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Coup Comment: Kaduna APC Chieftain Calls For Ekweremadu’s Arrest |RN

IkeEkweremadu

Deputy Senate President, dr Ike Ekweremadu

By Baba Negedu, KADUNA

 

A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) in Kaduna State, Alhaji Salisu Tanko Wusono yesterday called for the arrest of Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.

Wusono the Acting publicity Secretary of Kaduna APC chapter said the call has become imperative following the comments by Ike Ekweremadu that democracy is under threat and coup is possible in Nigeria.

Wusono said just because there is what he called intraparty wrangling within some states is not enough to say a coup is possible.

Wusono then condemned the postulation of Senator Ekweremmadu and called for his immediate arrest by security agencies because his advice is sarcastic in nature and could open a door for a plethora of calls for military take-over in the country.

Wusono, however, urged Nigerians to ignore senator Ekweremmadu, saying he was not surprised by the position of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) chieftain because the party is no longer in power. (New Telegraph)

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Zimbabwe Calm As Regional Leaders Hold Talks With Mugabe, Military |RN

-AU urges restoration of constitutional order

-Opposition groups call on President to resign

Zimbabwe was calm yesterday even as it faces uncertainty amid quiet talks to resolve the political crisis and the likely end of President Robert Mugabe’s decades-long rule.

Envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are trying to reach a deal on the future of Zimbabwe and Mugabe who has led the country for 37 years. SADC officials converged on Botswana for a meeting chaired by South Africa and Angola. Their recommendations will be given to heads of state and government.

Reports said SADC, ministers were already in Harare meeting with Mugabe and the army separately.

Mugabe has been in military custody, reportedly with his wife, and there was no sign of the recently fired deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled the country last week, Associated Press reported. The military remained in the streets of Harare.

Witnesses confirmed a sighting of Mugabe’s motorcade moving through the capital, Harare, its destination unknown. They said a helicopter was hovering at the same time the motorcade was sighted. It was not immediately clear where the motorcade was going.

African Union leader Alpha Conde, said: “The African Union expresses its serious concern regarding the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe.” He went on to insist that “constitutional order… be restored immediately” and called “on all stakeholders to show responsibility and restraint”.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for calm, non-violence and restraint after gunfire and explosions were heard near Mugabe’s compound.

Seizing on the political limbo to speak out, a range of voices yesterday urged Mugabe to step aside and for the country to transition into free and fair elections. Reports said sources suggest Mugabe may be resisting pressure to step down, insisting he remains the legitimate president.

Sticking points are said to include what role Mnangagwa will play and the security of Mugabe’s family.

ZANU-PF’s United Kingdom representative, Nick Mangwana, has suggested to the BBC that Mugabe could remain nominally in power until the party congress in December, when Mnangagwa would be formally installed as party and national leader.

Head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and the main opposition leader in Zimbabwe, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai said yesterday: “In the interests of the people, Mr Robert Mugabe must resign… immediately”.

Tsvangirai, who has been abroad receiving treatment for cancer, also called for a “negotiated all-inclusive transitional mechanism” that would lead to “comprehensive reforms for free and fair elections to be held”.

This has been echoed by another Zimbabwean opposition leader, Tendai Biti, who told the BBC: “It is urgent that we go back to democracy… that we go back to legitimacy but we need a transitional period and I think, I hope, that dialogue can now be opened between the army and Zimbabweans.”

The People’s Democratic Party said in a statement yesterday that the transitional authority should be “made up of competent Zimbabweans whose mandate will be to put in place measures to turn around the economy” and build a better society for all.

Zimbabwean vice president who was fired in 2014, Joice Mujuru, called for “free, fair and credible elections.” She told reporters she was heartened by assurances given so far that condemn violence and encourage peace. She said she has not been contacted by the military or Mnangagwa’s people.

More than 100 civil society groups have issued a statement urging Mugabe to peacefully step aside and asked the military to quickly restore order and respect the constitution. A joint statement by churches also appealed for calm. The Zimbabwean pastor whose social media campaign led to the largest anti-government protests in a decade called on citizens to “stand up for peace.”

Evan Mawarire, who founded the #ThisFlag movement, asked: “Should we just sit and wait or shall we at least be part of this transition process?” He urged that citizens not wait for regional leaders to broker the next phase. Members of the opposition, civil society and religious groups called for calm and respect for rights.  (The Sun)

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Robert Mugabe Appears In Public For The First Time Since Military Coup |RN

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Zimbabwe General Visited Beijing Just Days Before Executing Coup |RN

By Adrian Blomfield

The general behind Zimbabwe’s coup may have sought Chinese approval days before the army launched its takeover of Robert Mugabe’s government, it emerged on Wednesday.

