Murtala Mohammed

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Murtala Ramat Mohammed (born November 8, 1938 in Kano ; † February 13, 1976 in Lagos ) was President of Nigeria from 1975 to 1976 .


Mohammed joined the Nigerian army in 1958 . He received his military training in Great Britain , including at Sandhurst . As a lieutenant , he took part in the United Nations operation in Congo in 1962 . After that he served in telecommunications units.

His uncle, Alhaji Inua Wade, became Minister of Defense in 1965. He opposed the military regime of Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi , which had ruled since a coup on January 15, 1966, and was the leader of another coup on July 29, 1966, which put an end to it. The background to this was the conflict between northern Nigeria, from which Mohammed came, and the south, represented by Ironsi. He was in charge of the important capture of Ikeja airport . He initially planned to use the coup as a first step to split the predominantly Islamic north from Nigeria, but then abandoned this intention. The result of the coup was a new military government under General Yakubu Gowon .

In the Biafra War that began shortly afterwards, he was commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. After the reconquest of the city of Benin in September and the Asaba massacre in October 1967, in addition to Biafras troops, Mohammed was also wrongly accused of stealing 5.6 million US dollars from a bank there. In 1968 he was promoted and transferred to colonel , and in 1971 he became brigadier general .


On the anniversary of the last coup, the government of Gowon , who had just left for a summit of the Organization for African Unity in Kampala , was overthrown on July 29, 1975, he himself became President and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and launched a democratization program. An administrative reform increased the number of Nigerian states from 12 to 19.

On February 13, 1976, just six months after he came to power, he was fatally injured in an otherwise failed coup attempt on his way to work in Lagos. The putschists occupied the radio station, but quickly gave up. After the attack, some suspects were arrested and executed. His deputy, Olusegun Obasanjo , succeeded him the following day and, as planned, handed over power to a civilian government in 1979. An important decision of his presidency was to move the capital from Lagos to Abuja .

Because of his far-reaching reform program, which began during the oil boom, in the “good years” in Nigeria's history , Mohammed is still popular long after his death.


  • After his death, Miriam Makeba wrote a song about him.
  • The international airport of Lagos in Ikeja was renamed Murtala Mohammed International Airport in his honor .
  • The Mercedes in which he was shot is exhibited in the National Museum of Lagos.
  • His portrait is on the 20 Naira displayed -Schein.

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