Timeline

July 29, 1966

Mutiny by northern soldiers at the Abeokuta barracks, leading to a counter-coup and the appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon as Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces

A few months after the first coup, soldiers from the north staged a counter-coup with the goal of removing Igbo from positions of military leadership and influence. Ironsi and many other high-ranking Igbo officers were killed, and Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon was installed as head of state.

According to Nigerian historian Max Siollun, the northern soldiers who led the counter coup had a list of grievances that they understood to be legitimate reasons for executing the second coup. Some include: the murder of northern officers and civilians during the January coup; the fact that the conspirators of the January coup had not been tried for treason; the promotion of Igbos within the military; and, rumors of Ironsi’s favoritism toward Igbos.

After Ironsi was killed in the counter coup, Yakubu Gowon became the “compromise” new head of state because he was a westerner born in the north and was uninvolved in the coup activities. Gowon remained the leader of the Federal Military Government through the Biafran war and up until 1975 when he was ousted from power via another military coup.