Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
Former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (rtd), saturday raised another dust on the mystery surrounding death of the acclaimed June 12 1993 election winner, Chief MKO Abiola. Mustapha attributed his incarceration for 15 years to a secret tape on Abiolaâ€™s death and not because of the allegation that he was involved in the death of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late politician, as widely believed.
Al-Mustapha made this claim while fielding questions from journalists shortly after he delivered the third South-west Annual Lecture entitled: â€˜Developing Leadership Abilities in Youthsâ€™, organised by the Asorodayo Youth Heritage Organisation at Lafia Hotel, Ibadan.
He said: “On October 21, 1998, I was arrested because of a video cassette, not because of the late Kudirat Abiola. The family of the late Abiola was, as it is, a very close family to me. But something happened, which a particular camera in the villa captured.
“So, they wanted to take the video tape and burn it so that Nigerians will not know what happened. That was the beginning of my travails.â€
Speaking further, he said: “Many people, particularly lawyers, took money from those who were looking for the cassette, who ruled Nigeria. They would go to radio and television station to rain abuses on me, rather than coming to court because they were paid to do so. But they did not know what was going on in the court of law.
“I appeared before 14 judges in Lagos. As soon as the matter is about to finish, they would stop it and take us to another court. For 15 years, I was in that state. Out of the 15 years, five years and two months I served in detention with torture. The remaining was between Ikoyi Prisons, Kirikiri Prisons and Jos Prisons.â€
According to him, Sergeant Barnabas Jabila Mshiela, also known as Sergeant Rogers, an alleged member of the killer squad of Abacha, confessed that he was paid to do what he did. He added that he appeared before 14 judges before he was released in 2013.
Al-Mustapha, who noted that one of those that purportedly persecuted him was currently incapacitated, saying he is the one sponsoring his (the fellow) child.
“On the late Kudirat Abiola, Rogers himself got to confess in a court of law along with other witness of how much money they were given, who among the big men in Nigeria told them what to say against me. Then, they were busy writing in newspapers. In Nigeria, it is what the newspapers write that radio and television will talk. All other things are buried, and that is what people in the town will talk.
“For 15 years, I hadn’t the chance to defend myself in newspaper, radio and television. So, the belief was Al-Mustapha has committed an offence, even before my arrest. But the actual thing is what happened to the late MKO Abiola that is in that cassette, that they want to see, that is why Mustapha was subjected to punishment and I was called names.â€
“They want to know the whereabouts of that tape in the last 17 years. Rogers confessed he was told to do so. He was given money. He was given a house. He was given car every six month, and he was promised to be taken outside Nigeria,â€ he narrated.
Al-Mustapha added that, “The plan was as soon as Lagos court pronounced me guilty and to be hanged, they would rush me to prison and hang me without giving me the option to go for appeal. That was what happened. Then, they revealed exactly what happened and many people got to know.
“Unfortunately, there are lawyers who used to collect money and go to television houses and call me names. But they didn’t know what happened in the court of law.â€
Thanking God that, everything that happened in Lagos State Court was compiled and signed by all the 14 judges, Al-Mustapha argued that, â€œWe are putting it together.â€
â€œMy father has already put the book together in three volumes. You will see them soon and know that ‘mumu of this country don do.â€
“If I am guilty, there is no way I can talk, there is no way I can get the confidence to look into their eyes because they are the bigger ones above the law in Nigeriaâ€, Al-Mustapha claimed, saying ,â€œI am doing so. I have done it yesterday, I am doing it now and I will do it tomorrow. If I am dishonest, I can’t do that.â€
The former Chief Security Officer to Late Gen. Sani Abacha, said: “So, let us get to know the story right and understand the game. The game is for people to pronounce Al-Mustapha guilty. I thank God, those that entered the contract with inducement not to say what they should say in the court of law; later on when the game was exposed, they came to the court, crying and exposing what happened.
“That is why the matter is before the Supreme Court now for appeal. We are begging them since 2013 for the matter to be heard so that everybody can hear what happened. Up till now, Lagos State Government ran away from it. We are begging them to come to the matter. We have nothing to hide. My teaching is that if I am wrong, I will tell you. If I am right, I will tell youâ€.