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Abacha's henchman al-Mustapha sings brieflyabout "Abubakar-Diya Coup" plot, the killing of Abiola, NADECO andother issues
Special to USAfricaonline.com
USAfrica The Newspaper
Following a joint petition and request for summon by a jointpetition submitted by the late Alhaji M.K.O Abiola's first son, Kolaand his physician, Dr. Ore Falomo on the death of the man widelybelieved to have won the June 12, 1993 presidential election inNigeria. MajorHamza al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to latedictator Gen. Sani Abacha has made significant and controversialclaims on November 27, 2000 to the Justice Oputa-led Human RightsViolations Investigation Commission. He made controversial commentsand allegations regarding the roles of Nigeria's former ruler Gen.Abdulsalami Abubakar (he handed over to retired Gen. OlusegunObasanjo in May 1999). Falomo charges that Abubakar should be heldresponsible for Abiola's death since it happened under his watch andthere was much to be desired).
Theterroristic Abacha henchman al-Mustapha cited former Chief of GeneralStaff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya , retired Gen. Abubakar, Rear AdmiralAllison Madueke and former Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Chris Alifor, allegedly, planning an unexecuted "coup" against their then bossAbacha (in uniform, right) in 1994. He referred variously to theabuse of power by some officers, expressed concern for his life andfamily's interests, the June 12 crises and other related issuesconcerning the death/murder of Alhaji M.K.O. Abiola.
Al-Mustapha 's testimony was led by his counsel, attorney AmobiNzelu. Here are excerpts:
Counsel: Major Al-Mustapha, look at the security around yourselfand what has been happening to your family, what do you have to sayabout that?
Commission Chairman: Counsel, if you have any papers to tender,you can do so and then ask him questions on them. We can onlydeliberate on what is before us.
Al-Mustapha: Before I say anything, I want to reaffirm my earlierdetermination to say everything I know. The issue of fear has nothingto do with what I read, I am here to do justice to all the questionsthat I am asked. However, I am privileged to receive my relations inKirikiri where I am detained who gave me news of threat to myparents. I learnt I am to be shot here today. For two years there hasbeen no real threat to me or my family. I even told the police whilewe were coming here that I would see how prepared you are about mysecurity. But whoever is afraid that I will speak today whethermilitary or civilian, you can try it.
And if you are in this hall, I challenge you to shoot me because Iexpect a bullet while I speak. I don't fear it. To those who arereally afraid by their wisdom, they created this commission, and bytheir wisdom, they summoned me to appear here and speak, but they arenow afraid. The matter today is very serious. I have read thepetitionof Mr. Kola Abiola and Dr. Ore Falomo, I have listened to the oraltestimony of Dr. Ore Falomo but the question is, is Mustapha adoctor? No! I am, however, concerned about the lives of members of myfamily. To me, I have no problem. When they arrested me for coup in1998, I was expected to die. I attach very much importance to myparents and our family. I cannot come here and talk and in theprocess sacrifice my family. This matter is one of the exceptionalsecurity matters. I will therefore urge the commission to allow mespeak in camera.
Commission Chairman: The issue of security matter should not justbe divulged in the open like that. It is not peculiar to Nigeriaalone but it's like that all over the world. But such applicationscannot come from you. It is your counsel who can make thatapplication on your behalf.
Counsel: What is your reaction to what has been said about youconcerning Abiola's death.
Al-Mustapha: I read the petition of Dr. Ore Falomo and Kola Abiolaand listened to Dr. Falomo this morning. But before I say anything, Iwould like to make one remark, the fact that Chief Abiola died doesnot mean I should take advantage of it because he is no longer hereto respond to it. The same thing with Gen. Abacha. At this juncture,I will like to ask the commission on my request about my bags, whichwere seized. 13 Ghana-must-go bags containing vital documents whichare needed in this case. I asked the commission to help me retrievethem.
Commission Chairman: Commission counsel, have you received thebags.
Commission's counsel: My Lord, we sent summons to the respondentsin respect of his request but there have been no response.
Al-Mustapha: Talking about Abiola, first my relationship with him.I knew Chief Abiola through Gen. Sani Abacha in early 80s. I was thenin the Office of the Chief of General Staff. My relationship with himwas very, very cordial until the time he died.
