L-R: Lawan Umar, Kur Mohammed, Zakariya Maimalari, with Abogo Largema (sitting) at Sandhurst, 1953 - the year Umar and Maimalari passed out.
- ‘Operation Banker’, a joint Army-Police operation in the Western region, led by then CO, 4th battalion, Lt. Col. Maimalari, allegedly at the behest of the pro-NPC regional Premier (Akintola) culminating in the declaration of a state of emergency in May 1962 after a fracas in the House of Assembly and the appointment of an administrator. Interestingly, the General Staff Officer
- at the Army HQ in charge of Intelligence was none other than Captain Patrick Chukwuma Nzeogwu who, as a Major, was later to play a key role in the coup of January 1966 in which Maimalari lost his life.2. The arrest on September 22, 1962 and subsequent imprisonment of the opposition leader, Chief Awolowo, on suspicion of planning a civilian overthrow of the government. It was alleged that 300 volunteers were sent to Ghana for 3 weeks militia training. Certain accounts hypothesize two separate plots, one by Dr. Maja and the other by Awo himself.
But there is a body of evidence that indicates that Dr. Maja was actually collaborating with the government. The real plotters planned to exploit the absence from the country of three out of the five Army battalions to seize key points in Lagos and arrest leading figures of the government. The absent battalions were in or on their way to and from the Congo. One available military detachment at Abeokuta was out on military training exercises, while the newly formed federal guard in Lagos was essentially ceremonial.
Thus, there was an internal security vacuum which the plotters intended to exploit. Court records also indicate that an attempt was made to recruit Brigadier Adesoji Ademulegun for the scheme but he refused to cooperate with the plotters, choosing instead to remain loyal to the traditional military hierarchy and government, which had just promoted him from Lt. Col. to Brigadier. Whether this later played a role in his subsequent assassination in January 1966 is unknown.
Nigeria’s first army officers.
Left to right sitting: Captain Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Captain Philip Effiong, Captain Umeh Ogere Imo, Major Samuel Adesoji Ademulegun, Major Wellington Bassey, Major General Norman Forster (GOC, Nigerian Army), Major Aguiyi Ironsi, Major Ralph Adetunji Shodeinde, Captain Zakaria Maimalari, Captain Conrad Nwawo, Captain David Akpode Ejoor. 2nd Row Standing: Lt Igboba, Lt George Remunoiyowun Kurubo, (non Nigerian standing next to Kurubo), Lt J Akahan Akaga, Lt Patrick Awunah, Lt Louis Ogbonnia, Lt Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Lt Eyo Ekpo, Lt Author Unegbe, Lt Abogo Largema. 3rd Row Standing: Lt Hillary Mbilitem Njoku, 2nd Lt Macauley Nzefili, 2nd Lt David Ogunewe, 2nd Lt Shadrack, Lt Alexander Madiebo, 2nd Lt Anthony Eze, Lt Yakubu Gowon, 2nd Lt Sylvanus Nwanjei, Lt Yakubu Pam, 2nd Lt Hassan Katsina.