THE BLACK SCORPION AND POISONED MUSHROOMS - By Bashorun J.K. Randle - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Monday, 20 May 2019


Considering that it is the third leg of a trilogy (following “General T.Y. Danjuma And The Other Generals With Nine Lives” and “The Black Monk”), “Black Scorpion and Poisoned Mushrooms” has become a phenomenal success at the Box Office all over the United States of America. Among the black population, the news spread by word of mouth and in next to no time, the white population was roused by curiosity over long winding lines of Blacks and Hispanics queueing for several blocks before they could buy tickets to watch the film. 

From the opening shots which drooled over the prison population in Zimboda and the horrible conditions in which inmates are kept (but not fed) it played straight into the American psyche and gullet – brutality and injustice. This was cleverly juxtaposed with the conditions all over the country on the eve of the presidential election: “ZIMBODA WILL BE RUN BY MINDLESS FELLOWS” (Former Kaduna State governor and leader of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) Alhaji Balarabe Musa): 

“I see a country run by mindless fellows. I see continuity of the problems that confront us with the worst possibility of their escalation. I see an ineffective and inefficient government run by the same class of politicians that are self – serving and the people mean nothing to them.” This was in the Imperial College, London. He was the Chief Investigator at the Ministry of Aviation for several years. Air crashes have become an indelible metaphor for the fate that has befallen the country. The nation crashed. No amount of diligent investigation will deliver a convincing explanation or verdict. Indeed, many have delivered their own judgement and come to terms with the final score – it is the handiwork of wizards and witches, in defiance of science and logic. Deftly and with consummate skill, the camera shifts to the plight of Zimbodians being sold as slaves in Libya. In the background is the heart wrenching commentary by Nima Elbagir of CNN: “A man addressing an unseen crowd. "Big, strong boys for farm work," he says. ?.?400, ?.?700, ?.?700, ?.?800. The numbers roll in. 

These boys are sold for 1,200 Libyan pounds, $400 apiece. You are watching an auction of human beings. Another man claiming to be a buyer: Off camera someone asks, "What happened to the ones from Niger?" "Sold off," he's told. CNN was sent this video by a contact. After several months working on it, we were able to verify the authenticity of what you see here.

J.K. Randle
We decided to travel to Libya to try and see for ourselves. We're now in Tripoli and we're starting to get a little bit more of a sense of how this all works. Our contacts are telling us that there are one to two of these auctions every month and that there is one happening in the next few hours, so we're going to head out of town and see if we can get some sort of access to it. For the safety of our contact, we have agreed not to divulge the location of this auction, but the town we're driving to isn't the only one. Night falls. We travel through nondescript suburban neighbourhood pretending to look for a missing person.

Eventually, we stop outside a house like any other, adjust our secret cameras, and wait. Finally, it's time to move. We're ushered into one of two auctions happening on this same night. Crouched at the back of the yard, a floodlight is skewing much of the scene. One-by-one, men are brought out as the bidding begins. Five hundred. Five fifty. Six hundred. Six fifty. Seven hundred. Very quickly it's over. We asked if we can speak to the man, the auctioneer, seen here, he refuses. We ask again if we can speak to them, if we can help them. No, he says, the auctions are over with. And we're asked to leave. That was over very quickly. We walked in and as soon as we walked in, the men started covering their faces but they clearly wanted to finish what they were doing and they kept bringing out what they kept referring to in Arabic as the ‘merchandise’. All and all they admitted to us - those that were sold in front of us were sold for real.

And I honestly don't know what to say. That was probably one of the most unbelievable things I've ever seen.” What follows is the cerebral intervention from Professor Frank Okoisor (ex-St. Gregory’s College and University of Leeds where he studied dentistry): “Facilitus descensus averno sed revocare gradum superasque evader ad auras hoc opus hic labor est.” This translates as: “The downward path to Averno (underworld of evil) is very easy but retracing your steps is hard labour.” We are then treated to the gory episodes of the reign of General Sani Abacha. Alhaja Kudirat Abiola the wife of Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, the winner of the 1993 Presidential election was slaughtered in cold blood in broad daylight in her car by unknown gunmen on June 4 1996. According to reports, her white Mercedes Benz was cruising along the streets of Lagos around on that Tuesday afternoon.

The car slowed down in Ikeja when her assailants suddenly opened fire on her and gunned her down allegedly on the orders of the military government of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. Her murder was ordered and then carried out by six men. Mrs. Abiola died in her car from machine gunfire. Her driver also died. Her personal assistant - Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan who was later accused of being involved with her assassination was in the car but was not hurt. Investigations into the killing traced the killer bullet to the personal armoury of Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former chief security officer to the late dictator, General Sani Abacha. Another victim was Chief Alex Ibru. In both cases, the alleged trigger man was alleged to be none other than Sergeant Rogers who was subsequently tried for attempted murder after the death of General Abacha. It turns out that the same Sergeant Rogers has hit rock bottom and is now on a wheel chair. As for Senator Abraham Adesanya, his encounter with Sergeant Rogers belongs to folklore. Here is Rogers’s version of events: “When we arrived in Lagos, Alhaji Lateef came to meet us at our base in Dodan Barracks. He took us to Senator Abraham Adesanya‘s house and from there he led us to his office located around Obalende area.
On the day of operation, I woke Aminu and Katako up so that we should go and see Alhaji Lateef; he told us that Senator Adesanya should be in his office. We went to his office and waited. We sighted him coming down from upstairs. We knew it was him because of the description we were given. We were told that he was elderly with grey hair and bulging forehead. So, when we saw him and he entered his Mercedes Benz car and drove and passed us, we knew who he was. We trailed his car. On reaching the junction, I squeezed myself out of the window and Aminu did the same and I fired several shots at Adesanya. Aminu Mohammed who sat behind me fired from his side too. Katako was driving. I used Uzi and my bullets hit the car. We drove off to Obalende and went back to Dodan Barracks.” By the time General Abacha’s hit squad were done, the windscreens of the car were shattered and the seats were perforated by bullets. Both he and his driver weren’t injured.
The car, a Mercedes-Benz, was ultimately transferred to the ownership of a Lagos museum. Every regime left behind a long list of victims. As confirmation that it was an ugly and perverse competition, here is the witness statement of Debo Oladejo: “I was a victim of the wicked, cruel and ungodly privatisation of public enterprises over fifteen years ago when we were thrown into untimely unemployment market by the powers that be then. Is it the shame, the unimaginable hardship or the greed and avarice of the leadership then that sent some of our colleagues to their early graves I should count or the financial embarrassment coupled with loss of career progression after two decades of loyalty and dedication to the organisation?
It was only a few months ago that a responsive and responsible regime has started addressing the terrible, unforgettable and never to be forgiven malaise!” What then showed up on the screen was the General Sani Abacha making his cryptic declaration: “Everybody is a thief. Why should I trust anybody?” Perhaps the most riveting segment of the film was those shots of General Sani Abacha’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) sitting in the dark playing back secret tapes and videos of Bashorun M.K.O Abiola in detention under Abacha for almost five years and detailed recording of his sudden death after drinking a cup of tea while he was being visited by American envoys – Mr. Thomas R. Pickering, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, and Susan E. Rice, the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. Even more galling are the tapes of prominent Nigerians, some of them Abiola’s kinsmen, who visited Abacha ostensibly to plead for his release but actually (literally) nailed his coffin.
What follows is a scholarly intervention by Professor Patrick Utomi, former Presidential candidate for the African Democratic Congress and governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC): “In my view, we have suffered a severe retrogression in our politics and the impact can be seen in our economy and economics. The politics of 1950s focused remarkably on development. Its essence was about competition between governments at the subnational level who best served their people. American Researchers Robert Melson and Howard Wolpe in their book from the 1970s referred to the phenomenon as “competitive communalism”. That era was weakened by competitive communalism elevating ethnicity. While the politicians were more people of service with a heart for the people, ethnic passion polluted the polity, paving the way for the army to strike, and military intervention worsened those sentiments. The military’s effort to engineer a bridging of ethnicity by creating states beholden to the centre, destroyed the creative source of growth that the principle of subsidiarity or decentralization in a federal state, enabled. In inadvertently destroying federalism, the military set Nigeria down the path of beggarly Subnational Units in a prebendal state mode oiled by Oil revenues but pushing Nigeria towards its current status of the poverty capital of the world.
