Posted by By KENNY ASHAKA on
Several years after the botched attempt to extradite Dr. Umaru Dikko, Second Republic Minister of Transport and ex-President Shehu Shagari’s right hand man, by crating him into Nigeria, a sizzling account of how it was plotted from Nigeria and why the Buhari administration wanted Dr. Umaru Dikko back in Nigeria has emerged.
•We wanted to present him to Nigerians as independence anniversary gift
•Insists: Obasanjo knew of Dimka’s coup
•Exposes T.Y. Danjuma
Several years after the botched attempt to extradite Dr. Umaru Dikko, Second Republic Minister of Transport and ex-President Shehu Shagari’s right hand man, by crating him into Nigeria, a sizzling account of how it was plotted from Nigeria and why the Buhari administration wanted Dr. Umaru Dikko back in Nigeria has emerged.
According to Alhaji Mustapha Haruna Jokolo, deposed Emir of Gwandu, and fromer ADC to former Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Umaru Dikko’s threat to destabilise the regime, coupled with the need to shore up the low popularity rating of the regime, were responsible for the Buhari government’s action at the time.
But Jokolo said the idea was that of retired General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma who equally had an axe to grind with Dr. Dikko.
“I am now at pains disclosing this highly classified episode, but Danjuma left me with no option but to do so, since he too was not really particular about the official secret Act. Umaru Dikko crossed Danjuma’s path when, as Shagari’s Minister of Transport, he closed down all jetties that were suspected as being used to perpetuate smuggling.
“Danjuma’s jetty was one of them. There was a serious press war between them, but Umaru Dikko could not be bothered. Till Shagari was over thrown, Danjuma’s jetty remained closed. When Buhari took over from Shagari and Umaru Dikko, now a fugitive in London, declared war on Buhari, Danjuma quickly capitalized on this.
“He rang me to book an appointment for him to see Buhari. He made his proposals which sounded attractive. He said he could bring Umaru Dikko back, using his Israeli connection. I had an insight into this proposal,” Jokolo narrates.
But that was just a tip of the ice-berg in so far as the crating of Umaru Dikko is concerned and Jokolo narrated all, including how fake passports and drivers licenses were secured for the deal.
But it was Danjuma’s “vituperations,” according to Jokolo that brought out these details. The former Chief of Army Staff had stepped on his toes and he (Jokolo) was not ready for “half truth” to be swept under the carpet.
With Jokolo, Danjuma his former Commandant, is a “sinner” and not a “saint”.
Jokolo brought out the account of how late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s Kalakuta Republik was vandalized by soldiers and says Danjuma, not Obasanjo, issued the order. He also narrated why Danjuma was against late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, how Danjuma’s promotion over and above his superiors caused dissention among the officer corps then and his impression of the Taraba-born General. He also spoke of General Danjuma’s maneuvers in the Army.
The former ADC to General Muhammadu Buhari did not spare many officers and civilians either in this interview which is the second part of the three-part series started last week
But you can almost touch the admiration of one of the visitors present during this interview with Al-Mustapha Haruna Jokolo. From the way friends, community leaders and relations from Kebbi State come around him, they leave you with the impression that they still believe in his leadership of the Gwandu Emirate.
Jokolo has a voice that goes with the rather dignifying institution of traditional rulers. Blessed with a friendly visage, he is the closest you can get to what a man without guilt or guile looks like. He seems to be permanently in control of his emotions and feeling. Even when he speaks of something he feels strongly about, his demeanor remains, surprisingly even.
Incidentally, the deposed Emir spoke without prior notice. He had actually called this reporter for assistance to feature his father, also a former Emir, in the “Memories” page of the Daily Sun when a striking discussion on the state of the nation instigated resulted in an interview.
The interview was conducted twice, with the one published last week taken in long hand. Nevertheless, Jokolo was patient enough to wait for the reporter to finish writing before saying more. In that instance, he fielded questions with a total lack of hurry because of his sense of duty to oblige the inquisitive.
