By Femi Fani-Kayode

This is why it is so important for us to learn about our history properly, to read as widely as possible and to do our own research before we just accept and believe whatever anyone may tell us about our past. 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. When he got to Enugu he met with Christopher Okigbo who he was very friendly with and Okigbo smuggled him out of the country from where he fled to Ghana. He later came back to Biafra and both he and Okigbo fought on the Biafran side during the war. Okigbo was killed at the war front and Ifejuana was executed by Ojukwu for plotting a coup against him too. Mbu is basing his assertion on reports that he was given by Christopher Okigbo. One wonders what he expected Okigbo to say other than that because not only was Ifejuana his best friend but he was also in the know and part of the conspiracy during that first coup. Of course he would not want to admit to anyone that Balewa was murdered by his best friend and co-conspirator.

These men were cold blooded murderers and cowards and we must not let Mbu or anyone else attempt to revise history before our very eyes. Ifejuana not only shot Balewa after allowing him to pray but he also mutilated his body and left it to rot in the bush by the roadside. We owe it to Balewa, his family, all the others that were killed, abducted and brutalised on the night of Jan. 15th 1966 by Major Nzeogwu and his fellow mutineers and murderers that night, the Nigerian people, our children and posterity to let the truth be known. I also question the motives of Chief Mbu for telling this strange and ridiculous story which is nothing but a lie 44 years after the event. The next thing that people like that will tell us is that Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief S.L. Akintola, Brigadier Maimalari, Brigadier Ademulegun and his 8 month pregnant wife, Col. Largema, Col. Sodeinde, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh , Col. Yakubu Pam and all the others that were cut short that night died of the flu. This is so unfair and so disrespectful to the dead and their families. My own father was almost killed that night too and he was forced to witness the brutal murder of his friend S.L. Akintola, the former Premier of the west, by this same gang of wicked and heartless thugs. I remember the events of that time very well and I personally witnessed the events of what happened in our house when the soldiers came for my father too and took him away. If no-one else will tell the truth and set the record straight about these events, I certainly will. It was what those boys did that night that led to the northern officers counter/revenge coup of July 1966 in which General Ironsi, Colonel Fajuyi and 300 Igbo army officers were killed and it also led to the terrible pogroms of Igbo civilia

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