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Joseph Akahan
Chief of Army Staff (Nigeria)

In office
May 1967 – May 1968
Preceded by Yakubu Gowon
Succeeded by Hassan Katsina
Personal details
Born (1937-04-12)April 12, 1937
Gboko LGA, Benue State, Nigeria
Died May 1968

Lt. Colonel Joseph (Joe) Akahan was Chief of Army Staff (Nigeria) from May 1967 until May 1968, when he was killed in a helicopter crash during the Nigerian Civil War.[1][2]

Birth and education[edit | edit source]

Akahan was born on 12 April 1937 in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State. He attended Government College Keffi where he obtained his Cambridge School Certificate (1952–1956). He trained as an officer cadet at the RWAFF Training School Teshi, Ghana (1957–1958) and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom (1958–1960). He was commissed on 23 July 1960.[3]

Military career[edit | edit source]

Akahan served with the Nigerian Contingent during the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Congo.[3] In the January 1966 coup that brought Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi to power, the mainly northern Ibadan-based 4th battalion lost its commanding officer who was replaced by an Igbo, Major Nzefili. The northern officers refused to obey him, and Aguiyi-Ironsi was forced to replace him with Major Joe Akahan, a northern Tiv officer.[4] Akahan was one of the leaders of the July 1966 counter-coup in which Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed and replaced General Yakubu Gowon, and in which there was a mass slaughter of Igbo officers at 4th Battalion in Ibadan under Akahan's command.[5] Following the coup he said there would be no more killing by Northern soldiers "since events had now balanced out".[6]

Akahan was appointed Chief of Army Staff in May 1967 shortly before the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War.[1] He was said to be the brain behind the concept of the sea-borne operations led by Colonel Benjamin Adekunle that captured Bonny in July 1967.[2] When he died in a helicopter crash in May 1968, he was replaced as COAS by the relatively inexperienced Hassan Katsina.[7] Joe Akahan Barracks is named after him, located in Makurdi, capital of his home state (Benue) and an early base of operations during the civil war.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

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