Mr Mugabe remained under house arrest last night, still president of Zimbabwe if in name alone, a prisoner of once slavishly loyal generals who now hold the country’s fate in their hands.

As the former British colony faced a deeply uncertain future under military tutelage, a trip to Beijing by Gen Constantine Chiwenga, the head of the armed forces, last week has reignited concerns about rising Chinese influence in Africa.

The general held high-level meetings with officials from the Defence Ministry, and visited a school to observe a Shaolin Kung Fu class.

Although the Chinese foreign ministry insisted Gen Chiwenga’s visit was a “routine visit”, analysts have suggested that Beijing may have given the rebellious army chief its tacit blessing in advance.

Mr Mnangagwa and his allies have made conscious efforts to court Beijing as both an investor and a military partner.

Zimbabwe Army General Constantino Chiwenga addresses a media conference© JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images Zimbabwe Army General Constantino Chiwenga addresses a media conference

China, which has displaced Western rivals to become Africa’s largest trading partner and is a major investor in Zimbabwe, notably declined to call for Mr Mugabe’s restoration yesterday, despite his long ties to Beijing dating back to the Cold War.

Last year, China pledged to invest $4bn in Zimbabwe for investment, loans and aid over the next three years.

Responding to the coup, the Chinese foreign ministry merely stated that Beijing was “paying close attention to developments”, prompting suggestions that China had agreed to sacrifice “Comrade” Mugabe” in the interests of an orderly succession.                       (The Telegraph)

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Zimbabwe Crisis: We Are Targeting Criminals, Not Mugabe, Says Army |RN

Constantine-Chiwenga

Commmander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga

Army General Constantino Chiwenga Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces addressing a media conference held at the Zimbabwean Army Headquarters in Harare. Photo: AFP

Zimbabwe’s military has read out a statement after taking over the national broadcaster, ZBC, saying it has taken action to “target criminals”, BBC reports.

However, it said this was not “a military takeover of government” and President Robert Mugabe was safe.

Heavy gunfire and artillery were heard in northern suburbs of the capital, Harare, early on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe’s envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, earlier dismissed talk of a coup, saying the government was “intact”.

The statement read out by Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo came hours after soldiers overran the headquarters of ZBC. He said: “We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.”

The statement added: “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… that are causing social and economic suffering in the country. As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”

The statement did not name those targeted but a government source quoted by Reuters said Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo was among those detained.

It is not clear who is leading the military action.

Other key points of the statement included:

  • Citizens should remain calm and limit unnecessary movement
  • The military assures the Zimbabwean judiciary that its independence is guaranteed
  • Security services should “co-operate for the good of our country” and any provocation would “be met with an appropriate response”
  • All leave for the defence forces is cancelled and they should return to barracks immediately

(Punch)

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Fear Of Coup: Army Clamps Down On Suspected Soldiers |The Republican News

Image result for nigerian army in coup
                                      Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai

OLALEYE ALUKO

The Nigerian Army may have begun an internal search for soldiers and officers suspected to be engaging in political meetings, a top military source has told SUNDAY PUNCH.

The source said that some arrests may have been made, but that the information was being kept as top secret so as not to add to public tension.

Some other sources who spoke with our correspondent on Saturday also noted that the  establishment of an army unit in Daura, Katsina State, on Friday, named Muhammadu Buhari Forward Operation Base, by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, was an effort to fortify the president’s hometown and a public pledge of loyalty.

On Tuesday, Buratai, in a tense language, had warned officers and soldiers to steer clear of politics, as information had reached him that some officers were involved in political meetings for “undisclosed reasons.”

The army chief had advised officers and soldiers interested in politicking to resign from the service, as any officer caught would be severely penalised.

Three days after the alert (Friday), Buratai went to Daura, where he inaugurated the army unit, and paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Daura, Dr Faruk Umar.

The details of the meeting have yet to be known.

The army chief, at the ceremony, had said the establishment of the unit was to enhance security in parts of 1 Division, which Daura town fell under.

Also, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, said, “The establishment of the new unit was part of the implementation of the Nigerian Army approved Order of Battle 2016 (ORBAT 2016) by the Army council.

“Prior to that, the COAS was also at the Palace of his Royal Highness, Alhaji Faruk Umar, the Emir of Daura, for a courtesy call.”

