By Oluwaseyi Oduyela/Washington, DC
Few days before the celebration of Nigeria’s 100 years of nothingness, the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram attacked and killed school children in Yobe state. Despite public outcry, Nigeria’s president Jonathan Goodluck went ahead with the celebration of the 100 years of Nigeria. He was not alone in the show of shame; his predecessors- Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan, Abdusalami Abubarkar joined him.
These are old men, mostly in their 70s ( at least according to their official ages). They are fathers and grandfathers. These are so-called elder statesmen and none of them in the right senses can advise their clueless successor- Jonathan to suspend the celebration and declare days of mourning for the killing of these children. As a matter of fact, I am not surprised at these men’s indifference to the Yobe incident as virtually all of them have rendezvous with the phenomenon of death.
I introduce to you, the distinguished members of this HALL OF SHAME
Gen Yakubu Gowon ( 1966-1975)
It was Yakubu Gowon who presided over the killing of Ibos for three years during the civil war. Our Ibo brothers have not yet recovered from this genocide. Babangida and Obasanjo played vital roles in this massacre in the name of forcing a unity on Nigeria.
Gen Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979)
When Obasanjo was Head of State between 1976 and 1979, In 1978 Akintunde Ojo, a student of the University of Lagos was shot and killed by anti-riot police men during a peaceful student demonstration. It was under Obasanjo’s government that Fela’s Kalakuta Republic was attacked by “unknown soldiers” and mama Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was thrown down from a two-storey building, the first woman to drive in Nigeria eventual died from this attack.
Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1979-1983)
Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who ruled between 1979 and 1983, saw the killings of people as a result of the presidential election fallout due to election riggings.
Gen Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida (1985-1993)
In October 1986, on a Sunday morning, Nigerians were greeted with the shock of Dele Giwa’s letter bomb attack. Dele Giwa, Editor-in Chief of Newswatch Magazine was killed by a letter bomb alleged to have carried Nigeria’s coat of Arm. Shortly before the attack, Giwa had received a call from Brig Halilu Akilu who called to confirm if he was at home. Few minutes, a dispatcher brought a parcel, Dele Giwa seemed to have been expecting it, and he asked them to bring it in to him immediately. While chatting with his colleague, Kayode Soyinka and trying to open the envelope, the bomb exploded and that was it.
In 1990, Colonel Dan Archibong, then Military Governor of Cross River State was said to have died in a ghastly motor accident. He was returning to his State after a meeting with President Ibrahim Babangida, the then Military dictator at Dodan Barracks, Lagos. It is believed that the accident was to cover up a state master-minded murder to silence Archibong because of what he was believed to know about Gloria Okon saga that led to the death of Dele Giwa. What is curious about Archibong’s accident is that it was him alone who died in the accident, no other vehicle was involved and no eye witness.
Colonel Odeleke, husband of Bishop Bola Odeleke died mysteriously in Abuja. According to official report, Odeleke was killed by a hit and run driver, but the family was not allowed to carry out a postmortem to ascertain the cause of his death. Military sources disclosed that Odeleke had rejected political appointments preferring to be a professional and never cease to condemn the incursion of the military in politics at every opportunity he had; this according to a source may have been his undoing. Curiously he was reportedly knocked down by car, same day he was prepared for burial, dressed even before his wife and other members of the family could see him.
In 1992 September, about 450 Midriff military officers lost their lives in C-130 military plane that crashed into the Ejigbo Swamp in Lagos.
General Sani Abacha (1993-1998)
Under the terror regime of late Sani Abacha, Rear Admiral Babatunde Elegbede was the first to die by the bullet of hired killers tagged armed robbers. The retired Naval Officer was felled by assassins’ bullet right in the presence of his wife. Since 1994 when he was killed his killers have not been found by the State. Another Naval Officer, Omotehinwa, was unlucky to have been associated with Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade that he paid with his dear life. Alani Akinrinade was among those who formed the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) to fight the tyrannical government of Sani Abacha.