Yet, he convinces you, rather ignorantly, that he was born with a streak of arrogance. But no one should begrudge the deposed Emir of Gwandu, the right to speak his mind. Theirs have become whatever means it took to achieve, one of the largest empires in the country. And the man who dignified the stool of the Gwandu Emirate, achieving a feat that has recommended the Emirate to the entire nation.
If Jokolo typified the new breed Emir in the north on whom considerate national investments have been made, the job of many image makers would be threatened. He opened up like he did in 2006 when he spoke to Daily Sun.
Jokolo equally spoke on the Dimka coup that killed the former Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed and ushered in General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976; insisting that Obasanjo knew about the coup before Dimka and other officers struck.
He says that Obasanjo is a coward who went into hiding while the Dimka coup lasted and that he only surfaced after it had been quelled by troops organised by Danjuma and MD Yusuf, the former officer in charge of Special Branch.
Perhaps, an insight into the relationship between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former Minister of Defence in his last administration, Lt General TY Danjuma would help unravel the unpredictable nature of the relationship.
So, Jokolo who had worked with the duo at different times during his military career was asked to provide the irreconcilable attributes of these two powerful Nigerians. Excerpts:
Obasanjo and Danjuma seem strange bedfellows who, nevertheless, like flocking together. But they have always fallen apart. You have worked closely with these men. What really is the area of conflict between them that you think cannot be reconciled?
Ambition, power, corruption. Each one of them was ambitious. Each one of them wanted power. Each one of them was corrupt because none of them can explain the source of his wealth. None of them got his position through the proper way. A coup brought Danjuma to be Chief of Army Staff. And he was catapulted over and above so many Generals who were his superiors. He was promoted to lieutenant General from Brigadier, skipping Major-General. His superiors were made Major-Generals and answerable to him. That was one of the things that brought problems in the system. And that was the bitterness of someone like Bisalla.
He (Bisalla) was course mate to Late Murtala. He was GOC. At one time Danjuma served under him during the war and he was a Brigadier when Danjuma was a Colonel. Danjuma was later promoted a Brigadier. He was promoted a Major-general when Danjuma was made Lieutenant General. There are so many of them-Shuwa, Godwin Ally, Olutoye, Oluleye, Jallo, so many of them. Many! At least, I knew about 10 to 15 of them who were senior to Danjuma. And he was not part of the coup that overthrew Gowon. The executors were young officers-Majors and Lieutenant Colonels and may be the highest, Colonel, Joe Garba. But you read in an interview where he (Danjuma) said he scattered them. That is why…because he wanted power to concentrate on him alone. It is the same thing like Obasanjo. He, too was a coward. Because here was a Head of State who used to go to office early; but suddenly, on that day (coup day of February 1976) he was not in the office. He was nowhere to be found. But Murtala was ambushed on his way to the office by the coup plotters.
Are you saying by inference that Obasanjo knew about the coup in which Murtala was killed?
I am saying he knew about the coup. If you read Aristocratic Rebel by M.D Yusuf…He (Yusuf) is a very intelligent person who knows his onions. He was Head of Special Branch at that time. He (Obasanjo) actually knew about the coup against Gowon at that time. He warned Gowon about it. As Head of Special Branch, which later became NSO, he was their boss. So, he made insinuation to that effect.
That Obasanjo knew about Dimka’s coup?
Yes. That’s what he said. The coup that killed Murtala; Obasanjo knew about it. So, if MD Yusuf spoke something like that, nobody can dispute it. And to add onion to it, where was he (Obasanjo). Everybody went to the office early except him. Murtala was on his way to the office, he was ambushed. Danjuma was already in the office. He was unaware of it. The Chief of Staff under Murtala didn’t turn up in the office. He was not there. He was in hiding. He was calling them and he was not telling them where he was. By the time…. It was MD Yusuf and Danjuma who organized the groups that put down the coup. He only resurfaced later.