The top army source said the army knew quite well the weight of its statement on politicking soldiers in the country, and had already followed up with high intelligence-driven search, adding that the public groups and civil societies could not be more rigorous than the army.

Other sources told our correspondent that some of the suspected political meetings were held under the guise of some of the recently redeployed 147 soldiers and officers, allegedly trying to familiarise with their new hosts.

When contacted on the measures the army was taking on the alert of soldiers hobnobbing with politicians, the army spokesman, Usman, said the army was a professional service, and would not hesitate to brief the public if it considered the information as necessary.

He said, “The army is a disciplined and professional service. We relate well with the Nigerian public. When there is need to disclose information, we will.”  (Punchng.com)

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Coup Alert: UK, Ohanaeze, ACF, PDP Warn Soldiers Against Coup

Nigerian-Army

Regional bodies, the Peoples Democratic Party, civil rights groups and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria among others, on Wednesday, urged military officers and other individuals toying with the idea of a coup in Nigeria to perish the thought.

Among those that condemned the alleged plot of a military intervention are the United Kingdom Government; the umbrella body for the North, the Arewa Consultative Forum; the Igbo socio-political organisation, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and a prominent lawyer, Alhaji Yusuf Ali (SAN).

Also, two Civil-Society Organisations – Committee for the Defence of Human Rights and the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders – condemned the alleged romance between some Nigerians and a soldiers for political reasons.

In separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday, they declared that coups were no longer fashionable.

The Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, however, warned Buratai not to turn himself to a whistle-blower.

They spoke against the backdrop of a warning by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who alleged, on Tuesday, that some people were approaching soldiers for political reasons, warning the soldiers, who might heed such overtures of serious consequences.

A statement by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, on Tuesday, stated, “This is to inform the public that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. T. Y. Buratai, has received information that some individuals have been approaching some officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons. On the basis of that, he has warned such persons to desist from these acts.”

Although  Buratai did not elaborate on the political reasons, there had been fears by some Nigerians that such hobnobbing is a bad omen and may lead to a military intervention.

Curiously also, the COAS warning came a week after a major shakeup in the top echelons of the Army.

Don’t turn the clock backward, says ACF

The ACF applauded the Chief of Army Staff for warning officers and men of the Nigerian Army to steer clear of politics.

The National Publicity Secretary of the group, Muhammad Ibrahim, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna that the warming was timely.

The forum’s spokesman urged Nigerians to expose those who wanted to turn the clock back.

ACF added, “Nigeria, at this time of our democratic experience, cannot afford any distractions by some unpatriotic individuals who want to use the military or other security agencies to disrupt our hard-earned democracy.

“The ACF therefore commends the Chief of Army Staff for his proactive action and appeals to Nigerians to expose those who wish to turn the hand of the clock backwards.”

Expose those approaching soldiers, Makarfi-led PDP, Ohanaeze tell Buratai

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo aligned with the position of the PDP factional group, asking Buratai to expose those that had approached soldiers for political reasons.

The group, however, warned against attempt, by anybody or group, to take advantage of President Muhammadu Buhari’s sickness “to take power through the back door.”

The Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mr. Chuks Ibegbu, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said the nation deserved to know the individuals concerned.

“He (Buratai) should name those people, so that Nigerians will know who they are, and their motives.

“People should not take advantage of Mr. President’s health condition to take power through the back door.

“Whoever they are, they should know that any attempt to scuttle democracy in this country will be resisted by Nigerians. Military rule is no longer welcome in this country.

“But Buratai should start by naming these people; Nigerians need to know who they are so as to stop them.”

The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, however, urged Buratai to expose politicians who were approaching soldiers for political reasons.

The National Publicity Secretary of the committee, Dayo Adeyeye, said this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

Adeyeye stated, “He should come out more openly and tell Nigerians what is actually happening. What exactly is the nature of the contact politicians are making with the soldiers? We would like to know the nature of the contact and who and who are making the contact.

“It is only reasonable that he exposes those involved. What are those politicians making these contacts asking for? The truth is that as a nation, we cannot go back to Egypt, because democracy is our Promised Land.”

Attempts to get official comments from the ruling All Progressives Congress were unsuccessful. Calls to the mobile telephone of the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, indicated that it was switched off.

A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.

Those seeking change must follow democratic process –UK

In its reaction to Buratai’s warning, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, said the United Kingdom would continue to support democracy as the only system of government in Nigeria.

Arkwright further stated that anyone, who was seeking for change, must follow the democratic process which is election.

