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2019: June 12 Recognition Will Boost Buhari’s Chance In S’West – Ogunyale

Buhari-honours-Abiola

 

Brown Chimezie

Shina Ogunyale is a lawyer and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC).  He speaks on the posthumous awards bestowed on the winner of June 12 election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, his running mate, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and others.

 President Muhammadu Buhari has honoured late Abiola and others in recognition of their role in nurturing the country’s democracy, how would you describe this development?

In my own view, it is a welcome idea. It is long overdue. It is a very good initiative in a good direction. This reminds me of the words of my late mentor; Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) that June 12 is symbolic. May 29 is not symbolic because May 29 is just like October 1st; May 29 is just a mere hand-over day from military to civilian and nothing more.

What made June 12 symbolic was because that was the only day that we had a free and fair election, well-conducted with over 40 million Nigerians across tribe and ethnic divide, went out to elect Abiola as their president. You will agree with me that we have never witnessed that type of election before and even now, an election where Abiola won across all the geopolitical zones. He even won in the hometown of his major contender, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of National Republican Convention (NRC).

The step to recognise June 12 as Democracy Day ought to have been taken since, but Chief Obasanjo may have refused to do this out of petty jealousy for the person of Abiola. Imagine a Yoruba man from the same state as Abiola failing to recognise him, but a Fulani man from Katsina has done it.

But some Nigerians have insinuated that President Buhari took this step for political reason to get the votes from South-West and spite Obasanjo. Do you agree?

I agree with them. In politics, you must be smart to outwit your opponent. That means the opposition is not smart enough to take the right step at the right time. With this, every average Nigerian will vote Buhari for removing shame from their faces. It is a thing of pride to us that our late son has joined the league of past head of state, a thing Obasanjo would have done but couldn’t out of hatred and jealousy.

Come to think of it, (Goodluck) Jonathan tried to immortalise Abiola by naming Unilag after him, but enemies of democracy scuttled that arrangement. In fact, I commended President Buhari for using executive order instead of consultation. Consultation would have run into the same hurdle that ruined Jonathan’s initiative on Abiola. I can assure you that more political moves to lure the South-east, South-south and other geopolitical zone is underway.

Were you surprised that the Late Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) also got an award?

No. The award bestowed on Gani is a well-deserved one. Remember that the award was given to him by the late Yar’Adua and he rejected it. Why? If Abiola had been honoured by Yar’Adua, Gani would have followed suit. So in this case, President Buhari honoured Abiola, Gani and others who fought for democracy and I am sure if Gani was to be alive today, he would accept the award wholeheartedly.

Do you think Kingibe deserves that award?

Looking at his political antecedent, maybe he should not have been honoured but by the virtue of the fact that he was the vice president-elect to Abiola in that election, so automatically he should enjoy all the benefits that go with that office.

But the Southeast is saying, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, the then electoral umpire should not have been left out of the honour’s list, what’s your take on this matter?

Honestly speaking, Prof.  Nwosu is one of my mentors. Like I said when he was appointed NEC chairman then, I had confidence in his ability to deliver. He deserved to be honoured. We will continue to speak with President Buhari to see the reason why the former NEC boss should be honoured. He didn’t compromise. If he had compromised, he would have stopped the announcement of the result. But he stuck out his neck to announce all the results. For this singular reason, I think he deserves to be recognised. June 12 is symbolic just like Prof. Nwosu. So without him, Abiola’s mandate wouldn’t have been realised.

As the person who organised that election don’t you think IBB too deserves mention?

If there is anything IBB deserve, it is to retrieve the GCFR from him because of his act of cowardice. In many of his interview, he said he annulled the election because of fear of young officers in the military who threatened to kill him if Abiola becomes the president. So such person doesn’t deserve the honour of valour at tall.

Using Agbara Community in Agbara Igbesa LCDA, would you say APC has done well in the past three years?

In fact, I am ashamed to identify myself as APC member in my community because our people are disappointed in the leadership style of Senator Ibikunle Amosu for his gross negligence of Ogun West senatorial district. Today roads are in bad shape and economy of the people in the area has come to a halt.

Is Senator Olamilekan Adeola still in the governorship race?

