A former chief security officer (CSO) to the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, yesterday informed a Lagos High Court in Igbosere that a former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, wanted former President Olusegun Obasanjoexecuted over his alleged involvement in a military coup in 1995.
Al-Mustapaha, who stated this at the resumed hearing of his testimony over his alleged involvement in the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, added that Abubakarinsisted that since Obasanjo was the one that promulgated a decree that stipulated death penalty for any coup plotter, he (Obasanjo) should be made to face the rigour of the decree.
Al- Mustapha, who concluded his testimony yesterday, claimed that Abubakarinsisted at the Military Council Meeting presided over by the late Gen. Abacha thatObasanjo was the most irresponsible human being he had ever come across and that he (Obasanjo) deserved to be executed.
He further claimed that Abdusalami at the meeting insisted that the Decree on coup plotting promulgated in 1976 when Obasanjo was the military Head of State, should be applied to him (Obasanjo). In the said decree, anybody found to have participated in coup planning would be executed.
He said, “General Ibrahim Sabo was in detention with me. When they were releasing him and leaving me behind, I whispered to him to go to a certain place and get a tape and give to Obasanjo.
“Everything I have done was in the interest of this nation. The tape was a decision on where Abubakar insisted that Obasanjo should be dealt with in accordance with the 1976 treason decree which he made when he was the military head of state.
“He (Abubakar ) described him ( Obasanjo) as the most irresponsible and many more I would not want to talk about. I have the video tape illegally and I even sent a copy toObasanjo with a note where I asked him to be very careful and be watchful.”
Justice Mojisola Dada had earlier allowed the former CSO to play the videotape of a VHS recording, showing the visit of some South-west leaders to Aso Rock Villa.
The video tape clearly showed the two south-west leaders, Late Pa Abraham Adesanyaand a former attorney –general of the federation and minister of justice, the late Chief Bola Ige (SAN), and some south-west leaders as they were departing after a meeting with General Abubakar.
In the video, the late Adesanya was seen answering questions on the way forward after the death of a business mogul and the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola. The late Afenifere leader had in the video, said, “The position is that there will be a government of national unity but not to be headed byAbiola but we need a sovereign national conference to prepare the constitution by which we will be ruled. We are not proposing anything yet”.
Al-Mustapha had claimed that the visit was facilitated by the late Ige, and the interview session as shown in the video took place after the south-west leaders in the video met with Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar who succeeded late Gen Sani Abacha.
Al-Mustapha explained that the venue of the video recording was the Aso Rock villa, on July 8, 1998, a day after Chief MKO died.
When Al-Mustapha was asked by his lawyer, Olalekan Ojo to speak more on the allegation he had earlier made that the game plan was that he should be killed or kept perpetually in prison, he explained that when he and others were arraigned before a Lagos Magistrates’ Court, they were subjected to highly demeaning and harsh treatment.
He claimed that the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, was then a Superintendent of police and was the escorting officer, and that he (Ribadu) was under instruction that they should be killed.
He said, “The Magistrate had finished with us. But they kept us in the Black Maria under the sun in the court premises and we were in chains. They even instructed the driver to be reckless in his driving of the Black Maria.
“In fact, when the former inspector-general of Police, Mike Okiro, who was then the Lagos State commissioner of police saw the inhuman treatment, there was serious argument between his team and Ribadu’s team. It was Okiro that insisted that we should not be killed.
“I am a victim of political intimidation. When Abiola’s family filed a suit against the Federal Government, I was contacted in prison to testify against Abiola but I refused. It is on record that Mrs Stella Omiyi of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) came to the prison. The records are there at the prisons for anyone to find out.
When they could not succeed with that, they came up again with another game plan that I was plotting a coup in detention.
“If I am indeed that bad person, they want people to believe; would I have changed on several occasions Abiola’s detention centre? At times when there were threats, I changed houses for him (Abiola) – which did not go down well with many includingAbdusalami.
“There are bigger and bigger issues for intellectuals in this country to find out.Abiola’s family is my family. If Chief Abiola were to be alive today, I will not be here. I think he was right to have called me his son because he was so closed to me that he told me things about his businesses.
“I am a Muslim. I am fasting. I told this court the truth and I stood by it. I am a victim of political intimidation. The script of my prosecution in court was written byAbdusalami and Lagos is only prosecuting,” Al-Mustapha said as he closed his case.”
On the killing of Kudirat, Al-Mustapha told the court thus: I did not order anybody to assassinate Kudriat Abiola. I did not give them arms or give them the pass for any assignment, there are other agencies which are given different information to the presidency.
In his response to the allegations by Al-Mustapha, former spokesman to Gen.Abubakar, Mohammed Haruna said: “Al-Mustapha’s tale is getting curiouser andcuriouser. There is no credibility whatsoever in what he has said. Maybe, he had been watching too many movies before he went into detention.
“This whole red herring is meant to divert attention from his trial over the murder ofKudirat Abiola. It’s simply a tenous link.”
Responding to Al-Mustapha’s allegations, Ribadu said the former CSO was telling lies.
Ribadu in a statement posted on his Facebook wall titled “Is this a joke”, said, “My attention has been drawn to comments made in court today by the chief security officer to the late General Sani Abacha, Mr. Hamza Al Mustapha, claiming that as “escort officer” I was recruited to assassinate him back in 1998.I want to strongly refute this claim as false, and perhaps as invented to help build a constituency of concern and sympathy for his case. I was never a party to any such plot, and will never be associated in a scheme to perpetrate extra-judicial murder”.
Ribadu further gave his own account of the allegation, saying, “For the records, however, I was the lead state prosecutor (not escort officer) in all the cases of the 1998trialists facing murder charges before they were handed over to the Lagos State government. I was also a passenger in the same Nigerian Air force aircraft that conveyed them all (including General Bamaiyi, Col. Bako and others) from Abuja to Lagos to begin trial.
This would certainly not be a logical setting for assassination! I think at this point, Mr. Al Mustapha’s case is best served by keeping the substance of his murder case on the rails, and by shying away from the distraction of public performance”.
The Treason and Other Offences (Special Military Tribunal) Decree 1976, otherwise known as Decree N0. 8 of 1976 was promulgated by Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjohimself when he was the head of state in 1976. Obasanjo himself had executed several soldiers and civilians under this decree including former Governor Joseph Gomwalkand Col. A. D. Wya who hardly participated in the Dimka coup that assassinated his predecessor.
The case has been adjourned till Monday for cross examination of Al-Mustapha.