The British High Commissioner said this in Abuja on Wednesday while fielding questions from journalists after the presentation of a Chatham House Report, titled, ‘Collective Action on Corruption in Nigeria: A Social Norms Approach to Connecting Society and Institutions’.

Arkwrtight said, “The British Government believes that democracy is absolutely critical in Nigeria. There is a democratic process here; there are elections. If you are not happy with your leaders, then you should change your leadership process through your leaders and through elections.

“That is exactly what happened in 2015 and it is what the British Government will expect to happen in Nigeria. So, our position is very clear; we stand for democracy, we stand for the democratic process and we stand for change, if that is what the people of Nigeria want.

“It has to be a choice that the people make and not a choice that is imposed upon them.”

Don’t turn yourself to a whistle-blower, Afenifere tells COAS

But Afenifere condemned the comment by Buratai on an alleged romance between the military and some soldiers, saying the comment had created fear in minds of Nigeria that coup might occur at anytime.

The Publicity Secretary of the group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, stated that the COAS should not have made that statement but should have dealt with his men, who were found guilty of hobnobbing with politicians.

Odumakin stated, “The Chief of Army Staff should not have turned himself to a whistle-blower over the matter. He has a directorate of military intelligence, it should have found out those soldiers contacted and who are contacting them, not to be blowing whistle like the EFCC.

“It is very unfortunate that such a statement is coming out from the Chief of Army Staff. The statement has not only created fear but has also indicated that something can happen at any time.”

Buratai’s warning commendable, says Sheriff’s PDP

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, loyal to Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, Bernard Miko, commended the Army chief for reminding his officers and men of their professional ethics.

“The Chief of Army Staff is not a politician, but issuing routine administrative orders to his field commanders on professional ethics which is very commendable,” he said.

Military should deal early with politicking soldiers, say CDHR, CACOL

In their reactions, the CDHR and CACOL said the military should urgently deal with soldiers who are fraternising with some politicians and douse the tension of a military incursion.

The CDHR President, Malachy Ugwumadu, said in an interview with one of our correspondents that Nigeria could not afford the rumours of a military infraction, let alone the action itself.

He called on the Army authorities to deal internally with such perceived indiscipline.

Ugwumadu stated, “The military incursion into politics is an era we have nullified once and for all. We all knew the struggles we had before winning this democracy.

“Our country cannot stand the rumours of a military incursion, let alone the action itself.

“I commend the Chief of Army Staff for being so intelligence-driven and he should immediately fish out the soldiers behind such acts and deal decisively with them.”

CACOL chairman, Debo Adeniran, said, “Nigeria, despite the economic recession, cannot tolerate any military intervention in power. The intelligence arm of the Army should identify soldiers fraternising with rebellious politicians and court-martial them immediately.

“The military should remember that it derives its authority from civil rule, and soldiers fraternising with politics should remember that military rule is no longer fashionable. We do not want a military that is not subject to democracy.”

SAN, ex-DSS boss, former minister condemn politicians-soldiers romance

Yusuf Ali described the warning by the Chief of Army Staff as timely.

He added that more than 50 per cent of the problems bedevilling the nation were caused by military intervention in governance.

The senior advocate added, “It is no more fashionable for the Armed Forces to take over government anywhere in the world.

“We saw what happened in The Gambia and what is even happening in Cote d’Ivoire now.

“I think we should all remember that almost 50 per cent of our problems today were caused by military rule, in the first place.

“Mention any problem we have – corruption, deficit in infrastructure and even militancy and others – was caused by the intervention of the military in governance.

“I think the call by the Chief of Army Staff is quite timely and I pray that reason will prevail.

“The problem we have here is not as much as what they have in India, and the Army never took over for more than 40 years. So we should be allowed to make our mistakes and correct ourselves.”

Also, a former Minister of State for Defence, Chief Demola Seriki, advised Buratai to report his suspicions to the Department of State Services, the military intelligence units and the National Intelligence Agency.

Seriki stated, “Buratai should have reported such a suspicion to the DSS and the NIA instead of lamenting or amplifying such a matter in the media. This kind of thing is not good for national security.

“He should report the matter to military and army intelligence units. By extension, the Nigerian counter-intelligence, which is the NIA, should have been informed if he had such a suspicion rather than informing the public because this is not good for national security and prestige and honour of the military.”

Seriki, who held four different ministerial portfolios under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, said a military coup in Nigeria in 2017 was highly unlikely.

“Today, military officers are more enlightened and educated; so, they are more professional. The military that I supervised were gentlemen. So, there is no cause for alarm,” he added.