He didn’t even disclose where he was. The COS (SHQ) who was next in command. He knew Murtala was killed. So, he was number two in the order of precedence in the hierarchy. But he was missing. At one time, he remained incommunicado. He was not even communicating with them. But how come he was not in the office before Murtala which was what used to happen before the day of the coup? Instead, people shot Dumuje who looked like Obasanjo, except he was lighter with his mustache and his features. They look alike. So when they looked at General Dumuje they mistook him for Obasanjo and he was shot. So, they had something in common. When Obasanjo was going to be Head of State… like I told you in the last interview, Obasanjo was playing low profile to study situations like Octopus study, plan and execute.
He studied the situation and he knew he couldn’t spring surprises on those people who put him in power. What he wanted was to take full control of the security forces. He told them, just allow me to appoint one Minister, and then you can appoint your own. Give me the Minister of Defence. So, they gave him and he appointed Danjuma. The relationship was good and Danjuma was a very fantastic soldier. He proved his mettle during the war. He was good and as far as the military is concerned, you cannot take that away from him. He was my GOC and I served under his command. There is no doubt that he was very good. Anybody who has Danjuma as Chief of Army Staff or Minister of Defence has somebody who was in charge. Obasanjo wanted that security to plan his own take-over of the government because he was not in charge of the government. He was only head of government, but he was not in charge of it at that time.
Who were those in charge?
The people who put him there. And don’t ask me who put him there, because you know them.
I was going to ask that.
No, don’t ask me.
Please go on
By the time Obasanjo wanted to manipulate Danjuma too, he found it a bit difficult. So, they started planting stories that Danjuma was mad and putting ideas across to people because they wanted to get rid of Danjuma. By the time Danjuma resigned and he didn’t want to go back, then the issue of economy came in – where he has oil prospecting licence. Obasanjo then said he will only have half of it while the other will come back to them. He went to court and from there he started seeing Obasanjo as enemy. This was the same Danjuma who told us that he would go into exile if Obasanjo was not made Head of State. Now, he is saying that Obasanjo should be sent to prison because he took away his OPL. You can see the circle now. Was it not Danjuma who was Minister of Defence when the Odi massacre took place?
Was he not the Minister of Defence when the sacking of Zaki Biam took place? He had no remorse about that. Do you think if it was his village in Jukum, he would do that? That is why I said you should read that thing I wrote about him because his hatred for Tiv people is very pronounced. He removed the Jukuns from Benue Plateau and took them to former Gongola State . The entire Wukari, he took them there because he wanted where he could be in charge. With the Tivs around, he could not be in charge. Now, he used soldiers to go and massacre innocent people. I was there and I shed tears. I headed the peace group from ACF. I took the ACF group to go and reconcile them and when I saw the carnage that happened there in Zaki Biam, I shed tears.
But was it not Malu who was there as Chief of Army Staff?
General Malu was Chief of Army Staff
During the raid on Odi?
When he was no longer there, he became bitter after the raid on Zaki Biam
Well, in that case, Malu should explain why as Chief of Army Staff, why they did what they did in Odi.
And he didn’t want it done in Zaki Biam
He should not want to do it. Nobody would want to do that to him. But he was Chief of Army Staff. I cannot speak for Malu now regarding what really happened. He is the one who can best explain as Chief of Army Staff, why the soldiers did what they did in Odi. But that does not say that just because he was the Chief of Army Staff, the soldiers did whatever he said and now they will turn round and say we are going to massacre your own people too. That is what we are afraid of. It was not a reprisal, but the hatred of Obasanjo for the Tiv people.
Throughout his period of stay in office, when did Obasanjo visit Benue? He and Danjuma had some hatred for them. They hated the Tiv people and for that reason, they unleashed that terror on them. I did not go to Odi, but I saw Zaki Biam and no responsible person would do what was done to those people. You find the present Chief of Army Staff tendering apology on behalf of the Army because I saw it. I would not do that to the worst enemy of Nigeria, let alone of my own countrymen.
What did you see in Zaki Biam?
