Saturday, 23 September 2017
Items filtered by date: April 2017

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Again, a whistle blower on Tuesday led the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to a staggering sum of N4 billion suspected to be proceeds of corruption.

The commission disclosed this in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.

However, EFCC did not state where and how the latest discovery was made.

It said investigations revealed that the money belonged to a former deputy governorship candidate in Niger State.

“The suspect uses the names of two companies – Katah Property & Investment Limited, and Sadiq Air Travel Agency – in laundering the funds.

“Each of the company has N2 billion fixed in its deposit account domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank.

“The suspected owner of the account and the account officer are currently on the run,” the commission said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the EFCC on Monday intercepted huge sums of money in various currencies totalling about N250 million at the popular Balogun market in Lagos.

According to its spokesman, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the discovery followed information from a whistle blower that the money was being moved somewhere in the market for conversion into foreign currencies by unnamed persons.

The April 10 episode came barely three days after the commission recovered N449 million at an abandoned bureau de change in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Similarly, a tip-off by a whistle blower also led to the discovery of N49 million in crispy notes of N200 and N50 abandoned at the Kaduna International Airport on March 13.

Published in Headliners

•Gets N25 million, SUV  

•Jubilations as TBoss was evicted

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: After 78 days of dramatic activities in the Big Brother Naija (BBN) house, the lifestyle reality show came to an end, Sunday night, with Delta State contestant,  Efe Ejeba winning the coveted prize of N25 million and a Kia Seranto SUV.

Efe, an upcoming rapper and last man standing on the show beat fellow finalists – Bisola, TBoss, Debie-Rise and Marvis – in a tension-filled finale that had fans of the show canvassing vigorously for their preferred housemates.

The 24-hour three-month long live show which commenced recording in Johannesburg, South Africa on January 22, 2017, with 12 housemates who were later joined by two others, and another two but fake housemates, climaxed in glamorous live performances that had DJ Neptune, music artistes Innocent Idibia, aka 2Baba, Tiwa savage and Emmy Gee, throwing up so much vibes amidst pomp.

While in the house, Efe, who is the youngest contestant – aged 24 – was unique for his frankness, multiple-term as Head of House, and his common use of pidgin diction with jokey phrases.

A graduate of Economics from the University of Jos, Plateau State, the self-acclaimed ‘street’ boy, who was one of the usually nominated housemates for possible eviction, had, each time, led the vote chart.

Female housemate and multi-talented entertainer, Bisola, was a high contender for the prize. She told Big Brother in a Diary Room session earlier that win or lose; “I feel like a winner already.” She noted that it took her eight years to be selected as a participant, and believes the show will impact her career greatly.

Big Brother who expressed optimism for her talents admonished her in a touching way, as she fought back tears. It was the most emotional last Diary Room session.

He said: “It’s been an amazing experience having you in the house – your versatility, your incredibility. Yes, there have been moments you have told big Brother that certain things you have done and may have said, that you wish to take them back; but who can judge you, except they have been through this experience themselves. It’s always good to find out why people do what they do. That curiosity leads to understanding, and understanding opens up the human souls to compassion, and compassion is the cornerstone of love. For there is no guilt in humans, all there is, is love. Bisola, as you leave tonight, may genuine love find you. May you prosper beyond your imagination. You are a gold fish… you are a gold fish; there will be no hiding place for you. All the good things will locate you. You can sing, you can act… the question is not what can Bisola do? It is what can’t Bisola do? Big Brother has truly enjoyed your stay in the house and wishes you all the very best in your future endeavor. You’ve got a Midas touch, go touch anything a d it will turn to gold. Good luck to you…”

2Baba opened the show, singing his latest song, ‘Holy Holy’, followed by Mavin Record’s First Lady, Tiwa Savage with ‘Key to the City’. When Emmy Gee climbed the stage featuring AB Crazy and DJ Dimplez, they sang ‘Rands and Nairas’. Tiwa Savage returned one more time to the stage, doing the medley, ‘Romatic’ and ‘All Over’, while 2Baba closed the performances with the classic, ‘African Queen’.

