Fast growing authoritative information portal in Africa,

8 Nigerian Politicians That Were Assassinated

Assasination involves murdering a prominent person for a reason. The reason here could be anything that the killer finds justifiable; maybe because of political power, money, etc. In the foreign space, top figures like Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy all died by assasination. Same has happened in Nigerian on different occasions. Over the years, several politicians and public figures have been assassinated to the wonderment of the Nigerian citizens. Some of these persons were killed while in office. Listed below are top Nigerian politicians that were assassinated.

1. Moshood Abiola 

MKO Abiola remains a renowned name in the Nigerian political space. His previous “Abiola Day” is now celebrated as “Democracy Day” in Nigeria. On June 12, 1993, Abiola won the presidential election although he never got to rule as the results were annulled. While fighting for his right as the elected president, Abiola was declared an enemy of Nigeria as he was said to be committing treason. He was arrested by over 200 police vehicles and he was imprisoned for 4 years. He was to be released on 7th July 1998 and on that day he was killed – beaten to death according to his chief security officer. 

2. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa 

Tafawa Balewa will always be remembered as the first prime minister of Nigeria; he’s also the only prime minister the country has had. He was one of the active players in Nigeria’s fight for independence and his face is the face you see in the 5 naira note. He was in office from 1957 until his death in 1966. Tafawa Balewa was one of the victims of the first military coup in Nigeria which happened on the 15th of January 1966. Although how he died wasn’t very clear, it was clear that he was assasinated as they found his body at a roadside. 

3. Aguiyi Ironsi 

Aguiyi Ironsi was a major general in the Nigerian army and a commander of the 2nd brigade. He was the first military head of state in Nigeria as he took over from the prime minister Tafawa Balewa after his assasination. Ironsi ruled for only about 7 months and was killed in a counter-coup which was a retaliation to the first coup of January 15th 1966. This second coup was orchestrated Major General Murtala Mohammed and other Northern officers notably Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida. Aguiyi Ironsi was arrested and after a series of questioning, he was killed and his body was dumped in a forest. 

4. Ahmadu Bello 

Bring out a 200 naira note, that’s Sir Ahmadu Bello right there. He was the premier of northern Nigeria before Nigeria gained independence and he still maintained his position post independence. Also, he was a member of the Sokoto Caliphate dynasty and the NPC (Northern’s People Congress) leader. Ahmadu Bello was killed in the first coup of 15th January 1966 which also killed Tafawa Balewa. He was killed while in office by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, an Igbo army officer. Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa were closed friends so it’s no coincidence that both of them were killed by the same coup.

5. Murtala Mohammed 

As earlier mentioned, General Murtala Mohammed was the driving force of the counter-coup that saw to the death of Aguiyi Ironsi. He was also one of the major players in the Nigerian Army’s win over the Biafra Army in the subsequent civil war. Murtala Mohammed became head of state after Yakubu Gowon and he ruled from  1975 to 1976 when he was assassinated. He was shot in the morning on his way to work in his Mercedes Benz in Ikoyi, Lagos. It was an ambush led by Buka Suka Dimka who was a lieutenant colonel. Murtala Mohammed died along with his aide. 

6. Bola Ige 

Chief Ajibola Ige served Nigeria as the federal minister of justice, minister of power and steel, governor of Oyo state, and commissioner of agriculture over the course of his political career. He was assassinated on 23 December 2001 while serving as the minister of justice. Bola Ige was shot at his home residence in Ibadan. Till date, no one knows who the killed were. Suspects who were arrested in connection to his assasinated were acquitted of all charges. It’s said that he knew of plans to assassinate him before it happened. Several other political deaths followed the assasination of Bola Ige. 

7. Festus Okotie-Eboh 

When Nigeria gained independence, Festus Okotie-Eboh became the country’s minister of finance. He was the first Nigerian minister of finance. Before concentrating into politics, he was one of the most successful businessmen in Nigeria during his time. Hence, he was a very flamboyant politician. Since he was a major part of the first republic Festus Okotie-Eboh was assassinated in the first coup that also killed Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello. He was the only serving minister to be killed in the coup. Festus is said to have been killed by manhandling; no trace of bullet wounds on his body so it’s clear he wasn’t shot.

8. Funsho Williams 

Last on this list of top Nigerian politicians that were assassinated is Olufunsho Williams. Funsho Williams served as a commissioner in Lagos during the military administration. He is one of the most influential politicians in Nigeria and unfortunately, this cost him his life. He was assassinated in 2006 while he was contesting primarily to run for Governor of Lagos State under the People’s Democratic Party. Funsho Williams was stabbed and strangled in his house in Lagos. Kingsley Ogunlewe, a state minister who had plans of running for Governorship too was one of the people arrested relating to Funsho’s assassination. 

Bottom Line 

There you go! The above list contains top Nigerian politicians that were assassinated. Several other political figures have died by assasination but, the list above features the most important figures. Nowadays, the act of political assassination isn’t as common as it used to be. Most political assassinations in Nigeria happened a few years after independence.