The way they burnt the place, killed the people and threw them into the river. Everywhere was ravaged. I was there and I saw it. Even if you have enemies, you don’t do that. The fact that Malu was Chief of Army Staff during the Odi issue does not warrant what happened in Zaki Biam. I am not saying what they did to Odi was right, I did not go to Odi, I did not see what was done and I am not apportioning blame on the Chief of Army Staff or anybody. But remember one thing, the Chief of Army Staff might not be on the ground when that was happening. The commander on the ground could decide that. For example, the Mai Lai massacre of 1969, when Lt William Calley of US Army went and massacred a village in Mai Lai. He was court martialed. He took his soldiers to go and massacre everybody in that village. He was arrested. That is the culture that we should imbibe in Nigeria. Immediately somebody commits an atrocity and it is discovered, you don’t cover it up.
I am sure that if you have your way, you would say that they should be charged for war crimes
Look, let me tell you the military regulation. I left the military in1985, but my knowledge of the military has not gone with my retirement. The military regulations states that in the event of civil disturbance, if you are to disperse crowd for example, before the 1979 constitution, the police were supposed to go and carry out their own operation.
Where they found out that it was too much for them, they would go and report to the local administrator that they had failed. Please invite in the military. The military commander will be invited and there would be a ceremony where there would be handing and taking over ceremony. By the time the military moved in, he was supposed to go with a camera man, a diarist, a magistrate. All of them should accompany him and before he gave an order, he must give a warning that I am going to carry out this order. You do not cross this line. If you do, you are liable to be shot. You must mark that area to tell them not to cross it. If anybody crosses that area, you can shoot, but you must designate the rifleman to shoot.
When you do that, he is supposed to apply minimum force. You don’t shoot somebody to kill him. You try to minimize the damage and where people are trying to escape, you open avenues for them to escape. You don’t start pursuing them. Where there are casualties, you are supposed to have an ambulance with you to recover the injured and take them for treatment. After that, there will be a board of enquiry where you will explain the number of rounds that you have used. The diarist, the cameraman and everybody will be brought to give evidence.
If they found that you have used excessive force, you can be court martialed for that in the normal Army. So, if for firing a single round, you must explain yourself to a board of enquiry, what do you think of bombing a place, using tanks to bomb your fellow countrymen, killing women and children? I saw General Malu’s mother. She was beaten up as if somebody went with vengeance. I saw her. I looked at her as my own mother because she is the mother of somebody who was my superior. When I was talking to her, my tears was coming down because I imagined my own mother in that condition. So whether somebody distant or not, you don’t cover up.
Let us come back to the relationship between Danjuma and Obasanjo
In the case of that, I think that Danjuma wanted power. Where he failed to secure it at the centre, he felt he could put his surrogate and that was why he got vocal Prof. Gana who was a staunch Obasanjo man to make a u-turn and come under his sponsorship. He thought he could use the Christian thing. That was why when the ACF was created; he was the one that made sure that many Christians did not join ACF.
Instead, they formed Northern Christians Elders Forum which was seen as a rival to ACF. Remember that he made a statement that he was the one bankrolling them. Even when Gowon invited him to take over ACF, he declined because he was trying to use religion to divide the north. The northern people never had this kind of thing. Before, everybody was a brother to the other. But these people just came and think they can make use of religion. People like Danjuma were trying to make use of religion and I admire him for doing that. He had a mission and that was why he was trying to use religion and ethnic factor to become the leader.
At least he helped his religion. But what about our own leaders here? How many of them can come out and say I helped build this school or this mosque? Look at our own headquarters here, the JNI headquarters. Since 1993, work stopped there. We were in court over that issue. How many Muslims do we have here who are billionaires and millionaires and yet, we have problems completing it. At least, in one thing, Danjuma is doing a great thing by promoting his religion. There is nothing wrong with that. But don’t use it for political purpose and make people hate each other because you have your own security and others don’t have.
He thought he could use religion to get some of these governors to promote Prof. Jerry Gana. With Gana as president, Danjuma would have been the puppet master. That was what they tried to do with Obasanjo. They put him there and wanted him to be a puppet. But the puppet now came alive and then turned the table against them. I think that was really what happened.