It was a live crossing show, with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu hosting the South African studio leg, while former BBN winner, Katung Aduwak anchored the live broadcast from the Lagos screening center, the Classique Event Place, Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikeja, with fans of the show, sponsors, Nigerian media and past contestants of the show.

Marvis was the first to leave the house. When asked if she would want to further her relationship with Efe, she became evasive. Marvis’ exit was followed by guitar girl Debie-Rise who had disappointment written all over her. Asked where her heart belongs between Efe and Bassey, she noted that although it was natural to get attracted to one or two person, “But I really like Bassey.”

It was jubilations at the Lagos screening center when TBoss was evicted, just as the crowd at the Johannesburg studio where sort of booing her. She had been the most controversial housemate, noted for a beautiful body, full of tattoos and piercings which she displayed at will. The internet was abuzz last week when it was said that the Nigerian-Romanian housemate could not recite the National Anthem. She, also being the reason Kemen was disqualified from the show. However, she was declared overall winner of Friday Payporte arena games with a voucher of N500, 000 for shopping.

Presenting another side-laurel; the ONE campaign prize, won by Bisola was Honorable Desmond Elliot and Sarah Makka. She will be joining organisers in New York to speak further at the United Nations Assembly on educating the girl-child.

When Efe was declared winner, it was clear Bisola was the first runner-up.

Previously evicted housemates include Miyonse, Soma, CocoIce, Gifty, Uriel, ThinTallTony, Bassey, Balley, and Kemen, who was disqualified for breaking the rule of the game. They were all present at the Lagos live screening.

In the last three months, Big Brother Naija was estimated to be the most watched show on the African continent, shutting down Instagram, Facebook and Twitters with trending issues on a daily basis.

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SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recovered over N448 million in an abandoned location in Lagos.

Disclosing this on its social media, both the Facebook and Twitter accounts, the anti-graft agency said it found the money at a bureau de change in Lagos state.

Earlier, while the discovery story was developing, EFCC officials live streaming developments on the agency’s Facebook page, said they were still counting the money.

The anti-graft agency earlier posted on its Facebook page: “EFCC Lagos zonal office discovers over N400 million and still counting, in an abandoned bureau de change.”

But after the money had been counted, the EFCC said in a statement: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Lagos zone, this (Friday) evening uncovered yet another large sum of suspected laundered money to the tune of N448,850,000 (Four hundred and forty eight million, eight hundred and fifty thousand naira) only in a shop at LEGICO Shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. The money stashed in several Ghana Must Go bags were in N500 and N1000 denominations, hidden in a shop awaiting conversion into foreign currency.

“Relying on information provided by a concerned whistle blower, operatives of the Commision swooped on the shopping complex and sought the identity of the owners of two shops, LS 64 and LS 67 which were under locks and keys. The shops had signages of Bureau de Change. Inquries about the owner of shop 64 indicated he had not been seen for a long time, as they claimed the shop had not been opened for businesss for close to two years. Several calls were put to the owner of shop 67 but there was no response.

“The attention of the plaza’s chairman and some traders were drawn in order to force the shops open. There was no money found in shop 67, but in shop 64, heaps of “Ghana Must Go” bags were found loaded on the floor of the shop. When the bags were unzipped they were found to contain bundles of naira notes totalling N448,850,000. Traders interviewed at the premises claimed they were not aware such money was housed in there, as the place hardly opens for business.

“The Commission is investigating the matter in order to unravel the owner and source of the money.”

Meanwhile, more than three weeks after it was recovered at the Kaduna airport, no one has come forward as of Friday evening to claim ownership of the N49 million intercepted by operatives of the EFCC.

Operatives of the anti-corruption commission from its Kaduna zonal office had on Tuesday, March 14, intercepted five bags containing the sum at the airport, which has been witnessing more traffic following diversion of flights there as a result of the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

A source said while investigations are on the identity of the owners, the EFCC is working on a number of theories, one of which is that the money in small and medium denominations was meant for trafficking to some West African countries.

Investigations by Saturday Tribune revealed that 24 days after it was intercepted, nobody is yet to lay claim to the money, which sources said is in EFCC’s custody.

