Friday the 13th, particularly when it occurs in February, is deemed a very unlucky day in Western superstition. For certain, a lot of people in the Europe and America have come to believe the day holds a lot of ill luck. Hollywood has even produced horror film franchises based on the theme. The superstition like many others, have been strengthened by individual claims of some ill event like a sack, divorce or accident happening to them either on a February 13th or a Friday the 13th. The word, friggatriskaidekaphobia, meaning, the fear of Friday the 13th derived its origins in Norse mythology.
Despite insufficient proof to support the ill-fated day, Friday, 13 February 1976 sticks out in Nigeria’s history as a day that brought a string of bad fortune to many in Nigeria. Nigeria’s Head of State was brutally assassinated on his way to his office on that fateful day. His unescorted Mercedes Benz car was riddled with bullets killing all four passengers including General Murtala Mohammed.
Luck also ran out on the perpetrators of the coup as it was botched by troops loyal to Mohammed’s regime. Buka Dimka, his sponsors and accomplices were summarily rounded up and shot in a firing squad weeks after the coup.
The most tragic tale from this Friday the 13th saga was the erroneous arrest and execution of one Col. A.D.S Wya for complicity in the coup. At the time of his arrest, Colonel Wya had been the Commander of the Corps of the Artillery and an accomplished wartime hero. His story is most unfortunate because his British wife had sought even the assistance of her home government to prove her husband’s innocence to no avail. In the end, Wya was executed. Col. Wya among a host of other officers and men were later exonerated from plotting and participating in the Dimka coup. But it was now too late. Having lost all hope and sensibility, Mrs. Wya drove into a train in Kaduna killing herself and her four children. Col. Way’s disconsolate younger brother equally committed suicide at the demise of his brother.
Indeed Friday, February 13th 1976 should never be forgotten in Nigeria!