The “Black Monk” is the sequel to Max Chuck Black’s film: “The Black Roaring Lions” and it is a befitting extension of the theme – Generals With Nine Lives.
The opening scene captures Major-General T.Y. Danjuma who was the General Officer Commanding (“GOC”) of the Third Division of the Nigerian Army with its base in Port Harcourt in the turbulent oil rich Niger-Delta area. There he was entertaining a delegation of paramount chiefs led by ……… who was the father of the Military Governor of the State (Rivers State) twenty-nine years old Lt. Commander Alfred Diette-Spiff (from the Navy) and a member of the Supreme Military Council.
What was hilarious was that the protocol officer who had been delegated to receive them ensured that they were given VIP treatment. Without any delay, they were ushered into the GOC’s waiting room reserved for very important visitors (VIPs).
As it was morning, the protocol officer promptly offered the visitors tea, coffee or soft drinks. The chiefs were furious. They did not mince words:
“That is not what we drink in the morning. Tell your boss it has to be gin or schnapps, otherwise we are leaving.”
In next to no time, the GOC sent one of his orderlies to procure a carton of the “vital medicaments”. Thereafter, peace and goodwill ensued!! However, this was not before the three chiefs had consumed one bottle each leaving nine bottles in the carton. The GOC offered profuse apologies for the slight delay in receiving them as he had been presiding over crucial security meetings; and also, for offering the wrong refreshments. Their response was very direct.
“You are a good man and a fine officer. Not to worry.”
They proceeded to make a dignified exit with each of them carrying a bottle of the medicament under each armpit plus an extra one in the pocket of their flowing gown/wrapper. When they emerged from the “Military Zone”, they refused to address a press conference regarding the details of their discussions with the new GOC. Instead, the leader of the delegation issued a cryptic statement:
“These military officers think they are the only tough guys in town.”
At intervals, the memorable words of General T.Y. Danjuma showed up on the screen:
“No nation has ever survived two revolutions.”
The same repetition was accorded to Charles Darwin’s dictum:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent but the most responsive to change.”
What followed was a flash back to the allegations by Dr. Obarogie Ohonbamu (who was a lecturer at the University of Lagos) against General Murtala Mohammed. He claimed in an article he wrote for his magazine “Africa Spark” that General Muhammed corruptly enriched himself, engaged in illicit acquisition of properties during the civil war and had purchased a row of buildings in Kano as well as a fleet of trailers.
This was sequenced with the heart-wrenching cold-blooded assassination of General Murtala Mohammed on Friday 13th February 1976 before the matter could go to trial. The grief all over the nation was unprecedented. Special prayers were offered at Lagos Central Mosque. Before the day was over, the corpse was conveyed in a military aircraft to Kano for burial. The film deftly compared the burial of Murtala Muhammed with that of General Sani Abacha whose corpse was dumped into the cargo hold of the plane that flew him from Abuja to Kano on 8th June 1998. By the time the plane landed, it was almost nightfall. If there was any outpouring of grief, the film missed it.
An interesting revelation was that General Abacha had left “The Villa” in the company of General Jerry Useni at about 3 a.m. to relax at his Guest House (House 7) within the Presidential Complex.
According to the film, there were two Indian ladies waiting for him. Also, on offer were some apples. It was no secret that Abacha loved apples. He could not resist picking up one of them. It was a fatal error of judgment (almost at par with Adam accepting the apple offered by Eve). The rest is history. Within a matter of minutes, Abacha was frothing in the mouth and gasping for breath.
His Chief Security Officer (“CSO”) Major Hamza Al-Mustapha delivered his own version of events as follows:
“Contrary to insinuations, the sudden collapse of the health system of Abacha started on Sunday, 7th June, 1998 right from the Abuja International Airport, immediately after one of the white security operatives or personnel who accompanied President Yasser Arafat of Palestine shook hands with him, Abacha.”
Al-Mustapha said shortly after the hand shake, he “noticed the change in the countenance of the late Commander-in-Chief and I informed the Aide-de-Camp, Lt. Col. Abdallah, accordingly. He, however, advised that we keep a close watch on the Head of State.
Later in the evening of 8th June, 1998, around 6p.m his doctor came around, administered an injection to stabilize him. He was advised to have a short rest. Happily, enough, by 9p.m the Head of State was bouncing and receiving visitors until much later when General Jeremiah Timbut Useni, the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, came calling. He was fond of the Head of State. They were very good friends.