According to an EFCC source, who spoke with Saturday Tribune on condition of anonymity, the money definitely belonged to some powerful persons, who wanted to use another person to ferry it out but could not, however, alert all security agencies at the airport to it with a view to making them ‘overlook’ it to have a smooth passage.

The source informed that there was a person who accompanied the money to the airport, adding that, “the person was alerted to the presence of EFCC operatives by other security personnel who provided a cover for him to escape in order not to be caught.”

This, the source told Saturday Tribune, led to a misunderstanding between the operatives of the anti-graft agency, who were acting on intelligence report and the other security agencies at the airport.

“The money was definitely not a ghost. Someone brought it to the airport that day. The person was meant to take it out on a flight that day but was alerted about the presence of EFCC operatives by some personnel of other security agencies at the airport that day.

“Unlike what happened in the case of the 33 suitcases brought into the country in the 1980s by some powerful military personnel, whereby all security personnel turned the other eyes to enable them to be evacuated, this one, the person accompany the bags of money came at the wrong time to the airport.

“By the time he arrived, those who were supposed to provide cover had left but he was not only alerted to the presence of EFCC operatives in the airport but also provided cover to escape being caught by the operatives,” the source told Saturday Tribune.

The source, however, informed that the N49 million was still with EFCC, adding that the commission was still investigating to unravel the mystery behind the money.

The money, which interception was made possible as a result of a tip-off, was contained in five large black coloured 150kg jute bags, which were said to have been unattended to at the airport as of the time it was sighted and without tags during a routine baggage screening.

Upon search, the five bags were discovered by the operatives to contain fresh crispy Naira notes of N200 denomination in 20 bundles, which add up to N40 million.

Another 180 bundles of N50 notes, totalling N9 million were also found in the bags, which were said to have had seal purportedly emanating from the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc.

The commission secured an interim forfeiture order on March 16 from a federal high court in Kaduna. The order was granted by Justice S. M. Shuaibu, who ordered that the N49 million be forfeited to the Federal Government pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice filed by the EFCC.

The order was made pursuant to Section 17 (2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related offences Act 2006 as there is no individual(s) coming forward to claim the said sum after over 72 hours of getting the intelligence report from the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria FAAN, Kaduna.

Justice Shuaibu further directed that the suit be published in any of the national dailies across the country within a reasonable time in order for the EFCC to move a motion for the final forfeiture in case no one or group of persons comes forward for the stated sum.

Responding to an email sent to him, the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, stated that the matter was before a court of law, adding that the commission was still investigating the matter.

He added that the head of the commission’s Kaduna zonal office was explicit enough on the custody of the money when he briefed the media on the recovery made by its operatives last month.

“This matter is before the court. Of course, the case is still under investigation and the zonal head of the commission’s office in Kaduna, Mr. Ibrahim Bappa, was explicit on the custody of the funds when he briefed the media on the recovery,” Uwujaren stated.

 

Published in Business and Economy

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Residents of Uzebba community, Owan East local government were thrown into mourning on Friday afternoon after a 36-year old man identified as Segun Odihiri beheaded his 83 years old mother after allegedly raping his own daughter.

Head of the victim identified as Maria Odihiri was severed with a cutlass.

Witnesses told The Nation that the lifeless body of the deceased was still in the pool of blood when residents trooped to the area to have a glimpse of the incident.

An eyewitness, Mr Ekemeiren Ojekhugbo, said Segun killed his mother for raising an alarm that he (Segun) was raping his own daughter.

Ojekhugbo said that Segun was apprehended while trying to dispose of the body of her late mother.

“For him to cover his shame, he took up a cutlass and cut off his mother’s head while the daughter ran for safety.

“Segun was apprehended by some youths after he injured two of them before he was eventually apprehended by the vigilante members.

The culprit has been taken to the Owan West Divisional Police Command Sabongidda Ora for interrogation and investigation.

Published in Headliners

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: 

Former Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu is being detained for alleged abuse of office and money laundering.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invited the former governor on Tuesday to reply to the allegations against him.

Aliyu is said to be responding to issues isolated for him by a “crack team of investigators”.

He has been grilled for more than 10 hours by detectives.

