From John Adams, Minna
35 years after his execution in an alleged coup plot in 1986, the family of late General Mamman Jiya Vatsa has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to grant him a state pardon.
Late General Vatsa along with other military officers were executed on March 5, 1986, after their alleged involvement in a coup plot. The day of his execution has been set aside by his family and the entire Vatsa community in Gulu, Niger State, for remembrance and special prayers for his soul.
Speaking to reporters after marking this year’s anniversary of the general’s death with special prayers and a visit to an orphanage, family spokesperson and former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Niger State, Jonathan Vatsa, said March 5 is marked with sadness and sorrow by the family.
‘Every 5th of March is always a dark day for the entire Vatsa Community and the immediate family. We mark that day with sadness and sorrow. Something was taken away from the family and the entire community,’ Vatsa said.
Jonathan Vatsa, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, said the family decided to mark this year’s anniversary with an appeal to President Buhari to grant the late General Vatsa a state pardon to enable the family to run a foundation in his honour.
He pointed out that on every anniversary of his death, the wife and the children usually mark the day with a visit to an orphanage and widows because ‘after his execution, his wife became a widow, his children became orphans. That is why every 5th of March, his family visits an orphanage home.’
Vatsa, a younger brother to the late general, stated that even though his brother was alleged to have plotted a coup, the family is passionately appealing to President Buhari to consider him for a state pardon as it has been done to others.
According to him, ‘the same way that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, General Oladipo Diya, Late MKO Abiola and many others were all granted state pardons and integrated into the society, President Buhari should also consider our late brother and grant him state pardon.
‘As a former Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, our late brother contributed immensely to the development of Abuja. As at the time he was implicated in the alleged coup, he was just a minister of the FCT and not commanding any troops. He was only fighting contractors for the development of Abuja.’
Vatsa said that since the execution of late General Vatsa, life has not been the same with the family, adding that ‘his death created a lot of setbacks in the family and the entire Vatsa community because so many people depended on him for everything.
‘We, therefore, appealing to al his friends still living to support this cause so that he can be granted a pardon. Some Nigerians like I said earlier have enjoyed this privilege, so let Mr President consider the late General Vatsa too for a state pardon.’