They stayed and chatted together till about 3:35a.m. A friend of the house was with me in my office and as he was bidding me farewell, he came back to inform me that the FCT Minister, General Useni was out of the Head of State’s Guest House within the Villa. I then decided to inform the ADC and other security boys that I would be on my way home to prepare for the early morning event at the International Conference Centre.
At about 5a.m the security guards ran to my quarters to inform me that the Head of State was very unstable. At first, I thought it was a coup attempt. Immediately, I prepared myself fully for any eventuality. As an intelligence officer and the Chief Security Officer to the Head of State for that matter, I devised a means of diverting the attention of the security boys from my escape route by asking my wife to continue chatting with them at the door – she was in the house while the boys were outside. From there, I got to the Guest House of the Head of State before them.
When I got to the bedside of the Head of State, he was already gasping. Ordinarily, I could not just touch him. It was not allowed in our job. But under the situation on ground, I knelt close to him and shouted, ‘General Sani Abacha, Sir, please grant me permission to touch and carry you.’
I again knocked at the stool beside the bed and shouted in the same manner, yet he did not respond. I then realized there was a serious danger. I immediately called the Head of State’s personal physician, Dr. Wali, who arrived the place under eight minutes from his house. He immediately gave Oga – General Abacha –two doses of injection, one at the heart and another close to his neck.
This did not work apparently as the Head of State had turned very cold. He then told me that the Head of State was dead and nothing could be done after all. I there and then asked the personal physician to remain with the dead body while I dashed home to be fully prepared for the problems that might arise from the incident.
As soon as I informed my wife, she collapsed and burst into tears. I secured my house and then ran back. At that point, the Aide-de-Camp had been contacted by me and we decided that great caution must be taken in handling the grave situation.
Again, I must reiterate that the issue of my boss dying on top of women was a great lie just as the insinuation that General Sani Abacha ate and died of poisoned apples was equally a wicked lie.”
What he did not disclose was that the Guest House was a two-storey building. Apart from the two Indian ladies who were in the ground floor sitting room, Abacha’s Nigerian (Ibo) girlfriend was waiting upstairs.
Perhaps the most amazing scene in the film was how Al-Mustapha whose rank was only that of Major took complete control. Without letting the most senior military officers know that Abacha was dead, he invited them to a meeting at The Villa, ostensibly on the orders of Abacha.
Once they were all inside, all that Mustapha needed to do to become Abacha’s successor was to hold the already disarmed officers to ransom with guns pointing at their heads. Had he pulled the trigger, there would have been no resistance. He must be regretting that he took Brigadier-General Mohammed Buba Marwa into confidence. Apparently, it was Marwa who quickly contacted former President General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB). IBB lost no time in outmaneuvering Major Mustapha. What followed was an apparent deadlock over who should succeed Abacha. The controversy was over seniority by military rank or position in the government hierarchy. So, it was a tussle between Lt. General Abdulsalami Abubakar who was the most senior military officer and Lt. Gen. Jerry Useni who was the “de facto” number two to Abacha although his official position was Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. Also, in contention was Major-General Ishaya Bamaiyi who was the Chief of Army Staff.
Matters were interrupted in order to allow for the burial of General Sani Abacha. It was not until the following day that Lt. General Abdulsalami Abubakar was announced as the new Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Lt. General Jerry Useni’s candidacy was certainly not helped by the fury of Abacha’s widow, Hajia Maryam Abacha who was alleged to have concluded that Useni was somehow complicit in the dalliance with and entertainment of various ladies by her departed husband.
Regardless of his vigorous defence and protestation of innocence, Lt. General Jerry Useni lost out.
Several scenes of the film are truly awesome. In one episode, Ibrahim Abacha was portrayed as the de facto Chief of Staff of his father. He had access to all the appurtenances of office – aircraft, cars, etc. Ministers as well as top government officials were at his beck and call. Once the son gave approval, the deal was done. Ibrahim took care of business plus the money trail – especially the huge sums that ended up in Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, Jersey, Guernsey and other exotic destinations. Ironically, General Sani Abacha never set foot in Switzerland where a large chunk of the looted funds were kept. Looming large in the transactions was Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu who is now the Governor of Kebbi State.
Abacha’s loyal wife and widow declared that the funds were not stolen. They were only warehoused so that the American government would not be able to seize the money!!