The ongoing probe of the ex-governor has nothing to do with the petition to the EFCC by the Niger State Government on a N2.9 billion loan obtained in the twilight of his tenure.

A source in the anti-graft commission said: “Specifically, the Chief Servant, as he was called in his days as governor, is alleged to have diverted N2 billion Ecological Funds for political purposes.

“He is also alleged to have fraudulently sold the state’s stake in North South Power, the holding company for Kainji Dam. About 16 per cent of the state’s 26 per cent shares in the company was sold for N3.6 billion.

“Of this, N1.090 billion was paid to the Government House and used for the 2015 elections, where Aliyu’s protégé, Nasko, ran unsuccessfully as governor.”

The source gave the details of the EFCC’s investigation into the alleged mismanagement of the state’s Ecological Funds by the ex-governor.

The source added: “Three companies were said to have benefited from the heist through contract awards. Among them  a company that is owned by a former government official, which allegedly got a contract for which it was paid N847 million.

“Of this sum N800m was allegedly given to a former chief of staff who allegedly handed the money to the former governor.”

A company  owned by a friend to Ibrahim Nasko, younger brother to a former Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko got N487m for a contract.

“The money was paid to various Bureau de Change,  converted into dollars and handed to the former Chief of Staff( Nasko) who also delivered the money to Babangida Aliyu,” the official said, pleading not to be named because he is not allowed to talk to the press.

“Secta Plus however executed the contract it received from the    Niger State Government.

”He is detained as there are several issues yet to be covered even though he has made useful statement.”

As at press time, it was gathered that the ex-governor had an outstanding  case based on a petition by the state government on a last-minute N2.9billon loan obtained by his administration.

The state government had said: “The attention of the Niger State Government has been drawn to the continued denial, in the media, by the officials of the past administration that they obtained a loan of N2.9 billion on the eve of their departure.

“The government will allow the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to do its job, as the case was already before it. It is  important to ask some significant questions on the activities of the past administration.

”For instance, the government in the statement wondered why would the then Secretary to the State Government (SSG) denied collecting N600 million only to later admit that he collected the sum of N612 million for ‘general’ security during the last senatorial bye-election in the state.

”Was the money actually budgeted for, and was it used for the purpose intended? Why were the said funds given to the SSG; was he the Chief Security officer or INEC?”

”It is obvious that these government officials have chosen the hard way rather than the easy one, and the hard way they will get,” the government assured.

Also in August 2015, the  House of Assembly passed a motion directing Governor Abubakar Bello to probe the administration of  Babangida Aliyu.

The Assembly’s  motion was moved by the member representing Bida II Constituency, Mohammed Haruna.

The motion listed 22 activities of the past administration that should be investigated.

Published in Business and Economy

*Fed Govt: no safe haven for corrupt officials

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Nigerians of “questionable characters” who own property in the United Kingdom (UK) were put on notice yesterday — they will soon be unmasked.

A criminal finances bill that will introduce the concept of “Unexplained Wealth Orders” is in the works. It is designed to close a loophole which has left the authorities powerless to seize property from overseas criminals, unless such individuals are first convicted in their country of origin.

Property suspected to belong to corrupt politicians, tax evaders and criminals could be seized by enforcement agencies under the proposed laws aimed at tackling London’s reputation as a haven for looted funds.

The Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption hinted of the law yesterday in New York, United States (U.S.) through its Executive Secretary, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye. 

Owasanoye told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that negotiations between the Federal Government and the British authorities had reached an advanced stage” to release information about Nigerians, who own property in that country next year”.

According to him, the measure being taken by the governments of both countries is aimed at stepping up the fight against corruption.
He said: “There’s no doubt that rogues in government oppress and impoverish their people by corruption and this must be sanctioned by collective action. We need to make sure that there is no safe haven for corrupt officials to run to.

“Britain has promised that by 2018, it will provide Nigeria with the information about who owns what and where; that’s very helpful.
“These include all the houses that have been bought by public officials or accounts that are held by public officials on which they are right now not paying taxes or which they cannot explain the sources.