In November 1993 before Gen. Abacha came to power, Chief Abiolajust returned from the USA in the evening and we met outside theDefence House, Lagos. He came to see the late Head of State. Theydiscussed through late hours. The meeting was facilitated by me but Iwas not privy to their discussions. I believe it was in the spirit ofJune 12. While ING was on, i.e when Chief Ernest Shonekan was inpower, discussions and negotiations took place betweenrepresentatives of late Chief Abiola and representatives of late Gen.Abacha. In Gen. Abacha's government, there were people considered tobe in his kitchen cabinet. At the meetings, there were those onbehalf of Chief Abiola and those on the side of Gen. Abacha. On ChiefAbiola's side I can recall Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, I can recallProf. Akinyemi. Maj.-Gen. Adebayo (rtd.) will throw more light onthis. Brig.-Gen. Abdulahi Ahmed (rtd.) and Brig.-Gen. M. C. Alli(rtd) can also throw more light on the negotiations. Now to bespecific, when Abacha came to power one thing was clear that thosewho held discussions with Gen. Abacha on behalf of Chief Abiolabecame disappointed. This disappointment arose when Gen. Abacha didnot accept them in his cabinet and this was the cause of thedisagreement. They then declared themselves opposition to theAbacha's government. They should have a big heart to admit this. Thisopposition became NADECO. They led Chief Abiola to declare himselfPresident-elect of Nigeria. Problems arose for declaring himselfPresident-elect of Nigeria which brought one major issue from thepolice, who arrested him and why. I have here something to show thecommission. It's a letter dated June 27, 1994 addressed to the Chiefof General Staff by Deputy Inspector-General of Police A. Nkana whichwas copied to the then Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji IbrahimCoomassie seeking a detention order for Chief Abiola, the place ofdetention and the date of detention to be effective June 23,1994.
(He then read the letter which stated that following the annulmentof June 12 election, it was obvious that the ING can no longer copewith the endless threat to the security of the nation and it istherefore necessary to hand over to Gen. Abacha who will return thecountry to a democratic rule in a more sound and convincing ground.All the pro-democracy groups and the dissolved National Assembly haveconspired to continue to proclaim June 12 to discredit the militarygovernment and ridicule government functionaries. Dr. Ransome-Kutihas also been arrested under the same decree and six out of the 21senators have been charged to court. While all this was going on,Chief Abiola increased the tension so that he should be proclaimedthe President. He deserted his house but on June 23, 1994 he wasarrested and taken to Alagbon for questioning. We were thereforerequesting for power to keep him for six weeks.)
After reading the letter, Al-Mustapha continued his testimony:
Three days after, Alhaji Coomassie initiated another letter to theHead of State requesting another detention order. Alhaji IbrahimCoomassie will clarify to this commission when he appears here.
Counsel: Thereafter what happened?
Al-Mustapha: Thereafter just like the petitioner himself, I heardthat Chief Abiola was taken to several police stations andprisons.
Counsel: Should this have been so?
Al-Mustapha: Contrary to my personal thinking it should not havebeen so. This is left for the police to speak about. On theconfiscation of his property, I knew nothing about it.
Counsel: Did you attend any meeting where it was directed thatChief Abiola's property should be confiscated?
Al-Mustapha: I did not attend any meeting where it was discussedthat Chief Abiola's property should be confiscated.
Counsel: What is your role in Chief Abiola's death?
Al-Mustapha: The issue of Chief Abiola's security is thebeginning. In 1994 there were several attempts to abduct or kidnapChief Abiola by both civilians and military. First it was civiliansthat staged it. When I discovered that they were serious about it, Irequested the FCT Police Command for helping hands to protecthim.
There were attempts to buy SSS operatives to know the location andthe commanders of those who were guarding him. Olu Akerele, I learntsent his petition before this commission but later withdrew it. OluAkerele gave $250,000 to an SSS operative working in the villa whowas later dismissed and punished legally. Akerele also approached CSPRabo Lawal through a policeman to bribe him so that Abiola could beabducted. The SSS should submit their report on this to thiscommission. While Akerele was doing all this, he entered therestricted area at the Presidential Villa at 4.30 a.m. He found hisway through. There was a standing order by the Brigade of Guards thatanybody found in a restricted area within the villa should be shot onsight.
Even today as President Obasanjo is at the villa, if anyoneintrudes into the restricted area he will be shot on sight. But I didnot allow Akerele to be shot on sight. When he was brought to myoffice, I instructed that he should be taken to the police station.It was announced that he was not shot and beaten him up when they gotoutside before being taken to the police station. Rather than Akerelecoming to thank me for saving his life, he is now sponsoringmalicious publications against me. Second example, in 1994 there wasa coup plan using Abiola as a shield. Former Chief of General Staff,Lt.-Gen. Oladipo Diya was at the helm of it. Gen. Diya's coup startedfrom 1994. His desire to overthrow Abacha started in 1994 at theOfficers Mess, Wuse, Abuja.
