FLASHBACK: ‘Ina Sardauna?’ — How Ahmadu Bello was Assassinated 6 Years after Independence

In an arranged incursion, military officers led by Major Patrick Chuwuma Nzeogwu, scouted the residence of Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and assassinated him in a cold blood.

Sardauna was killed on January 15 1966, alongside one of his wives.

The incident which marked the first military coup in Nigeria’s history also cost the lives of other figures in the country’s first republic, Including Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first and only Nigeria’s Prime Minister.

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Prior to the coup, Nzeogwu was posted to the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna, where he became a chief instructor which gave him an advantage in carrying out his heinous plans.

He organized a two-night exercise tagged “Operation Damisa” to train soldiers in new fighting techniques. This was nodded to by authorities, unaware of his intentions. Time was already against them when they realised it was a coup.

On that day, Nzeogwu led a group of soldiers to the official residence of Sir Ahmadu. He was not in the main house but upstairs with his three wives.

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Nzeogwu and his motivated soldiers rained bullets on guards mounting the house including other persons

“Ina Sardauna? Where is the Sardauna?” Nzeogwu screamed at the guards.

“If you won’t tell me where your master is, I’ll kill you,” Nzeogwu threatened them in Hausa.

The men succumbed and led Nzeogwu to the building. Three other soldiers followed Nzeogwu while the rest returned to the staging area.

“Where is Sardauna?” He shouted again.


“I am Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and the Premier of the North,” the hero praised himself. 

With those words, Nzeogwu shot thrice at him — one bullet struck his jaw, penetrated his lower abdomen and lodged in his spinal cord.  

Sardauna and his senior wife Hafsat who said she would rather die with him were both killed in cold blood.

Nzeogwu then blew a whistle signalling the soldiers to converge for the final onslaught.

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He turned to the rest of the soldiers after he had got out of the gate and spoke triumphantly, “I have been successful, he’s dead.”

They would leave the residence of the slain premier unchallenged.

Sardauna’s body was taken to the house of the Sultan of Sokoto in Ungwan Sarki where it was buried.

However, contrary to the deal earlier reached, Nzeogwu was arrested just three days after and was held in Kirikiri prison, Lagos before being transferred to Aba prison. He was released from prison by a Biafran warlord, Chukuemeka Ojukuwu in March 1967.

Nzeogwu then joined the Biaffrian side and fought until he was killed in action in July 1967. His body was subsequently brought back to Kaduna, where he was buried in the Military cemetery.


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