1966: ASSASSINATION OF ALHAJI (SIR) ABUBAKAR TAFAWA BALEWA
“Who’s there?” A voice queried from inside. However, Ifeajuna replied by kicking the doors open with his boots.
“You’re under arrest sir,” Ifeajuna said, pointing his gun at the Prime Minister, who looked startled. “Get up sir, we don’t have a lot of time.”
“Alright,” the Prime Minister replied gently, “allow me to dress up.”
He put on a white flowing robe with white trousers, a pair of slippers and his prayer beads. Without fear and a disciplined face, he trudged out of the room and the residence gently as Ifeajuna and his soldiers accompanied him with pointed guns.
When they reached the parked vehicles, Ezedigbo had arrested the Finance Minister, Chief Okotie-Eboh, and had tossed him like a bag of groundnuts into the back of the 3-Ton truck while the Prime Minister was assisted into the backseat of Ifeajuna’s luxurious car, a red Mercedes Benz, as the convoy drove off to the rendezvous.
Some few kilometers to their rendezvous, the Prime Minister became restless and was muttering to himself as he rattled his prayer beads. Okafor hinted Ifeajuna of the situation who quickly slammed the brakes and came out of the car.
“Are you alright sir?” Ifeajuna asked the Prime Minister as he opened the side door. “Or would you like some fresh air?”
To Tafawa-Balewa, it was a rhetorical question and the decision to answer or not rested on him. Without answering the Major, he gently alighted from the car and ambled towards the darkness as Ifeajuna watched anxiously, oblivious to what the Prime Minister was up to.
Then from a slow walk, to a pace and a sprint, the Prime Minister dashed for the darkness. Ifeajuna did not bother to pursue. Quickly, he grabbed his gun from the car, cocked it and aimed for the fleeing Prime Minister whose white outfit contrasted the darkness and conspicuously gave him away.
The “revolution” had failed and the Prime Minister had become a liability to their movement anyway. The Major shot sporadically at the fleeing figure sending the tranquility of the darkness to a bustle of gunfire like the crackle of burning dried leaves.
Tafawa-Balewa fell as Ifeajuna stared in horror at the darkness whether he got his target. The Golden Voice of Africa had been silenced.
Quickly, he moved towards the still body of the Prime Minister and after confirming he was dead, dragged him to a tree trunk and rested the body in a seating position with his clothing still intact.
Then he and Okafor brought out Largema’s corpse from the boot of the car and laid it down beside Tafawa-Balewa’s body. Having realised the coup had failed on their part, they sped, en route Abeokuta-Sagamu, towards Enugu in the East, which was nearly 450 kilometres away.