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Muhammad, Murtala Ramat

Murtala Ramat Muhammad, 1938–1976, Nigerian military officer and politician. A Muslim Hausa from the north, he joined the Nigerian army and was involved in the coup that brought Yakubu Gowon to power. As commander of the army's second division, he fought in the civil war (1967–70) brought on by the attempted secession of Biafra. When Gowon was overthrown (July, 1975), Muhammad was made head of state in a military government. He attempted to reduce the bloated ranks of the civil service and armed forces while encouraging expansion of the private sector. Muhammad also centralized power by taking over policymaking from the states and bringing newspapers, broadcasting, and universities under federal control. He was assassinated in Feb., 1976, and was succeeded by Olusegun Obasanjo.

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