Muhammad, Murtala Ramat

Muhammad, Murtala Ramat,

1938–1976, Nigerian military officer and politician. A Muslim Hausa from the north, he joined the Nigerian army and was involved in the coup that brought Yakubu GowonGowon, Yakubu
, 1934–, Nigerian head of state. After entering the Nigerian army in 1954, he advanced (1966) to battalion commander. After Nigeria's second bloody coup in 1966, he was appointed commander in chief of the armed forces and head of the military government.
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 to power. As commander of the army's second division, he fought in the civil war (1967–70) brought on by the attempted secession of BiafraBiafra, Republic of,
secessionist state of W Africa, in existence from May 30, 1967, to Jan. 15, 1970. At the outset Biafra comprised, roughly, the East-Central, South-Eastern, and Rivers states of the Federation of Nigeria, where the Igbo people predominated.
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. When Gowon was overthrown (July, 1975), Muhammad was made head of state in a military government. He attempted to reduce the bloated ranks of the civil service and armed forces while encouraging expansion of the private sector. Muhammad also centralized power by taking over policymaking from the states and bringing newspapers, broadcasting, and universities under federal control. He was assassinated in Feb., 1976, and was succeeded by Olusegun ObasanjoObasanjo, Olusegun
, 1937–, Nigerian military officer and political leader, b. Abeokuta. Obasanjo, who joined the army in 1958 and rose quickly to general, was a key commander during the secession of Biafra (1967–70). He was Gen.
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