When these plans were on and it became obvious that he wanted toexecute his coup, he used his boys to trace the detention point ofChief Abiola. It was on the morning of the ECOWAS meeting. On thesame evening, Gen. Diya placed the Commissioner of Police, FederalCapital Territory under house arrest for not getting Abiola abducted.At this time Alhaji Coomassie ran away to hide. The Inspector-Generalof Police whom I relied upon to give me a helping hand was nowhere tobe found. I then faced a difficult situation here whether to allowChief Abiola remain with the police. When you have a crisis in yourhand, you should never allow it show on your face rather your actionshould inspire confidence in your subordinates. Chief Abiola was thenmoved to the Guest House of the Secretary to the Government. InLagos, there were others who were to support Gen. Diya's mission.Gen. Abacha called all of them to a meeting which they did notattend. Now on threat to Chief Abiola's safety. As a result of thissilent coup service chiefs were retired. This exercise affectedDaggash. General Abacha out of his magnanimity called all of them andtold them we have to unite and build together in order to achieve ourmission.
Rather than announce the coup, they were retired. Others weredismissed General Abdulsalami and Lt. General Oladipo Diya werecautioned and pardoned but they were placed under surveillance. Fromthis point the journey may be rough. I will speak more on this fromnow on. But I am requesting to talk to the commission in camera onthe topic which my lord corrected my counsel earlier on."
After brief deliberation on that request Commission chairmanJustice Oputa said to the surprise of many that "In every country theissue of security is very sensitive. The names of the officersinvolved are not divulged, you only hear them you don't see them.Such issues are taken in camera, it is customary to do it in cameraand Nigeria can not be an exception."
On the other hand, Reverend Father Kukah, a member of thecommission, noted that "it was late Dele Giwa (assassinated formereditor-in-chief of Nigeria's NewsWatch magazine) who put it very wellthat it is the duty of the government to keep secrets and it is theduty of journalists to find the secrets. it is not automatic thatonce a witness says a piece of information should be given in cameraand it will be taken like that. We shall consider the facts and theinterest of Nigerians to know the truth. We shall weigh everything.The public should therefore trust us."
Retired General Diya is scheduled to appear on December 6, 2000.
The petition on behalf of Chief MKO Abiola byDr. Olu Falomo, personal physician the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, andAbiola's son, Kola:
"Chief M.K.O. Abiola was the presidential flagbearer of the SocialDemcoratic Party in an election held in Nigeria on June 12, 1993.After the election, the results convincingly showed that he won.
"But the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangidaannulled the election results on June 26, 1993 to the chagrin ofChief M.K.O. Abiola. "Following the cancellation of the electionresults, Chief Abiola felt the development was a great injustice tohim and the entire Nigerians that gave him the mandate. He thereforeprotested.
"This development galvanized the power-that-be to cordon off hisresidence in Ikeja on June 8, 1994 by security personnel with all themembers of his family held under house arrest.
"Although he was in his Ikeja residence when the security mencame, he disguised and escaped through the back door.
"Later, he declared himself as the president of the FederalRepublic of Nigeria, a development which made the Federal Governmentto declare him wanted with prize put on his head.
"He went into hiding after declaring himself president but on June23, he resurfaced again and was arrested at his residence by heavilyarmed combined team of security men from the police and the SSSwithout any warrant.
"His arrest without warrant was potently illegal anyway but he wastaken to Gasua police station in Yobe, Damaturu police post, Kujepolice station in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and later to Bwariin the FCT in an unmarked bungalow. He was also detained in GadaNasco Barracks in Abuja.
"Sometimes in 1994, his newspaper outfit, Concord Press was sealedoff and all Concord titles - National Concord, Weekend Concord,Sunday Concord and others were subsequently proscribed.
"Also in 1994, his bookshop at Lagos was invaded and sealed up bylate General Abacha.
"His exploration oil licence was revoked, his oil lifting licencewas concealed, his air operating licence of Concord Airline was alsorevoked.
"Ditto with all his radio communciation contracts with theNigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Army. They were both concealedwhile all payments due to him in respect of services already renderedwere denied him.
