Major Donatus Okafor (died July 1966) was a Nigerian army officer, Commander of the Federal Guards Brigade, and one of the principal plotters of the January 15, 1966 coup, an event that derailed Nigeria's nascent democracy and introduced military rule to Nigeria.
Okafor was born in Kaduna and was fluent in Hausa. His father reportedly had a business in Kano and his mother was a Tiv.
Participation in the January 15, 1966 coupEdit
As Commander of the Federal Guards Brigade, a unit tasked with providing security to Nigeria's Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Okafor was critical to the January 15, 1966 coup conspirators considering his intimate knowledge of the Prime Minister's routine. Okafor had a personal relationship with the Prime Minister and was considered a member of Balewa's household.
On the night of January 15, 1966, Major Okafor led Federal Guard soldiers to Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari's residence at Thompson Avenue in Ikoyi. The group was unsuccessful and Maimalari escaped waving down another coup conspirator, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, who unbeknown to Maimalari was in on the conspiracy and was Maimalari's Brigade Major. Emmanuel Ifeajuna and 2nd Lt. Ezedigbo gunned down Maimalari. Author Max Siollun, notes that PM Balewa would have witnessed Maimalari's murder because he had been abducted by Ifeajuna earlier on in the evening.
Soldiers of northern origin who mutinied during July Counter Coup broke into Abeokuta prison where Okafor was detained. He was tortured and according to some accounts was buried alive by his attackers.
- Siollun, Max (2009). Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora Publishing, 2009. p. 34. ISBN 9780875867106.
- Luckham, Robin. The Nigerian Military a Sociological Analysis of Authority & Revolt 1960-1967. CUP Archive, 1971. p. 37.
- Siollun, Max (2009). Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966-1976). Algora Publishing, 2009. pp. 48–49. ISBN 9780875867106.
- Omoigui, Nowa. "The Key Players of the 1966 Rebellions-Where Are They Today?". Gamji. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- Luckham, Robin. The Nigerian Military a Sociological Analysis of Authority & Revolt 1960-1967. CUP Archive, 1971. p. 69.