The model of where we seem bound for is where fellow Oil-rich Venezuela which has the World’s biggest proven Oil reserves, currently displays. With population less than Kano and Lagos States and all that Oil money, queues for essentials, like milk, and sugar, are the norm there.” For the sake of posterity, the film has preserved the incisive comments of eminent citizens i.) OSINBAJO LAMENTS: ZIMBODIAN HAVE ACCEPTED CORRUPTION AS A WAY OF LIFE Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Saturday, expressed displeasure over the way corruption and corrupt people are treated with kid gloves in the country. Osinbajo, who spoke in Lagos at the Re-launch of THESEABILITIES Foundation and public presentation of 2016 Disability Report on Inclusion, said that poverty level in Nigeria was the result of high level of corruption. He said it was disheartening to see Nigerians accept corruption as way of life and go a step further to celebrate corrupt people in the society. “The reason corruption is so prominent in our society is because we accept it as a way of life, celebrate it and allow it to thrive”, the VP lamented. With this kind of attitude, we cannot take our rightful place in comity of nations because it is the major reason for poverty in our society. We have capacity to fight it but if that capacity is privatized and some people take it away and use it for themselves we cannot make progress”.
On his part, Executive Director, THESEABILITIES Foundation, Pastor Adetoye Abioye, said the foundation was working with the Central Bank of Nigeria on Financial Inclusion Strategy to offer access to finance for persons living with disability. Abioye added the organisation was also advocating for the passage of the Nigeria Disability Rights Bill to promote better sense of dignity and mind set change. In his remarks, the Chairman, Advisory Board, THESEABILITIES Foundation, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, said the re-launch and public presentation of 2016 Disability Report on Inclusion was in memory of Adeboye Abioye, the founder of the organization. ii.) TINUBU’S KING’S COLLEGE PRESENTATION On September 8, 2017, prominent Yoruba leaders rose from their symbolic conference tagged Ibadan declaration with a 16-point resolution which has as its centerpiece-A return to 1960 and 1963 constitutions both of which affirmed regional structure.
Also, on Sept 23 at the Annual Dinner of King’s College Old Boys Association in Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu delivered a paper that cuts across politics, economic and other aspects of our national life but with greater emphasis on the contemporary discourse in our nation today – restructuring. The legendary political strategist posited that Nigeria can’t become a better nation with undue concentration of power at the federal level. According to him, the legacy of decades of undemocratic rule has arrogated too much power and resources to the federal government at the expense of state governments. He submitted further that the federal government is unnecessarily overburdened by humongous 68 items on the exclusive list and therefore advocated that items like prison, police, registration of business, incorporation of business, stamp duties, traffic on federal truck roads, trade, commerce etc. should be transferred to the residual list. Contributing to the restructuring discourse, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai also affirmed his support for the need for Nigeria to return to 1963 constitution, calling all Nigerians to join the train of restructuring. Professor Ango Abdullahi, a prominent voice in the North and, in fact, spokesman of Northern Elders Forum also affirmed that Nigeria would continue to be at the cross roads unless we return to 1960 and 1963 constitutions.
From the Niger Delta came the voice of Edwin Clark, who, besides advocating for restructuring, also labelled those who are claiming ignorance of restructuring as mischief makers. And of course, we can’t over emphasize the consistent clamor of Ohanaeze Ndigbo leaders for restructuring, with the leaders of the group, particularly Chief Nnia Nwodo, Chekwas Okorie, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, etc affirming that restructuring will surely quell MASSOB and IPOB agitations. So, who are we waiting for? All the voices mentioned represent each major ethnic nationality in our nation. They are the major stakeholders in Nigerian project. They are the authentic leaders of all the ethnic groups. Without their tacit endorsement and approval, most of the federal parliamentarians would not be there. It’s against this backdrop that we should vehemently disagree with President Muhammadu Buhari, who, in his Oct 1 broadcast to the nation, said the debate on restructuring should be within the National Assembly, even though he acknowledged that calls for restructuring are in order. The fact remains that there is no way the nation can place debate of all this important discourse entirely at the National Assembly particularly considering who they are. This is a clarion call to Buhari to swiftly move like the man of history, by instituting a structure that would ensure balance in Nigeria.
This is the only way to go and the time is now! iii.) Oba Adewale Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo: “Our Kings are the problem of Zimboda” iv.) Alhaji (Sir) Abubakar Alhaji, former Minister of Planning and Finance and Sarduana of Sokoto: “I do not believe in secession. We should remain united. We are all one. The more states we have, the more corruption we have. Creating more states won’t solve our ethnicity problem.
These states were created for selfish reasons by the past leaders. I do not believe in restructuring. I still believe that Nigeria is not getting the right people that can formulate policies without hidden agenda, people who do things religious and tribal sentiments attached to it. We need good people whether it is Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba in the system. During our time, Nigeria’s economy was blossoming because of the right people involved. There was a time Nigeria lent money to Republic of Ireland. In fact, I signed the agreement. Yes, I signed the agreement on behalf of Nigeria’s government. When I was in the Ministry of Industry. I led a delegation to the United States of America. I was received by the United Nations officials. We went there as part of efforts to reform our industries in the country.
About twelve industries were established within the period as a result of the trip. But today, all these industries are no more. Even, we can no longer produce match sticks. We import everything. We had paper mill company at Jebba. But today where is it? Nowhere. why? We had steel rolling mill working perfectly. in fact, I was the chairman of all the steel rolling mills in Nigerian then. I signed an agreement between a Russian company and Nigeria government on Ajaokuta Steel Mill revitalisation. I signed the agreement. I can also recall that late Shehu Yar’Adua led a delegation to Moscow where we met the Russian Prime Minister and we signed agreement on how to revive Ajaokuta steel mill; but today, the place (Ajaokuta Steel Mill) is down completely. v.) Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the third Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and Former Minister of External Affairs: “We’ve never been this divided. As a country, I do not think we have ever been faced with this number of agitations and militancy since independence. Since the 1967 Civil War, I do not think this country has ever been as divided as it is now in the face of these challenges. So, I am not so sure that the notion that Nigeria was always able to pull back from the brink will be valid under the present circumstances. I am full of fear for the future of the country. Already, Nigeria is listed in the rank of potential failed states. I find it absolutely unacceptable and totally worrying. I was in the service of my country when we all loved to say we were Nigerians. Then, Nigerian passports were recognised and respected abroad. But now, our passport is treated with absolute lack of respect in many parts of the world. How did we come to that? We arrived at that point because of the current state of affairs in the country. And if that state of affairs is not adequately addressed through restructuring, the situation in my view will continue to get worse until possibly we become a truly failed state, which we all do not want. vi.)
“We have to do the best we are capable of. This is our sacred human responsibility.” – Albert Einstein vii.) “You are not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong no matter who does it or says it.” – Malcolm X What followed next was the beaming of a huge search light on the Halliburton scandal by the front-page report on “The Nation” newspaper of February 13, 2016: Headline: “HALLIBURTON SCAM: EX-HEAD OF STATE, FIVE SANS UNDER PROBE” “A fresh probe of the $180m Halliburton bribery scandal by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is in progress, with the anti-graft agency set to interrogate several highly-placed beneficiaries. Under the EFCC radar are two former heads of state and five Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs). One of the SANs, D. D. Dodo, was grilled for about eight hours on Thursday. About $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 of the $180 million were said to have been shared as bribes to top government officials during the administrations of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. The involvement of one of the former heads of state, a deceased Emir and his son, an ex-minister and five Senior Advocates was being reviewed at press time. Dodo said last night that he had done nothing untoward with regard to the Halliburton issues. He said that, if anything, a team of lawyers actually recovered $200million for the Federal Government under an agreement for the resolution of the matter. A well-placed source said: “The EFCC is revisiting the $180million Halliburton scandal based on fresh evidence. In fact, the list of the beneficiaries of the bribe is already with the commission. “A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Damian Dodo, was quizzed for eight hours Thursday, February 11 by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the Commission stepped up investigations into the controversial Halliburton scam. “The SAN was questioned for his role in the alleged $26 million bribery allegation against a former minister and five other Senior Advocates. “Specifically, Dodo allegedly received $4.5million through his firm, DD Dodo and Co. from multinational companies involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal under the cover of legal fees. “He was also alleged to have withdrawn over $2million cash for purposes that are unclear, in flagrant violation of extant money laundering regulations.”