“So, if you cannot buy a house in England, you have to look for somewhere else. But, if all countries criminalise this, then it becomes much more difficult unless you want to buy the house on Mars.”

The official said Nigeria and other African countries, who are victims of illicit financial flows, must challenge developed countries to block illicit financial flows from developing countries.

Owosanoye said: “Receiving states – the countries of the North – need to be proactive to block the proceeds of crime even before a request is made by victim countries.

“This is because, in many situations, it is clear that illegality is taking place. We think that reversing the burden of proof to improve the confiscation of criminal proceeds of crime would help, especially when we are going after the asset and not necessarily the person.

“If the person who claims to own the asset would not cooperate in giving information, then this should be a point in favour of the state.”
He contended that the burden of proof for criminal proceeds should shift to the suspects and not the government, citing the case of a former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Owasanoye said: “A former Managing Director of the NNPC was found with $9 million cash and over N70 million in his house in a small place he has built.
“He said the money is a gift. He was asked if he could tell the very generous angels who gave him this money. He’s not been able to provide that information. That sort of disposition should be used to penalise a claimant of asset who cannot justify the origin of the asset.

“The proposed ‘Unexplained Wealth Order in England,’ which hopefully we were told would pass through the legal process this year, should really help to deepen the conversation in this regard. It (Unexplained Wealth Order) would help to quickly recover assets.”

Owosanoye said research records showed that about 60 per cent of capital flight from Africa came from Nigeria because of the size of its economy.
With the ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’, the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue and Customs and other agencies, will be able to apply to the High Court for an order forcing the owner of an asset to explain how he/she obtained the funds to acquire it.

The orders will apply to property and other assets worth more than £100,000. If the owner fails to demonstrate that a home or piece of jewellery was acquired using legal sources of income, agencies will be able to seize it.

The targets of the law are not just criminals, but politicians and public officials, known as “politically exposed persons”.
Depending on how quickly it passes through parliament, the bill could come into force as early as spring this year.

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*Governor urged to withdraw suit

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: To repatriate a $550million loot traced to ex-Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha, the Federal Government is to resolve two legal hurdles in the United States.

The hurdles are:

  • an application filed before a court by Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu and his wife; and
  • an action by a United States lawyer, Godson Nnaka, who is fighting to have part of the money.

Besides, the government is seeking “political solutions” to the conditions set by the Swiss government for accessing the loot, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The Swiss government would like to monitor what Nigeria does with the loot, a development which the Federal Government considers as an affront on the country’s sovereignty.

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice  Abubakar Malami (SAN) and  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chair Ibrahim Magu, who returned from the US on Sunday, were said to have made progress in “negotiating the last phase of the process for the release of the $550million”.

Pending legal cases in the U.S. by the two Nigerians and the conditions attached to the use of the loot have caused the delay in repatriating the $550million loot.

The U.S. insisted on the removal of the legal obstacles before it could invoke the procedure for the release of the funds to Nigeria.

Following likely loss of the $550 million, President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to resolve the stalemate through “political solutions”.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The Federal Government is inching closer to the resolution of legal hurdles and the template for the release of the $550 million Abacha loot. We have spent close to 20 years pursuing the repatriation of these stolen funds; it is time to get over it.

The source added: “The government is trying to prevail on the Governor of Kebbi State, Alh. Atiku Bagudu and a U.S.-based lawyer, Mr. Godson Nanka to withdraw their pending matters in some courts in the U.S..

“The government has decided to plead with Bagudu and his wife, Aisha to withdraw their  suit in the U.S., which is inhibiting the process of releasing the cash, which has been stashed in Switzerland.” 

In the suit number 13-CV-1832 (JDB), Bagudu and his wife urged the court to reverse its judgment,  which declared that the money  attributed to them was illicit fund laundered into the U.S. and therefore forfeited to the American government.”

Relying on 18 USC 983 (a) (4) and Rule G (5) (a) of the Sup¬plemental Rules for Admiralty or Marine Claims and Assets Forfeiture Actions of the Fed¬eral Rules of Civil Procedure (Supplemental Rules), Bagudu said: “I have a claim to and interest in the property alleged to be subject to forfeiture in this action.”