When Ibrahim died on 17th of January, 1996 along with his girlfriend Funmi, his friend Bello (a younger brother of Aliko Dangote), as well as fourteen other friends, and the crew in an air crash in Kano following a spur of the moment whim to head to the ancient city for the best “Suya” meat, his father and mother were devastated and utterly shattered. Thereafter, General Sani Abacha took to wearing goggles both day and night.
Another gripping scene was when the trio of playwrights/authors Professor Wole Soyinka; Professor Chinua Achebe and Professor J.P. Clark visited General Ibrahim Babangida at Dodan Barracks to plead for amnesty for Major-General Mamman Jiya Vatsa who was a poet and former classmate of Babangida (IBB), they were warmly received by Babangida who reminded them that Vatsa was the Best Man at his wedding to Mariam. They left at about 4pm and gave a press conference which reassured those who had been anxiously awaiting the outcome of their intervention.
Low and behold, on the National Television Authority (NTA) news at 7pm on 5th March 1986, it was announced that Major-General Vatsa had been executed along with other coup plotters.
One of the fascinating episodes in the film was how Major-General Olusegun Obasanjo who was the Chief of General Staff Supreme Headquarters (the number two in the military hierarchy) dodged assassination on Friday 13th February 1976. He owes his narrow escape to divine intervention through an unexpected visit from Colonel Olu Bajowa who turned up at Obasanjo’s Ikoyi residence to announce the safe delivery of his son Yomi and that the naming ceremony would be held that morning. He requested for permission to be late in getting to Dodan Barracks where he worked directly under Obasanjo. While this was going on, another officer, Colonel Reis Dumuje arrived and he waited patiently for Obasanjo to finish his discussions with Bajowa. In the meantime, Bajowa’s driver had left on an errand.
When Bajowa was about to leave and his driver had still not returned, he pleaded with Dumuje to ask his driver to drop him at his home, which was only a short distance away. Anyway, when Obasanjo finished his meeting with Dumuje, he was surprised to find that his visitor’s driver was nowhere to be found. Obasanjo offered Dumuje his official car to drop him and return to the house.
Within a matter of minutes, the driver was ambushed in South-West Ikoyi. The assassins thought it was Obasanjo who was in the car and they opened fire. Dumuje was hit and badly wounded. Somehow the driver was able to dodge the bullets. He drove to the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba where the Provost, Professor Ade Elebute quickly arranged for him to be wheeled into the emergency section of the hospital followed by surgery. For several weeks, the patient’s identity was a tightly guarded secret. Fortunately, Dumuje recovered and Obasanjo is still alive.
As for Major Clement Dabang, after participating in the coup d’état he booked himself into the same hospital and claimed that he had been under surgery while the coup was going on. General Danjuma dismissed his story as cock and bull and he instructed that Dabang should face the Military Tribunal. He was subsequently executed by firing squad along with the other coup plotters on 11th March 1976.
What was hilarious was how when the coup that toppled President Shehu Shagari on 31st December 1983 was being planned, one of the ring-leaders Major-General Ibrahim Babangida was despatched to go and brief the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi who was his kinsman.
Babangida informed Wushisi that a coup d’etat was imminent but he would come to no harm and that he would become the new Head of State. Little did Wushishi realise that he was being sold a dummy. As soon as the coup was successfully executed, Lt-General Wushishi was dumped and replaced by none other than Major-General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
The military have a long history of mysterious deaths – from friendly fire to air crashes. Till today, the C130 air crash, which occurred on 26 September 1992, remains a mystery although there is no shortage of wild speculation. In one fell swoop an entire cadre of top military officers were wiped out.
As for the ADC crash which claimed the lives of the former principal (Headmaster) of King’s College, Lagos, Mr. …… Ajumogobia and one of the most distinguished old boys of the college, Professor Claude Ake who was a fierce and unrelenting critic of the military, the rumour mill went into overdrive that it was the handiwork if the military.
As for the bombing of journalist Dele Giwa who was one of the founders of the formidable “Newswatch” magazine, the film went to great lengths to dwell on both the circumstantial and substantive evidence of the military getting its own back – a reversal of the long- standing dictum that the pen is mightier than the sword. Obviously, whoever came up with that conclusion did not reckon with prevailing circumstances and the availability of lethal weapons ranging from AK47s to bombs as well as an arsenal of non-detectable poisons and toxins.
