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See Nigerian leaders who died in office before and after independence

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The first Nigerian head of state to die in office was Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was also the first post-independent prime minister. He was killed on January 15, 1966, less than six years after assuming office. He was killed in the first military coup in the country led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu. He also stayed the longest in office among the dead leaders, he ruled for 6 years before he was killed in military coup, in contrast the leader who stayed the shortest in office was Aguiyi Ironsi who ruled for only a few months before his assassination.

Here is a well compiled lists of Nigerian leaders who died in office

1. Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (Prime Minister): View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, (born 1912, Bauchi, Northern Nigeria—died January 1966, near Ifo, Nigeria), Nigerian politician, deputy leader of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), and the first federal prime minister (1957–66). A commoner by birth, an unusual origin for a political leader in the NPC, Balewa was both a defender of northern special interests and an advocate of reform and Nigerian unity.

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Balewa was a teacher by profession and was one of the first Northern Nigerians to be sent to London University Institute of Education (1945). On his return in 1946 he was elected to the House of Assembly of the Northern Region and in 1947 was one of its five representatives to the Central Legislative Council in Lagos. He was reelected to the assembly in 1951 despite the hostility of some conservative emirs of the generally Muslim north.

From 1952 until his death, Balewa served in the federal government. He was minister of works and of transport in the middle 1950s, and then, as leader of the NPC in the House of Representatives, he was made the first prime minister of Nigeria in 1957. After the preindependence elections of 1959, he again became prime minister in a coalition government of the NPC and Nnamdi Azikiwe’s National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, and he continued to hold that position after Nigeria was officially granted independence in 1960. As prime minister of Nigeria, he had his powers circumscribed by the federal structure of the government, which reserved more authority for the regions. Balewa proved unable to mitigate the growing tensions of 1964–66, manifested by a partial boycott of the election in 1964, army unrest, and outbreaks of violence in the Western Region. He was killed in the first of two Nigerian army coups in 1966.

He was the first Nigerian head of government to die in office. He was appointed prime minister of the Nigerian Federation in 1957, and after independence in 1960, he remained in that post. He ruled the country till January 15, 1966 when he was killed in the first military coup in the country, led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu. He was a founder and Deputy President of the Northern People's Congress.

2. Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi:

Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi MVO, MBE (3 March 1924 – 29 July 1966) was the first Nigerian Military Head of State. He seized power in the ensuing chaos following the 15 January 1966 military coup, serving as the Nigerian Head of States from the 16th of January 1966 until his assassination on the 29th of July 1966 by a group of mutinous Northern Nigerian soldiers who were led by Captain Theophilus Danjuma, Lieutenant Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, and Major Murtala Mohammed were army soldiers who revolted against his government in what was popularly called the July Counter Coup.

On 29 July 1966 Aguiyi-Ironsi spent the night at the Government House in Ibadan, as part of a nationwide tour. His host, Lieutenant Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, Military Governor of Western Nigeria, alerted him to a possible mutiny within the army. Aguiyi-Ironsi desperately tried to contact his Army Chief of Staff, Yakubu Gowon, but he was unreachable. In the early hours of the morning, the Government House, Ibadan, was surrounded by soldiers led by Theophilus Danjuma. Danjuma arrested Aguiyi-Ironsi and questioned him about his alleged complicity in the coup, which saw the demise of the Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello. The circumstances leading to Aguiyi-Ironsi death still remain a subject of much controversy in Nigeria. His body and that of Fajuyi were later discovered in a nearby forest.

He was a Nigerian soldier who seized power in the chaos that ensued in the first military coup in Nigeria. He served as the Head of State of Nigeria from 16 January 1966 until he was overthrown and killed on 29 July 1966 by a group of Northern army officers who revolted against his perceived tribalistic government.


3. General Murtala Mohammed: View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

 43 years ago, former Nigerian military ruler Murtala Muhammad was assassinated in S Class Mercedes Benz. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

View pictures in App save up to 80% data. Murtala Mohammed was Nigeria’s former military head of state. He became president in July 30, 1975.

Murtala Muhammed was killed aged 37, along with his Aide-De-Camp (ADC), Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa in an abortive coup attempt led by Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka, when his car was ambushed en route to his office at Dodan Barracks, Lagos by a group of soldiers.

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During his brief stint as Nigeria’s leader, he acquired a reputation as a leader who traveled about without the fanfare typically associated with leaders in Nigeria. He hardly traveled in a convoy of attached vehicles. He was not known to blare sirens whenever he traveled in his car. He often travels incognito.

The only visible sign of protection was a pistol carried by his orderly, therefore making his assassination an easy task.

He was succeeded by the Chief of Staff, Supreme HQ Olusegun Obasanjo, who completed his plan of an orderly transfer to civilian rule by handing power to Shehu Shagari on 1 October 1979.

Today, Muhammed’s portrait adorns the 20 Naira note and Murtala Muhammed Intl Airport in Lagos is named in his honor.


He was born on November 8, 1938 and died on February 13, 1976. Murtala was made head of state in July 1975, when General Gowon was overthrown while at an Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Kampala, Uganda. He was killed at the age of 37 alongside his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Akintunde Akinsehinwa, on February 13, 1976 in an abortive coup attempt led by Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka, when his car was ambushed while en route to his office at Dodan Barracks, Lagos.


4. General Sani Abacha: View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

He was a Nigerian Army general and politician who served as the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. Abacha died mysteriously in June 1998 while at the presidential villa in Abuja and was buried on the same day, according to Muslim tradition, without an autopsy. After his death, there were speculations that he was poisoned by his political rivals via Indian prostitutes. Report had it that he was in the company of two Indian prostitutes imported from Dubai and they poisoned him, making him feel unwell around 4:30am. He retired to his bed and was dead by 6:15am. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

The government identified the cause of death as a sudden heart attack.

However, Hamza al-Mustapha, a former army major and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of General Sani Abacha has debunked th speculations and rumours that he was poisoned by prostitutes. According to him, Abacha’s sickness started the previous day (Sunday, 7th June, 1998) right from the Abuja International Airport immediately after one of the white security operatives or personnel who accompanied President Yasser Arafat of Palestine shook hands with him. In the evening of 8th June, 1998, around 6p.m; his doctor came around, administered an injection to stabilize him. In the early hours of 9 June, he died despite efforts to save him.


5. Umar Musa Yar’Adua: View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

He was the President of Nigeria and the 13th Head of State. He was declared the winner of the controversial Nigerian presidential election held on 21 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. President Yar'Adua left Nigeria on 23 November 2009 for Saudi Arabia where he was reported to be receiving treatment for pericarditis and he was not seen in public again. On 24 February 2010, Yar'Adua returned to Abuja. His state of health was unclear, but there was speculation that he was still on a life support machine. He eventually died on 5 May at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. An Islamic burial took place on 6 May in his hometown.

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GUEST_bZjoy6RVW · 07/10/2020
May their souls rest in Peace

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