"Consequently, his arrest and detention was challenged at theFederal High Court, Lagos during which the trial judge that sat onthe matter, Justice A. Jinadu declared his detention as unlawful andordered a substantial cost against the Federal MilitaryGovernment.
"But the then government of General Abacha did not obey theorder.
"Also, the shut Concord Press separately filed an action in courtto challenge the Federal Government's action and the judge orderedthe reopening of the shut premises. But the order was also notobeyed.
"In a separate action before a federal high court, it was alsoordered that Chief MKO Abiola be physically produced, the order wasequally not complied with.
"However, later in 1994, he was charged for a bogus offence oftreasonable felony in Abuja whereon they employed all possible legalgymnastics to ensure that his trial was delayed.
"But while in their custody, an application for his bail was filedon his behalf. The request was granted but the government refused torelease him.
"Chief M.K.O. Abiola suffered grievous human rights violations invarious cells and prisons for four years before he was killed.
"For instance, at Gasua, Damaturu and all other detention centres,he was exposed to cruel and despicable conditions.
"All through, he was kept in solitary confinement infested withmosquitoes and cockroaches for 24 hours daily. No visitor was allowedto see him even including his family.
"Also, he was denied all forms of communication to the outsideworld as he was not allowed to read newspapers, listen to radio,watch television or accessed to telephone facilities. He was onlyallowed to read Quran and Bible.
"Besides, he was not allowed wrist watch, and calendar, adevelopment which led to his loss of time and memory.
Chief M.K.O. Abiola fell down at least on four different occasionswhile he was being moved from one detention centre to another.
"Since the age of 16, Chief M.K.O. had been using warm water tobath but this he was denied while in their custody despitewarning.
"Occasionally though, I was allowed to see him, yet allconversations between us were not only made to be in public but alsorecorded.
"At this juncture, it is pertinent to include that Major HamzaAl-Mustapha determined when and how he was to visit Chief M.K.O. Hepersonally took absolute control over his detention.
"I can recall that on August 24, 1994, one Lawal Kazeem flungChief against a pillar. He was severely injured and taken to theclinic where his x-ray was taken and his spine was discoveredaffected. In fact, he couldn't walk.
"Initially though, the Federal Government allowed that he shouldbe taken abroad for treatment over this and his heart problem whichaccording to medical reports had doubled its normal size but thedoctor of evil, Dr. Yakassai and Major Mustapha went against thedecision. "When his health situation worsened and he could hardlystand, at a time blood started emerging from his urine.
"It was this development that made me to summon a team of doctorsincluding the then president of NMA Dr. Oye Adeniran to examine ChiefM.K.O. He was really examined but he was denied medicalfollow-up.
"In 1996, there were fewer occasions for medical visitation. Imyself was allowed to see him last for such on May 10, 1997. Thattime, the air conditioner in his room was faulty, the light in theroom was bad, affecting his eyes, his clothes were not washed and hein fact developed eczema and pneumonia.
"He also lost weight and this was confirmed by visiting ArchbishopDesmond Tutu who called on him in prison. Tutu then had said thatChief MKO had shed about 40kg weight. He pleaded with the governmentthat he should be taken to South Africa for medical attention.
"But when he was not allowed access to doctors, he startedmedicating himself and the result was disastrous. His plight worsenedwhen on April 22, 1998, he fell down in his bath, knocked his headagainst the tub and broke his ankles which became swollen. Even whenhe reported, they thought he was pretending.
"This was the situation until June 7, 1998 when he paid thesupreme price. He died in the hands of the Federal Government. Webelieve he was assassinated by the military junta even when we knewno one could have survived the inhuman treatment he was subjected toover four years.
"For instance, the autopsy conducted on his remains showed that hewas not fed for over 8 hours before his death, he was not allowedaccess to his usual drugs prescribed for him in England for thetreatment of his hypertension and his heart which had enlarged twiceits normal size while his feeding generally was regimented.
"He had no control over what he ate and who prepared it, adeliberate ploy to subject him to break down psychologically,spiritually so as to kill him slowly.
"Even before his death, he had asked based on his health conditionfor pain relieving tablets and cough syrup. We want this commissionto find out who prescribed those drugs and where they came from.
"His last meal was tea which he took on the day of his untimelydeath, we want the commission to find out whether he was the only onewho asked for it and took the tea alone and how the tea was even madefor him and by whom?
"We also want to know that medical doctor that took over from meto dispense medication on late Chief M.K.O. Although, we now know thedoctor. He is doctor of evil, Dr Yakassai.