Another remarkable aspect of the film is the menu of several accounts of the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed on Friday 13th February 1976.
Here are a few samples:
“HOW GENERAL MURTALA MUHAMMED WAS ASSASSINATED ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 1976”
By – Tunde Ososanya
On the fateful day that life was snuffed out of the head of head state and his ADC, Lt Akintunde Akinterinwa, they had left Murtala’s personal house in Ikoyi for Dodan barracks, the seat of government, when the coup plotters attacked them.
According to the lone survivor and orderly to the head of state, Staff Sergeant Michael Otuwu, who recalled the event of that day in an interview with The Authority Daily, the head of state was seated beside his ADC, Lt Akinterinwa, and he (Otuwu) was directly seated in the front passenger’s seat, while Sergeant Adamu Michika was behind the wheels.
In the interview, the orderly disclosed that their vehicle stopped before a row of cars at a junction, adding that there was a man in traditional attire (who would later be identified as Dimka) who approached the vehicle, removed his robe and pulled out an AK 47 rifle, shooting the driver in the head.
The vehicle had automatically been disabled after the driver was killed, then other soldiers dressed the same way as Dimka, ran toward the car sprayed bullets on it.
The orderly said: “The Head of State, his ADC and I all ducked while the shooting lasted.”
He said he heard the gunmen running towards the Radio House, adding that a few minutes later he noticed that the injured ADC opened his door, apparently to come to the aid of the equally injured Commander-in-Chief.
It was the opened door, the orderly said, that alerted the assailants that the people in the vehicle were not dead. So, they returned and opened fire on the car to finish the job.
The orderly said that Generals TY Danjuma and Olusegun Obasanjo were lucky because they were also targets but escaped because they did not leave for their offices as early as Murtala, adding that they heard the radio announcement which may have altered their movement plans.
Otuwu added: “I was his orderly throughout to his last day during the Dimka coup. I was inside the car with him when he was killed. On the morning of that February 13, we were going to the office. Sergeant Adamu Michika was the driver; Lt. Akintunde Akinterinwa, his ADC, sat behind the driver. As an orderly, I was in front with the driver. While the head of state sat behind me – I was the one who opens the door for him. That fateful day I came up in the morning to carry him to the office in Dodan barracks.
We got to the former secretariat, now at Ikoyi, which was under construction. Before the place they call Alagbon junction, near the labour office. The official car was a Mercedes Benz 600. It is still at the national museum. There were about four or five vehicles in front of us. You know at that junction there was traffic. We didn’t go with sirens. During his time, we didn’t go with escorts with the accompanying out-riders, road-closed signs and all that.
So, when we got to the Alagbon junction, the traffic warden stopped the vehicle and we were in the queue. We were the fifth or sixth vehicle behind the forward vehicles that were stopped. That secretariat was under construction. They put zincs around the compound behind that secretariat. Then some soldiers came in Agbada carrying AK-47 rifles.
They wore uniforms but covered them with Agbada. They had their Kalashnikovs with Agbada cover-up in form of camouflage. We never knew they were even waiting for us. Then one soldier from Golf Road shot and got our driver, Sergeant Michika. Our motor was neutralized. Between the driver and me was an armrest. On that armrest was Oga’s brief case. In this brief case he puts civil dress he could use as needed. When he wants to go to Mosque, he does not like going back to Ikoyi to change.
Then some other soldiers converged on us. I can’t recall their number. They began to spray us from the back. All of us took cover. I fell on top of the driver; the blood of the driver covered my head. They thought the bullet got my head.
After the first shooting and without return of fire they must have assumed that we were all dead. The shooting was actually in two phases. They ran to the NBC to announce the assassination. They shared themselves into three.
There was a group waiting for Obasanjo when he was about to go to the office. Also another group was waiting for T.Y. Danjuma at Bourdilion – our own was at Ikoyi Road. It happened we were the first targets that moved early from the house to the office.
Before Obasanjo and T.Y. Danjuma moved to their offices they have already heard the radio announcement. By the time of the first shooting, we being the target and their running to NBC to go and announce that they have already finished their assignment, the ADC who was still alive, thinking they were gone, opened the door of the Benz.
In the first spraying of the car, except the driver who was killed, the three of us were injured but not dead. On observing the car door opening, one of the attackers, still within range, a major, called to the others: ‘he never die, he never die’. He was calling his group to return.
