Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: It is all well and good, Gentlemen, but I will be vehement on this. The point is that if a room is dirty you do not sweep the dirt under the carpet because whenever you raise the carpet the dirt will be there. It is not so simple as all that. Indeed, on the very principle that you have enunciated here, it is a question of command and control. I like to know who will stand up here and tell me that he commands and controls the Eastern Army or the Army in the East.
Lt.-Col. Hassan: You alone.
Commodore Wey: I can tell you also here now that you are doing it illegally because when we had the first Government no Governor was supposed to have the command of any Army.
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: You have started on the basis of the principles of command and control. If you control a group who will take orders from you, according to you, everybody doffs his hat, well done. Right, that person you doff your hat to cannot command and control those under him and indeed those of the East. What do you do to that?
Commodore Wey: That is why we are here.
Lt.-Col. Hassan: This is why we are here to solve the problem. You command the East, if you want to come into Nigeria come into Nigeria and that is that.
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I am not out.
Lt.-Col. Hassan: This is the problem but if we are to go into the basis of coup and mutiny we will be here for months. I have seen an Army mutiny in Kano and if you see me trembling you will know what a mutiny is. You were the first I rang and for two good days I saw a real mutiny when a C.O. of Northern origin commanding soldiers of Northern origin had to run away. Please, we have all come not to raise issues of the past, let us forget the past and come to the problem. Say what you want to say, let us go into the matter and discuss it.
Mr. T. Omo-Bare: Before we ask Emeka to give a solution will it not be advisable that somebody should say what happened to Ironsi ?
Major Johnson: I support him fully.
Alhaji KamSelem: If I may just say a few words. I am not a military man, but at that time it was just impossible for anybody else to take command of the country. As far as I know even the present Supreme Commander had to be persuaded to take over the Government. The Senior Officers you are talking about could not possibly accept the leadership of the country at that time. What could we do in a situation like that and the country was kept for 48 hours and nobody knew what was happening. As far as I know he has no ambition to remain in this present post. As soon as the situation in the country returns to normal and the problems are solved he will resign. I associate myself with all the Governors who said we should give the present Supreme Commander the respect he deserves. I was present through the whole trouble from January 15 and most of the things took place in my office. As other speakers said, if the Governor of the East has a solution let us hear the solution.
Lt.-Col. Ejoor: Before we hear the solution, we want to know what happened to Ironsi and Fajuyi.
Lt.-Col. Gowon: If a public statement is required I am prepared to make one now. I have never been afraid to make a public statement anywhere. Left to me it would have been announced the day I knew about it and immediately I took the people that should know into confidence. I have explained this to my Colleagues in absolute sincerity and honesty. I had wanted to make the announcement before this meeting but unfortunately I was unable to do so. In any case, I want to make this announcement very shortly, and if you require it now I will say it. If you wish I can give the information in confidence and we can work on that.
Alhaji KamSelem: I think the statement should be made in Nigeria so that the necessary honour can be given.
Lt.-Col. Hassan: This was what happened after the January coup. We agreed to announce the names of all the Senior Officers killed but there was fear all over. Let us combine the whole story ready, do the whole thing respectably and solve the problem.
Commodore Wey: Gentlemen, I would like to suggest this. I do not think there is anybody sitting on this table who would say that until today he did not know about the situation. In short, it is a public statement that is required and now we are going to have it in the scribe’s book. We know the position and an announcement will be made as soon as we get back home.
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: On this question of announcement and as you have all diagnosed, a lot depends on the public statement. The longer it is
kept everything would remain uncertain, so that it is necessary to determine here how we are going to make this announcement. When?
Col. Adebayo: The best thing is to tell us here now what happened to Ironsi then when we get home and we issue our communique, we can make the public statement.
Lt.-Col. Gowon: There is a Head of State and at the moment we are all assuming something serious or tragic has happened to him. He is a Head of State, we cannot just sit down here and discuss it. As I said, it is my responsibility to make the announcement in due course and I will make it in due course. I have already made up my mind that this would be done within the next week or two.
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I am not trying to be difficult on the issue but perhaps you will agree that this issue affects the area I am governing more than any other area. If it is in due course that the announcement is going to be made I would respectfully suggest that a statement would be in due course. Let us decide, if we want the Secretaries to move out, they can move out. If we want everybody out, let them go out for five minutes, the microphones can be taken away or we can move down there. Gentlemen, if even the circumstances mean quite a lot, we can move away from this table, have a quick chat and come back to continue.
Commodore Wey: I support that.