Yesterday February 13, marked exactly 45 years since former Nigerian military dictator General Murtala Ramat Mohammed was assassinated on February 13, 1976.
Murtala was a Civil War hero who at the age of 33, became one of the youngest generals in Nigeria. On 29 July 1975, General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown while attending the 12th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Kampala, Uganda. Muhammed took power as the new Military Head of State.
Nigeria under Murtala saw a period of rampant economic prosperity. He softened dictatorship and unveiled plans for the demilitarization of politics. In 1976 barely seven months into his nascent rule Murtala without having time to see his plans implemented was assassinated in a failed coup.
But not everyone remembered history this way, when Presidential aid, Bashir Ahmad posted a commemorative picture of the former head of state on Twitter and captioned it ‘A hero forever’, he received some very unexpected replies.
Former Nigeria’s military leader, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed was assassinated on February 13, 1976, exactly 45 years today. A hero forever! pic.twitter.com/j1LV8YYpDA
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) February 13, 2021
Comedian Basketmouth, replied to the tweet saying “Hero? For what exactly? The Asaba massacre?”
Another user replied “On Oct 7, 1967, Federal Troops summoned citizens of Asaba to pledge ‘one Nigeria’ which they trooped out to do wearing white cloth & chanting songs. They were massacred. Murtala Mohammed masterminded that massacre, he’s not a hero to me, he’s a war criminal & I spit on his grave.”
And another replied, “In years to come this same people will call Buhari hero. Our children will be celebrating him, because they don’t teach history in school. Schools need to start teaching history in Nigeria. To avoid mistakes again.”
General Murtala Muhammed is largely considered a Nigerian hero with his image on the country’s 20 Naira note.