I have always maintained that I am not interested in politics, especially in the Nigerian context. Therefore, I shall not delve too much into it except to point out Danjuma’s inconsistencies - especially in the Nigerian political arena. He stated in his interview with the Newswatch that he was roped into politics by friends. That is a surprising thing to happen to seasoned politician like Danjuma. Rather, he was the one who roped Professor Jerry Gana into leaving his nationalistic call to become partisan. Maybe in Professor Gana, he also saw another stooge that he could help install as the president with a view to manipulating him - as that is Danjuma’s real professional stock-in-trade.
It is surprising that Danjuma could agree to serve under a “dead duck” who was his junior in rank for three and a half years and yet turn round and tell us he was empty. Had Gen. Obasanjo been incapacitated, Yar’Adua would have stepped into his shoes. Danjuma was well aware of this. Who really was empty – the “dead duck” or Danjuma who had wool pulled over his eyes for three and a half years?
What was wrong with Yar’Adua having his brother and brother-in-law vying for positions once they were qualified? President J.F. Kennedy appointed his younger brother Robert Kennedy as US. Attorney General.
He stated that they refused to appoint Justice Udoma Udo Udoma as Chief Justice of Nigeria because of his physical disability not because he did not merit it. That was unfair and unjust, since Supreme Court Judges do not have to be sportsmen. Did he not know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the President of USA for three terms and even prosecuted the Second World War while he was in a wheel chair?
Danjuma lied that he took part in only one coup. He actively took part in one alright, but he passively took part in all coups and coup-attempts, may be except that of the Vatsa Group. He stated that Major Nzeogwu spoke to him about political situation. He killed Ironsi and Fajuyi. He was informed about Gowon’s overthrow. We told him of our plans to overthrow Shagari and he lent us his support in the papers. He did not object to the overthrow of Buhari which meant he supported it. The way and manner he condemned Babangida’s leadership on 22 April, 1990 Concord of 24 April, 1990 was too good to be a mere coincidence. Had it succeeded, he would have extracted his pound of flesh from the Orkar Group.
You must be privy to the crating of Dr. Umaru Dikko, Second Republic’s Transport Minister because you were at the centre of activities at the time because you were the ADC to the then Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari. What happened really?
It would be easier for me to give you a write-up I made on that sometime ago, because with the passage of time, it’s not going to be that easy for me to recall all again just like that. Precisely, this is how it is. Go through this write-up and if you have any question, about it, I will clear it. Only one person in Nigeria dared to call off Danjuma’s bluff.
He was Dr. Umaru Dikko. He ended up in a crate after being drugged. I am now at pains disclosing this highly classified episode but Danjuma has left me with no option but to do so, since he too was not really particular about Official Secrets Act. Umaru Dikko crossed Danjuma’s path when, as Shagari’s Minister of Transport, he closed down all jetties that were believed to be used to perpetuate smuggling activities. Danjuma’s jetty was one of them. There was a serious press war between them, but Umaru Dikko could not be bothered.
Till Shagari was overthrown, Danjuma’s jetty remained closed. When Buhari took over from Shagari and Umaru Dikko, now a fugitive in London, declared war on Buhari. Danjuma quickly capitalized on this. He rang me to book an appointment for him to see General Muhammadu Buhari, then Head of State. He made his proposals, which sounded attractive. He said he could bring Umaru Dikko back using his Israeli connections. I had an insight into these proposals. First, he asked NSO to provide him with fake passports of Umaru Dikko, Richard Akinjide, Saleh Jambo and Adisa Akinloye. In addition, he asked for fake drivers licences.
These were secured and delivered to Danjuma at his Victoria Island residence. Next he wrote that he needed some dollars to be paid into his personal account. The NSO also obliged. Initially, an NAF C-130 aircraft was to be used to shuttle between New York and Stansted airport. The idea was aborted because in the event of failure, Nigeria would be directly incriminated. Therefore, a Boeing 707 cargo plane was arranged. The fugitives in USA were left alone; so he could concentrate on Umaru Dikko who was making the loudest noise.
