16 things to know about Gen Murtala Muhammed

Today marks the 42nd anniversary after the death of Murtala Muhammed. Here are quick things to know about him:

  • Murtala Rufai Ramat Muhammed was born on November 8, 1938 and died on February 13, 1976.


  • He was the military ruler, Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria from 1975 until his assassination in 1976. He spent a total of 200 days in office.


  • He is one of eleven children of Risqua Muhammed and Uwani Rahamat.


  • He is an alumnus of Barewa College in Zaria.


  • Murtala Muhammed joined the Nigerian Army in 1958, and  was trained as an officer cadet at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in England.


  • Murtala was the Minister for communications (then called Federal Commissioner for Communications) under General Yakubu Gowon’s regime.


  • Murtala  took power as the Military Head of State On 29th July 1975, when General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown while attending the 12th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Kampala, Uganda.


  • Colonel Joseph Garba’s broadcast announced the overthrow of General Yakubu Gowon which brought in Murtala.


  • As head of state, Muhammed put in place plans to build a new Federal Capital Territory due to Lagos being overcrowded. He set up a panel headed by Justice Akinola Aguda, which chose the Abuja area as the new capital ahead of other proposed locations.


  • He created seven more states in February 1976: Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Imo, Niger, Ogun, and Ondo. This brought the total number of states in Nigeria to nineteen in 1976.


  • He decreased the number of troops in the armed forces from 250,000 to 150,000, as part of his reorganization and demobilization campaign after the civil war.


  •  Assassination: On Friday 13 February 1976, Muhammed set off for work along his usual route on George Street. Shortly after 8 a.m. his Mercedes Benz car traveled slowly in the infamous Lagos traffic near the Federal Secretariat at Ikoyi in Lagos and a group of soldiers (members of an abortive coup led by Dimka) emerged from an adjacent petrol station, ambushed the vehicle and assassinated Muhammed.[3]


Car in which Murtala Muhammed was assassinated.

  • Murtala Muhammed was killed, aged 37, along with his Aide-De-Camp (ADC), Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa.


  • The only visible sign of protection was a pistol carried by his orderly, therefore making his assassination an easy task.


  • He was succeeded by the Chief of Staff, Supreme HQ Olusegun Obasanjo, who completed his plan of an orderly transfer to civilian rule by handing power to Shehu Shagari on October 1, 1979.


  • Today, Muhammed’s portrait adorns the 20 Naira note and Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos is named in his honor.TLzn97ijlJ4oUigvvkaCF3Oj


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