Supreme Commander, General Johnson Umunnakwe Thomas Aguiyi Ironsi 1


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                               THE LATE NIGERIAN PRESIDENT

                                      THE SUPREME COMMANDER OF NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES

Ibeku Image
Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi

Former Head of the Federal Military Government, Nigeria

Family Name: Aguiyi-Ironsi
Given Name: Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe
Dates: 1924 - 1966
Gender: Male
Country: Nigeria

T he third [3rd] President of Nigeria and it's First [1st]   Military President. The only Supreme Commander, The third  Nigerian IGBO  President was GEN. J.T.U AGUIYI IRONSI He was a Great Ibeku son. He  came from the village of Umuana in Ndume Ibeku.

Iron with Officers
 First Generation of Nigerian Army officers, June 1959.
From Left to Right sitting:
Captain Adeyinka Adebayo,Captain Philip Effiong,Captain Imo,Major Samuel Adesoji Ademulegun,Major Wellington Bassey,General Forster, Major JTU Ironsi,Major Ralph Shodeinde,Captain Zakaria Maimalari, Captain Conrad Nwawo, Captain David Ejoor.
Middle Row standing:
Lt Igboba,Lt George Kurubo, (non Nigerian standing next to Kurubo), Lt J Akaga,Lt Patrick Anwunah, Lt Louis Ogbonnia, Lt Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Lt Eyo Ekpo, Lt Arthur Unegbe, Lt Abogo Largema
Back Row:
Lt Hilary Njoku, 2nd Lt Nzefili, 2nd Lt Ogunenwe, 2nd Lt Shadrak, Lt Madiebo, 2nd Lt Anthony Eze, Lt Yakubu Gowon, 2nd Lt Sylvanus Nwanjei, Lt Yakubu Pam, 2nd Lt Hassan Katsina.
Those not in the picture are Captain Kur Mohammed, Lt Victor Banjo and Lt Michael Okwechime
Source: David Ejoors book "My Reminisces"

 Gen Ironsi burial  Gen Ironsi Image   Gen Ironsi Visits in NigeriaGen Ironsi after Coup News Conference
Gen Aguiyi Ironsi boarding Air planeGen Ironsi Decree DeclarationIronsi after coup nesw conference

Supreme Commander Gen Ironsi Radio addressIronsi last visitIronsi with governors

      Ironsit.visit21Ironsi burial Procession

Gen Ironsi with officers

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 LT UGBOMA (not Ogbonna) was the FIRST commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army. He alone was commissioned in November 1948.

In June 1949, Wellington Bassey, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi and Samuel Ademulegun were commissioned.

However, Ugboma left the Army in the early 1950s. As a result of the fact that he was not in service as of the time when Nigeria attained independence in 1960, that honour – first commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army – became Wellington Bassey’s.


Positions Where there are no dates, positions are ordered alphabetically

· Head of the Federal Military Government - Government of Nigeria (16 Jan 1966 - 29 Jul 1966)
On October 1st, 1960, when Nigeria became independent, it became the Royal Nigerian Army. Finally, in 1963, it became known simply as the Nigerian Army - when Nigeria became a republic. An act of parliament codified this change.
The first GOC of the (Royal) Nigerian Army was Major Welby-Everard. In 1965 the first indigenous Nigerian GOC was appointed. He was Major General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi.
During the first world war, nine (9) battalions of the regiment fought And distinguished themselves at Douala, Garoua and Banyo in the Cameroons from 1914-16 and at Behobeho and Nyangao in East Africa from 1916-18. 
During the second world war, units of the Nigeria regiment distinguished themselves at Juba, Goluin, Marda Pass, Babile Gap, Bisidimo, Colito, Omo, and Lechemti during the Abyssinian campaign in East Africa from 1940-41. In Burma, from 1943-45, as part of the 81st and 82nd West African Divisions, the regiment fought in North Arakan, Kaladan, Mayu Valley, Myohaung, Arakan Beaches, Kangaw, Dalet and Tamandu. 
It was a component of Chindit operations in 1944.

     Aguiyi Ironsi enlisted as a soldier (private) in the 7th battalion of the Nigerian Regiment in Kano February 2, 1942, and was posted to the Ordnance Depot in Sierra-Leone.  A few years later, he was sent to the Ordnance Depot in Lagos as a Company Sergeant Major.  In about 1947, the spirit of nationalism had reached it's peak, and the British read the hand writing on the wall. The colonial officers made the move to Nigerianise the office corps of the Regiment.                                            
  Some Non-Commissioned officers (N.C.Os) from the technical arms of the military, engineering, ordinance and signals, who were considered sufficiently educated, were sent to short officer conversion course. Louis V. Ugboma, Willington U Bassey, Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, and Johnson Ademulegun, were the first group. Louis Ugboma was commissioned Second Lieutenant 1948, Wellignton, March 1948, and Ironsi and Ademulegun, June 1949.                                                                           
When Aguiyi came back from Eaton Hall England where he received his training, he was posted to West African Command Hqs in Accra known that time as Gold Coast-the present Ghana.  In a short time he was sent back to the ordnance Depot Lagos, before he ended up in infantry regiment. He returned to Warminister School of Infantry,United Kingdom, 1952. At 32 years old, he was promoted full Lieutenant, and  Aid-de-Camp to Sir John Macpherson, the governor general. 1953, was the year he was promoted  to the rank of Captain.  Ironsi and Ademulegun were sent to London as Regimental Representatives at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth  11.  Queen of England was to visit Nigeria Jan.28-Feb.15th, Ironsi was appointed to be the Queen's Extra- Equerry.  At the end of the queen's visit Ironsi was promoted Major, and was made member of the fourth class of the Royal Victoria Order.                                                                           