It was almost a success except for the fact that the Israelis did not take into consideration Umaru Dikko’s security arrangement with his private secretary. Though the mission failed in principal, it all the same achieved limited success. Firstly, it proved that Nigeria was coming of age at least for attempting to carry out a daring action in a developed country like Britain. Secondly, the fugitives shrank into their shells and retracted their war of calumny against Nigerians who were feeling oppressed by the regime and were beginning to display resentful signs. But to Danjuma, it was a coup-de-grace because nobody connected him with it and his bank account swelled. I cannot disclose any more on this because I will hurt other people who made a lot of sacrifices. Danjuma later called me and told me he had to leave Lagos and settle down in Kaduna with his family because of the failed attempt.
Now why was the government of Buhari after Umaru Dikko. Let us agree Danjuma had scores to settle with Buhari. Danjuma was not part of the Buhari Government after all?
Well (clears his throat). You get how we did it in the write-up. But Why? Nobody wants insecurity and Dikko was threatening us too much, with words like they were going to destabilize us; they were going to attack us. Secondly we were not very popular too. And you know, you will always want to do something that will jolt up your popularity rating to get Nigerians to rally around us and we needed that.
You said it was calculated to shore up your popularity rating. Why was the regime not popular in your estimation?
One, the regime came in at the time it was required. Definitely. But I told you we planned and executed a military coup-detat which was very successful except for the loss of Brigadier Bako. There was no casualty anywhere, at any level. But the problem was that we on our own part were able to execute it as we planned it, but what happened after was frustrating. We were expecting some people to prepare some blueprints for the running of the government, but they did not.
Who were these people?
We commissioned Dr. Mahmud Tukur and Mamman Daura, Those were the people we were expecting to prepare the blueprints for us because they were seasoned people who might have some friends who will help us because, you see, you could not expose your plans to everybody. So we had to select few people we could trust and let them know what we were doing so that they can help us. These were the people that I knew. I do not know whether there were other people.
And they failed to prepare it?
They did not do it. We had no blueprint. So by the time we took over government, we didn’t know what to do with the government. I told you we had to think of how we were going to do it. The enormity of the atrocities committed during the civilian regime was staggering and unbelievable. You didn’t know who was right and who was wrong. So everybody was lumped together and put into jail with the hope of clearing those who are innocent and convicting those who are guilty.
But some of them… as I told you, because of inexperience and exuberance, we started setting up military tribunals. And these tribunals went about doing things their own way; jailing people hundreds of years. That was one of the things that brought us bad popularity; bad publicity. Secondly, a group amongst us who were power hungry, who subsequently took over from us… It was not when we took over that they started their plans. From the world go, they were planning. There was a plot within a plot because of these power hungry men.
How come you didn’t know about this plot within a plot so you could nip it in the bud?
We saw it coming but we believed we were all going together. Let me tell you. Actually, there were three groups. I mentioned it somewhere, that three groups were operating during the coup. So one group was arrested - led by one Major Joseph Jetawo. We made noise by telling Nigerians that we arrested coup plotters. We amalgamated with the other group. Within our own group, we believed we were all going together. Then suddenly we found something fishy was going on. While the government was busy doing something, behind our back, we were being stabbed. We discovered that this group was the one which later took over in 1985. So while the government was trying to do something good for the country, they were painting the government black behind the government. They were also making friends with enemies of the government.
Was that what Buhari later referred to as fifth columnist?
More than that. So by the time they came, they started giving reasons why they struck. But the failure of having a programme was our problem. If we had a good programme, we could have carried the whole country along with us. That could possibly have delayed the coup-detat. Within 20 months there was overthrow of government. That could have delayed it, maybe about four years or something.
Couldn’t the killing of drug traffickers like Ojuolape, Bartholomew, Owoh and others in spite of pleadings to spare their lives have been one of the factors that accounted for the low popularity rating of the Buhari regime?
Where? Which part of the country?