As a member of APC and a member of Yayi forum, I am telling you that Senator Olamilekan Adeola is in the Ogun governorship race. Recently he addressed his supporters in Abeokuta where he reaffirmed his stance to run for the governorship race in 2019. The news that Yayi is no longer in the race is from detractors and come 2019, he will prove his worth at the poll.   (The Sun)

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Buhari Apologises To MKO Abiola Family |The Republican News

Buhari-honours-Abiola1

 

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, openly apologised to the late Chief MKO Abiola, winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, for the injustice done to him by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida led military junta.

This is even as he assured that “Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of Justice again.”

The election of June 12, 1993, poll said to be the freest and fairest election in the nation’s history was annulled by the military president, Gen. Babangida.

President Buhari tendered the apology at the investiture of Chief Abiola as Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) at the State House Conference Centre, the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.

“On behalf of the Federal Government, I tender the nation’s apology to the family of late MKO Abiola, who got the highest vote (in the election) and to those that lost their loved ones in the course of the June 12 struggle,” President Buhari said before getting guests to observe a minute’s silence in honour of those who died.
He said the ceremony was not intended to open old wounds, but to right the wrongs of the past.

According to him, the decision to honour MKO Abiola and to declare June 12 Democracy Day followed years of clamour by the activists, statesmen, groups as well as the family, associates, and friends of the late businessman and politician should be accepted “in good faith” as this will help the nation move forward.

“We cannot rewind the past but we can at least assuage our feelings, recognise that a wrong has been committed and resolve to stand firm now and ease the future for the sanctity of free elections,” he said.

“Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice. This retrospective and posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country.”

Buhari added that by moving past the negatives of the struggle, Nigerians would be able to fully benefit from June 12.

“Our action today is to bury the negative side of June 12 – side of ill-feelings, hate, frustration, and agony. What we are doing today is celebrating the positive side of June 12,” he said.

“Nigerians, of their own free will, voted for Chief MKO Abiola, and Babagana Kingibe – the presidential flag bearer and running mate of the Social Democratic Party in the 1993 elections.”

He accused the government of the day of cancelling the elections when it was clear who was going to be the winners.

At the event, the late Chief Gani Fawenhinmi and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe were also conferred with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

Speaking on the Abiola family’s behalf, Hafsat Abiola, one of the daughters of the late icon, who said Buhari’s apology was “very touchy” said the gesture was unexpected considering the relationship that existed behind him and the late Abiola

Hafsat told the audience that Abiola was already rehearsing how to deliver his inauguration speech as the president before the election was annulled.
In an emotion-laden voice, she said her late mother told her how Abiola was standing before a mirror to rehearse his inauguration speech.

“He was born Yoruba but he loved Hausa people, Kanuri, Efik, Igbo people, he loved all, you just needed to be a Nigerian and MKO was your man. If he could help he would do.

There are so many things he already did to show and that was why the people of Nigeria rewarded him with the mandate of June 12, 1993. But we know that he was never able to deliver that speech but in many ways, the event that transpired later revealed to Nigerians the eloquence in his heart, the fidelity of his commitment and even his own deep abiding wish that if there was any way his own actions would in any way compromise the people of Nigeria, MKO preferred to die, he preferred to leave the earth rather than compromise on you, on your integrity as a people and your sovereignty as a nation, which was why even the day before he died when he was still being pressured, he asked the question, how do you shave the people’s heads in their absence? “…And when he died, we accepted his body and have watched in Nigeria as year after year till now, the 25th year, you the people have suffered and he was not recognized at all.

“President Muhammadu Buhari, Nelson Mandela it was who said, ‘It always seems impossible until it is down.’ Who would have ever believed given the relationship that you had with Chief MKO Abiola that you would be the instrument God will use to honour this man and to bring recognition and healing to the country.

“You apologised to my family and it touched my heart. You know that I also lost my mother in this struggle; so that apology meant so much. Let me use this opportunity, on behalf of the Chief MKO Abiola because I know what he would have done, I use this opportunity to apologise to you, to apologise to your family, anything that he might have done to harm you and to harm your family,” Hafsat said.

Also speaking, Kola Abiola, the first son of the business mogul said the Abiola family accepted both the award and the apology.