Another source said: “Out of about $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 bribes shared to top government officials in Nigeria, about N25billion fines were paid by some companies. “Some suspects, who were neck-deep in the scam, got presidential reprieve which compelled the leadership of the anti-graft agency to overlook their infractions. “No matter how big the suspects are, we will recover the bribe cash. We have the list of the beneficiaries of the bribe sum. “At a point, the US Government found about $133, 073,750m which was found in the account of Jeffery Tesler who was the facilitator of the bribery. “Upon this discovery, the Federal Government proposed a 50-50 sharing formula of the funds. We want to know what has become of this arrangement. Certainly, there are many pegs to the Halliburton scandal. “We are also a subject of ridicule in the international community that none of the suspects has been successfully prosecuted and jailed.” Giving his own side of the story yesterday, Dodo said EFCC was part of the plea bargain negotiation with five companies. The companies were Julius Berger, Siemens, Halliburton, Japan oil and Gas Corporation, Snmaprogetti. He said: “The team was not Damian Dodo alone, it was a team of five SANs and the EFCC was involved from the beginning to the end. The former EFCC Secretary, Emmanuel Akomaye witnessed the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government. “The team comprised a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), J. B. Daudu (SAN); Godwin Obla (SAN); E.C. Ukala (SAN); and Roland Ewubare. “About $200million was recovered for the Federal Government from the initiative and professional efforts of the legal team and it was paid to the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN). “The legal fees were paid to the legal team by the companies in accordance with the agreement and as authorised by the Federal Government. “We did nothing untoward because both the money payable to the Federal Government and the lawyers were contained in the agreement. “We recovered $200million at a time there was no legal framework for doing so. It was our creativity and ingenuity that helped to bring $200m into the coffers of the government of Nigeria. “Ordinarily, we should have been paid 10 per cent of what we recovered but we were paid less than that. So, anyone who says the agreement was a scam is ignorant of the facts. An Abuja High Court on March 27, 2013 struck out the case against six Nigerian suspects arraigned over the Halliburton scandal. Those set free were a former Permanent Secretary, Ibrahim Aliyu, Mohammed Gidado Bakari and four companies: Urban Shelter Ltd, Intercellular Nigeria Ltd, Sherwood Petroleum Ltd and Tri-Star Investment Ltd. The six accused persons had faced trial for allegedly serving as conduits and receiving bribes in hard currency to facilitate natural gas contracts between 1994 and 2005. The trial judge, Justice Abubakar Sadiq Umar, said the prosecution had failed to diligently prosecute the case. Besides, Bodunde Adeyanju, a former presidential aide to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo was arraigned in 2010 alongside George Mark, Jeffrey Tesler (now at large), Hans George Christ, Heinrich J. Stockhausen, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Bilfinger Berger GMBH. But George Mark, Jeffrey Tesler (now at large), Hans George Christ, Heinrich J. Stockhausen; Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Bilfinger Berger GMBH were alleged to have sometime between 2002 and 2003 conspired to make several cash payments totalling $5million to one Adeyanju. They were alleged to have committed an offence contrary to Section 16 of the Money Laundering Act 1995 (as saved by Section 23(2) of the Money Laundering Act 2004) and punishable under Section 15(2) and (3) of the Money Laundering Act 1995 (as saved by Section 23(2) of the Money Laundering Act, 2004).
The status of Adeyanju’s trial was unknown at press time. The $180million bribery scandal involved the former Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) in respect of the nation’s Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Bonny. Albert J. Stanley admitted before a Houston Court in the US on September 4, 2008 that he orchestrated more than $180million in bribe to senior government officials. Stanley alleged that the bribe was channelled through a UK based lawyer, Mr. Jeffery Tesler, in four instalments of $60million; $32.5million; $51million; and $23million. The bribe was allegedly facilitated between 1995 and 2005 in London. The countries where the bribe money was allegedly stashed by some top government officials and their accomplices are France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Portugal and Seychelles. Tesler, 63, was in February, 2012 sentenced to 21 months in prison in the US after pleading guilty to bribing Nigerian Government officials with $132 million dollars between 1994 and 2004. He also forfeited $149 million to US authorities under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
It was gathered that Tesler played a fast one on Nigerian officials who were to benefit from the $180m by diverting $133, 073, 750million to his account in Switzerland. He only shared about $22, 417, 000 and DRM 500,000 to some top government officials. Upon discovery of the $133, 073, 750m in Tesler’s account, the Swiss government froze the account and during the trial of the accused person, the looted fund was transferred to the US. But the Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, has initiated moves to recover the $133, 073,750m which was found in Tesler’s account. A former EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, recently in Germany expressed regrets that investigation of the Halliburton scandal was frustrated in the country. He said: “A gang of foreigners stole from Nigeria” from a $6 billion natural gas contract won by a consortium of four international companies. Ribadu added: “I first got hint of the case in France. I got back home and tried to investigate the case but it was very difficult or probably impossible because the companies were not there in Nigeria, they didn’t have account there, the people were not there. They had left. “I rushed back to Paris. I was in Paris many times. I put in a request letter but after a year of trying to get French authorities to help us, the investigation magistrate told me that they could not get anyone to translate my letter from English to French. I knew it was a hopeless case.” He said after failing to get France, Italy and Japan to help, he opted to go to the United States even though Dick Cheney, the then US vice president, was on the board of Halliburton. “The Department of Justice in the United States took up the case. They investigated and prosecuted the case. They placed a fine of over $1.5 billion on the company, the biggest in the world for corporate corruption.”
He said from some of the cases which the EFCC under his watch referred to US Department of Justice, including those of Siemens and Julius Berger, the US made over $3 billion in fines. “But the sad aspect is this, in my own country, where the criminal activity took place, not a single person was made to face justice, especially after I was asked to leave my position. Sadly, Nigeria did not make a dollar out of it.”
Even more gripping was the front-page report of “the Nation” newspaper on April 9, 2016 on “DASUKIGATE”: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission yesterday grilled ex-Governor Abdulkadir Kure over alleged N600million contract from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The said contract was awarded to a foreign firm allegedly linked with Kure who is said to be the company’s main contact in Nigeria. The grilling of Kure was the third in 72 hours by the anti- graft agency after he was invited for interrogation. He was still being detained as at press time. According to investigation, the company in which Kure has interest was among the 300 referred to the EFCC by the presidency. A reliable source in the EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “The ex-governor was invited for interrogation over a N600million contract which was awarded to a company identified with him. “In the last three days, we detained him for interaction on how the said contract was awarded to the firm by ex-NSA Sambo Dasuki. The grilling reached its climax yesterday. “We are working on many clues, including the fact that the contract might be a decoy to provide funds for political campaign. “Kure has made a useful statement to our team, but there are many gaps we need to fill. So, the investigation is certainly yet to be concluded.” Asked to be specific, the source said: “The company, which has robust links with Kure, was one of those a presidential panel allegedly “indicted of failure to execute contracts or did so partially. “The presidential panel recommended that the company and others should refund various sums. “It is left to Kure to facilitate how the sums, debited to his company, will be refunded.” A source close to Kure, who spoke with our correspondent last night said: “As a matter of fact, the ex-governor did not secure any contract from ONSA. He is always careful. “But he appears to be the only Nigerian contact of the foreign company which is being investigated by the EFCC. Since none of the representatives of the company was in Nigeria, the anti-graft agency invited Kure based on records at their disposal. “As a former governor with distinct records of service, he voluntarily honoured EFCC’s invitation. “We are confident that the former governor will be vindicated at the end of the day.” The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, recently claimed that the ONSA Committee had recovered over N7billion from those culpable. The indicted companies are to refund another N41 billion.