I am asking if that was not one of the factors …
(Cuts in) No. I doubt it. I think it was because, remember that everybody was afraid of cocaine pushers, drug pushers and what have you. If anybody went to Saudi Arabia at that time and even now if anybody is caught with drugs in Saudi Arabia, that person will be executed. So, we were trying to protect our countrymen by doing that. So if you execute three people to save thousands, what is the big deal? Unless, again, the fifth columnists were using it against the government. But in the long run, who was not accused of drug peddling? Many people were involved and were accused of that. There was the case of this woman, Gloria Okon. What was it that was not said - even after we left?
This Gloria Okon issue what happened…
(Cuts in) I don’t know, I don’t know.
What is the mystery surrounding the Gloria Okon drug case?
I don’t know.
Why is this issue still shrouded…
(Cuts in) I don’t know. I don’t know. Ask people who investigated Gloria Okon; who were the people behind it and what happened. But I don’t know. I don’t want to go missing too.
You don’t want to go missing?
How can somebody like Your Highness go missing?
She was missing. Was she not? Did you find her body?
So, I don’t want my body to be missing.
Who would have been responsible for that?
I don’t know. Don’t bring me into that, please. This is too hot to handle. It’s too hot to handle.(Laughter).
Let’s go back to the issue of the blueprint. Was it a case of deliberate refusal by those you commissioned?
I told you before that you can never know the motives of these people. Either they were trying to play it safe so that if something went wrong with the coup, no one would bring them into it. If the blueprint was theirs, they would be identified with it and if the coup failed, they could be arrested. If all of us were shot, they would have been shot down with us. They were playing safe. These are civilians. These are people that you can never know what is on their minds. The thinking in their heads, you don’t know.
Let me ask you this bit (in the write up) about Fela Anikulapo-kuti and his Kalakuta Shrine. What happened?
You can go through this. It is there. One Friday in 1977, I cannot recall the exact month and date, the top echelon: namely Gen. Obasanjo, Brigadier Yar’Adua, Lt Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, Vice Admiral Adelanwa - Chief of Naval Staff, AVM Yisa Doko, Chief of Air Staff, M.D Yusuf, Inspector General of Police, Brigadier A. Mohammad DG, NSO, Brigadier Joe Garba, Hon Minster of External Affairs, were holding security council meeting. A report was made that Fela Anikulapo Kuti assaulted a military police on traffic duty. All the aides to these dignitaries were also around. Danjuma came down with eyes red and shouted at us and I quote: “Go get me that stupid Fela, dead or alive!” He went back to their meeting.
His orders were clear but directed at actually none in particular. We all looked at each other in stony silence. I made the first move by volunteering to go. The ADC to commander-in-chief stated that I should not go because I could easily be recognized. So the ADC to Brigadier Garba who also was his younger brother, Lt.Sunday Garba, was directed to take his platoon from Brigade of Guards, Defence Company to go and get Fela. Sunday narrated to us what happened when he came back. He told us that on getting to Fela’s house it was locked and electrified. He shouted for Fela to come out but was ignored.
They got NEPA to switch off the light but Fela switched on his generator. When they eventually gained access into the place, they entered Fela’s house, they ransacked the place and beat up everybody, including Fela’s old mother who was thrown out of the window. They were all arrested. We congratulated him for successfully accomplishing his mission.
Some days later, there was a public uproar and people were disgusted with the way Fela, his mother, younger brother Beko and his troupe were brutalized and his house vandalized. They asked for a judicial commission of inquiry. Rather, a two-man administrative commission of inquiry was set up with clear mandate to pass the verdict of UNKNOWN SOLIDIER and Fela’s property was confiscated. He was to be compensated, though it was believed that he would never agree to that.
While Fela was accusing Obasanjo and Yar’Adua for perpetuating this dastardly act, the real brain behind it was none other than T.Y. Danjuma. Fela was lucky. Had Danjuma’s murderous orders been carried to the letter, Fela would have died before he did. Surprisingly, Danjuma, even as COS , was frequently visiting Fela’s shrine. What in the world was the big deal about Fela calling his shrine “Kalakuta Republic”? He was ordered never to mention Kalakuta Republic.