This time around when they came back they finished their entire magazines. That was what happened. They carried everybody to the mortuary at Igbosere hospital, not far from Kam Salem police headquarters. Because of the extreme cold of the mortuary, my left hand started shaking and one of the attendants saw it and called the nurses or doctors and said somebody was still alive.
From there they checked and confirmed that I was still breathing. So, they had to look for a vehicle to carry me to Dodan barracks. From Dodan barracks they looked for an ambulance and carried me to a hospital, Awolowo road hospital, a military hospital.”
“HOW DIMKA KILLED MURTALA”
By – Kagarko
“When Lt. Col. Bukar Dimka of the Nigeria Army Physical Training Corps stepped out of his official residence on Macpherson Road, Ikoyi, in the early hours of February 13, 1976, he had one agenda in mind; the killing of the then Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed.
He achieved that criminal act by gunning down the Kano-born head of state a few minutes after the latter left the Dodan Barracks, Obalende, the official seat of the Federal Military Government at the time. Muhammed’s official black Mercedes Benz was riddled with bullets near a petrol station on Bank Road, (now Murtala Muhammed Drive) opposite the Federal Secretariat, Ikoyi. Killed along with him were, his ADC, Lt. Akintunde Akinsehinwa and driver.
After the assassination, Dimka had made a broadcast at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) studio in the following words:
“Good morning fellow Nigerians, this is Lt. Col. B. Dimka of the Nigerian Army calling. I bring you good tidings. Murtala Muhammed’s deficiency has been detected. The young revolutionaries now overthrow his government. Any attempt to foil these plans from any quarters will be met with death. Everyone should be calm. Please stay by your radio for further announcements. All borders, air and sea ports are closed until further notice. Curfew is imposed from 6am to 6pm. Thank you. We are all together.”
Two days after Muhammed was assassinated, Dimka was declared wanted for treason and murder by the military authorities. He was eventually caught at a checkpoint at Abakaliki on March 5, 1976 and brought to Lagos the following day.
On March 6, 1976, the Federal Government promptly issued a statement on his arrest as follows: ‘’His arrest followed a massive manhunt operation mounted by a combined team of the Army and Police in the area. ‘’The previous day, Lt. Col Dimka had checked in at a local hotel in Aliko under the name of Mr. C. Godwin of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Enugu. Later, on his request, the hotel manager secured for him a girl, Miss. Beatrice Agboli, with whom to spend the night.”
A few hours later, the local Police security was alerted and they closed up on him. At about 10.30 pm, he bolted away through the window of the toilet of his hotel room into a nearby thick bush, abandoning his car with a dangling registration number ECC 6253.
The continuous joint manhunt operation by the Army and Police resulted in his subsequent arrest near Abakaliki. Barely few hours after he was brought to Lagos, he was interrogated by the military Board of Inquiry led by Major Gen. E. O. Abisoye. However, while Dimka was being quizzed, 32 people including Major Gen. Illiya Bisalla, who had already been tried for their roles in the attempted coup, were executed in Lagos on March 11, 1976.
The only civilian executed among them was Abdulkarim Zakari, a graduate of University of Ibadan, who was said to have led Dimka and others into the studios of the NBC on February 13, 1976. The broadcaster was also cited as the man who signed for martial music records from the NBC library the previous night. Just as the first batch of coup plotters were executed, Dimka’s trial began after he was presented to the press on March 11, 1976.
Handcuffed, Dimka who wore a kaftan dress watched journalists listen to a tape recording at his appearance before the board of inquiry for about five minutes.
He confirmed that the voice on the tape was his own and that it was a recording made at his interrogation. He emphasised that the statement was not made under duress.
According to a Daily Times publication, “13 Years of Military Rule 1966-79” the highlights of Dimka’s confessional statements included, “Frankly speaking, I should say the beginning of the coup idea was around January this year (1976).”
He said he had discussions with some persons including former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon in London and when he returned to the country, he decided to assign responsibilities to members of the young revolutionaries conscripted into the plan. But Gowon, who was in exile at the time denied any prior knowledge of the coup attempt.
Dimka also claimed the coup plot was hatched by young officers who resolved not to involve any Lieutenant Colonel and above except himself in a bid to effect a change of government. In his confessional statement, he said, Gen. Bisalla had complained to him and expressed his frustration that despite being a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC), each time there was a decision to be taken, he was either sent to one place or the other.
