB clique, Idiagbon was immediately arrested at the airport and put under house arrest. Vatsa, who was part of the Idiagbon team to Saudi Arabia came back to meet his friend and old classmate as the new Head of State. Vatsa pledged his loyalty to the new government then tendered his resignation.
General IBB rejected his resignation and appointed Vatsa the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. You know the rest of the story. Immediately after General IBB overthrew his chief, he knew the danger of letting him loose or walk around freely. So, without wasting time, General IBB’s boys surrounded Dodan Barracks, arrested Buhari and flung him into jail (his personal property was looted), promptly locking him up the very same day he deposed him. His ADC, Jokolo, whom he had sent to the Ikeja Cantonment to act as a sentry got the beating of his life. From the 27th of August, 1985 till the 14th of December, 1988, Buhari would languish in jail in Benin City, Edo State. His marriage would not survive his 40 months of incarceration.