“If we continue with this suit without a political solution, the $550 million will still be held up in the U.S..

“The President has asked AGF Malami to discuss with the governor and his wife to withdraw the matter in the interest of the country. I think Bagudu has agreed to do so.”

Also, a U.S.-based lawyer, Mr. Godson Nnaka, who was recruited in 2004 by the Federal Government to recover funds stolen by the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, had instituted a case in a U.S. district court  against the Federal Government.

He has asked the court to declare that he is entitled to 40  per cent of the recovered loot. He also pleaded with the court to make him  the funds’ exclusive attorney.

“He alleged that he was excluded from  the fund recovery case after spending much time and money in tracing the looted funds.

“So far, we have no choice than to negotiate with the counsel. This is another legal challenge which the U.S. is using to delay the repatriation,” the source said.

A government source also made some clarifications on why the U.S. and Switzerland were involved in the loot recovery.

The source said: “The looted funds originated from the US jurisdiction to Switzerland. Many U.S.-based  banks or financial institutions were involved in the wiring of the funds. They include  Chemical Bank, New York; Commerzbank AG, New York; Marine Midland Bank, New York (now HSBC USA, NA;  Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, New York (now JP Morgan Chase); ANZ Banking Group, New York; Bankers Trust Company, New York; Barclays Bank, New York; Citibank NA, New York;  and Chase Manhattan Bank, New York.

“About $321million of the cash is said to be stashed in some banks in Switzerland. So, tracking the assets is an intertwined challenge between the U.S. and Switzerland.”

Asked to be specific, the source said the government had signed a pact with Switzerland.

“The pact, which is titled a “Letter of Intent on the restitution of illegally-acquired assets forfeited in Switzerland,” was signed by Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Swiss Head of Foreign Affairs Department, Didier Burkhalter. The document reveals that $321 million acquired illicitly by the Abacha family was initially deposited in Luxemburg before being confiscated by the Swiss Republic Judiciary and Canton of Geneva following a December 11, 2014 forfeiture order.

“If the $321million loot is released, the total repatriation to Nigeria by the Swiss authorities will amount to $1.044billion in 12 years.

“The Switzerland government has released $723million to the country in the last 11 years.

“Well, as for the conditions set by Switzerland , the Federal Government regarded as an affront on its sovereignty. Some of the conditions include  the use of the funds for projects that will benefit all Nigerians and that World Bank should “ supervise the spending of returned assets by the Nigerian government”.

The government submitted five project proposals to the Swiss government bordering on social benefit projects for the 2016 budget but the looted funds were not released.

The Federal Government and Switzerland last month signed an agreement on the return of the $321million.

A rights lawyer Femi Falana(SAN) had asked the  Federal Government  to reject the conditions attached to the repatriation of the stolen funds in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said allowing the World Bank “to supervise the spending of returned assets breaches international law principles and standards”.

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•Says MKO couldn’t have died of natural causes 
•Insists Obasanjo took part in coup against Abacha

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, has said that the winner of the 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, could not have died of natural causes.

Abiola whose election was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration in July 1993 was arrested by the late Gen. Sani Abacha-led junta in 1994 when he declared himself the winner of the election and his resolve to reclaim his mandate.

The business mogul turned politician later died in detention in controversial circumstances on July 7, 1998.

But Bamaiyi, the Chief of Army Staff under the Abacha regime, has insisted in a book that was launched in Abuja on Thursday that former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar owes the nation more explanation on the death of the late politician.

“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,” Bamaiyi declared in the book titled Vindication of a General.

Recalling the circumstances in which he learnt about Abiola’s death in the said book, Bamaiyi, who was also the Chief of Army Staff in the brief period Abdulsalami held sway as head of state, said: “One evening, the Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar called while I was in Lagos to tell me we had a problem.

“I asked him what was wrong and he told me Chief Abiola was dead.

“I was shocked and asked him what we were going to do about it. He told me he was handling the situation.

“I was disturbed because I expected problems in Lagos. But nothing happened.

“I was directed to lead a delegation to Abiola’s house to commiserate with the family and was told Abiola had some visitors, including some Americans.

“He had taken tea, which raised suspicion about his death.