But the investigating agencies, including the EFCC, will determine whether another N75 billion should be recovered from some of the companies. Shehu said the ONSA Committee had found out that one of the indicted companies, Societe D’Equipment International, was overpaid by 7.9 million Euros and $7.09 million. It noted that many contractors were apparently over paid, while others were given full upfront payments contrary to their contract terms and agreements. The panel also uncovered evidence of payments to individuals and companies by the ONSA without any contractual agreement or evidence of jobs executed. The committee discovered that some companies failed to fulfil their tax obligations for contracts executed. Fifteen firms, the panel said, were awarded contracts that require further investigation to ascertain their status. The total value of the contracts in this category was N11, 726,571,161.00, $202,136,890.00 and €4,114,752.96. The companies include: “Abrahams Telecommunication Limited and Value Trust Investment Limited – RC 1050628 and RC133792, Bilal Turnkey Contractors Limited – RC 616389, Circular Automobile Limited – RC 953549, Continental Project Associates Limited – RC 1201210, Da’voice Network Solutions Limited – RC 658879. Others are Foretech Investment Limited– RC 759046, Forts and Sheild Limited – RC 1148793, GDP Associated Limited – RC 830715, Hakimco Automobiles – RC 904389, Hamada Properties and Investment Limited – RC635720, International Resources Management Company –RC228657, Investment Options Limited – RC 133484, Jakadiya Picture Company Limited – RC 270972, JBE Multimedia Investment Limited – RC 48875, Kamala Motors Limited – RC 845545, Key Information Services Limited – RC 297516. Also investigated are Leeman Communications Limited – RC 499781, MCAF Associates – RC 734745, Moortown Global Investment RC 968416, Syntec Nigeria Limited – RC 220165, Trafiga Limited – RC 1098961, Trim Communications Limited – RC 261180, Securicor Emergency and Safety – RC 431246, Sologic Integrated Services Limited – RC 744982, Wada Autos Limited – RC 1082513, Zukhruf Nigeria Limited – RC 306244, 2020 Nigeria Limited – RC 1090292 and A and B Associates Limited – RC 279980. The individuals and companies that received payments without contractual agreements include: Bello Matawalle, Brig.-Gen. A.S. Mormoni-Bashir (the former Principal General Staff Officer at the ONSA who is still serving), Alhaji Umar Sani, Dr Yakubu Sanky, Baba Bala, Ambassador Clement Layiwola Laseinde (a Director in the ONSA), an architect from Baitil Atiq Travels and Tours.
Others are Alhaji Shuaibu Salisu (the former Director of Finance and Administration at the ONSA), Col. Bello Fadile (rtd) (Special Adviser to Lt Col Sambo Dasuki, former NSA), Mr Otunla Jonah Niyi, Otunba Adelakun, Alhaji Bashir Yuguda, Dr Tunji Olagunju, Miss Oluwatoyin Oluwagbayi, Lt Col MS Dasuki (rtd) (the former NSA}. Also listed are Maipata Mohammed Abubakar, Mohammed Suleiman from Musaco Investment and Properties, Ibrahim Abdullahi also from Musaco Investment and Properties, Alhaji Aliyu Usman, and 18 other officers that served in the ONSA. The companies that failed to execute contracts or did so partially, and have been asked to refund various sums are: A and Hatman Limited, Abuja Consulting Limited, Afro-Arab Investment, Agbede A Adeshina and Co, Aleppo Systems Nigeria Limited – RC 947255, Amp Africa Holdings and Solar Services, Apple Drops Nigeria Limited – RC 1102219, Apt Security Limited – RC 165189, Autoforms Integrated Enterprises Limited – RC 1234829, Axis Consulting Services Limited – RC 1151145, Belsha Nigeria Limited. Community Defence Law Foundation – RC/IT No 56854, Complus International Service Limited, Cosse Limited – RC 316214, Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, Dalhatu Investment Limited – RC 404535, Destra Investment Limited, Development Strategies International Limited – RC 361191. Others are DFX/White Zebu BDC – RC787658/RC1049919, Duchy Concepts Limited– RC392281, Fara Security Limited – RC 694607, Fimex Gilt Nigeria Limited – RC 143150, First Aralac Global Limited – RC939512, Fix-HYL Global Investment – RC1129654, Good year Properties Limited RC1168828, Image Merchant Promotions Limited – RC 416703. Interglobal Limited – RC 189188, Jos Peace Dialogue Forum CAC/IT/No75434, Kakatar Limited – RC 443321, Leaderette Nigeria/Norden Global – RC 422129/RC1119925, London Advertising Limited UK based, Mithra Oil Limited – RC 620979, NigerLink BOG (Under Musaco Investment) – RC 834592, Iban Global (Under Musaco Investment), Musaco Investment (Bank Charges), Mystrose Limited – RC 475579, NAF Holding Company Limited. Also listed are: Peach Tree Communications Limited– RC 410115, Perception BDC – RC 740741, Pioneer Ventures – RC 69776, Proptex Nigerian Limited – RC 116801, Prosedec Interglobal Limited – RC 619845, Real Property Investment Limited RC 294761, Sinash Communications Limited – RC 333134, Skytick International Limited – RC 798693, Soject Nigeria Limited – RC 74991, StellaVera Development Company Limited – RC 713258. Others who defaulted on their contractual agreements include Teracon AG Swiss based, Wehsec Farms Limited RC 713258, African Cable Television Limited – RC 1113903, BCN Nigeria Limited – RC 50969, Brains and Hammers – RC – 655673, Concept Options Ultimate Limited – RC 604167, Elizade Nigeria Limited – RC 11544, Emerging Platforms Limited – RC 922205, EMI System Nigeria Limited – RC 248986, Hadassa Investment and Security – RC 709085, Kala Consulting Solutions Limited – RC 98562, Pioneer Ventures, Nan Bizcom Nigeria Limited –RC 680708, Nerres Limited – RC 1138835, Plectrum Consulting Limited – RC 937931, Protech Consultant – RC 301426, Summit Publications Limited – RC 304671, Telios Development Limited – RC 468351, Urban Abode Nigeria Limited – RC 651613, RCN Networks Limited – RC 439720, Sail International Limited – RC 97863, Suburban Broadway Limited – RC 469689, Geronimo Middle East and Africa, Julius Berger – RC 6852, Romgat Morgan Nigeria Limited – RC 902020, and Stallion Motors Limited – RC 178627. Contracts awarded to the following companies are to be further investigated: 2020 Nigeria Limited – RC 1090292, Acacia Holdings Limited – RC 940978, Africair Incorporated US Company, Augusta Westland Limited, Almond Project Limited, Bam Project and Properties, Bob Oshodin Organisation Limited – RC 790662, Coral Builders Limited – RC 397748, Dan Clington Nigeria Limited – RC 940978, Law Partners and Associates BN/UY/004566, Magnificient 5 ventures Limited – BN/2299463, MPS Global Services Limited. Others are One plus Holdings Nigeria Limited – RC 695999, Quadsix Nigeria Limited – RC 1177968 and Reliance Reference Hospitals.” “The Nation” newspaper would not let go. On April 30, 2016, it carried on its front page the bold headline: “WHO WANTS IBB DEAD?” “With a combination of philosophy and religion, former military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, better known as IBB, flattened the rumour mill. Reacting to yet another report of his ‘death’ last weekend, the 74-year-old retired Army General approached the subject of his mortality with customary bravado. To newsmen at his Hilltop Mansion in Minna, the Niger State capital, IBB said: “The rumour does not shock me, neither does it bother me because I know I must go and meet God, my Creator.
