General Murtala Ramat Muhammed died at the age of 38 on 13 February, 1976, exactly 40 years ago.
Although, Murtala spent just 200 days in office, his unique and outstanding regime spoke for him back then and he remains evergreen in the hearts of Nigerians.
Murtala was assassinated on Friday, 13 February, 1976, the eve of a Valentine’s Day, when lovers were getting ready to show love to their partners.
His sudden death left Nigerians groping for explanations. The nation would not recover the huge loss, not even 40 years after the tragedy.
Before that incident, Nigerians very rarely shed tears for their leaders, but all that changed in Murtala’s episode as he evoked so much emotion and pity.
His loyal and devoted ADC, Lt. Akintunde Akinsehinwa, who hailed from Ondo died with him. He defended his boss to the very last and remained the first in Nigeria’s history to die while protecting a Head of State.
His orderly, Staff Sergeant Otuwe was lucky but the driver, Sergeant Adamu Minchika was also killed. Otuwe continued in the army until the late 1980s and rose to the rank of Warrant Officer.