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Clear yourself on 1997 coup – Col Bako tells Bamaiyi

Posted by From DESMOND MGBOH, Kano on 2008/06/12 | Views: 2732 |

Clear yourself on 1997 coup – Col Bako tells Bamaiyi


Former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Col. Yakubu Bako (retd), has called on ex-Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, to tell Nigerians the truth on his alleged involvement in the December 1997 coup which put former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya, into trouble.

Former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Col. Yakubu Bako (retd), has called on ex-Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, to tell Nigerians the truth on his alleged involvement in the December 1997 coup which put former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya, into trouble.

Bako, who made the call during an interview with Daily Sun in Kano, also spoke about the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, who was the target of the coup plot. He said that Abacha actually meant well for the country, but eventually derailed because his administration was hijacked by certain powerful forces.

Bako, who was tried along with other officers over the coup, for alleged illegal possession of firearm, felicitated with Gen. Bamaiyi on his recent release from detention.
He said: "I am happy that the General has been released after all these years. You see, I have been looking out for his interviews.

Each time I read his interviews, I am full of expectation that Nigerians are about to come to the final truth about the Diya coup and the set up aspect of the coup. General Diya, had, during our trial, declared that the coup was a set up. I have been expecting since General Bamaiyi’s release that he would clear the air or I would say clear himself about the whole coup saga. Is it truly a set up? Or is it a set down?

"I think Nigerians would want to know exactly what transpired between the two three-star Generals. Up till now, he has not said much, apart from saying that some northern Generals were responsible for his detention. We would expect him to clear the air because the burden of proof is now on his side."
Asked if he believed the account by Gen. Diya that alleged coup plot was , a set up by General Abacha, Bako pointedly said no.
According yo him, "Abacha didn’t set up any coup! Abacha was clean, I can bet you."
The former administrator said that a statement by Gen. Diya, during the coup trial, set the record straight.

He said: "I think at one time, when we were being conveyed from Jos Prison to the venue of the trial, with Prof. Odekunle in the car, General Diya and some other people, he said he was naïve to have fallen into the trap. That is why I said earlier that the two of them would have to open up and tell us exactly what happened. Diya had said it was set up and Bamaiyi, should say no, it is not a set up, this is actually what happened. Then we would be able to judge."

The ex-administrator, who said the Abacha administration derailed because the former head of state was hijacked declined, however, to mention the names of the alleged hijackers.
According to Bako, certain developments that took place while Abacha held sway in Aso Rock were not sanctioned by the late head of state. He said that being the man in charge, Abacha accepted responsibility for whatever ills that happened during his administration.

His words: "Like I have always told people, the Abacha I knew, between 1993 and 1995 meant well for this country. But unfortunately he was hijacked by some persons. That hijack affected some of us, who were detained eventually and thrown into the prison.

"What I would say is that having been hijacked at some point in the life of the regime, some issues, some things that were done during Abacha years, may not have been with his prior knowledge. I would give an example and I want you to quote me. Ebenezer Babatope would bear me out. I was among those sitting with General Sani Abacha, when Ebenezer Babatope entered and told General Abacha, 'Oh! They have hanged Ken Saro Wiwa.'

And Abacha’s reply was, 'Oh! These boys have done it again.' But, at the end of the day, the buck stopped at his table. They wouldn’t blame anybody else over the hanging of Ken Saro Wiwa. It was General Sani Abacha, because he was the head of state. There is every likelihood, that some of the areas of criticisms by the public today, he may not have had prior knowledge of their happening as at that period because he was already hijacked."

"Whatever may have happened, he was the head of state and he had to take responsibility. From what is going on, nobody has come up to say that ‘Abacha called me and said I should go and kill this person’. Even Sgt. Rogers can testify to this. Abacha might have given indirect instructions, but nobody has come up to say that. But I am also not saying he is a saint."

While admitting that Abacha also had his weaknesses, Bako averred, however, that the deceased dictator managed the economy far better than ex-President Obasanjo.
"I believe that there is just no perfect human being anywhere. Perfection belongs to God and so there is that tendency that along the line a leader must make mistakes," he stated.
He promised that more facts about what transpired during the Abacha era would be revealed in his forthcoming book.
Assessing the present administration’s performance in office, Bako noted that Nigerians were too quick to judge, urging them to wait for another two years before writing off President Umaru Yar’Adua.

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