There is nothing really to worry about, my religion has told me. As a Muslim, I strongly believe everybody will die, everybody will die and everybody has to die. It could be now or in a hundred years’ time or two days to come but it doesn’t matter. Everybody must die.” He might as well be the cat with nine lives. Reminiscent of frequent reports of medical trips to France in and immediately out of power, the two months he spent receiving treatment in Germany in 2014 also stirred vicious rumour. The ex-president’s condition went viral when he attended the valedictory dinner for Justice Fati Lami Abubakar, the former Niger State chief judge, and was helped out of the event before the end. He often suffered a relapse of pain from injury received in his right leg as a result of piercing by a bullet during the Civil War, he explained afterwards. “When I was the president of the country, I had to travel to Germany where the sickness was diagnosed as Radiculopathy, which has troubled me since and, as such, relapses.” Whether, by the latest episode, the gap-toothed ruler of legendary evasiveness (hence the moniker, ‘Maradona’) once more evaded his markers is hard to tell. It matters, though, that he promoted the fickleness of life as opposed to the insinuation that he might trouble cynics forever, for none has yet outmanoeuvred fate.
Born in 1941 in Minna, Niger State, Babangida joined the Nigerian Army on December 10, 1962, when he attended the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) in Kaduna. Officers’ courses at home and abroad subsequently shaped his path to the top. He married Maryam (née King) Babangida, with whom he had four children, in 1969. Although she died from complications of ovarian cancer on December 27, 2009, her tenure as First Lady from 1985 to 1993 set exaggerated standards copied by successors since. While Babangida participated in most of the military coups recorded in the country, he also survived various attempts to unseat him by coup d’état and was almost toppled by Major Gideon Orkar in the ill-fated coup of April 22, 1990. He promised at the August 27, 1985 inception of his administration to end human rights abuses by the previous government and hand over power to a civilian government by 1990, but allegedly committed the same infraction. His famed manipulative streak was sharpened by a proclivity to open public debates on future policies only to launch programmes without recourse to popular opinion. Thus were suggestions by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank captured as the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in 1986. Besides a long-running battle with the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), Babangida courted controversy when he upgraded Nigeria’s role in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), from observer status to full-fledged membership. In 1989, he legalised the formation of political parties, and following the November 1991 census, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced on January 24, 1992 that both legislative elections to a bicameral National Assembly and a presidential election would be held later in the year. A process of voting adopted and referred to as Option A4 stipulated that any candidate needed to pass through adoption from the local level to any height of governance. Babangida banned all political parties and unilaterally formed two political parties, the SDP (Social Democratic Party) and NRC (National Republican Convention) and urged all Nigerians to join either of the parties. Critics, however, labelled the two-party contraption as self-serving.
The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi branded the parties “The Babangida Babes,” while the late Chief Bola Ige remarked that “You do not plant peanuts and reap coconut. Never”, which was why he decided to “Siddon look” and have nothing to do with the transition programme. Nobel Literature Laureate, Wole Soyinka, in an interview, described the program as “voodoo politics”. On June 12, 1993, the presidential election held successfully, by most accounts. Instead of the announcement of results, however, Babangida annulled the elections. Amidst a fresh round of strikes and protests that grounded economic activities, Babangida on August 26 declared that he was ‘stepping aside’ as head of the military regime, and handing over the reins of government to Ernest Shonekan under an interim administration. Within three months of the handover, the late General Sani Abacha seized power. Considering the circumstances around his 1993 exit from power, few were surprised when Babangida announced that he would run for president in the 2007 national elections. He was doing so “under the banner of the Nigerian people”, he said, after accusing the country’s political elite of stoking ethnic and religious violence. Extreme reactions of support or opposition from the Southwest ensued after he picked up a nomination form from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Headquarters in Abuja.
He withdrew from the race, citing the ‘moral dilemma’ of running against Umaru Yar’Adua, the younger brother of the late Shehu Yar’Adua, as well as against MajorGeneral Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, on account of his close relationship with the latter two. But dreams die hard. Babangida’s spokesman announced on April 12, 2010 that his principal would seek the nomination of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the presidency in the elections scheduled for 2011 but fate again seemed to have played a fast one on him. He lost out to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in a consensus arrangement put together by northern leaders. A committee headed by Mallam Adamu Ciroma eventually picked Abubakar out of four aspirants – Babangida, Major-General Gusau, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Abubakar – who indicated interest to represent the North. Abubakar himself contested the PDP ticket in 2011 with and lost to former President Goodluck Jonathan. Without some form of legal closure, the $12 billion Gulf War oil windfall of 1991 probably rocked his chances of staging a return to Aso Villa the most. As the death rumour peddlers have shown with worrying consistency, shaking off controversy may be a dribble too much, even for a quick General.” On Camera next was Master Warrant Officer Michael Otuwe (rtd) aged 72 who was in tears as he narrated how the late charismatic leader, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed almost survived the coup d’etat of February 13, 1976: “He was assassinated on July 29, 1976 (Starts shedding tears). He ruled for six months from July 29, 1975 to February 13, 1976. He was a very good man as he did not allow the goods (personal effects) of General Gowon to be thrown out but to be removed gently and for the house to be renovated before he relocated from Dodan Barracks. That was why he was shuttling from Ikoyi without pilot cars, motorbike outriders, armed military and security bodyguards among others. He only rode in the official Mercedes Benz car with two flags the national flag on the left and the armed forces flag on the right. On that fateful day, we passed through Federal Secretariat in Ikoyi which was undergoing renovation and covered with zinc. When we reached Alagbon Junction the traffic man did not notice the flags, he would have allowed the traffic in our direction to continue moving, but he stopped the five or six cars in front of us then I saw some people in agbada (Babanriga) and when they lifted them up they brought out AK-47 rifles and fired at us. Already a masked man had got the driver, Sergeant Adamu Michika, in the head and he fell on the arm-rest where the suit case containing the General’s mufti was. I took cover and fell on the driver. The General and the ADC also took cover. When the assassins left and were heading to National Broadcasting Corporation – Radio House – to announce the takeover, one of the Majors turned and saw when the ADC opened the door to help the General, the Major shouted and notified his colleagues that they were alive.
This made them to turn and rush back and emptied their bullets in us. I was the only survivor as I was shot in the arm and the hip. The troops loyal to General Murtala came after the soldiers and they took us to the mortuary. I recovered from coma when the breeze from the air conditioner and the pain woke me up. A mortuary attendant notice that I raised my hand and he alerted a doctor who said I was alive and they took me to Dodan Barracks and then to a hospital on Awolowo Road Ikoyi. I spent six months to recover and resumed work with the Nigerian Army Signal Corps. Where I worked with Generals Adenaju, Raji Rasaki and lastly Tanko Ayuba.” Even more moving was the interview, in “Vanguard” newspaper of February 13, 2016 by General Murtala’s daughter, Mrs. Aisha Oyebode: “What I can say is that I am always humbled by his legacy. I also feel humbled when I see the kind of response that people have towards him 40 years after. So I really feel it is something that makes me very proud. At times I realise that he really was a visionary because so many things that he talked about 40 years ago are the ones affecting us today.
Where were you on the day he was assassinated and how did you get the news of his assassination in a military coup 40 years ago? I was a student at Queens College, Lagos. I was in Form 2. Actually, I did not know for quite a while. As soon it happened, the Head Mistress called me into her office and said that I needed to go home. The lady that came to pick me was the Principal of the school that I went to earlier. She is Mrs. Nasiru a Lebanese, who was the principal of Lebanese Community School, Yaba. So, she took us to her home on the outskirts of Lagos. I did not know what was going on that Friday.
The only thing I knew was that martial music was playing on the radio but I had no idea of what happened. The following day, they took us to my uncle’s house in Yaba. He is my father’s very good friend. When we got there every one started crying and I asked what was going on they said my aunty was not feeling fine and I smiled. Whatever they told me, I believed it. It was when we got to Kano the following day which was on Sunday morning that my father’s mother told us that my father had been killed. That was after he had been buried. All this while my mother was away, maybe if she was around we would have known earlier.
