Friday the thirteenth February 1976; this date means nothing to 99.9% of the total populace. To the staying .1 it was the date Nigerians saw their expectation of good administration snatched from them. Muritala Mohammed was killed in rush hour gridlock in and Lt. Col Dimka became public enemy number one. Meet 1976’s villain:
Buka Suka Dimka is a man unclaimed by any land, Plateau or state. He has no birth record (a genuine holy messenger of death who dropped out the skies), life for him started with his commissioning into the Nigerian Army as a Second-Lieutenant from Portsea’s Australian Army Officer Cadet School in 1963.
The leader of the Young Revolutionaries masterminded 76’s coup a day to St. Valentine’s Day. He more likely than not told his Afikpo lover “we will have tomorrow’s dinner in the state house.” This coup was seen as unnecessary in the eyes of the public. Gowon was overthrown in a bloodless coup, Muritala’s approval ratings were soaring.
“The new head of state rejected the vanity of the state house.”
“Muritala is trimming the corrupt military and civil service.”
“He will put Nigeria first.”
“He will return power to bloody civilians.”
For all Muritala’s well meaning goal he was set out toward a similar destiny as Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. There is a bullet/cross for every voice speaking for the good of the people. For what reason did Dimka choose to deify a scantily clad Head of State?
- His Reason: Dimka claimed that contrary to what he sold the public, Muritala’s government was corrupt, indecisive, feeble and condoned maladministration (how do we trust a man with B.S for initials). This experienced coupist as usual had the messiah complex, swooping in to save Nigerians. Trouble is our hero lived long enough.
- Shehu Yar’Adua’s Perspective: In his broadcast following the coup, this Major General stated that the intent of the coup was to restore Gowon to power. The board of inquiry had irrefutable evidence that Dimka met exiled Gowon in London and received his blessings for the coup. The Daily Times printed “For all practical purposes, the intention of Lt Col Dimka was to restore General Gowon and the ousted state governors to power.” Gowon never got tried.
- Karma’s Tool: If you have an international airport named after you and your Mercedes Benz in the National Museum you probably done a great deal of good in the course of your life. Numerous good men have done very bad things and Muritala was the same. A man who had led two coups (bloody and bloodless) got a taste of the porridge he brazenly served. Dimka was simply karma’s instrument, Ironsi or the many souls lost in Asaba Massacre reaching out from Hades. He who lives by the gun shall perish by the gun.
- The Other Reason: An excerpt from John E. Reinhardt’s Department of State Briefing Memorandum August 18, 1975 reads
“4. Maintain discreet, friendly state ties with Gowon though avoiding commitments. After another coup or two, probably bloody, Gowon may seem more and more to be the indispensable military leader or at least the only acceptable one.”
This is all that is required to invoke CIA type speculations on the death of a Head of State who put Nigeria’s needs first.
We may never know who pulled the trigger but we know who was responsible or who accepted responsibility (We can only make assumptions as to who was responsible for he who was responsible). We never know what happens in the corridors of power, we can’t ask the walls and many men have carried secrets to their graves.
After Danjuma & Babangida squashed the coup, Dimka became a national outlaw and led the army on a 3 week man hunt. He must have regretted not reading Clement Yildar & Dauda Usman’s book- How To Disappear as he was nabbed after being spotted in Ebonyi during a tryst.
The Nigerian Army obtained his confession then publicly killed him on the 15th of May 1976 at Kirikiri in Lagos. He was survived by no one. His only legacy being the failed 1976 coup.
Dimka’s 1976 Take-Over Speech
“This is Lt. Col. B. Dimka of the Nigerian Army calling. I bring you good tidings. Murtala Muhammed’s deficiency has been detected. His government is now overthrown by the young revolutionaries. All the 19 military governors have no powers over the states they now govern. The states affairs will be run by military brigade commanders until further notice. All commissioners are sacked, except for the armed forces and police commissioners who will be redeployed. All senior military officers should remain calm in their respective spots. No divisional commanders will issue orders or instructions until further notice. Any attempt to foil these plans from any quarters will be met with death. You are warned, it is all over the 19 states. Any acts of looting or raids will be death. Everyone should be calm. Please stay by your radio for further announcements. All borders, air and sea ports are closed until further notice. Curfew is imposed from 6am to 6pm. Thank you. We are all together.”