A former Chief of Army Staff, General Ishaya Bamaiyi has opened up on the travails of the acclaimed winner of the June 12 elections, Chief MKO Abiola accusing members of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), of frustrating the efforts of the General Sani Abacha’s regime, to release Abiola.
Bamaiyi, who served as Chief of Army Staff under Abacha between March 1996 and May 1999, made the claims in his book entitled “Vindication of a General”.
He also accused NADECO members of paying lip service to the detention and death of the late Abiola.
“A lot has been said about late Chief Abiola’s arrest and efforts toward his release. The fact remains that NADECO members paid only lip service to Abiola’s release after deceiving him into declaring himself President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Bamaiyi wrote in the 243-page book.
“If they were sincere and actually supported him they would have accompanied him to where he declared himself President.
“It is also obvious that Abiola was abandoned after his death, which some people suspected that it had the support of some NADECO members. After Abiola’s death, one would have expected some reactions at least from Lagos, but there was no reaction anywhere.”
He added, “There are some Nigerians who made efforts to get Abiola released. After Abiola’s arrest, the late General Ibrahim Gumel – then the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), the late Mr Pascal Bafyau, then the President of NLC and I met at Headquarters, Lagos Garrison Command on Kofo Abayomi Street. We discussed the implications of Abiola’s arrest.
“After reviewing the situation, we decided to meet Gen. Abacha. Gumel and I went to Gen. Abacha and pleaded for Abiola’s release. We convinced Abacha that Abiola was not going to be a threat and could be handled. Abacha agreed to release Abiola with some conditions.
“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 Abacha’s death.”