Dimka said, “Bisalla told me that whatever will happen he wanted us to go ahead, and work out the details.” Explaining how responsibilities were distributed, the leader of the coup plot said, “When I met Major Rabo, he said that he had finally distributed responsibilities. Major Rabo was for target one- Head of State, Lt. Dauda was for target two- Lt. Gen. Obasanjo, Lawrence Garba was for target three- Lt. Gen. Danjuma. Major Gagara was for Ilorin and Sokoto. Jos had nobody. The main centres of operations were Kaduna, Ibadan, Benin where there are Radio stations.”
He also listed the targets of attack, that is, those to be eliminated as the Head of State, the four GOCs, Col. Ibrahim Babangida, Col. Olu Bajowa, Col. Mohammed of Sokoto, Col. Ibrahim Taiwo of Kwara, Col. Abdullahi of Jos and Col. David Jemibewon of Ibadan.
Dimka also confessed before the military board of inquiry how Zakari showed him the NBC broadcasting section on February 12, a day before the coup attempt. On how the ex-Head of State was killed, he said, “I stood at George Street with Major Rabo to wait until such a time when the Head of State’s car was coming out. There, one Capt. Malaki who was to give the warning order was also waiting. Capt. Malaki was to be on the watch to signal Major Rabo and Lt. William Seri on the approach of the vehicle. So, I came up and I was at the petrol station waiting.
I was behind while we were talking when the Commander –in-Chief’s car passed. In fact, I did not even see it until when Malaki said the car has passed. So, we rushed in and then followed and the car was held up somewhere just opposite the petrol station. Lt. Seri was approaching the car when we stopped and Major Rabo rushed to him, then the firing started.”
Dimka confessed that after the Head of State was assassinated, he went to the NBC and made his broadcast that the young revolutionaries had taken over the government. At the end of his trial, coup leader and a number of others were found guilty of treason and murder. Their death sentences were confirmed by the Supreme Military Council.
Dimka and seven others were eventually executed by firing squad at Kirikiri Prisons on May 15, 1976, for their part in the abortive coup. Also executed among the squad was the former Governor of the then Benue Plateau State, Joseph Gomwalk. However, two NCOs, Sgt. Clement Yildar and Corporal Dauda Usman escaped and were never found. They were declared wanted by the authorities.
The situation led to the promulgation by Olusegun Obasanjo regime of certain retrospective decrees and new military laws justifying mass executions for coup participation.”
Those executed included:
1. Major General I.D. Bisalla (Defence Commissioner) 2. Joseph Gomwalk (Ex-Governor of Benue-Plateau) 3. Col. A.D.S. Wya 4. Col Isa Bukar
5. Lt. Col. T.K. Adamu 6. Lt. Col A.B. Umoru 7. Lt. Col B.S. Dimka 8. Lt. Col. Ayuba Tense 9. Major C.D. Dabang 10. Major Ola Ogunmekan 11. Major J.W. Kasai
12. Major J.K. Afolabi
13. Major M.M. Mshelia
14. Major I.B. Rabo
15. Major K.K. Gagara
16. Capt. M.R. Gotip
17. Capt. M. Parvwang
18. Capt. J.F. Idi
19. Capt. A.A. Aliyu
20. Capt. S. Wakian
21. Capt. Austin Dawurang
22. Lt. A.R. Aliyu
23. Lt. William Seri
24. Lt. Mohammed
25. Lt. E.L.K. Shelleng
26. Lt. O. Zagmi
27. Lt. S. Wayah
28. Lt. S. Kwale
29. Lt. Peter Cigari
30. Lt. Lawrence Garba
31. Seven (7) non-commissioned officers
32. Mr. Abdulakarim Zakari (civilian broadcaster)
The children and wives of generals get a special mention – sometimes for the wrong reason. A case in point is the first son of General Yakubu Gowon.
As counterpoise, the camera zooms off to Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the first son of General Robert Adeyinka Adebayo who was the Military Governor of the Western Region of Nigeria from 1966 to 1971.
Following the creation of Ekiti State in 1996 Otunba Adebayo became its first civilian Governor on …… and served a four-year term.
He is currently the Vice-Chairman (South-West) of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
As for the wives of generals, there is no gainsaying that Maryam Babangida, Mariam Abacha; Justice Fati Lami Abubakar and Turai Umar Musa Yar’Adua were exceptionally powerful. They wielded enormous influence during the regimes of their respective husbands
Their only rival as First Lady in terms of influence was Dame (Mrs.) Patience Jonathan whose husband, a civilian, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was acting President from 5th May 2010 to 28th May 2011 and President from 29th May 2011 to 28th May 2015.
