Major Nzeogwu's Speech announcing Nigeria's first coup (circa noon, January 15, 1966,
In the name of the Supreme Council of the Revolution
of the Nigerian Armed Forces, I declare martial law
over the Northern Provinces of Nigeria.
The Constitution is suspended and the regional
government and elected assemblies are hereby
dissolved. All political, cultural, tribal and trade
union activitites, together with all demonstrations
and unauthorized gatherings, excluding religious
worship, are banned until further notice.
The aim of the Revolutionary Council is to establish a
strong united and prosperous nation, free from
corruption and internal strife. Our method of
achieving this is strictly military but we have no
doubt that every Nigerian will give us maximum
cooperation by assisting the regime and not disturbing
the peace during the slight changes that are taking
I am to assure all foreigners living and working in
this part of Nigeria that their rights will continue
to be respected. All treaty obligations previously
entered into with any foreign nation will be respected
and we hope that such nations will respect our
country's territorial integrity and will avoid taking
sides with enemies of the revolution and enemies of
My dear countrymen, you will hear, and probably see a
lot being done by certain bodies charged by the
Supreme Council with the duties of national
integration, supreme justice, general security and
property recovery. As a interim measure all
permanent secretaries, corporation charimen and senior
heads of departments are allowed to make decisions
until the new organs are functioning, so long as such
decisions are not contrary to the aims and wishes of
the Supreme Council. No Minister or Parliamentary
Secretary possesses administrative or other forms of
control over any Ministry, even if they are not
considered too dangerous to be arrested.
This is not a time for long speech-making and so let
me acquaint you with ten proclamations in the
Extraordinary Orders of the Day which the Supreme
Council has promulgated. These will be modified as
the situation improves.
You are hereby warned that looting, arson,
homosexuality, rape, embezzlement, bribery or
corruption, obstruction of the revolution, sabotage,
subversion, false alarms and assistance to foreign
invaders, are all offences punishable by death
Demonstrations and unauthorized assembly,
non-cooperation with revolutionary troops are
punishable in grave manner up to death.
Refusal or neglect to perform normal duties or any
task that may of necessity be ordered by local
military commanders in support of the change will be
punishable by a sentence imposed by the local military
Spying, harmful or injurious publications, and
broadcasts of troop movements or actions, will be
punished by any suitable sentence deemed fit by the
local military commander.
Shouting of slogans, loitering and rowdy behavior will
be rectified by any sentence of incarceration, or any
more severe punishment deemed fit by the local
Doubtful loyalty will be penalized by imprisonment or
any more severe sentence.
Illegal possession or carrying of firearms, smuggling
or trying to escape with documents, valuables,
including money or other assets vital to the running
of any establishment will be punished by death
Wavering or siting on the fence and failing to declare
open loyalty with the revolution will be regarded as
an act of hostility punishable by any sentence deemed
suitable by the local military commander.
Tearing down an order of the day or proclamation or
other authorized notices will be penalized by death.
Ths is the end of the Extraordinary Order of the Day
which you will soon begin to see displayed in public.
My dear countrymen, no citizen should have anything to
fear, so long as that citizen is law abiding and if
that citizen has religiously obeyed the native laws of
the country and those set down in every heart and
conscience since 1st October, 1960. Our enemies are
the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in
high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10
percent; those that seek to keep the country divided
permanently so that they can remain in office as
ministers or VIPs at least, the tribalists, the
nepotists, those that make the country look big for
nothing before international circles, those that have
corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political
calendar back by their words and deeds. Like good
soldiers we are not promising anything miraculous or
spectacular. But what we do promise every law abiding
citizen is freedom from fear and all forms of
oppression, freedom from general inefficiency and
freedom to live and strive in every field of human
endeavour, both nationally and internationally. We
promise that you will no more be ashamed to say that
you are a Nigerian.
I leave you with a message of good wishes and ask for
your support at all times, so that our land, watered
by the Niger and Benue, between the sandy wastes and
gulf of guinea, washed in salt by the mighty Atlantic,
shall not detract Nigeria from gaining sway in any
great aspect of international endeavour.
My dear countrymen, this is the end of this speech. I
wish you all goodluck and I hope you will cooperate to
the fullest in this job which we have set for
ourselves of establishing a prosperous nation and
Thank you very much and goodbye for now.
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