Twenty one years after, the controversy over the sudden death of the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola, in detention has not resolved.
Who killed Abiola? What killed him in detention? Was an autopsy actually carried out? What was the outcome? His demise has remained a riddle.
Few weeks before his death was announced, the nation was hopeful about his release from incarceration. His was sighted in a group photograph taken when he was visited in prison by Susan Rice, former Assistant Secretary of State. Also sighted in the photograph was the late Admiral Mike Akhigbe, former Chief of General Staff. It appears that Abiola was in high spirit and full of expectation. He was hale and hearty. He had hoped to regain his freedom. But, few days after, a bewildered nation was jolted out of its illusion that the chief would return alive.
Abiola died in the hand of his military tormentors. In his book, the Vindication of a General, Bamaiyi Ishaya attributed Abiola’s death to a sort of inexplicable conspiracy within the military government that succeeded the Abacha regime. Abiola did not die under Abacha’s watch. Bamaiyi emphasized that he died when Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar was in the saddle.
“I believe only Gen. Abubakar and those he used to handle Abiola’s death can tell Nigerians how Chief M.K.O Abiola died. Abiola could not have died the way he reportedly died,” he said.
If the chief had embraced the curious bail conditions, which were to tie Abiola’s hands and sentence him to self-liquidation, would he have lived?
Many Nigerians had expressed fears for Abiola’s safety, especially when the Abacha’s self-succession agenda was unfolded. Yet, when Abacha suddenly died, he was not released by his successor, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
However, it appeared that some NADECO elements had a premonition that an ugly incident was about to occur. In his book, ‘Clapping with one hand: June 12 and the crisis of a nation state,’Olawale Oshun, Third Republic House of Representatives Chief Whip and one-time NADECO secretary, said: “It was on June 28, 1998 exactly that information reached some key elements within the democratic movement that the president-elect, Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola would be murdered soon, and in any case, not later than September 1998. The information came via a document from a source we knew, respected and trusted. “
Despite the report that Abiola’s life was in danger, certain elements in the movement did not believe it. Although the Radio Kudirat had been previously used to disseminate information about the planned attempts on Senator Abraham Adesanya’s and Gen. Yar’Adua’s lives, the handlers of the station dismissed the planned attempt on Abiola’s life as a wild rumour.
On page 268 of the book, the sensitive document available to the pro-democracy movement reads as follows: “Abdulsalam Abubakar: He is an active member of the “die hard” Northern oligarchy. Well respected in the military circle and a bridge between the military cultic group groomed and nurtured by the late Gen. Sani Abacha and the liberals in the army.
“He was chosen to be the head of state, not because he was the next high ranking officer, but because the way had been pre-paved for him-remember “The plot against Diya?” He is still not acceptable to Buhari, Gumei and Gwarzo, who together asked the “Dare Devil Cultic Group” to obtain written pledge from him to “consolidate Northern domination of political power,” which unfortunately, he wrote and signed before he was approved.
“He asked to be surrounded by new “Yoruba” friends, which unfortunately would include some of the recently released political detainees. The new regime is working tirelessly to secure the friendship of this new group.
“The only ADENDUM the new regime and its collaborators has is to: Ensure that Chief M.K.O. Abiola does not become the president of Nigeria in whatever form and Hausa/Fulani domination of the presidency is not compromised.
“The new regime is: Totally against Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s mandate; Proposing a new transition to democracy by 2000-18 months programme to be announced on October1, 1998; Although would include some released detainees in his cabinet, it would still be intolerant of opposing political views and hence, be as repressive as ever before; The regime is thinking of compensating the families of the slain Ogoni activists and granting amnesty for the 19 Ogoni youths as a way of placating the Ogoni people; NECON would be dissolved and a new electoral commission formed; New parties to be registered; Negotiated amnesty for Diya and co likely, but not soon.
“According to the reliable source, this regime would fight the press with all its power. An impeccable source said that all proposed elections are to be postponed. New election dates would be announced by the newly formed electoral commission.
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