By Joy Umukoro
Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha was the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to late General Sani Abacha. He was detained for 15years for the alleged murder of late Kudirat Abiola.
Recently the former CSO was hosted in Lagos by the United Niger Delta Forum (UNDEF) and he spoke on why he wants to clear his name, his trials, experience in prison and future political ambition.
You were jailed for murder of Kudirat Abiola, wife of late Chief Moshood Abiola, what was the experience like?
I was framed for many other offences before that of late Kudirat Abiola of blessed memory. On Friday, October 21, 1998, a message came from Abuja to the GOC, General Popoola, to place me under arrest for an offence of attempting a coup against the government from Enugu. The GOC was shocked but this man is here working through the night, preparing the operational room and re-setting the intelligence department for the division, as well as shuttling between Enugu to Bakassi.
He couldn’t place me under arrest; he called me and asked me, ‘what is between you and some people that insist you must be arrested?’ ‘I said, there is so much underground that we have not spoken.’
Another order came to say he must quickly arrest me that I was planning a coup and getting military tanks and artillery from Libya. So I was arrested and taken to Yobe in search of arms and ammunitions.
Before then all pages of newspapers, television and radio were awash that Mustapha was staging a coup against government from Enugu. I just handed over power to this same man in Abuja peacefully on 16 conditions. I drew with my hands 16 points of agreement between this man and I. If I had wanted, we would have taken this country as simple as this; greed for power and money don’t make you. Service to this country is what makes life better.
I was taken to Yobe where groundnut were stockpiled in the 60s and houses were searched; that was the allegation but they did that just to show to the media that I was actually being arrested for a coup. It was later; I was now charged for being in possession of late General Abacha’s money.
A panel was set up and they found nothing. There was also the charge of me, being in possession of late General Abacha’s properties across Nigeria. I was badly tortured for rejecting most of the houses that were brought to me. I was in chains, my hands, leg and neck was put in that condition. Any picture they showed to me, immediately I said no, I was subjected to what you can’t believe, beating, burning, hanging. They used to hang me upside down and I was almost all the time bleeding but they didn’t stop at that.
At some point, all I was doing was to accept anything they brought to me. ‘Is this your house? ‘Yes it is mine,’ they would send soldiers to occupy the house. ‘Is this General Abacha’s house,’ ‘yes I replied.’ So when I was doing that, they were not punishing me anymore, until they put soldiers to occupy one of the houses that belonged to the second-in-command, late General Mike Akhigbe, and then there was a fight. Akhigbe said, ‘I have been building this house for how many years, how dare Mustapha say it is his house?’ There was fight between the number one and the number two.
We now entered another phase. They said I was to be charged for alleged attempted murder of Alex Ibru. When that couldn’t work, they brought us to Lagos and later they returned me to Abuja to prepare another charge against me.
The late Kudirat Abiola’s case was the matter at hand. Her case had four witnesses. Number one was Rogers. Rogers was tutored on what to say in a court of law. Some of those lawyers that were used in the Attorney General’s office of Lagos at the time were rewarded. Today most of them are judges in Lagos State High Court by teaching Rogers what to do to frame me. They wrote statements for Rogers to read in court insisting it should be memorised and they named it daily bible.
Rogers requested for a house in Ilorin, cars, and work for his wife. He was on salary; they were changing his cars every six months, all with a view to quickly pass judgement on me to get me hanged. They got the Attorney General of the Federation at the time, late Bola Ige, the sole coordinator, and I wrote him a letter when I got to Oputa panel. It was an eleven page letter in the court of law telling him of the pointers.
I filed it in the court of Justice Mojisola Dada so that the public can understand the game going on. We were kept in Ikoyi prison at the beginning, then later in Kirikiri prison and Kuje prison for a period of eight years, ten months.
For five years and two months I was kept in many places in Nigeria, and I was been tortured daily. I was only allowed to wear an inner wear and a trouser, no shoe, no water to bath, no brushing of my tooth. I was entitled to one cup of water every day. All they wanted was for me to accept what I did not do.
Eventually, Rogers came to the same court when they could not fulfill some of his requirements, because we insist he should take the Bible and swear to answer the questions we were putting across to him, to say ‘we were told to frame Mustapha, they taught me to go to Oputa panel and abuse him. Madam, you are the one that taught me what to say and I came to Oputa panel and said it exactly’.
Another witness was Mohammed Kantako who was in Azare when late Kudirat Abiola died. He was promised a house in Jos, and a car with the guarantee that once Mustapha was convicted, he was going to be taken to London. When this couldn’t work, he came to the court and eventually exposed the whole deal, and all those big men that taught them what to say and wrote for them what to say against us to be convicted, all were mentioned and exposed.
I am happy to say that when God Almighty took my parents, I found a father, Dr. Fasehun. All the documents of what happened in the entire High court of Lagos State are in his hand, and I am eternally grateful he has compiled books in three volumes, and he named it ‘Travails, Trials and Triumph of Hamza Al-Mustapha’.
Another witness was a former commissioner of police, who came to say that they were the IPOs, but he discovered he could not come and confirm what Rogers said and who and who taught them what to say because they were big men; he began to now testify halfway but if he confronts them, they were going to deal with him so he ran away.
The last witness was Dr. Ore Falomo. Dr. Ore Falomo was medical doctor who came to treat her, Kudirat Abiola when she was shot so he could not testify about anything regarding the real case.
What do you know concerning Abiola’s death?
All those who visited Abiola and told him lies, those with cheques in their pockets giving him to sign money for them, were the same people reporting the same Abiola to the government, all of them are on video. They told lies against the man, they cheated him. Oba Tejuoso came at one time and was very furious with late Abiola asking him to accept the conditions of bail and go home and be trying from there. If I tell lies against Oba Tejuoso one day the video will come because it is not only in my hand, it is in the hands of the security agencies in Nigeria. I was the one that did it and gave them copies to keep in the security archives of Nigeria for tomorrow, for posterity.
Rumour has it that you are contesting for Presidency in 2019, how true is it?
I have not made up my mind. All I am talking about now is the formation of a platform for the people, for men and women, our youths, people with disability, for peasants and patriots.
I have formed a party in that direction. I have also established Green institute to support the party both at home and outside Nigeria.
But for me, I am not interested in anything; all I am interested in is true democracy that will support the future and the younger ones that’s all I am doing.
When will the Green Party be officially unveiled?
The Green party was launched by the elders on the 1st of July. Right now, they are preparing for the convention. At the convention in August and December this year, the Green Party will ratify the constitution, manifesto, party logo.
What are your party’s plans for the army of unemployed youths in Nigeria?
Most countries that have oil like us take a small portion of earnings from oil and set it aside in an account. So, before any graduate gets employment the certificate of trade will qualify the graduate to collect a loan from the education endowment fund that is interest free, which enables the graduate to start something.
You then use the money to go and invest while you are promoting what you got from the trade and looking for job on the other hand. The moment you take that certificate to that bank to collect the loan, your certificate is kept with them so when government or private companies come looking for somebody in your own specialty, it is this same bank that will quickly submit your document for employment. So this welfare scheme for education and for employment work both ways in support of our younger ones. This to me is a laudable initiative that would ensure many of our youths get employed.
Again, talking about unemployment, today our immigration system has allowed many white men to come into our country without relevant documents. Like in the Niger Delta and South- East, white men are in virtually every corner, in our villages and remote areas, in the bush using our people, taking our resource material; everyday they are shipping them out in hundreds of containers to China converting them to gold. Our people, ministries and scientists, and immigration officials don’t know about these things. If given the chance, we want to address some of these challenges.