Nigeria has once again woken up to some realities of her tortuous past, with one of the harbingers of doziers of the nation’s darkest time of political history is standing trial.
Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the most powerful junior officer in General Abacha’s era, standing before at a law court has revealed having the dozier of how the winner of June 12 1993 election, Chief MKO Abiola and General Sanni Abacha were killed, other things shivering revelation.
He also revealed that huge amount of money were set aside to appease some leaders in the South-West in the aftermath of Abiola’s death.
Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, told a Lagos High Court that he was in possession of video and audio evidence on how Abacha and Chief MKO Abiola, “were murdered”.
Abacha died suddenly on June 8, 1998 allegedly from cardiac arrest while Abiola, who had been incarcerated since 1994 for declaring himself president based on the 1993 election annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, died three weeks later. He was also said to have died from cardiac arrest.
But Al-Mustapha, regarded as the most powerful aide to Abacha, said yesterday that former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, was the man behind his indefinite incarceration because of what he knows about Abiola’s death.
Al-Mustapha was arrested in 1999 over the June 4, 1996 killing of Abiola’s wife, Kudirat, who was a major voice in the campaign to validate the annulled election.
He broke down as he told Justice Mojisola Dada that he had both audio and video evidence on the suspicious deaths of the two principal characters in Nigerian politics in the logjam years.
He told the court that Abubakar was living in fear that he would divulge information at his disposal and wanted him to spend the rest of his life in prison custody.
Al-Mustapha told the court: “In the course of this testimony, I wish to say that I will omit any issue that will affect the national security of the country as a serving officer of the Nigerian Army. My incarceration was as a result of a script written and acted out by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, to further keep me in prison.
“First were the events that happened after the murder of General Sani Abacha and late Chief MKO Abiola. For fear that I may divulge information that led to their death, they have to keep me in prison till date.
I am an officer who is being persecuted. After the death of Abacha, so much happened within three days and the country was without a president or vice-president. The then Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Diya, was imprisoned for staging a coup. Many senior officers wanted to become Head of State, but God gave me the wisdom and I assisted General Abdulsalami Abubakar to become president. But, this is the price I am paying for my loyalty and for assisting him.”
Al-Mustapha, who told the court that he was enlisted into the Nigeria Army in 1980, added that he served in various units before his appointment as CSO to Abacha.
According to him, there is documentary evidence to show that shortly after the death of Abiola, Abubakar allegedly ordered that various sums of money should be withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He told the court that $200 million, £75 million and N500 million were withdrawn from the CBN to appease South-west leaders and douse the tension that arose after the death of Abiola.
He told the court that he knew Abiola as far back as 1985 and that the late politician was like a father to him, adding that even after the annulment of June 12, he assisted Abiola on several occasions to gain access to senior military officers including Abacha.
He said on one occasion, Abiola slept and ate amala in his house when it was too late for him to go back home after consultations with some senior military officers on how he could regain his mandate.
Al-Mustapha further told the court that all visitations to Abiola were on tape, disclosing that some people after visiting Abiola would come back at night to the Presidential Villa to speak against him.
He said he did not order Sergeant Barnabas Jabila Msheila (alias Sgt Rogers) to kill Kudirat, saying that “on several occasions I assisted Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Mr. Kola Abiola, Dr. Ore Falomo and his lawyers to visit him (Abiola) in prison. Abiola would have been killed the very day Abacha died but I relocated him within the barracks and used the Strike Force to protect him from those who wanted to balance the equation.”
Msheila had told the Oputa Panel in 2001 that Al-Mustapha ordered him to kill Kudirat after which he was given N50,000 as a “tip”.
Following the acquittal of the former Police Commander in Aso Rock, CSP Rabo Lawal, who was standing trial with Al-Mustapha, the former CSO had threatened to reveal all the information he had been keeping.
The matter has been adjourned till Wednesday for continuation of trial.