Fani-Kayode recounts 1966 Coup
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has narrated his experience on the night of Nigeria’s first coup d’etat on the 15th of January, 1966.
Femi Fani-Kayode, who is the son of then Deputy Premier of the South West, Remi Fani-Kayode, revealed how his father was arrested, and the subsequent murder of the Premier, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola in an interview with Leadership.
“What I witnessed that night was traumatic and devastating for me and my family and, of course, what the nation witnessed that night was horrific. It was a night of blood, terror and sadness. The events of that night set in motion a series of events which changed our history. The consequences of the events of that night are still with us till this day. So, it was not a good night; it was a sad and terrible night; one of blood and slaughter.
“What I saw, what I witnessed was this; in the middle of the night, my mother came into the room which I shared with my older brother, Rotimi and my sister Toyin. I was six at the time. The lights had been cut, so all we could see was lights from vehicles. At that time, my father was deputy premier of the South West so; the official residence had a very long drive. We saw two headlights and heard the engines of two lorries drive up the drive-way. The occupants of the lorries stormed our home and my father went out to meet them, after he had called us and explained that he would explain their coming later. He explained that he would rather go out to meet them than let them come into the house.
“The minute he stepped out, they brutalised him. I witnessed this. They tied him up and threw him into the lorry. Interestingly, the first thing they said to him was “where are your thugs now?” My father’s response was “I don’t have thugs, only gentlemen.” I think this made them brutalise him even more. They threw him in the back of the lorry, tied him up and, then stormed the house.
“When they got into the house, they ransacked every nook and cranny, shooting into the ceiling and wardrobes. They were very brutal and frightful and we were terrified. My mother was screaming from the balcony because all she could do was focus on her husband, who was downstairs.
““Don’t kill him, don’t kill him!!” she kept screaming at them. I can still visualise this and hear her voice pleading, screaming and crying. I didn’t know where my brother or sister was; the house was in total chaos. A six-year-old, I was standing there in the middle of the house, surrounded by uniformed men who were ransacking the house and terrorising my family.
“Something extraordinary happened. All of a sudden, one of the soldiers came up to me, put his hand on my head and said: “Don’t worry, we won’t kill your father, stop crying.” He said this thrice. After he said it the third time, I stopped crying. I went rushing to my mum who was still on the balcony and told her to stop crying because the soldier had promised that they would not kill my father, that everything would be okay.
“I held on to the words of that soldier. That night, I never cried again. They took him away and as the lorry drove away, my mother kept on wailing and so was everyone in the house.
“From there, they went to the home of Chief S.L Akintola, who was the premier. When they got there, unfortunately, my mother had phoned Akintola to inform him of what was happening. Akintola had calmed her, assuring that all will be well. When they got to Akintola’s house, he already knew of their coming so instead of coming out, the minute they got there, he called out some of his boys and they came firing with their guns. A gun battle ensued and the plan was delayed. They thought they could pick my father, pick Akintola and go kill them were they deemed fit.
“Akintola wounded two of the soldiers who came and, when his ammunition ran out from inside the house, he came out with a white handkerchief and surrendered. The minute he stepped out, they just slaughtered him, right in front of my father. After they killed him, they moved on with my father to Lagos. When they got there, they went to the Officer’s Mess at Dodan Barracks.”