Also speaking with one of our correspondents, a former Director of the DSS, Mike Ejiofor, ruled out the possibility of a military coup d’etat.

He added that Nigerians would not accept military dictatorship again.

Speaking with The PUNCH on Wednesday, Ejiofor, who is the President, Institute of Security Studies, Abuja, said the alarm raised by Buratai might have nothing to do with a possible coup.

The ex-DSS chief said, “The warning by the Chief of Army Staff is a step in the right direction, but thinking of a possible involvement of soldiers in a coup is completely ruled out because Nigerians and the world at large no longer accept such. So, I don’t want to believe that the Chief of Army Staff had a coup in mind when he made that statement.

“The Army is being accused of taking sides in certain conflicts, failing to take necessary actions to quell crisis in some areas. So, I think he (Buratai) was talking of that because military coups are old-fashioned and no Nigerians will welcome that,  and I believe that our politicians will never encourage soldiers to overthrow anybody.

“There is no cause for alarm. In fact, I can assure you that if the military comes in or if there is any attempt to come in, Nigerians will drive them away with their bare hands.” (Punchng.com)

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British Government Gives Official View On Coup Rumours In Nigeria

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British Prime Minister, Theresa May

The British government has warned against “non-democratic” change of government in Nigeria, amid speculations about military coup as concerns grow over President Muhammadu Buhari’s health.

“The British government believes that democracy is actually critical in Nigeria,” the United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, said on Wednesday. “There are elections. If you’re not happy with your leaders then you should change your leadership through the democratic process and through elections.”

The High Commissioner spoke on the sidelines of an event held in Abuja to formally launch a new report on corruption in Nigeria which was put together by UK policy think-tank, Chatham House.

His comments came a day after the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, warned of undue interactions between Army officers and politicians, as concerns mount over Mr. Buhari’s health.

The president traveled to London last week for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment, just over a month after returning to Nigeria from an extended medical leave abroad.

“Any officer or soldier of Nigerian Army found to be hobnobbing with such elements or engaged in unprofessional conducts such as politicking would have himself or herself to blame,” the Army said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Sani Usman, a brigadier general.

Although the statement cited “political reasons” as grounds for the purported discussions between some military officers and politicians, it was silent on the specific discussions that took place or the individuals involved.

But earlier in the week, military sources had informed PREMIUM TIMES that the Army leadership was unsettled by growing speculation of possible coup de’tat by officers within its rank and file.

PREMIUM TIMES further learnt that Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, had raised the issue with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and promised to nip it in the bud.

The alleged plot might also have informed Mr. Buratai’s decision to shake up Army formations with random transfer of senior officers last week.

The UK envoy, Mr. Arkwright, while recognising the rights of citizens to agitate for a more tolerable living condition, said the United Kingdom would only encourage a change of power through the ballot box.

“Our position is very clear: we stand for democracy, we stand for the democratic process and we stand for change —if that is what the people themselves want,” the diplomat said. “That has to be a choice the people make and not a choice that is imposed upon them.”   (Premium Times)

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Bamaiyi Is An Evil Liar, He Tortured MKO Before His Death, Says Col. Ajayi

Col-Ajayi

Col. Gabriel Ajayi

Col. Gabriel Ajayi, one of the military officers roped in by former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, in the 1995 phantom coup tells BAYO AKINLOYE that Bamaiyi is a snake in the grass

When did you join the Nigerian Army?

I joined the Nigerian Army on June 27, 1971. I was part of the Regular Course Number 10 of the Nigerian Defence Academy.

What was the first brush you had with the military authorities as a soldier?

Let me state that before I went to the NDA, I had already made up my mind – because I had two and a half years experience in the newspaper industry and I undertook a lot of things knowing that I was academically better than my colleagues. I was far ahead of them in perception and in understanding of everything that was going on in Nigeria and beyond. In Kaduna, there was a time we went for a road march, and we were singing that we were Kaduna soldiers – that was in 1971. So, when we came back, I and two other cadets wondered whether we were actually Kaduna soldiers. We were supposed to be cadets for the Nigerian Defence Academy. We sought audience with the then Lt. Col. Solomon Omojoku, who was an instructor in the academy. But he was busy. We therefore went ahead to see the chief instructor, Lt. Col. Pius Eromobo. In response to our observation, he sent us away regarding us as unserious fellows who had nothing to do. Something else happened while I was in Ibadan – the heartland of Yorubaland. During a conference, soldiers began speaking Hausa. Then, I queried the switch from English to Hausa. My punishment was 15 days in detention.

