A United States declassified memo of August 18, 1975 showed that late Head of State, Brig. General Murtala Muhammad committed genocide against the Igbo during the Biafra Civil War.
The memo from John E. Reinhardt to the U.S. Secretary of State titled: Nigeria After the Coup of July 28, said; This memorandum is presented in response to your request of August 14. It is concerned with the nature of the new government, its prospects, and continuing of American interests.”
The memo declassified on May 4, 2006 with ref number PA/HO Department of State, E.O. 12958, as amended, contradicts the official position of the Nigerian government which exonerated Muhammad from being involved in the coup that sacked General Yakubu Gowon from power, as well as denying the genocide perpetrated by the Nigerian Army under the late Head of State’s command during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War.
On the new leadership, Reinhardt wrote: “The leader of the coup against General Yakubu Gowon is an erratic, vainglorious, impetuous, corrupt, vindictive, intelligent, articulate, daring Hausa.
“Brigadier Murtala Muhammad was a prime force in the Nigerian coup of July 1966, which brought Gowon to power, and is one of the two principal plotters against Gowon for the past two years. He commanded a division during the Nigerian civil war , was involved in the only documented cases of genocide, won one important battle, and thereafter coasted for upwards of two years until Gowon finally removed him from command and placed him in charge of Army signals. A position he held until last month, though he combined his military role with the civilian position of Commissioner (Minister) of Communications from July, 1973 until the coup.”
The memo further stated that: “Muhammad inherits from Gowon vast petroleum resources (potentially 3-3.5 million BPD, based on known reserves), considerable but neglected agricultural wealth, tremendous but untapped natural gas reserves, other minerals (coal, tin, columbite, uranium), by African standards an excellently trained civil service, and the dubious asset of eighty million people.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on the 40th memorial lecture of the late Head of State said, Mohammed was on his way to putting Nigeria back to the path of order and discipline before his assassination in a military coup on February 13, 1976. Buhari said Mohammed showed “genuine interest and concern for up-and-coming officers like myself,” and “described him as a great personality who made huge sacrifice for the country.”