"But by and large, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar was responsible forChief M.K.O.'s murder.
"Based on the foregoing, we ask for full compensation for thedeceased's.
(Additional summations/reports) from Dr. Falomo:
"We are ready to provide all necessary assistance to thiscommission including documentary reports on the late politicianbefore his death....
the doctor of evil, Dr. Yakassai who was a gynecologist andobstetrician was mandated to treat Chief MKO Abiola of his cardiologyproblem. He was not allowed to be attended to by professionalcardiologist, or neurologist. He was given the leader of strike forceto do a special job on him...
...no decision was taken without the knowledge ofAl-Mustapha."
...even as close as I was to late Gen. Abacha as his personaldoctor, I still had to go through Mustapha before I could see Gen.Abacha. Mustapha was very powerful on the late Gen. Abacha'sadministration."
"The State Security Service (SSS) men were involved in detaininghim but not in their cell.... SSS were present everywhere. They wereinvolved. It could be possible that they could be cooking his food.SSS are the Gestapo of Nigerians."
(On April 24, 1995, a commissioner of police, FCT Abuja, oneMohammed Yusuf phoned Falomo to "inform" him that late Gen. Abachaasked him to come to Abuja). "But when I got to Abuja, I could notsee Gen. Abacha but was told that I was under arrest. No warrant wasproduced to that effect. Two security men came from the Aso Rock wholed me into a solitary confinement. I was kept in a room. But thatday, there was a heavy down pour and the room was flooded with water,about two inches deep.
"Later I was taken to the police in Abuja and subsequently, theNational Security Adviser to the late Head of State, Alhaji IsmailaGwanzo ordered my detention under Decree 2. All through, I wasdeprived all forms of refreshments.
"While in detention, my high blood pressure became worse,psychologically depressed, lost my potential patients who ran awaybecause of the fear that I could be arrested again and that I mightnot have tine for them.
"Consequently, I am asking for the indictment and prosecution ofall those that arrested me, a refund of all money I expended, whilein prison, professional fees of all the four-year medical services Irendered to Chief MKO Abiola while in detention because if he werestill alive, he would have paid me.... when (al-Mustapha comes onThursday November 30, he would explain the roles he played in myarrest and detention."
Falomo: Yes. I treated Gen. Abacha and Mustapha. They are all mypatients.
Falana: During the time you were not allowed to treat ChiefAbiola, who treated him?
Falomo: Up to about a month to his death, he was treated byYakassai.
Falana: Is Yakubu a heart specialist?
Falomo: No. He is a gynaecologist and obsterician. (Justice Oputacut in to ask) Was Abiola pregnant? (panelists and audience brokestarted to laugh at the deliberate, provocative humor)
Falana: So in one word, Chief Abiola was not attended to by aspecialist.
Falomo: No instead, he was given the Head of Strike Force who wasdoing another thing.
Falana: That is all for this petitioner.
Nzelu Amobi counsel to Al-Mustapha took over the questioning.Excerpts:
Amobi: You spoke about the National Concord and other economicproblems. Was Al-Mustapha involved in revoking of oil licence aswell?
Falomo: Well, I do not expect him to be involved but... But I wasclose to Gen. Abacha and Al-Mustapha to know that it could not happenwithout Mustapha's knowledge.
Amobi: So, Abiola's treatment overseas was overturned?
Falomo: After my medical opinion on the overseas medical trip, itwas the government position to enable him to go. That was why Istayed in NOGA NICON Hotel for four days to write a report for histreatment abroad. Why it was not carried out was the arrival of thatdoctor of evil who wrote another medical report. The report he wrotewas passed to the Head of State through Al-Mustapha. Afterall,Yakassai himself said this in an interview with Source magazine.Yakassi had no direct contact with the Head of State, butAl-Mustapha. He (Mustapha) could have stopped the report if hewanted. Abacha and Mustapha were one while Gwarzo and Coomassie wereinconsequential.
Amobi: The letters from Yakassai to the Head of State merelypassed through Mustapha as a bus stop.
Falomo: I don't know what you mean by last bus stop (laughter)
Amobi: Has Mustapha the permission to stop such letters?
Falomo: He has the power to stop it. Ask Mustapha whether theletter passed through him or not.
Amobi: You mentioned N800,000.00 as maintenance allowance onAbiola. How does this concern Mustapha?
Falomo: Mustapha said so, and I believe him.
These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
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