What is remarkable though is that during Turai Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s reign as First Lady, Patience Jonathan, wife of the Vice-President was hardly visible. However, from the moment her husband became the President, she wasted no time in letting the nation and the rest of the world know that she had both power and authority in equal measures. Since her husband left office she has been locked into fierce legal battles with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] over the millions of dollars she is alleged to have stashed away in local and foreign banks and massive funds in the custody of her proxies.
As for her successor, Hajia Aisha Buhari, her longstanding grudge match is against the “Cabal” which she alleges are faceless dominant power brokers in her husband’s government (kitchen cabinet).
While Maryam Babangida was First Lady, the cold war between her and the wife of the Chief of Army Staff/Minister of Defence, Mariam Abacha was as fierce as it was palpable. It was obviously a critical factor in General Sani Abacha’s eagerness combined with deviousness in the scheming over the debacle/fiasco of June 12 1993 Presidential election which resulted in Abacha eventually supplanting the interim government headed by Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan.
What is equally remarkable is that some First Ladies – Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi; Mrs. Ajoke Murtala Muhammed; Safinatu Yusuf the first wife of General Buhari; and Oluremi the first wife of General Olusegun Obasanjo were hardly visible.
As for late Mrs. Olufunmilayo Mobolaji-Johnson, she carried on with her job as a teacher at Yaba College of Technology and the Federal Training Centre while her husband Brigadier Mobolaji-Johnson was the Military Governor of Lagos State from May 1967 to July 1975.
General Sani Abacha’s reign was turbulent in more ways than one. He firmly established himself as the absolute ruler who would brook no nonsense from friend or foe. He was ruthless in dealing with those who dared to challenge his authority – especially the leader of NADECO [National Democratic Coalition].
The list of casualties is long and intimidating – from Chief Alfred Rewane who was assassinated in his own home at 100 Oduduwa Crescent, GRA, Lagos to James Bagauda Kaltho, the journalist who was bombed in Kaduna and many others such as Alhaja Suliat Adedeji who was brutally murdered in Ibadan in 1996 and strange objects were inserted into her private parts.
Even those who fled abroad were not spared. Not only was Lt. General Alani Akinrinade’s home in Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos bombed, he and Professor Bolaji Akinrinade missed being assassinated by a whisker in Benin Republic. The list goes on and on.
Unknown to many, the initial ring-leaders of NADECO which was set up to reclaim the mandate of Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, a Yorubaman were Ibos – Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (who had previously served as General Babangida’s number two/ Vice-President/Chief of General Staff, Supreme Headquarters) and Rear-Admiral Ndubisi Kanu former Military Governor of Lagos State. They both refused to flee the country.
Most dramatically, Abacha fell out with his number two, General Oladipo Diya over what he considered treachery and betrayal in favour of his fellow Yorubaman, Abiola. Matters deteriorated rapidly and Diya was exceptionally lucky to miss a flight on which a bomb had been planted. In his own words:
“…a plane which I was to take to Makurdi was planned to be bombed, but by the stroke of fortune, I was 10 minutes late, which was really not in my character. That lateness was what God actually used to save my life. Within those 10 minutes, those who were priming the bomb so that the plane would explode 10 minutes after take-off were killed by the bomb before I got there. I didn’t go ahead with the journey. Although everybody around me, including my chief security officer, said I should continue on the journey, I said no because if I did, the thing would have been repeated in Makurdi. So, I stopped and that was what saved my life. If those who were responsible for that bomb knew God, they would have stopped. They went on and three weeks after, I was arrested on allegation of planning a phantom coup. But I thank God that on every step that was taken thereafter, Almighty God saved me. And since the day they failed in their attempt to blow me away, I gained the confidence that, by the grace of God, I am beyond human destruction.”
To cut a long story short, General Diya ended up being charged with plotting a coup along with Major-General Abdulkareem Adisa and Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju.
As an interjection, the film relies on the incisive observations of former presidents of the United States of America.
. i.) Thomas Jefferson [from 1743 to 1826] “Those entrusted with power have over time converted it to tyranny.”
ii.) Abraham Lincoln [from 1809 to 1865] “Most men can survive adversity but if you want to test the character of a man, give him power.”