Before the end of 1956, He got back to United Kingdom to attend the staff college at Camberley, Jan.17th -17rh December.  While in United Kingdom, he became a member of "A" Division.  He was the first Nigerian to be Major, the first to,attend staff college and the first to append,M.V.O Psc to his name. In 1956, Nigerian Regiment under,the British control was dropped to become Nigerian Military force.  W.U. Bassey, the second ever to be commissioned, got N/1, Ironsi N/2, Ademulegun N/3, and Sodiend N/4. Loius V. Ugboma, the first Nigerian to be commissioned, was thrown out of the military because he was in the camp of the nationalists.      

Ironsi was confirmed substantive Major in Oct. 1956, Ademulegun followed two months later.  Bassey had his in April 1959.  The government of Nigeria, headed by Sir. Abubaka Tafawa Belewa, knew that Ironsi was the most Senior Army Officer in the Nigerian,army  Based on this merit, Ironsi was promoted to Lieutenant Colonal.  Right there he became the first Nigerian to command a battalion.                                                                  
Sir, Abubaka, ordered Ironsi and his fifth battalion to join U.N. forces in the Congo.Austrian Government honored Ironsi for stopping the rebel army from killing the Austrian medical team. This honor took place December 14, 1961. In 1962,Ironsi was sent to London to be the Military adviser to Nigerian High commissioner. He attended the Royal military college where he,finished his defence studies,in 1962, and 1n 1963. His second tour of duty came in 1964.  He was sent back to theCongo, as Major General. The war was brought to a logical conclusion.  Ironsi was the last soldier to leave Congo. When he came home he was promoted Brigadier.             
 Finally, Ironsi was officially, promoted to Major General and the Commander, of the Nigerian army.  This process concluded the indiginization of the office corps of the army -Nigerian army. The January, 1966 coup, by mid-Officers of the Nigerian Army, forced Ironsi to be the head,of the military government, of Nigeria.  Six months later, he was killed by the coup plotters of 29th July-Sept. 1966.      

This is the list of its various Commanders:

From October 24, 1913 Brevet Col. C.H.P. Carter, CB, CMG (Royal Scots)
From September 6th, 1914 Maj. F.H. Cunliffe (Middlesex Regt)
From 1914-1918 acting commandants as required
From 1918-1920 vacant
From March 20th, 1920 Col. G.T. Mair, CMG, DSO
From 1924 Col. J.F. Badham, DSO
From 1926 Col. W.B. Greenwell, CMG, DSO
From 1929 Col. C.C. Norman, CMG, DSO
From 1931 Col. W.R. Meredith, CBD, DSO
From 1936 Brig. D.P. Dickinson, DSO, OBE, MC
From 1939 Brig. W.R. Smallwood, DSO, MC
From 1940-1946 vacant
From 1946 Maj-Gen. C.R.A. Swynerton, CB, DSO
From 1949 Maj-Gen. C.B. Fairbanks, CB, CBE
From 1952 Maj-Gen. J.H. Inglis, CB, CBE

From 1956-1960    Maj-Gen. K.G. Exham, CB, DSO Post-Independence - Major Generals Welby-Everard and Aguiyi-Ironsi 
Although some vague references exist to a few indigenous field commissions in the early years of British campaigns in Nigeria, the first ten commissioned officers were Bassey (1946), Ugboma(1948), Sey, Aguiyi-Ironsi and Ademulegun (1949), Shodeinde (1950) followed by Maimalari, Lawan, Ogundipe and Adebayo (1953). Maimalari and Lawan, both northerners from the North-East, were the first Sandhurst trained officers in Nigeria. The others listed rose from the ranks.

In 1965, Maj. Gen. CB Welby-Everard (a Briton) handed over, somewhat amicably (since he opposed Ironsi's nomination), to Maj. Gen. JTU Aguiyi Ironsi as GOC, Nigerian Army - Nigeria's first indigenous Army Chief. In January 1966, Ironsi became "Supreme Commander" after taking control following the January 15 mutiny. He did not actually give up the position of GOC, NA. Instead he combined it with his new position and appointed Gowon Chief of Staff (Army) - COS (A). Hence Ironsi continued to use the license plate "NA 1." 

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