Exercise Damisa

“Exercise Damisa”: That’s the name of the clandestine training exercise Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu used in getting the soldiers ready for the January 16, 1966 coup. As a chief instructor at NMTC, Kaduna as he was fondly called had to come with a veiled way in getting the boys ready for what would become the 1st Military coup in Nigeria. 6 years after the country’s Independence

Unknown to the soldiers, Kaduna was prepping them for a “Military Exercise” to overthrow the government then.

Born on 26 February 1937 in the city of Kaduna to an Igbo family He spoke Hausa fluently, even too fluently than most Northerns. A devoted catholic and a very Disciplined man, a strong- willed and incorruptible too. The idea of saving Nigeria from the corrupt politicians of the day has been a source of concern for him way before 1966.

On the Night of the D-Day, “Exercise Damisa” was a good to go. The soldiers were moved into position, and they have no idea that their actions was about to change the course of the country forever. The Premier Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto house has been on surveillance for weeks.

The attack started, an anti-tank weapon was used on the Sardauna’s residence and it set the entire building on fire. Nzeogwu finally saw the Sardauna hiding among his wives. In anger and rage, he shot him and one of wives who used her body to protect her husband. The Sardauna’s personal faithful bodyguard “Zarunmi” was also killed. He died fighting and protecting his master.

The coup was repressed. Nzeogwu was later arrested in Lagos on 18 January 1966. He was held in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos before being transferred to Aba Prison in the Eastern Region where he was released in March 1967 by Ojukwu.

On 29 July 1967, Nzeogwu - who had been promoted to the rank of a Biafran Lt. Colonel - was trapped in an ambush near Nsukka while conducting a night reconnaissance operation against federal troops of the 21st battalion under Captain Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi

He was killed in action and his corpse was subsequently identified, however his sister insisted he killed himself to avoid being humiliated by the federal troops. He was buried at the military cemetery in Kaduna with full military honours

He was 30 years old!

LION reporters

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