Bamaiyi said the late business mogul never relinquished his mandate in spite of the pains of incarceration.

“At no time did Abiola relinquish his mandate. His death came as a surprise to me because he had been healthy when we met,” he added.

Bamaiyi recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters and others were involved in a coup plot against the late Abacha in 1995.

He also said the botched 1997 coup allegedly led by a former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya against Abacha was real.

He said Diya made $60,000 and N2 million cash available for the feeding of soldiers during the coup against Abacha.

He said the plan was to “blow up” Abacha’s car at a function in Sheraton Hotel, Abuja with an RGP-7.

Excerpts from the book, whose launch was presided over by a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon said: “It will forever remain a puzzle to many Nigerians that two former helmsmen, a former head of state and his deputy, were arrested and tried for the coup that sought to remove General Sani Abacha from power in 1995.

“Interestingly, the 1995 coup, which, either out of ignorance or for political reasons, has been termed ‘phantom’ by the actual players highlights the challenge of lack of honour and integrity among highly-placed officers because of naked pursuit of power.

“Despite spirited denial by these key officers, some of them will always tell the truth, including Col. Lawal Gwadabe and Col. Bello Fadile, whose recordings cannot be denied.

“I want to state clearly and without fear of contradiction that the 1995 coup in which Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was convicted was real.

“I am glad that Gen. Mujakpero, who investigated the coup, stood his ground in asserting that it really happened.

“Gen. PN Aziza carried out his duties by trying and convicting Gen. Obasanjo, and has clearly stated that if he retried that case, he would still convict Obasanjo.

“I know the coup was real and was reported to Gen. AZ Kazir when he was GOC 1 Mechanised DIV, but he did nothing about it until he was appointed COAS.

“I remember going go Gen. Kazir when I was commander of the Lagos Garrison and telling him there were rumours about the coup. He confirmed that he had heard about it.

“I asked him what he was going to do about it, and he said he was handling it. He was my boss, so I did not go further.

“I don’t remember the exact date. But on a Sunday, the COAS, Maj. Gen. Kazir, invited us into his study at his residence.

“Present at the meeting were Gens. Kazir; Olanrewaju who happened to be in Lagos from Jos; Muktar, the DMI; and Adeleke Kola, the provost marshal, and me, Comd. LGC.

“Gen. Olanrewaju briefed us on how the coup plan started from his Division and said that he had lot of officers involved.

“In Lagos, we had two involved officers named Col. Bello Fadile and Col. Gabriel Ajayi- my Col. Administration and Quartering. The decision to arrest these officers was made at the meeting.

“Based on Gen. Olanrewaju’s briefing, it was clear the officers could strike anytime.

“It was decided that Gen. Olanrewaju be given an aircraft to take him to Jos. The same aircraft would then proceed to Yola to bring in Col. Gwadabe, who came to Jos and was put in detention.

“I read some falsehood Colonel Ajayi wrote several times claiming he and I took Holy Communion in the church, but I did not say anything to him.

“I received instruction to arrest him in the evening. I directed CO 26 Battalion to arrest him, and he was arrested.

“If I had received this instruction before going to church, I would have ordered his arrest as soon as he left church.

“I was not involved in the matter again after Ajayi’s arrest.

“Headquarters Lagos Garrison Command (HQ LGC) has always been the venue for coup trials in Lagos and was used as such in 1995.

“After the trial and conviction of Gen. Obasanjo and Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, efforts were made by many Nigerians, including some army officers, to get them released.

“At one point, I went with Gen. PN Azazi to the Head of State and we pleaded with him to pardon the two generals and release them from prison because they were a former head of state and his deputy.

“He promised to look at it. But I was told later, though I did not confirm it, that some security officials advised him against the release, and nothing was done.

“I did not go to Abacha because I had doubts about Gen. Obasanjo’s involvement in the coup based on the briefing we received from DMI, Col. Sabo, the SIP report, and the statements of other coupists.”

Bamaiyi also fingered a former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya and others in the 1997 Coup plot against Abacha.

The book says: “Again, within a space of two years, Gen. Oladipo Diya, second in command to Gen. Sani Abacha, was caught in the centre of another coup.