Obviously, there are some peculiarities that come with being the daughter of the late Head of State Gen Murtala Mohammed, rtd. Can we know these peculiarities? I think that very big shoes, filling them can be very challenging. People’s expectations of you are very high which not bad because what it does is that it makes you determined as well. It makes one understand that his legacy is an important thing that has to be sustained. It is not easy. Sometimes living in the public glare for so long is not easy and people don’t realise that. Then again, I am not complaining, I am just stating the fact that when you live in the public glare, you have to work really hard. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain privacy by staying on your own lane and live a quiet life. But the positive side of it especially when it comes to the work of the foundation is that it opens doors. It is like having a brand. If our foundation, Ford Foundation and Macarthur goes to any place in Nigeria, they will open the door first for me just because of our reputation. And I find that even in the remotest part of Nigeria where people are not receptive. I am usually the one they put in the front. It is not that it opens doors without hard work; it just makes things a lot easier. And it is a recognised brand if you want to use business terms. You do not have to work as hard as others to grow the reputation.
People just acknowledge and recognise it. What was the experience like growing up without your father? I can say that living without him was very difficult. We live in a patriarchal society which means that it is really the man in the front that defines the family. After my father died life was really tough. There were six of us my, mother had to bring all of us up but it was very difficult for us financially. My mother was very enterprising and hardworking but things were very difficult especially towards the later years when my younger siblings were in secondary school and the university. It was actually very tough. Having been that close to him, were there any particular thing that he often told you? He emphasised so much on education, not just western education alone but also Quranic education. I think selflessness was something he always emphasised on. He often said that whatever one does, the person should not think about himself alone but also others. That was a very important lesson. And in fact, if anybody ever got into trouble with my dad, he will raise his voice. He never raised his hands against any of us except for once that he hit my brother. He taught us selflessness; you just don’t do things and think about yourself alone. And that was a very important lesson. Your dad was known to have pioneered the clamour for accountability in public service, how successful has the Murtala Mohammed foundation gone in promoting public probity? +It is part of the work that we do in terms of public policy and advocacy because accountability is about probity. How do we make the leaders accountable to the people? These are some of the things we do. That is why in our annual lectures we talk about issues of governance and how we can improve the lives of people. So these are some of the things that come from probity and accountability and also in everything we do at the foundation, we try to ensure that we are accountable. 21 The office of the Head of State is such that demands so much time, did you really miss him much when he became the Head of State and did he actually have time for his family at that time? I don’t remember what I did. I tell people that I actually didn’t remember what happened during that time because of the traumatic experience of his death. I remember the day he became Head of State, I remember the day I was told he died. In between that time, I can’t remember much. All I can remember are feelings and those feelings chill much. I still remember that I was happy as a child because he was so protective. But it is like my mind shut down as a result of that tragic incident. May be sometimes, I may remember some episodes. He was very close to his children. There are some pictures that will be taken to the National Archives and in all he was with his children. As a person he was very gentle and well loved. My father had a lot of friends even now when they talk about him; it comes from his gentle side. He does not like to come home and his dinner will be late. He liked a lot of our native soups like Efo, Okro and he liked Tuwo. What followed was a scoop by “The Nation” newspaper which it splashed on the front page of its February 13, 2016 edition: “OKOGIE, OTHERS EXTOL MURTALA’S VIRTUES 40 YEARS AFTER” “40 years after he was gruesomely murdered in a foiled coup d’état led by late Buka Suka Dimka, on Friday 13, February 1976, Nigerians have eulogised the virtues of late military Head of State, Murtala Ramat Muhammed.
They described him as a leader who pioneered the anti-corruption war in the country and one that was committed to transforming the nation. Former Catholic Archbishop of Lagos State, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, described the late Head of State as a patriotic leader who ruled with his conscience. He was patriotic to a large extent and meant well for the country. He tried to rule according to his conscience and not religion. He was indeed a sensible soldier and I don't think we have had leaders like him ever since he passed on. A good number of leaders after him are selfish. Also speaking, Chief Ladi Williams a Senior Advocate of Nigeria described Murtala Muhammed as a reformist, adding: "To this day, he is one of the most-outstanding officers that Nigeria has had. He retired a lot of people perceived to be corrupt and was the first to remove judges that were suspected to be corrupt. He removed G.B.A. Coker, a judge and one Akindele, a permanent secretary over alleged corruption. If he had remained alive, he would have done what his successor, Olusegun Obasanjo did. He would have set up a transition programme and would have handed over power to a civilian administration. He would also be remembered for constituting a 49-wise-men constitution drafting committee to fashion out what was known as the 1979 constitution. He also laid the 22 foundation of the federal capital to be moved to Abuja. This is a testimony to his contribution to Nigeria. Nigeria has really missed him.” The late military leader, in the opinion of Col. Edor Obi, former Military Administrator of Bayelsa State, was a pan Africanist who stood up for Africa in many of its struggles. “He was a pan Africanist who stood solidly behind the continent during the struggles in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola. He sowed this, not only in his speech, but also in his commitment to the struggle. His impact is still being felt till today. Aside from his successful military career, his lifestyle was exemplary. He wasn't thinking about himself and served the country with his whole heart and mind. He had a different personality and stood out as an exceptional leader in his own time."
Former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abubakar Tsav (Rtd.), in a telephone chat with The Nation, said: "Murtala Muhammed was a ruthless person as far as governing the country was concerned and was filled with the desire to put the country on the right path. As a leader, he was honest and simple. Nigeria would have been better if he had not been untimely killed. He wasn't flamboyant like the leaders we have now. He was always out to serve. President Muhammadu Buhari is a replica of the late Murtala." The late Murtala, in the view of Dr. Junaid Mohammed, a Second Republic lawmaker, was a devoted Nigerian who believed in the corporate existence of the country. He had one capacity that no other Nigerian leader had. He had people in every area of life that he sought opinion from. He could look very hard from afar, but if you got close to him, you would find that he was friendly and always joking. He was detribalized. It would have been wonderful if he had not been murdered, because he had all it takes to bring about the cohesion of the country. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council also extolled his virtues. Speaking, the president of the group Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said: Late Murtala was a brave soldier and one of the best officers the country has ever had. He was the one who started the anti-corruption crusade and can best be described as the pioneer of the war in the country. He had his shortcomings as a human being but he stood out as a Head of State.” The film backtracks to another interview with the daughter of late General Murtala Mohammed in the special edition of “The Tribune” newspaper of February 13, 2016: i.) “MY DAD WAS MURDERED ON FRIDAY BUT I DIDN’T KNOW UNTIL SUNDAY” – AISHA, MURTALA MOHAMMED’S ELDEST CHILD “What are those fond memories you have of your dad? He was a man who made it a point of duty to be close to his family at all times. He took us out to Federal Palace Hotel every Sunday to play and have fun. He was very good to his children.
My dad was very good to his children. My dad was a very nice man. Although I was closer to mum as a girl, my dad imparted discipline into my life. How was life after his death? It was very difficult. My mum was very young then and she was left with six young children to cater for. It was really tough for her. But as a young and industrious woman, she started selling jewellery and some other things to train us and to survive. What was your reaction when you heard of your father's sudden death? I was 12 years old then. My brother, Zakari, now late, was. Fatimah was eight. Risque Abba was seven. Zeliha was three and the last born, Jummai, two years old. I was in Queens College then. Our teachers took me home. I did not hear of my father's death until two days later, on Sunday. My mother was not around when my father was killed and that was the reason we did not get the information on time. When we heard of his death, the whole family was devastated. The youngest of us, Jummai, was just crying. It was a tough period for the family but we thank God that we were able to pull through. Was there any support from family members and your dad's friends? To be honest with you, my father's friends and family members rallied round the family in our darkest period to support us in one way or another. How are your siblings doing now? By the grace of God, I am the Chief Executive Officer of Murtala Mohammed Foundation and my siblings are all graduates and are doing well in various fields of human endeavour.