In Nigeria, we have two armies: the army of the North and the army of the South. The army of the North was peaceful, friendly and was like a family  and there were no intrigues or scheming. We had a great relationship with civilians unlike what obtained down South where soldiers will get into public transport without paying, harass the public and even brutalise them. It is only in Lagos that all the coup plotters are settled. There was such a wide difference between us (soldiers) who were serving in the North and soldiers serving in the South. I do not know if things have changed now. Ninety-five per cent of my career was spent in the North. I can only remember a clash between civilians and soldiers in Kano; and the soldiers were punished by the military authorities for that – everybody in the brigade in Kano, including the commander.

How will you describe Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi?

It is not in my character to impugn the sanctity of senior military officers because we worship people like that in the military. Unfortunately, when a senior officer descends into the sewage tank, the officer cannot expect to smell of perfume. I am not obliged to speak derogatorily about Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi but he is a devious person. He is a fraud. For example, see how he bit the fingers that fed him; that is, Gen. Oladipo Diya. It was Diya that single-handedly appointed him as Chief of Army Staff during the Gen. Sani Abacha regime. Bamaiyi is slippery and treacherous; he had no permanent friends and had no sense of loyalty. He lived by the day. Everybody was his enemy and everybody was his friend as the need arose. He was clever by half. This is a man who wrote a perfect confidential report about me and two weeks later, he put my name on the list of officers planning to overthrow the government of Abacha.

I still have a copy of the report he wrote concerning me, describing me as a distinguished Nigerian;   worthy officer and two weeks later, he  withdrew the letter from where it was kept. He is not a dependable master. He is an unprofitable master. He is very clever and mean. If I tell you the bad comments that Bamaiyi used to make about the Yoruba, you’ll be shocked, but I do not want to offend my friends in the North. He did not deserve to be given a commission in the Army; giving him such was a misnomer. This is someone whom I attended church service with regularly and we ate Holy Communion together. He was supposed to pray for me. He lied in his book that he didn’t know about plan to arrest me but two days to the arrest, he changed the guards in my house.

He would send officers to me, to speak ill of him, trying to entrap me. Instead of condemning him, I would implore them to respect Bamaiyi, that the commander is always right. I knew what he could be up to. He also knew my stance as far as June 12, 1993 presidential election was concerned; he knew my stance as far as discipline in the army was concerned; and he knew my stance as far as military involvement in political issues was concerned. He knew my stance on God. I have never wavered in all that. I am a book freak; I have one of the largest libraries in the Nigerian Army  and I have kept a library since 1971. They looted that library. Bamaiyi is an unreliable character. He is very evil. He never read the Bible until he was sent to prison. This is somebody who said there was no God.

How did you become so close to a man you didn’t fancy that much?

I was the President of St. Luke Military Church. He was my church member but he was also my commander. A soldier would still obey his superior and he asked for my opinion about things. Being the president of the church did not affect my work. He wanted to remove me but couldn’t because of the way I conducted myself. Other soldiers warned me to be careful of my association with him, that he could spoil my career. He told me himself that he is a snake in the grass. Bamaiyi said he is more terrible than his brother contrary to what people think. And, he is right; I have known his brother since 1974. He taught me in Nigeria Military College. I was second-lieutenant, he was a lieutenant. He taught me again in Nigerian Army Infantry; I was a captain, he was a major. Then, he was my deputy commandant and I was a training commandant in Zaria. So, I know the older brother very well. I extended the love I had for the senior brother to Ishaya Bamaiyi while serving under him.

What can you say about Gen. Bamaiyi’s book?

His published book is a comedy of errors. I will call it a fictional thriller. It should be titled, ‘The platform of Mallam Bamaiyi’. Just look at him: he spoilt the name of his government and the name of his superiors. He blackmailed as many people as possible. A true general should be dispassionate and diplomatic. He damaged the career of so many fine military officers. Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju replied him that he was lying in his book. Everybody knows he is a liar. The military knew he was a liar. How he was made to become Chief of Army Staff was a mystery to all the officers – it was Gen. Diya, a distinguished military officer, who chose Bamaiyi; even Abacha didn’t want him. I guess Diya didn’t know him very well. I had thought that Bamaiyi would apologise to Nigerians on behalf of the Abacha regime and ask for forgiveness rather than spew falsehood in his book. His book is full of lies.

What about his view as stated in the book that MKO Abiola died under controversial circumstances in the custody of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar?

