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Al-Mustapha: Appeal to Dr. Jonathan

However, typical of a statesman, Dr. Mandela thoughts  above the sentiments of the flock because of his broad – mindedness. If he had embarked upon…

However, typical of a statesman, Dr. Mandela thoughts  above the sentiments of the flock because of his broad – mindedness. If he had embarked upon a policy of revenge, South Africa would have remained ever emotionally divided, racially, and thereby making governance more difficult. Unfortunately, one of the greatest tragedies of Africa is lack of statesmen. Former President Obasanjo is a good example of how a leader could turn vengeance as a state policy to gratify private grudges.

 When the former Gen. Abdulsalami military regime arrested and detained Major Al-Mustapha and others and handed them over to the in-coming Obasanjo administration, little did it probably recognize that they were throwing the detainees into the lion’s mouth! With Mustapha and others in his grasp, Obasanjo must have celebrated sadistically that his best moment for maximum revenge had come.

 General Obasanjo had probably thought that he was above the law until the late General Sani Abacha opened his eyes to the folly of his ideas about himself. Forgetting that he initiated the laws for dealing severely with coup plotters, General Obasanjo dared Abacha and the General wasted no time to let him know the sterner stuff he was made of. Save for moral and diplomatic pressure, General Abacha would have given Obasanjo the bitter taste of the laws he initiated against coup conspiracy.

 Using the alleged murder of the late Kudirat Abioda as a pretext, the former Obasanjo administration didn’t hide its intention to kill Major Al-Mustapha and others to satisfy his own private grudges even against Abacha’s ghost! General Obasanjo was never a hero of June 12 and therefore, his love for the late Kudirat is suspect. For almost eleven years, Major Al-Mustapha, the Chief Security Officer to the late General Sani Abacha, the former Zamfara State military Administrator, Col. Jibrin Bala Yakubu, former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. James Danbaba and Mohammed Rabo Lawal, the Commander of the mobile police squad in the presidential villa during the Abacha regime, have been in detention, struggling for justice.

Earlier, the former Chief of Army Staff, General Ishaya Bamaiyi, was acquitted and discharged because the political motives of his detention and trial was convincingly established against those who brought him into the ordeal in the first place. It was a miracle that General Bamaiyi survived the trial after spending ten years in detention. Prison condition exposed him to life threatening infection and he had to be flown to Dubai for urgent medical treatment.

We cannot, therefore, separate the political motives in Bamaiyi’s case and Major Al-Mustapha’s. The two issues are directly connected, which puts a big question mark over the credibility of the entire trial. The previous testimonies by the main persecution witness, Sergeant Rogers, had destroyed whatever remained of the credibility of the case against them.

According to Rogers, top officials of the Obasanjo administration such as the late Chief Bola Ige, Chief Kanu Agabi and Professor Femi Osinbanjo had visited him in jail and solicited his cooperation to have Al-Mustapha and others convicted at all cost. Rogers’ confession threw the prosecution team in disarray. The star witness was smartly choreographed by the Obasanjo administration but he suddenly turned a hostile witness.

Despite the allegations of assassination made against Rogers, former President Obasanjo unilaterally reinstated him into the army as part of his game plan to secure Rogers’ cooperation to convict Al-Mustapha and others at all cost. In addition, Rogers said he was promised handsome material rewards in return for his cooperation. Obasanjo has a notorious reputation for revenge and that is why it is his nature to fight perceived enemies even beyond the grave and, in fact, he can even fight the children of a dead enemy!

With this discredited background, what more evidence do we need to prove that former President Obasanjo was driven by private vengeance rather than the interest of justice to bring Al-Mustapha and others to trial?

For Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to succeed in the process of national healing and reconciliation, he must avoid carrying Obasanjo’s baggage. Northerners and other Nigerians supported the policy of amnesty to Niger Delta militants, despite the fact that they engaged in treason, rebellion against the state, economic sabotage and kidnapping. Statesmanship is the ability to rise above your enemies. Most Nigerians welcomed amnesty as the necessary sacrifice Nigeria had to make for peace and reconciliation.

 Earlier, the Federal government had also abandoned the criminal trial of OPC factional leaders – Ganiyu Adams and Dr. Frederick Fasheun over the murder of police officers and breach of public peace through the promotion of inter-ethnic violence. Here again, Nigerians had accepted the gesture of another sacrifice for peace and reconciliation.

The case of Al-Mustapha and others should not be treated differently. They are Nigerian citizens who deserve freedom like others who committed even graver crimes

Soba wrote from 39, Anguwar Dosa, Kaduna

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