“We thank you for taking the decisive measures to strengthen our democracy and guarantee our future by reconciling our past,” he said.

Chief Abiola’s running mate, Kingibe, said by recognising June 12, Buhari has contributed the noblest chapter to the checkered history of Nigeria’s nationhood.
Kingibe recalled Abiola as a man of great wit and persuasive powers, full of energy and a great philanthropist truly committed to improving the lot of the poor masses.

Also responding, Muhammed, the son of Fawehinmi, human rights activist and legal icon described Buhari as the first sensitive and reasonable head of state to have listened to the people and acted accordingly. “Today is symbolic because it shows the entrenchment of unity all citizens of this country regardless of your tribe, ethnic background, religious beliefs because we are all Nigerians.”

Stop eulogising Abiola’s tormentors – Soyinka

Also, Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka lauded President Buhari’s apology to the late Abiola as a bold step, saying he least expected the president to do so. He, however, admonished him to stop admiring and displaying loyalty to a man he tagged late MKO Abiola’s “Tormentor-in-Chief.”

Buhari had last month eulogised the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, who clamped the business mogul in jail for about five years, for working to provide roads, education and healthcare.

He wondered why President Buhari will continue to display loyalty to a man he described as “one of the worst dictators in the history of the country.”

“Mr President since we are honouring heroes of democracy today, I like to request that you manage to stop creating confusion in the minds of Nigerians. It is not possible to honour MKO Abiola in one breadth and admire his tormentor in another breadth. Loyalty is all very well but loyalty can become perverse if that loyalty is retained to an individual, who if he were alive today would be before the International Court of Crimes against humanity, the one who broke the laws of Nigeria, international laws, pauperised this nation. It is confusing if professional loyalty is carried so far as to be accorded such an individual.”

Soyinka also canvassed for the extension of recognition to others who took part in the June 12 struggle which culminated in the present civil rule.

“All that is left to me is to plead so that we do not forget the nameless, the unsung heroes and heroines of that struggle. A number of names have already been listed but I will like to include one of the pioneers, the instigators of the physical confrontations with that dictator, Comrade Ola Oni, who mobilised a number of people and fought the goons and slaves and surrogates of that dictator in that auspiciously named stadium in Ibadan, Liberty Stadium.  But above all, I want us always to remember that individual which we are principally celebrating today, the man who reappeared and represented himself, who did not understand the word surrender, saying my name is Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, I am back to reclaim my mandate.”  (The Sun)

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June 12: Stop Showing Loyalty To Abiola’s ‘Tormentor-in-Chief’, Soyinka Tells Buhari

Wole-Soyinka
                  Prof. Wole Soyinka

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to stop admiring and displaying loyalty to an unnamed individual whom he referred to late MKO Abiola’s “Tormentor-in-Chief.”

Some are of the opinion that he had referred to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, who clamped the business mogul to jail for about five years.

Abiola died in prison.

Although Soyinka did not mention Abacha’s name specifically, the Nobel laureate said it was confusing for Buhari to honour Chief Moshood Abiola on the one hand and be admiring the late politician’s “Tormentor-in-Chief” on the other.

He wondered why President Buhari will continue to display loyalty to a man he described as “one of the worst dictators in the history of the country” and who should be having his days in court for crime against humanity.

Soyinka said that in a private meeting with Buhari, he had also raised concerns over how the President could be saying his administration was fighting corruption, whereas a major road in the Federal Capital Territory is named after a “corrupt former leader.”

He said he was not satisfied with the response he got from Buhari.

He called on the President to consider establishing a Hall of Shame for those who have wronged the country, just as he puts up Hall of Fame for the nation’s heroes. (Punch)

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June 12: I’ll Work For Your Re-election, Tinubu Promises Buhari |RN

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Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

A national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said President Muhammadu Buhari deserved a second term and that he would work for his victory in the 2019 presidential election.

While highlighting some of Buhari’s achievements, Tinubu claimed that Nigerians are no longer paying for darkness, giving an indication that electricity supply has become stable under the present administration.

