Ishaya Bamaiyi, a former chief of army staff, says Moshood Abiola, winner of the presidential election of 1993, could not have died the way he reportedly did.
On July 7, 1998, Abiola died under unclear circumstances shortly after the demise of Sani Abacha, former military ruler.
After winning the presidential election, Abiola was thrown in jail when he declared himself president despite the annulment of the polls.
He was supposed to be released the day he died.
The autopsy report showed that Abiola died of natural causes. Another autopsy report which was produced by an international group of coroners was never released.
Hamza Al-Mustapha, former chief security officer to Abacha, had alleged that Abiola was beaten to death.
But in his book, ‘Vindication of a General’, Bamaiyi said when he led a delegation to commiserate with Abiola’s family, he learned that the politician was given a cup of tea.
“His death came as a surprise to me because he had been healthy when we met. One evening, the head of state, General Abubakar called while I was in Lagos to tell me we had a problem,” he wrote.
“I asked what was wrong and he told me Chief Abiola was dead. I was shocked and asked him what we were going to do about it. He told me he was handling the situation.
“Abiola could not have died the way he reportedly died.”
He also noted that the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) was the reason why Moshood Abiola stayed in detention until his death.
Bamaiyi said Abacha was ready to release Abiola on some conditions but NADECO members advised him against taking the deal.
He explained that himself and Ibrahim Gumel, a former chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), were able to convince Abacha that Abiola “was not going to be a threat and could be handled”.
“Gumel and I went to Gen. Abacha and pleaded for Abiola’s release. Abacha agreed to release Abiola with some conditions,” he wrote.
“We conveyed Abacha’s agreement to release Abiola to Bafyau, who briefed some NADECO members on Abacha’s readiness to release Abiola with some conditions.
“These NADECO members advised Abiola not to accept release with conditions and kept him in detention. Initially, Abiola accepted the conditional release, and a judge was brought to Abuja to perfect it.
“The release documents were ready, and Abiola was to go and sign them, but some NADECO members advised him against doing so, and he remained in detention until his death.”
Source: The Cable