In January 1995, 14 people were killed in a plane crash. The aircraft left Lagos for Kano and did not get there. In the plane were Ibrahim Abacha, and his friends including Aliko Dangote’s brother. Something strange happened and the puzzle has not been resolved to date. Fifteen passengers were said to have boarded the plane from Lagos to attend an Abacha family engagement that never took place, but at the scene of accident only 14 bodies were found, the fifteenth person, a Lebanese was not found, and the Head of State never bothered to order an investigation, In spite of the fact that his eldest son was killed in the crash. But event that unfolded later show that Ibrahim Abacha was not Sani Abacha’s son but child of his wife for another man, Binta Yaradua’s father. No wonder the bodies of those who died I the crash were not released to the families for proper burial. An impeccable source disclosed that Abacha’s bodies was still fresh in spite of the crash and that of Princewill his friend who reportedly died in the crash.
Akin Omotsola former Security Officer of the Nigerian Airport Authority died in a bomb blast planted in his car. But security operatives who carried out investigation came out to say it was Omotsola who had brought the bomb to the airport for use on behalf of NADECO, whereas Alhaji Abubarkar Tsav, Lagos Police Commissioner then who initially carried out an investigation said he did not found any bomb in Omotsola’s office. The unofficial cause of his death was his affiliation to NADECO.
Alhaja Suliat Adedeji, the Ibadan strong politician and a friend of the Abacha family till her death was gruesomely murdered in her Ibadan home. To ensure that she did not survive, she was reportedly shot from her private part after attempt to get her driver make love her to her failed. The driver was asked to sleep with her after being stripped naked, the driver reportedly ran away and her assailants shot her, she bled to death. Her killers are still at large according to the police.
Alhaja Kudirat Abiola’s life was terminated on her way to the Canadian High Commission on 4 June 1996. Her killers, including the master-mind (Hamza Al-Mustapha) have been released by the Supreme Court. Chief Alfred Rewane, a backer of NADECO paid with his life for backing the pro-democracy organization. The police arranged some people as killers but it is now clear that Pa Rewane’s death was a state-sponsored one.
General Abdusalami Abubarkar (1998-1998)
As the head of State, Abdusalami Abubarkar presided over the death of Major-General Tunde Idiagbon was on a visit to a friend in Abuja the rest is now history.
Most importantly was the mysterious death of Chief MKO Abiola. Abiola died after he received a cup of tea from Susan Rice present US National Security Adviser. Architect Layi Balogun, former presidential aspirant lost his life in the hands of assassins later tagged-armed robbers.
Balogun Matthew Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007)
Under Obasanjo as a civilian president, between 1999 and 2003 more than six murder cases were reported. Air Commodore Anthony Ikhazobo former Minister and NFA chairman was killed in 1999 and his killers are still at large.
Uche Orji a senatorial candidate of All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP for Imo state was killed in wake of the 2003 elections nobody has ever been apprehended. Last year, two murder cases were reported in the Eastern part of the country, the state Nigeria Bar Association Chairman was killed in Anambra state, Arthur Nwakwo’s younger brother was killed, the killers are still at large.
Chief Harry Marshal, a former chieftain of People’s Democratic Party and later coordinator of All Nigeria’s Peoples party presidential campaign in South-South was murdered in his Abuja home only for the Police to parade some people as armed robbers confessing to have killed the Chief. According to the robbers they went after the chief because of the campaign money they heard was with him. The question they did not answer or which they have not been asked is who informed them that Harry Marshal was collecting any money?
Before the election, the president’s first child Iyabo escaped death but her friend’s children in the car with her that fateful day paid with their lives to save her. The two kids under 13 were killed and no word from the police on who did it or any clue to the intention of the killers.
There were more murder cases in Obasanjo’s government within a period of four years than in any government either military or civilian. According to Access to Justice, a non-profit Human Rights group, between May 1999 and July 2001, 252 cases of extra-judicial killing by the police and other security agencies were recorded. Far higher than in the last two military regimes.
One of the most troubling cases of murder was that of Napoleon Igboku-Otu, journalist and environmental activist. In 199, Igboku-Otu stumbled on a piece of information on national security. Perhaps if something had been done may be we may not have had the serious case of terrorism facing the world now. According to the information, some Islamist extremist group, were to train some Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria for an all-out Islamic Jihad against the non-Muslims, they had recruited Iraqi dissident military officers. The Islamic Jihadists, the report says had already established training camps in Northern Nigeria and were recruiting Sudanese Muslims and smuggling them through Niger Republic into Maiduguri, Kano and Kaduna in readiness for the planned bloody campaign. The report named a certain Sheikh Omar Baleri, head of Hez Bothriah, an Islamic group with a bridgehead in Northern Nigeria as the brain behind the set up in Nigeria. Another Omar Bakri Mohammed was mentioned with email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, checks on this email in 2002 show that it has been deactivated.