He also lauded Buhari for the school feeding programme, a component of the government’s Social Investment Programme.  (Punch)

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Buhari Shifts Democracy Day To June 12, Honours Abiola,

• Confers GCFR on the presumed winner as Kingibe, late Fawehinmi get GCON

• Son: ‘Finally, it’s done, we’re happy’

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja; Chukwudi Nweje

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that effective from next year, Nigeria’s Democracy Day will now be celebrated on June 12, rather than the traditional May 29.

May 29 has been Nigeria’s Democracy Day for 19 years since the birth of the Fourth Republic.
Buhari will also confer a posthumous Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), Nigeria’s highest honour, on the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential poll, late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

His running mate in that election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe will be awarded Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger GCON as well as a GCON on the late pro-democracy activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

The president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the Democracy Day shift is to honour “an illustrious son of Nigeria…who won a presidential election but was prevented from taking office when the results were annulled.

“The late Abiola died while struggling to actualise the mandate. Consequently, the late MKO Abiola will be conferred with nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, exclusively conferred on the holders of the highest office in the country, the president.

“In the same vein, Kingibe is to be conferred with the second highest honour, GCON. Also to receive a GCON is Fawehinmi.”

In a personal statement he signed yesterday evening, Buhari explained why his administration chose June 12.

“For the past 19 years, Nigerians have been celebrating May 29 as Democracy Day. That was the date when for the second time in our history, an elected civilian administration took over from a military government.

“The first time this happened was on October 1, 1979. But, in the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993, was far more symbolic of democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29 or even October 1.

“June 12, 1993, was the day when Nigerians, in millions, expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our Independence. The fact that the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military government does not detract from the democratic credentials of that process.

“Accordingly, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.

“Therefore, the government has decided to award posthumously, the highest honour of the land, GCFR, to Abiola… His running mate, as vice president, Kingibe, is also to be invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualisation of the June 12 elections and, indeed, for democracy, in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) is to be awarded the GCON.

“The investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which, in future years, will replace May 29 as a national public holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day.”

MKO was born on August 24, 1937, in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He was the 23rd child of his father but the first to survive infancy.

He delved into business at nine years old, selling firewood before school. By age 15, he founded a band and would perform at various ceremonies in exchange for food.

He was eventually able to require payment for his performances and used the money to support his family and his secondary education at the Baptist Boys High School Abeokuta.
Quite politically conscious, MKO joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) at the age of 19, because of its stronger pan-Nigerian origin.

A business mogul, Abiola set up Abiola Farms, Abiola Bookshops, Radio Communications Nigeria, Wonder Bakeries, Concord Press, Concord Airlines, Summit Oil International Ltd, Africa Ocean Lines, Habib Bank, Decca W.A. Ltd, and Abiola football club. He was also chairman of the G15 business council, President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, among others.

He joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the two political parties registered by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration.

At the June 12, 1993, presidential election, Abiola and his running-mate, Kingibe defeated the National Republican Convention candidates of Alhaji Bashir Uthman Tofa and his running-mate, Dr Sylvester Ugoh.

The election was eventually annulled by Babangida, causing a political crisis which led to General Sani Abacha seizing power later that year.

In 1994 Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria.
Abacha thereafter arrested and detained Abiola on treason charges.
He was detained for four years.

Abiola died in suspicious circumstances shortly after Abacha’s death, on the day he was due to be released; July 7, 1998.

In his reaction to government’s declaration, Abiola’s eldest son, Kola Abiola, told Daily Sun last night: “Finally, it is done. It’s been a lot of hard work. We are happy.”
Kola also said the family will issue a comprehensive statement on the development.         (The Sun)

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Abacha Killed Yar’Adua With Lethal Viral Injection, He Wanted Me, Abiola Dead -Obasanjo

 obasanjo
                            Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

ARUKAINO UMUKORO

A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, revealed on Saturday that the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha wanted him, the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and the June 12 hero, the late Moshood Abiola, died while in prison.

He stated this at a dinner programme organised by an inter-denominational Christian organisation, Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 39 Chapter.

The former president alleged that Yar’Adua was poisoned by Abacha’s killer squad, adding that he was to be next victim, but that he was saved by God’s divine grace.

