The Untold Story of How Loyal Lieutenant-Colonel Akintunde Akinsehinwa, Nigeria’s First Aide-De-Camp (ADC) To Die While Defending A Commander-In-Chief, General Murtala Muhammed, Was Killed With Six Bullets In 1976
He was the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the late Nigerian military ruler, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed. Born in Ondo, southwestern Nigeria, he was with the Nigerian Army Signal Corps as an officer and served under Murtala before he became head of state in 1975.
When Murtala took over, Akinsehinwa was made the Aide-de-Camp. The Commander-in-Chief had chosen him specifically for his virtues of hard work and intelligence. Then he was just 31, and the youngest ever presidential ADC in the nation’s history.
FULL NAMES (alternate names): Lieutenant Colonel Akintunde Akinsehinwa
BIRTH AND EARLY DAYS
He had his primary education in Owo, Ondo State before proceeding to Benin City, Edo State where he obtained his Secondary School Leaving Certificate (WASC) from Edokpolo Secondary School in 1963. Thereafter, he moved to Ibadan where he was employed as a High Court clerk.
LOVE, FAMILY AND MARRIAGE
He was married to Princess Bola.
Following the start of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, Akinsehinwa joined the Nigerian Army and got training as an officer cadet at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry at Jaji in Kaduna State. Six months later, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and was deployed to the war zone to fight under the famed 3rd Marine Commando Division (3MCDO) headed by the legendary Colonel Benjamin Adekunle aka the Black Scorpion. Akinsehinwa thereafter took part in military offensives in Calabar against the Biafran secessionists.
When the war came to an end in 1970, he decided to go for further military training signing up for Signal Officers Courses and was promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant when he finished the course. He was then posted to the Arakan Signals Barracks in Apapa, Lagos as an officer of the Nigerian Army Signal Corps and it was at Arakan that he was appointed a staff officer to Murtala Muhammed, then a brigadier-general and brigade commander of army signals at the time.
Not long after, General Yakubu Gowon appointed Muhammed the Minister of Communications and he took Akinsehinwa with him as a personnel staff officer and technical assistant. On the 29th of July, 1975, Murtala Muhammed became Nigeria’s head of state and citing Akinsehinwa’s hard work, wit and intelligence, made him the presidential aide-de-camp, the youngest in the history of Nigeria at 30 but the lowest-ranking ADC in the country’s history. The post of an ADC was usually reserved for Lieutenant Colonels or Colonels. Akinsehinwa considered his appointment as Murtala’s ADC as a great honour and privilege. He had always admired and revered Murtala.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HIM
In February 2008, Julius Akinsehinwa, the immediate elder brother of the late Akinsehinwa talked about him in an interview with The Nation. Julius himself retired as a corporal from the Nigerian Army. Below are excerpts from the interview:
As a brother to the late Lt. Akintunde Akinsehinwa, how would you describe his childhood days?
The late Lt. Akinsehinwa is my immediate junior brother. When he was a gentle and amiable person. He was also very brilliant in school and would always fight against injustice. He was very hardworking and brave. Perhaps this was what made him to join the Army after his education in Owo under the tutelage of our cousin, the late Mr. Tiamiyu Kuteyi.
As I said, Akintunde who was named after our father who died the year he was born in 1944, was a person who loved challenges and had penchant for self-development. This was why he worked in several places. One of them was the High Court of Justice Ibadan which was then under the headship of the late Mr. Justice Akinkugbe.
The late Akintunde was a self-made man who believed in hardwork. He passed the General Certificate of Education (GCE) before he joined the army in 1968. He was promoted Second-Lieutenant and Full-Lieutenant before his demise in 1976. He was also Commander of the 24 Battalion and a Signal Officer under the late General Murtala Muhammed.
Today, Lt. Akinsehinwa died alongside his boss, Gen. Mohammed 32 years ago. How would you describe his death and to what extent would you say his demise has affected the family?
The death of Lieutenant Akinsehinwa has affected the family greatly. In fact, his death has caused a devastating blow on our family that up till today, I personally have found it difficult to bear it.
This is so because the late army officer was the rallying point to all the family members, who sought for his assistance because of his humane nature. He was somebody who enjoyed helping others irrespective of tribe or religion. I personally would recall a day he played a prominent role in my life. It was during my marriage.
The late Akinsehinwa not only played the role of a brother, he also played that of the father such that I did not feel the absence of my father. The demise of Lt. Akinsehinwa would for ever be felt by the family as a day when we lost one of our stars and an illustrious son.
As a one-time military man and in view of the agony which you said your family is experiencing as a result of the demise of Lt. Akinsehinwa who died in his prime from a military coup of 1976, what message do you want to pass across to adventurous military men?
As a former soldier who is conscious of the consequences of a coup, particularly when it fails, knowing fully that anyone who takes part in it is liable to death, I would like to advise adventurous ones to watch it and shun the act which is capable of terminating their lives prematurely and may bring their family’s name into disrepute.
Moreover, when one considers the psychological effect of coup particularly to families one would not support the act because of its negative implication.
Do you have any grudge with the government for failing to immortalise the late Lt. Akinsehinwa, who was the aide-de-camp to the Late General Muhammed whose name had been immortalised like the late Col. Ibrahim Taiwo, Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, among others?
By asking the government to immortalise my brother may not in any way compensate me fully for the agony we have passed through over the years. The main grouse I have with government is its failure to acknowledge his contributions as a gallant officer, who served his country meritoriously in many capacities. I believed that if the late General Muhammed who he served and died in active service could be immortalised, then he as a loyal officer to the late head of state, must be remembered in order to serve as an encouragement to others especially those are still serving presently in active service.
HONOURS, AWARDS AND LEGACY
A foundation that caters for people living with HIV/AIDS, Akintunde Akinsehinwa Foundation has been established in his memory and honour. While alive, he had no car of his own, he was married to Princess Bola. One of Nigeria’s greats, may the labours of our heroes past never be in vain.
In 1983, the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari gave him posthumously, the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) even though as at February 2012, his wife was yet to be given the awards. And by the way, why do we treat our heroes so badly?
DEATH AND THE ASSASSINATION OF MURTALA MUHAMMED
On a dark Friday, 13th of February of 1976, Akinsehinwa was with his boss when their motorcade was attacked by coup plotters. They were in a simple, black Mercedes Benz which had no bulletproof exterior. The head of state was killed in a shower of bullets immediately.
Same with the driver of the car, Sergeant Adamu Michika and the Orderly Staff Sergeant Michael Otuwe was seriously injured but later recovered. Akinsehinwa survived the first bullets, struggled and came out of the Benz limousine and returned fire at the attackers. But, he was overwhelmed and cut down in a fiery hail of gunshots. A postmortem examination showed six bullet wounds in his back. He was the very first ADC to die in duty while protecting a Nigerian head of state and the first of its kind in the world. He was 31.
Below are photos from the burial of the late Akinsehinwa at the Ikoyi Burial Ground:
- Akintunde Akinsehinwa
- Family Still Feels Blow of ADC’s Death
- The Hurricane: General Murtala Muhammed, Taiwo Ogundipe, Topseal Communications, 2001.
- The Essence of Excellence: Administration of General Murtala Muhammed (An Appraisal), Yusuf Adamu, Sarumedia Printing and Publishing Company, 1999.
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