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Nigeria History: Story Of How The Man On The 20 Naira Note, Murtala Muhammed Was Assassinated On The Streets Of Lagos

Story Of How The Man On The 20 Naira Note, Murtala Muhammed Was Assassinated On The Streets Of Lagos


Nigeria History: Story Of How The Man On The 20 Naira Note, Murtala Muhammed Was Assassinated On The Streets Of Lagos

On 13th of February in 1976, General Ramat Murtala Muhammed was assassinated on his way to work by some military men who were loyalists of the then Head of the Nigerian Army Physical Training Corps, Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka.


Late General Murtala Muhammed was born on the 8th of November, 1938 in Kano to Risqua Muhammed and Uwani Rahamat. He was the ninth out of 11 children and attended Barewa College in Zaria where he graduated in 1957.


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Nigeria History: Story Of How The Man On The 20 Naira Note, Murtala Muhammed Was Assassinated On The Streets Of Lagos

Gen. Murtala joined the Nigerian Army in 1958 at about 20 years of age and went to Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in England where he was trained as an officer cadet. He was also a Federal Minister Commissioner for Communications.


General Murtala took over power as the Military Head of Nigeria on the 29th of July, 1975 when General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown while he was at the 12th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Kampala, Uganda.


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Murtala was notably known for his simple lifestyle which many believed led to his death as he was without escort at the point of his assassination. He was also known to be keen on restructuring.


At a point, he reduced the total number of active Nigerian soldiers by 100,000! He approved Abuja as the new Federal Capital Territory on February 5 1976 due to the overcrowding of Lagos, the then Capital. He also created seven states 10 days before his untimely death.


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His Assassination:


Nigeria History: Story Of How The Man On The 20 Naira Note, Murtala Muhammed Was Assassinated On The Streets Of Lagos

On 13 February 1976, General Muhammed set off for work along his usual route on George Street. Shortly after 8 a.m., his Mercedes Benz car traveled slowly in the infamous Lagos traffic near the Federal Secretariat at Ikoyi in Lagos and a group of soldiers (members of an abortive coup led by Dimka) emerged from an adjacent petrol station, ambushed the vehicle and assassinated Muhammed.


Murtala Muhammed was killed, aged 37, along with his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa, in his black Mercedes Benz saloon car on 13 February 1976.


Nigeria History: Story Of How The Man On The 20 Naira Note, Murtala Muhammed Was Assassinated On The Streets Of Lagos


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The car was ambushed en route to his office at Dodan Barracks, Lagos. The only visible sign of protection was a pistol carried by his orderly, making his assassination an easy task. 


The assassination was part of an attempted coup led by Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka, he was executed on 15 May 1976 at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos for treason was succeeded by the Chief of Staff, Supreme HQ Olusegun Obasanjo, who completed his plan of an orderly transfer to civilian rule by handing power to Shehu Shagari on 1 October 1979. 


Nigeria History: Story Of How The Man On The 20 Naira Note, Murtala Muhammed Was Assassinated On The Streets Of Lagos


Today, Muhammed's portrait adorns the 20 Naira note and Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos is named in his honour

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