Obasanjo said, “Two people had earlier told me Abacha promised that three of us would not come out of prison or detention alive; myself. Shehu Yar Adua and MKO Abiola. And two of them did not come out alive. So, that I came out alive, maybe God has a purpose. And therefore if the purpose is for me to serve the people and by so doing,  serve God, then so be it.

“Abacha claimed that I was plotting a coup. I wasn’t the first to be arrested. When Shehu (Yar’Adua) was arrested, I tried to plead for his release. When Abacha said he didn’t know about Shehu’s arrest, I said to him, ‘the number two man in this country cannot be arrested without you knowing.’ He then said he would go and find out.

“In Abacha’s plan, he left God out of it and because he left God out of his plan, it (his government) eventually failed. There is God’s hand in the life of each and every one of us and every institution. I believe that very well.

“When I was arrested, they took me to a house in Ikoyi (Lagos) and that became my abode (I was) in isolation, for three months.

“In the meantime, there were national and international pressures for my release, (former US) President Jimmy Carter was one of the world leaders that came to ask for my release. Some African leaders like Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe came. I believe it was because of those pressures that I was released from isolation in Ikoyi where I was under house arrest.”

Obasanjo described the day he was court-martialled and sentenced as one of the ‘worst days in his life.’

He said, “I must say that that day, in a split second, it felt like the worst day in my life. What flashed through my mind was that I was forever ruined. I asked myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this? Is this what I get for serving Nigeria?’ But then, I told myself again that this was not done to me by Nigeria, but that one man did it for me.”

Obasanjo said he and Yar’Adua were detained in Jos and Port Harcourt prisons because they were the best prisons in the country at the time.

He said, “I was to go to Jos (prison) and Yar’Adua was to go to Port Harcourt (prison). In Jos, I was visited by my colleagues, including Yakubu Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, many of our colleagues, and then family members and friends.

“Then a decision was made that I was becoming too popular in Jos prison and I had to be transferred to. Yola prison which is a native authority prison and I don’t need to tell you what life was there.

“In Jos prison, before I was transferred to Yola prison, they had decided that Shehu Yar’Adua and myself should be poisoned. So, they took him from Port Harcourt prison to Abakaliki. In the process, he was injected with the virus that killed him. The same was supposed to be done to me. The man who came took me from the prison to a guest house in the GRA in Jos,  said, ‘We know you have a problem with cholesterol so I have to take your blood for a test.’ Then I said, ‘Not on your life, I don’t have any problem with cholesterol.’

“I was slightly diabetic. But God had taken care of it because I was checking my blood sugar almost on a daily basis and it had become better than normal. So, I refused him (the man) touching me with anything. So, they took me to Yola and he said, ‘when you get to where you are going, we will come again.’”

The former president said he was saved from being poisoned by a doctor and specialist in the prison.

“The doctor was a professional man in charge of the General Hospital in Yola. He listened to my case that I needed special food because I was diabetic. He said the specialist would come to see me. The specialist turned out to be somebody from Okeogun in Oyo State. Two, he was a Baptist, and three, he had heard about me and knew me. So, he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t let anybody touch you with anything.’

“Within three weeks the man that came to me earlier returned again and said he wanted to take my blood. I said, ‘No, you have to get my doctor to come and take my blood for you.’ That was the arrangement between me and the doctor. And my doctor came and he brought a syringe and he took my blood and gave it to him. He now asked the man, ‘When would we have the result? ’The man said, ‘Within 24 hours of my getting to Abuja.’I haven’t heard the result until today.”

Obasanjo said after his release from prison, he gave into pressure to contest for the presidency and he ended up becoming president for two terms by the grace of God. “Nigeria that was a pariah state became a darling (of the world).

“What is the lesson for me? I developed in prison but unfortunately, I was not able to sustain it. Maybe because there was nothing else to do in prison except to pray and fast. I used to fast a lot. On three occasions, I fasted for seven days, no water, no food… a unique power was given to me by God.

“In all these, God did not leave me alone, and I know that.  I say to people that God has never let me alone nor disappointed me in spite of all. I am a sinner. It is not because of my goodness, but because of the grace of God, and the grace of God continues to abound.”  (Punchng.com)

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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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