“It is an issue which Nigerians have extensively debated and commented upon.

“Unfortunately, the coup plotter, Gen. D. O. Diya, cowardly denied that he masterminded it with the support of officers like Gen. Ibrahim Sabo, who wanted to destroy me.

“Gen. Diya started planning to overthrow Gen. Abacha as early as 1994 when I was at Lagos Garrison Command (LGC).

“At that time, it was the responsibility of the service chiefs to receive the Commander-In-Chief anytime he visited Lagos, which during Gen. Abacha’s time, was occasional.

“The commander LGV would receive the Chief of General Staff (CGS) at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (Presidential Wing) and see him off.

“I always received Gen. Diya at the airport and escorted him to his private residence at Fajuyi Road in Ikeja or the Vice President’s home at Ikoyi, depending on where he felt like staying.

“On one such visit, at his Ikeja residence, he mentioned how Gen. Abacha had not been doing well. He made the statement during the next visit and I asked him what the problem was.

“Gen. Diya mentioned that the Commander-In-Chief did not come to the office early and was not listening to him and other senior people in the government.

“I told him I believed Gen. Abacha would listen to him because of their special relationship. I knew how many times Gen. Abacha had stopped plans to retire him.

“On the next visit, Diya said openly that there was a need to remove Gen. Abacha and that he was being blamed for the failure of the government from various quarters. I asked him which quarters he was talking about but he did not mention specifics.

“Gen. Diya went on to tell me I was one of the officers he trusted and he would rely on me to get Gen. Abacha out of office so the country would move forward under his leadership. I told him I would think it over and get back to him.

“I informed Gen. Abacha, who said he was going to put Gen. Diya on trial. I suggested there would be no evidence for a conviction and Gen. Diya would not be acting alone, so there was need for patience.

“I was appointed the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in April 19996 and Gen. P.N. Aziza was appointed to take over LGC. It became Aziza’s responsibility to receive and see off the CGS (Diya) at Murtala Muhammed Airport.

“After returning to Lagos from a tour of 2 Mech. Div., Gen. Aziza came to me at the COAS official residence. He looked worried, and I said ‘I hope all is well.’

“He later told me how Gen. Diya had told him of the need to overthrow Gen. Abacha, and he believed Gen. Diya was serious about it.

“I laughed first, and Gen. Aziza was surprised. He said, ‘Giwa [this is how we addressed each other since we were such old friends], why are you laughing at something so serious? You know this is a matter of life and death.’

“I told him it was nothing new. Gen. Aziza asked me what I was going to do about it. I assured him I would do something.

“I knew Gen. Aziza would want me to act, and it was in my best interest to do so because if there was an investigation, I would be held responsible for having known about a coup and hiding it.

“I went to Abacha the following day and told him what Gen. Aziza had told me. Gen. Abacha said he wanted to hear from Aziza directly. I sent for Gen. Aziza to meet me in Abuja, and the two of us went to see Gen. Abacha.

“Gen. Aziza told him exactly what he had told me. From Gen. Abacha’s looks, he was not surprised. He directed us to play along with Diya until we knew what he really wanted.

“I suggested to Gen. Abacha that he should call Gen. Diya for Aziza and me to challenge him and then make him resign or retire.

“Gen. Abacha disagreed and said we did not know what had been happening. I later found out that Gen. MC Ali as COAS and some service chiefs were retired because of their alleged plan to remove Gen. Abacha.

“Other meetings took place at a guest house with Gen. Diya, Gen. Olanrewaju, Co 7 Gds Bn, Gen, Diya’s security officer—Major Fadipe and me. Of course, Gen. Abacha was always briefed after the meetings.

“Other meetings were held between Gen. Diya and me in his office. The issue of international support came up, he told me he was working on it.

“When the issue of feeding soldiers was brought up, he provided USD $60,000 to be given to GOCs to provide feeding for soldiers if there was the need.

“The money was taken to Gen. Abacha and I made a joke with him saying: ‘This is your worth at present.’ He only smiled and collected the money and later returned it to me. The money was used as exhibits during the trial.

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