The family was again in sorrow when the second born of the family, Zakari, died in 1993. Your father fought corruption while he was head of state, what is your take on the present level of corruption in the country? It is very sad, the present level of corruption in this country. People are dying daily because of it. Schools and hospitals are in bad shapes. My dad fought corruption because he knew the implications. I urge the present crop of leaders to emulate my dad by resisting corruption so that the country can return to where it belongs in the comity of nations. ii.) “I TOOK DIMKA TO SPAIN AND HE PLANNED A COUP FROM THERE” – Alabi Isama What can you remember of the events of February 13, 1976?
It’s a very emotional point from where you have started now because many of my friends were involved. First, I took [Bukar Sukar] Dimka to a meeting in Madrid, Spain. And it was from there he planned the coup. I was lucky because he lost my camera. My mother always wanted me to bring pictures of places I went, that is why I have 450 pictures in my book of the civil war, titled, "The Tragedy of Victory.' But Dimka was playing with my camera and taking pictures in Madrid and forgot it in the taxi that we were in. I told him not to talk to me again because he boasted to me that he was going to buy me another one. He went all over the market and shops in Madrid but he could not get the 1.2 canon lens which was just the new camera in the market. When we got to Nigeria, for two weeks I did not get his report. He was my secretary to the meeting in Madrid. So I sent Sasaenia Oresanya, his deputy secretary who later became the governor of Oyo State, I said go and tell Dimka, if by Friday he failed to give me the report of the meeting, he should consider himself under house arrest. That Friday morning, Dimka was announcing a military coup, dusk to dawn, dawn to dusk and he was making his lousy mistake. We had to stop that coup. It was the second coup after the civil war because Murtala had organised his own coup against Gowon and the Dimka one was the one against Murtala and we were just coming back from the civil war. We were ready to face any bullet.
So, [General Alani] Akinrinade and I put in all the efforts to stop the coup. There is a British intelligence report on this subject on how it went. Why it is emotional for me is because many of my friends were killed. Many of the boys who organised the coup were military students and I was their instructor at the military school. So when I got to Bonny camp, I ordered that they should put down their weapons, they obeyed me. The report of British Intelligence also proved that they obeyed my instructions and they did not obey Danjuma's instructions when Danjuma wanted to take over and they refused. But when I got there, I was able to take over. It is just like your principal in your secondary school, even if you were head of state, the day you see him, you will still say sir. They downed their weapons - all of them were shot because they took part in a coup. So people like Ibrahim Taiwo in Kwara state who was governor then was among those that were killed by the coup planners. But fortunately for us, in Kwara State, Taiwo left his mark on the sand of time. Within that short period, the golf course we have in Ilorin today was put there by Taiwo. And all these we had discussed when he became governor. He did not serve with me directly. Because he was of the Supply and Transport of the Army. He was in the logistics and I was in pure Infantry, supported by logistics. But I knew Taiwo very well and I mean very well.
One thing about Taiwo as an officer was that he was more than an average officer. People who plan coups are usually not too intelligent. Many of them were just with exuberance, who wanted changes and things like that. You won't credit them as an A time officer. Not many of them around the world. A coup of that February 13, 1976, was an unfortunate one and it was because 25 we didn't learn from our past mistakes. Anybody, any community, any state, any nation that fails to learn from past mistakes will repeat it. And when you repeat it, that's when you are an idiot. iii.) “HOW I ESCAPED DIMKA’S BULLETS” - Jemibewon General David Jemibewon was in 1976, the military governor of Western State which has today been divided into Ondo, Ekiti, Osun,Ogun and Oyo states. He told Saturday Tribune he had no feeling or premonition of danger on February 13, 1976. He, therefore woke up very early in the morning and moved to the office. So many things preoccupied his mind as his official vehicle was descending the overhead bridge that linked the office and the Government House. He had some files which required urgent attention and his plan was to attend to them as soon as he got to the office. Besides that, going to the office very early in the morning was part of him. Before he got to the office, the radio was on and he tuned to Radio Nigeria, Ibadan. Hardly had he settled down in the office than he heard the voice of Lt. Col. Bukar Sukar Dimka announcing the change of government through a coup d'état. This was followed by martial music being played intermittently. Martial music is a military music you don't play when things are good order in a country. He said: "The first thing I did was to listen carefully' as he was confused. He later pulled himself together and thought of what to do and what came to his mind was to take cover, "I took cover," he said. Where that was he did not disclose. However, when Saturday Tribune met him he said: "You know in the military, when you are in such a situation, you take cover. I moved away from the office and 1 took cover." He added: I have to thank God that we are today talking about a coup that took place forty years ago because 1 still remain alive." Some kind-hearted people that God used came and assisted to take me away." He did not mention where he was taken to. Jemibewon, however, mentioned Chief S.P.A Ajibade who he said was a commissioner in his cabinet. He also mentioned Sir Dele Ige, a businessman in lbadan and a brother to Chief Bola Ige, the murdered Attorney General of the Federation, though he was not in government. He also named the British Deputy High Commissioner who had an office in Ibadan then. "These people were the messiah who saved me."
The Producers of the film have been severely jolted by the robust interventions of Chuks Iloegbunam in the special edition of “The News” magazine to mark the 50th Anniversary of the coup d’état of 15th January 1966: “The first shots shattered the peace of the night at the Abeokuta Garrison of the Nigerian Army a few minutes after midnight on July 29, 1966. Three casualties lay instantly dead in the persons of Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Okonweze, the Garrison Commander, Major John Obienu, Commander of the 2nd Reece Squadron, and Lieutenant E. B. Orok, also of the Reece Squadron. It was the beginning of the muchtouted revenge coup of Northern Nigerian army officers and men against the regime of 26 Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi. By August 1, when Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon assumed power in Lagos as Nigeria’s second military Head of State, the bullet ridden bodies of both Ironsi and his host, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, the military Governor of Western Nigeria, lay buried in shallow graves at Iwo, outside Ibadan. “Within three days of the July outbreak, every Igbo soldier serving in the army outside the East was dead, imprisoned or fleeing eastward for his life”, observed Professor Ruth First in The Barrel of a Gun: The Politics of Coups d’états in Africa [Allen Lane The Penguin Press, London, 1970, p317.] But Africa’s bloodiest coup did not stop at that stage, despite the shooting deaths of 42 officers and over 130 other ranks, who were overwhelmingly Igbo. The killing sprees and ever-expanding killing fields spread like wild fire across most of the country. There were three phases to the coup – the Araba/Aware massacres in northern Nigeria preJuly that called for northern secession, the July Army bloodbath, and the ethnic cleansing that went on for months after Ironsi had been assassinated and his regime toppled. The maelstrom prompted Colonel Gowon into making a radio broadcast on September 29, 1966.
This was the kernel of what he said: “You all know that since the end of July, God in his power has entrusted the responsibility of this great country of ours into the hands of yet another Northerner. I receive complaints daily that up till now Easterners living in the North are being killed and molested, and their property looted. I am very unhappy about this. We should put a stop to it. It appears that it is going beyond reason and is now at a point of recklessness and irresponsibility. But Gowon’s salutary intervention changed nothing, as the massacres continued unabated. Northern soldiers and civilians went into towns, fished out Easterners and flattened them either with rapid gunfire or with violent machete blows, leaving their properties looted or torched. According to the Massacre of Ndigbo in 1966: Report of the Justice G. C. M. Onyiuke Tribunal, [Tollbrook Limited, Ikeja, Lagos] “…between 45,000 and 50,000 civilians of former Eastern Nigeria were killed in Northern Nigeria and other parts of Nigeria from 29th May 1966 to December 1967 and although it is not strictly within its terms of reference the Tribunal estimates that not less than 1,627,743 Easterners fled back to Eastern Nigeria as a result of the 1966 pogrom.”