I have gone through (the document). But there are still some unanswered questions.
Like which one?
You said you set up a panel. It was obvious the panel was teleguided. You said it point blank there. Why didn’t you allow the panelists to do their job? Must you direct them on what to do?
Yes we teleguided the panel.
Why would you do that?
We did the wrong thing. So, we wanted to cover up. What was done to Fela was wrong. But we were in power. And when you are in power, you become powerful. Did you hear the saying that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’? When you are a military man in power, you have absolute possession of power. Fela was personally insulting the Head of State then; that is Obasanjo who might have been his classmate or schoolmate, whatever. Fela didn’t see him as anything; but we saw him as our Head of State.
And when you start castigating the Head of State or something of that nature and he gave an excuse when he attacked a Military Policeman on duty and that was the excuse they were looking for to deal with him. There was a case that he did something wrong. But we did something worse. Then, how do we cover up? It was to set a panel to appease the public who were crying foul. But they didn’t know that it was tailored.
Are you just realizing the wrong done to Fela or you realized vandalizing Fela’s house would be wrong and you went ahead to do it?
As a military officer at that time, my inclination to believe my leaders was there. I did not see them as doing something wrong. That’s why I was even prepared to go and execute the order given by Danjuma. And had Fela resisted, I could have shot him myself.
Of course! I didn’t say I would shoot him. I could have shot him. If in the process, something happens to my soldiers… Okay, let me give you an example. His house fence was electrified. If the voltage was enough to kill any of my soldiers, that would make my head go turning. And that would spell doom for Fela and his people if I saw any of my soldiers lying down dead after a Military Policeman was beaten up by Fela and I suddenly find that he had no authority to electrify his fence. Anywhere there is fence electrification you must put up a notice that it is electrified. So, in the process if any of my soldiers touched that fence and they died or he died in the process; that was murder as far as I am concerned.
But nobody died. At least not a soldier was injured. So, how do you know there was no notice?
Normally, they don’t do that. Only civilized people do that. Fela was not civilized. If he was civilized, he wouldn’t take on somebody like Obasanjo at that time.
Obasanjo was a General; Head of State-a Military Head of State with all the powers in him. Who was Fela? If they had killed Fela, what would have happened?
You mean nothing would have happened?
What would have happened? What would have really happened? Do you know there were people killed innocently during the coup attempt? The Dimka coup that we didn’t really take part in? What happened? There were some of these officers who really did not take part.
Is that so?
Of course. But they were shot.
Who shot them?
The orders were given. Common, you would have read that even within the Supreme Military Council there was uncertainty when Obasanjo cast the deciding vote on some of them. I’ll give you an example like Colonel A.D.S Waya. Nobody was sure of his involvement. There was no proof of it. Like Colonel A.B Umar. Nobody was sure of his involvement. No definite certainty. Why is it that they didn’t make the proceedings public? All these military, these are individuals that are Nigerians whether they were soldiers or not. If you really want to justify your actions, especially when you want to take somebody’s life, what they should have done with all sincerity of purpose was to bring in, possibly, a Military Tribunal with a civilian judge as Judge-Advocate. That Judge-Advocate would guarantee that the rule of law is followed.
In any Military Court-Martial, there would always be a Judge-Advocate who is a qualified lawyer. Most of these people who try these coup plotters, possibly, none of them is a lawyer. None of them could be a lawyer. In fact, none of the Presidents of the court was a lawyer or anyone of the members was a lawyer. So, in such circumstances, you could still try people like that in the Military. But it is always mandatory that you have a Judge-Advocate who is a trained lawyer and who will guide you on points of law.
But I never had at that time any tribunal that had a Judge-Advocate. So, people did what they wanted or what they thought the authorities wanted. So, people were executed. You couldn’t be very sure; otherwise, how many years have rolled by and these documents have not been de-classified. They should de-classified them and bring them for people to scrutinize so that they can decide whether their actions were right or wrong.
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