Murtala Muhammed was born into the family of Risqua Muhammed and Uwani Rahamat on 8 November 1938, in Kano. He attended Cikin Gida and Gidan Makama primary schools in Kano. He obtained his secondary school certificate at Government College Zaria. He was married to Ajoke and they had six children.
He joined the Nigerian Army in 1958. He was made head of state on July 30, 1975. He moved the Federal Capital Territory from Lagos to Abuja in regards to over population. He created seven states of Nigerian on 3rd of February, including Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Imo, Niger, Ogun, and Ondo. Bringing it to total of nineteen states in 1976. He took Federal control of the country’s two largest newspapers, Daily Times and New Nigerian under his control. During the oil boom (a period of massive flow of income as a result of high global oil prices and production), he inherited a large amount of oil and petroleum resources and natural gas reserves. He received many awards and medals which include: Forces Service Star (FSS) General Service Medal (GSM), Meritorious Service Star (MSS), National Service Medal (NSM), Republic Medal (RM).
He was killed at the age of 37 on 13th February 1976 on his way to his office in Lagos. He was succeeded by the Chief of Staff Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. To keep his legacy, his face was featured on the twenty naira note. Also, Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos is named in his honor.