James Sowole in Akure
The former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to late Gen. Sanni Abacha, Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha, yesterday said all the roles he played in the administration of the late Head of State were in line with the responsibilities attached to his office by the military code of ethics.
Al-Mustapha, who described his long incarceration as the price of loyalty, said he suffered serious persecution and frustration after the death of Abacha, adding however that his persecutors have now seen the truth and some of them have apologised to him.
The former CSO spoke in Akure, Ondo State at the sixth annual public lecture of the founder of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) of Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, organsed by the Integrity Icons with the theme “The Nigerian Quest for Social Justice and Credible Leadership : The Travails of a Nation” delivered by the former Managing Editor of Tell Magazine, Mr. Dare Babarinsa.
Al-Mustapha said many Nigerians had wrong impressions about him considering the roles he played in the administration of late Abacha, pointing out that “My primary duty as the CSO to the Head of State was to ensure the safety of the Head of State and that I did in conformity with the oath of commission of the Nigerian Army and the oath of allegiance.
“As a soldier who had taken the oath of commission and the oath of allegiance, the only thing paramount to me at that time was the safety of my principal and I ensured that with all the powers attached to my office,” he said.
Al-Mustapha said he knew nothing about most of the wrong deeds linked to him after the death of Abacha including being instrumental to the arrest of some Nigerians like Chief Olu Falae and Fasehun.
He pointed out that some individuals in Yoruba land whom he refused to mention, gave support to Abacha while executing some of the policies that soiled his administration and which were later used against him.
“Some forces in Yoruba land were behind Abacha and they were the ones behind some of the things he did. It was thus surprising to see that these same Yoruba leaders were saying bad things about him at the end,” he stressed.
While recalling his experience in the detention, he said: “I paid the price for loyalty and for 15 good years, I paid the price. I was tortured, frustrated, intimidated and tormented. It was while in detention that I lost my father and mother. My parents died after being tortured, when I was in detention. But God has replaced them for me with Fasehun who is now my father and his wife who is now my mother. The two of them are playing the roles of parent for me and I am proud to have them as my adopted parent.”
“I met papa by coincidence in one of the court sittings in Lagos. He stood for me after a woman had lied before the court that I killed Kudirat Abiola. It was that day that I discovered that some Yorubas are wonderful people.”
Narrating how he met Al-Mustapha, Fasheun said what transpired in court when two women who had earlier implicated the former CSO in their testimonies as prosecution witnesses later came forward and wept to exonerate him, made him to take interest in him.
Fasheun said there was no financial transaction between him and the former CSO but was moved by the need for justice and fairness.
Speaking at the event, Governor Olusegun Mimiko who was special guest of honour at the event advised Al-Mustapha to write a book on his experience with the late military dictator, saying Nigerians need such book in the present day.
“Al-Mustapha is a man of history and a man who has made history. It is therefore important to put all that you have said in book for Nigerians to know the truth about the days of Abacha and the roles you played in his government,” he said.