Don’t mind him. At the Oputa Panel, Gen. Sabo alleged that when Abacha died Bamaiyi said the military should ‘equal the equation’. How could he claim that Gen. Abdulsalami should be held accountable for Abiola’s death when he was among those  who tortured Abiola before his death? Bamaiyi was behind many evils done under Abacha. Compared to Bamaiyi, Abacha was a nice man. Bamaiyi’s aim through his book is to pit the Yoruba against Gen. Abdulsalami. What love does Bamaiyi have for the Yoruba to be concerned about the death of Abiola? Don’t mind him; he’s a liar.

How were you involved in the alleged coup of 1995?

Let me tell you something about the 1995 phantom coup that I have not mentioned before. It had five groups of accused – that is, the coup was a compendium or amalgamation of so-called diverse crimes put under the generic title of coup plot. The groups were: one, we the so-called phantom coup victims led by Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and others; two, those alleged to be organising guerrilla operations in Lagos with their base in Ojo, led by Major Akinyemi; three, accessories after the fact of treason allegedly led by Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti; four, those charged with leakage of our defence to the outside world under Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline led by Navy Commander Fabiyi and Col. Olu Craig; and five, illegal possession of firearms without Presidential Permit, led by Lt. Col. Izuorgu. No newspaper ever recorded this piece of information  that I have just given you. For that phantom coup, I was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad.

Do you mean you were never part of the coup?

There was no coup at all – a coup that was created in the evil imagination of someone. The head of Army’s Legal Services was arrested; a man who had the law-book of Nigerian military; an adjutant of the Nigerian Defence Academy was arrested in Kaduna; Quartermaster Giwa was arrested and (Lawan) Gwadabe in Yola, Adamawa was arrested. How were we going to storm Aso Rock and remove Abacha? What force were we going to use to remove him? The coup allegation was laughable, incoherent and childish. The essence of the coup conspiracy was to knock down NADECO (National Democratic Coalition). Once the coup allegation was thrown up, the nation became divided and distracted from the issue of Chief MKO Abiola and that lasted for almost a year. Everybody was begging for leniency on our behalf. It was no longer June 12, it was a strategy; a deliberate attempt meant to distract the public from agitating for Abiola’s mandate.

Were you at any time sympathetic to the cause of Chief MKO Abiola and his efforts to regain his mandate?

Yes; in March 1994, I wrote a position paper through the Chief of Army Staff to the Head of State, Gen. Abacha, asking him in a humble and most humane way – with proper analysis and points – to de-annul the June 12 presidential election, call the winner and hand over power to him. I urged him to act like Gen. Fidel Ramos of the Philippines. Doing so, I argued, would put his name in the hearts of Nigerians forever as a general who handed over power to civilians; a general who stood on justice. And I said that the problem of the country largely was because of injustice. I stated that beneficiaries of injustice today would become its victims tomorrow. I pleaded that the agitation for the de-annulment of the election shouldn’t be seen as a Yoruba cause,it was a Nigerian issue.

I wrote that paper, produced one confidential copy, sent it to Abacha and made recommendations. That paper was brought before the tribunal that tried me for coup plot, stating that I was not happy with the military regime and that I was angry about the annulment of June 12 election.

But were you happy with the military back then?

I couldn’t have been happy with the way we were behaving – everything contradicted the norms with which I was raised up. I was raised up as a strict Christian. You know when I left the NDA in 1973, my first goal was to read the Holy Bible – to read and study what it says about the military. One of the things I learnt was that we were not supposed to shed the blood of the innocent again; and that rebellion (coup making) is like the sin of witchcraft; while stubbornness is like the sin of idolatry. In the New Testament, according to John the Baptist, soldiers were urged to neither do violence to no man, nor accuse anyone falsely. Following what the Bible encourages soldiers to do, I made sure that soldiers under my command followed strictly my precepts. There was no way I could have been acting the way many of them did.  I had a pedigree and a home but many of the soldiers had  no pedigree so they behaved anyhow.

Everybody knew me. I was a reference point. Senior officers would come to me to seek counsel on papers they were writing. They knew I was different and that I would never be part of a coup. I was a serious person. Every day, I was in the library reading except on Sundays. Everybody knew my stance and I could not see the reason June 12 should be annulled. How could someone say on behalf of the Armed Forces (an election was annulled) and we were not consulted?

If you had your way, knowing that the military junta was not ready to allow Abiola to exercise his mandate, would you have organised a coup?

