On this day in 1967, the first ever public executions of Military Officers in Nigeria occurred in eastern Nigeria’s breakaway Biafran territory.
The affected Officers were Lt. Col. Victor Banjo, Maj. Emmanuel Ifeajuna and their civilian friends, Phillip Alale and Sam Agbam were accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the breakaway Biafran leader.
They were paraded before a Special Military Tribunal and were found guilty of treason.
The panel reported that the accused Officers were negotiating with federal Nigerian officials, via British agents, hoping to bring about a ceasefire, overthrow Ojukwu, and gain prominent positions for themselves within the Nigerian government.
They were hastily tried and sentenced to death by firing squad.
During the trial, Ifeajuna did not deny his involvement.
He claimed the plan was to preserve civilian lives in Enugu from an oncoming assault by federal troops.
Ifeajuna and his three co-conspirators were executed on 25 September 1967 in Enugu, becoming the first military personnel in Nigerian territory to be executed by firing squad for treason.
Enugu, the Biafran capital, was captured by federal Nigerian forces two days later.
Ifeajuna’s legacy within Black African sports history as the first African to win a gold medal in an international Sporting event outside of the African continent following his high jump triumph for Nigeria at the 1954 British Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, has been overshadowed following his misguided political actions.
He was one of the original ringleaders of the 15 January 1966 bloody Military rebellion against the Nigerian State and was executed for leading another coup within Biafra.

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