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June 12: How I managed Abiola’s case, by Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar

Former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, yesterday said three factors played key roles on how he was able to man-age the June 12, 1993 political debacle, which late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential election, eventually paid the supreme price-death.


Specifically, Abdulsalami insisted that the factors were instrumental in assuaging the political tension, saying Abiola was not killed. Also, Abubakar stated that he was never interested in politics after he left the military. Speaking in an exclusive interview with an online news portal, Trust TV, the former head of state refuted reports that Abiola was poisoned through tea.


He said: “Well, I smile because there were lots of allegations here and there  that we killed Abiola. As always when I am talking about late Abiola, I still thank God for directing me on things to do when he gave me the leadership of this country.


“On the day Moshood Abiola passed away, may he rest in peace, two to three things made him always say he thanked God for the guidance He gave him, adding that he received a delegation from America headed by Pickering who was then the secretary of state or so and the team was Susan Rice.”


According to him, when they were leaving his office, Pickering said: “Your Excellency, we made a request to see Moshood Abiola but we were denied”, so I said: “Why were you denied?


“Who denied you?” There and then I made a decision, I said “Look, you will see Moshood definitely, I overruled whoever said you cannot see him”. “So, I now called my chief security officer, I said “Please make arrangements for this team to see Abiola,” that is one point.”

Abubakar stated that in the incarceration of Abiola, except his personal doctor, to his knowledge, no member of his family saw him and when he became Head of State, based on consultation and interaction together with Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, he gave the family a date that they could come and see him.

He noted that a day before Abiola died, his family came to Abuja to see him, stressing that for one reason or the other, the whole family could not see him at the same time, so it was agreed that when this group of his family will see him today, tomorrow the next team will see him.


He said: “So, they saw him like yesterday, now this team from the US came to see me and I said they could see him. Normally it was in the evenings the family go and see him.


“So, because I had authorized the American team to see him, so the other part of the family was waiting to see him.” “It was at this meeting when the American team was meeting Abiola that he fell sick and suddenly the security officers called the medical team to come and attend to him.” He added that when they saw the situation, they said it was severe and they needed to take him to the medical centre.


The former Nigerian military president stated that it was the medical team and the American team that took Abiola to the medical centre but he died at the medical centre. According to Abdulsalami Abubakar, it was then his security chief called and said, “I have bad news for you”, I asked what it was, he said, “Abiola is dead”. I was shocked.”

On partisan politics, he said he was never interested in politics after he left the military. He said: “No, no! I’ve never been. Politics have never been mine. You see, there are some qualities and some characteristics that make a politician.


“Naturally I am a very reserved fellow, I don’t want any disturbance and all this trouble but others, you know they have got the flair to play politics and so I am happy and I hope even the younger generation who are retiring will also go in.


“You can see policemen, military, army officers, air force, navy and so on, are all involved in politics and the more the merrier.”




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