Igboku-Otu contacted the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) Colonel Kayode Are (rtd) who did not see anything serious and alarming in the information. Are’s only response was to lodge the activist in a hotel in Abuja while he pussyfooted. His attempt to see President Obasanjo directly was rebuffed. A day after he came back from his fruitless trip to Abuja, Igboku-Otu was visited by unknown assassins, the rest his history. He got killed, according to report he was slaughtered and what the SSS could do was to ask for the document of the information Igboku-Otu was working on. He’s gone so is the case. The file has been thrown into the dustbin of the police just like the ones before him. Between 2000 to 2003 Nigeria experienced a number of religious-motivated demonstrations where many lives were lost. In February 2000, riots erupted in Kaduna, over 2000 people were killed and nobody was brought to book, in spite of the fact that someone was caught in the security report to have supplied machetes to Muslims to attack Christians. More than 3000 died in Kano in 2001 while 200 were killed in 2002. For all these deaths no one has been arrested or charged.
That fifth columnists are within the system is not untrue. Obasanjo once hinted in 2001 December that there are a lot of things that he ought to know that he was not briefed. His suspicion of his security aides underscored the belief that these people are working to frustrate the government.
What is disturbing and disappointing is the case of chief Bola Ige. Ige was murdered in his Bodija house in Ibadan in the evening of December 2001. Not many people believe that the Ige’s case will not go the way of Dele Giwa, Alfred Rewane and Suliat Adedeji. Though the PDP chairman Audu Ogbeh scored high when he refused Omisore’s application to join the party, but event that took place after this showed that the PDP chairman was speaking with his tongue in his cheek. After Omisore’s arrest, Commodore Bode George and Alhaji Atiku, who reportedly wept in the house of Chief Ige during the condolence visit was present when Omisore’s name was mentioned as the PDP’s senatorial candidate, curiously in Chief Bola Ige’s senatorial district. The following day, Vincent Ogbuluafor, PDP General Secretary addressed the press debunking the claim by Bode George that Omisore is their candidate, according to him; the impeached Deputy Governor of Osun State is still standing trial of a murder case not until when he is cleared the party will not accept him. But on the Election Day, Omisore contested from detention and defeated Alliance for Democracy candidate, Senator Akinfenwa.
Who sent Omisore’s form to INEC when Audu Ogbeh and Ogbuluafor had already told the world that they were not fielding persons with questionable records as candidate? How come INEC registered someone standing trial for murder of a former Justice Minister? Who cleared him? Which of the security agency gave him clearance to contest? How did he sign his form? All these and many are questions begging for answers. In London sometime in 2003, Audu Ogbeh told a journalist in an interview that he warned his colleagues in PDP to drop Omisore, but they insisted. The question is who are these south western PDP stalwarts who insisted in fielding Omisore? The question is not far-fetched. Bode George who was in Chief Ige’s house shedding crocodile tears wanted someone standing trial of Ige’s murder to contest an election, even from the late Ige’s Senatorial district. Atiku Abubarkar did not only stump for Omisore in Osun state, he filled, signed and submitted Omisore’s nomination form to INEC.
Just after the murder of Chief Ige, Deputy Inspector general of Police Abimbola Ojomo, now retired, who was then the Head of the Force Criminal Investigation Department was commissioned to handle the case. She enlisted the services of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad under Assistant Commissioner of Police Amusa Bello to find Ige’s killers. After combing Ibadan, Osogbo and Ife most of Omisore’s aides became guests of the Alagbaon office of the FCID, but suddenly Ojomo was retired and Bello was redeployed. A serious dimension in the case was the double speak of Chief Bola Ige security guard, Andrew Olotu, who went to court three days after Omisore won his election that he was tortured to implicate Omisore. Just like a script written and been acted, events began to unfold, following the change of statement by the key prosecution witness, the widow of the slain Justice Minister died of heart attack, Omisore regain his freedom after Justice Olagoke Ige granted him bail, he was sworn in as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
These are people who have held Nigeria hostage for more than half of a century. The 100 years celebration was additional insult to the intelligence of suffering Nigerians.