No; at that time, coup was no longer fashionable. If not for the phantom coup used to distract the nation, the people would  have forced the military regime to accede to their demand – they could have brought down the government. I did not believe and did not see any need for a military coup. I believed the people have the power to force out any illegitimate government. Just imagine 10 million people sitting on the road from Lagos to Ibadan for five days without leaving the road; and from Ibadan to Ilorin, five million people sitting on the road, what would the military do? What would Abacha have done? With NUPENG going on strike and Nigerians enforcing a sit-at-home protest, the masses would give the military the sack. Democracy is a dictate of everybody; there was no need for a coup,the people could have brought down the government by themselves. That is the people’s power.

What do you know about the involvement of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua in the so-called coup?

When Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was the head of state, I was a captain; I wasn’t even qualified to be his aide-de-camp. He and Yar’Adua were far superior to us for me to begin to form an opinion about them. When we were told that Obasanjo and Yar’Adua were arrested, we concluded that Abacha had taken his madness beyond expectations. How could he arrest such men and accuse them of conspiring with us to overthrow his government? It was a misnomer. I only knew Obasanjo from distance.

Did you share same cell with him while in prison?

We were held hostage inside the demonic, outskirt prison located inside Ikoyi Cemetery. We were there together in the Inter Centre – a Department of State Services detention facility with  an underground dungeon tucked inside the cemetery. I think the name was an abbreviation for Interrogation Centre – until we were scattered and moved to various detention centres when the ruling junta said American marines were coming to rescue us.

You must have had a terrible experience while in detention. Can you tell us about it?

It was a terrible experience. I am still on medication since 1999 that I came out of prison. I am physically damaged by Bamaiyi and his cohorts that I can hardly hold a cup properly in my hand. I lost my manhood during the torture period. I was battered beyond human comprehension because they wanted to obtain a confession that would implicate me in the coup. They put fire in my anus and also in my private parts. I just came back from the hospital today (Friday). The Federal Government was never bothered about our medical predicament. They threw us out of prison naked with no care, claiming they gave us state pardon for a coup we knew nothing about – that’s wicked. I have been spending my hard-earned money on medical bills. My heart ran a marathon race between anger and frustration given what they made my eyes to see. Bamaiyi wanted me dead and he exacted the hatred he has for the Yoruba on me – transferred aggression.

If you meet Gen. Bamaiyi today, what will you tell him?

Because Christ had come to conquer, I am speaking as a matter of truth that I have nothing against him. If I meet today, I will greet him, though he was an unprofitable master. I was loyal to him. Even when he was eventually imprisoned and some people came to me for help concerning that, I did the best I could. Bamaiyi represents the ugliness of this country. He is a replica of what Nigerians are. Don’t blame him: it’s the system that produced Bamaiyi. We have to blame the system. If we don’t change the system, the country will continue to produce the likes of Bamaiyi. We have to restructure this illegal federal system. Nigeria should be attractive to everybody. This is the tragedy of Nigeria; we cannot eat our cake and have it. The system is bad and it can throw up so many Bamaiyis in the political arena; legal system; medical, educational and economic sectors of the country. We need to ensure that public office is not turned to personal possession – it should be something held in trust for the masses.

Did Obasanjo say anything about the coup, Abacha and Bamaiyi in your presence?

We never discussed any of them. Who were they? These people were not examples of sterling characters in the military. They were not people of distinction that you have to copy unlike fine senior officers like Gen. Akinrinade; not Abacha and co. Look, let me tell you, I was doing my Young Officer’s Course in Jaji in 1974, Eromobo was a colonel; he was a commandant and Abacha was a major and Chief Instructor in Nigeria Military Training College. Abacha was teaching us in the classroom and we were all laughing because he was goofing. The commandant knew our set in the NDA; he knew that we were very troublesome. He watched us laugh at Abacha, and then he came inside the classroom and ordered Abacha to get out and never to come back there again. Abacha and his ilk were not distinguished military officers. We couldn’t have sat down to talk about Gen. Abacha or Gen. Bamaiyi; what were we going to say about them? That they stole our money? Abacha pocketed all the military allocation under his command; he never released our allocation – officially appropriated allocation and nobody could ask him.

What do you know about Gen. Oladipo Diya’s $60,000 cash meant to execute the alleged 1997 coup?

I was already in prison as of that time. I don’t know exactly what transpired then. But I would rather believe Gen. Diya’s word  than Gen. Bamaiyi’s. Diya is not likely to lie but everyone knows Bamaiyi is a liar. It is sad that 22 years after I was roped in by Bamaiyi, he still continues to lie against me instead of tendering an apology. He owes me an apology.   (Punchng.com)

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