Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi



Died in 1966

Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi was born to Mazi and Ezugo Aguiyi on March 3, 1924, in Umuahia-Ibeku, Abia State, Nigeria. At the age of 18, Ironsi joined the Nigerian Army where he excelled in military training at Eaton Hall, England. He became a commissioned officer in June, 1949 and served as the Aide de camp to John Macpherson, Governor General of Nigeria.

During the Congo Crisis of the 1960s, the United Nations Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, appealed to the Nigerian government to send troops to Congo. Lieutenant Colonel Ironsi led the 5th battalion to the Kivu and Leopoldville provinces of Congo. He was soon appointed the Commander of the United Nations Operation in the Congo. In 1964 Ironsi was appointed the first Nigerian General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Nigerian Army.

Following the unsuccessful coup in January 1966 led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Ironsi became the country's first military Head of State.

On July 29, 1966, Ironsi spent the night at the Government House Ibadan as part of a nation-wide tour with his host, Lieutenant Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, Military Governor of Western Nigeria. He was arrested and murdered by soldiers led by Theophilus Danjuma.

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