This is contemporary Nigerian history, only 50 years old. But when experts like Dr. Reuben Abati and Professor Jonah Elaigwu write about it, they lose all sense of numeracy and statistical acuity, and glibly state that the July 29, 1966 counter-coup cost “many” Igbo lives. Well, the truth is that the July 29 counter-coup appears to be the bloodiest in the world’s recorded history because the casualty figures it posted far outstrip those registered in decided bloody coups like the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in which King James II of England was overthrown by an invading army led by William III of Orange-Nassau; the 18 Brumaire of 1799coup in which General Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the French Directory on November 9, 1799; the Wuchang Uprising of 1911 that overthrew the Qing Dynasty and led to the establishment of the Republic of China; the Bolsheviks October Revolution of 1917 that led to the creation of the Soviet Union; and the Iraqi coup d’état of 1936, the first among Arab countries. 27 Each of these coups/revolutions led to war.
But none of them managed anything near the sea of blood occasioned by July 29, 1966. Giving their interest in posting photographs and videos on the Internet by Instagram and Snapchat, and advertising mostly poor language on Facebook and other such portals, today’s Nigerian youths may know next to nothing about what led to the catastrophe of July 29. But the details follow here for those of them interested in learning. The problem sat rigidly on the superficiality of Nigeria, a geographical expression contrived by colonialist Britain. At Independence in 1960, the country operated a federal system of government with three powerful regions that didn’t take dictation from Lagos, the nation’s capital. A fourth region, the Midwest, with capital in Benin City, was created in June 1963. But destroying the very fabric of the artificial political entity were tribalism and corruption, corruption which by today’s standards, would seem like cloistered nuns delightfully engaging in a game of Ping-Pong! There were the 1960 and 1964-1965uprisings in the Tiv country of the Middle Belt, and fractious elections in Western Nigeria in 1964 and 1965. There was the highly controversial national census exercise of 1963, and there was the military action of Isaac Boro’s Niger Delta Volunteer Force.
Then, the military moved in on January 15, 1966, having contracted the germ of the idea of military putsches running riot across the world. In Algeria, for instance, Colonel Houari Boumediene and Ahmed Ben Bella overthrew Benyoucef Benkhedda on July 3, 1962. Three years later, on June 19, 1965, Boumedienne overthrew Ben Bella. More: In Argentina, General Eduardo Lonardi overthrew President Juan Domingo Peron on September 16, 1955. On March 29, 1962, General Raul Pogi overthrew President Arturo Frondizi.In Brazil on March 31, 1964, Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco overthrew João Goulart to set up a 21-year-long dictatorship. In Indonesia General Suharto overthrew President Sukarno on September 30, 1965. Inside Africa itself, coups were also trending. Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser had overthrown Muhammad Naguib as far back as February 27, 1954.
The first coup in West Africa was on January 13, 1963, when Etiene Eyadema overthrew Sylvanus Olympio. Colonel Joseph (later Mobutu SeseSeko) toppled Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba on September 14, 1960 and “neutralized” all political parties in CongoKinshasa. In neighbouring Benin Republic, Christophe Soglo overthrew Hubert Maga on October 28, 1963.Soglo carried out another coup on November 27, 1965, toppling Sourou-Migan Apithy. Both coups happened when the country still bore the name of Dahomey. On New Year’s Day of 1966, Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa overthrew his cousin, President David Dacko in Central Africa Republic. Two days later, Lieutenant Colonel Sangoulé Lamizana overthrew President Maurice Yaméogo in Upper Volta, which was renamed Burkina Faso in 1984 by Marxist revolutionary Captain Thomas Sankara.
But there was a difference between the rash of coups that occurred elsewhere and the one of January 15, 1966 in Nigeria. The Nigerian coup took an immediate ethnic colouration, and for reasons that were all too obvious. Of the five Majors that formed 28 the innermost circle of the plotters, four were Igbo – Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna, Donatus Okafor, and Chris Anuforo. But there was also among them Major Adewale Ademoyega, a Yoruba. Then, there was also the more disturbing fact that most of the coup’s casualties were non-Igbo, like Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Northern Premier Sir Ahmadu Bello, Western Premier Chief Samuel Akintola, and Federal Finance Minister Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. No Igbo politician had lost his life in the bloody action. Further, in executing the coup, the military had turned against itself in the killings of the following Northern military officers: Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari (Commander 2 Brigade), Colonel Kur Mohammed (Chief of Staff, Army Headquarters), Lieutenant Colonel James Yakubu Pam (Adjutant-General), and Lieutenant Colonel Lieutenant Colonel AbogoLargema (Commander 4th Battalion, Ibadan).
Two Yoruba officers were also victims:Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun (Commander 1 Brigade), and his deputy, Colonel Ralph Sodeinde. The coup was, in effect, as bloody as they come. Its very nature fanned the fiction that it was an Igbo coup. On the immediate term, the charge of an Igbo coup was understandable. What would the Igbo have said and done if things had happened differently and the coup had been perpetrated by say, Majors Hassan Usman Katsina, Murtala Muhammed, Joe Akahan, Mohammed Shuwaand Abba Kyari, and the victims been, say, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Michael Okpara, General Aguiyi-Ironsi, Colonel Conrad Nwawo and Lieutenant Colonels Michael Ivenso, Michael Okwechime and Ime Imo? They would have, of course, cried blue murder and almost certainly plotted countermeasures. But, the true situation was clear in mere weeks and months. The coup had not been an Igbo coup for various reasons. Its primary objective was to replace Prime Minister Balewa with Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Yoruba Leader of Opposition in the Federal Parliament. Why would Ndigbo carry out a coup in order to install a Yoruba leadership? Three of the leaders of the January 15 action testified verbally and in written form that they had marked Chief Awolowo to head a government of their own creation. This was how Major Ifeajuna rationalized their decision in his memoirs, which has remained embarrassingly unpublished for 50 years:
“Chief Awolowo launched forth his party on a platform of tribalism, and for his parochial and partisan approach to national issues, he got deserving blame. But probably in the later Awolowo of after the 1959 Federal Election that began the fiasco, our people saw for a second time an image of honesty, courage and discipline. Awolowo refused to betray those who followed him; rather it was some of them that betrayed him. In the face of difficulties and personal tragedy following on the declaration of a state of emergency in Western Nigeria, his treason trial, and the death of his first son, he showed courage and firmness of belief that truly is rare. In time he came to win the respect and admiration of even his greatest detractors, and what was more, he came to represent a rallying point for the young and the intellectual, for all that sought progress and nationhood for our country.” There were other reasons that made it plain that it was not an Igbo coup. The Igbo General Aguiyi-Ironsi crushed January 15. But, instead of being credited with the feat, Gowon allowed himself to be proclaimed the crusher of the coup, a role he hadn’t played at all. Not just that, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Chinyelu Unegbe, the Quartermaster of the Army had been felled by the coupists of January 15. He was fullblooded Igbo, from Ozubulu in today’s Anambra State. But it served the interest of the counter-coupists to deny this and lie that Chinyelu was from the “Midwest” Region. A further consideration: On the morning of January 15, 1966, there were six Igbo Lieutenant Colonels. None participated in the coup. On that morning, there were 45 Majors in the Nigerian Army. About 24 of them were Igbo. This means that, at the very least, 18 Igbo Majors had nothing to do with the coup. On that morning, the General Officer Commanding was Igbo. The Quartermaster General was Igbo. The Commander of the 2nd Battalion in Lagos was Igbo. His 2ic was Igbo. The Brigade Major was Igbo. The Federal Guards Commander was Igbo. The Staff Officer “A” Branch at Army Headquarters was Igbo. If all these had fixed the coup, could it have failed? But the engineers of July 29 did not want to know. People like Mallam Adamu Ciroma, then the Editor of the Northern Government-owned New Nigerian newspaper led the campaign in portraying the January action as an Igbo coup aimed at Igbo domination of Nigeria. These champions of the legend of the Igbo coup had a point, of course. But, as already pointed out above, it was a blunt one, except that in the excitement and tenseness of the season, reason was on leave. First insidiously, but later openly and brazenly, they started and continued to fan the embers of hatred that resulted in July 29 and the pogroms that preceded and followed it.

-     Bashorun J.K. Randle, is a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa Region. He is currently the Chairman, J.K. Randle Professional Services. Email:

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