I was the first person contacted to abduct Dikko from UK – Capt Sagir Mohammed (retd)

  • Monday, June 16, 2008 - From DESMOND MGBOH, Kano
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Alhaji Sagir Mohammed, Wazirin Ringim, is a man who mostly speaks the mind of the former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. Apart from being an aide to the ex-president, Mohammed, at different times, served as a commissioner in Kano and Jigawa States respectively and was a one-time permanent secretary in the Kano State Government House. In this interview, he reacts to issues raised by the deposed Emir of Gwandu, Major Mustapha Jokolo, in a recent interview published by Saturday Sun. Mohammed threw new insights into the chilly drama that characterized the fall of General Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state and sundry sensitive national issues.

You have just gone through the series of Mustapha Jokolo’s interview. What are your impressions of the whole disclosures?
First and foremost, I have to make this declaration, a declaration of loyalty from the start, that the former emir of Gwandu, the former military police officer, Major Mustapha Jokolo, is my personal friend. We share many good memories. Above all, he was the emir of Gwandu, an institution that I respect and which I am part and parcel of, bearing in mind that I am the Waziri of Ringim. Major Jokolo, being the former emir of Gwandu, it means he was a senior to all the northern emirs, including my emir, the Emir of Kano.

We also shared esprit de corps, while in the army.
Commenting on his interview, I will say that I find it a little bit disturbing. The mere fact that he threw caution aboard, that he neglected so many factors and resorted to unleashing all the information, he gave out. I, therefore, think that I owe it a moral duty, that I am duty bound to comment on some specific issues he raised. I cannot comment on everything he has said, because he was much more placed at a vantage point then, having spent a large part of his career in the corridor of power, in Dodan Barracks precisely.

You find that aspect of the information he might have unleashed was information that he was privy to. Probably, the bulk of it was embellished; some of it inaccurate, but a substantial part of the information is based on reality. But you would also find that it is not all the information you know that is in your head, having served in a sensitive position, that you can come out and tell the public.
This is owing to the fact that some of the information are, indeed, classified. But of course, after 25 years, they are declassified- the best you can say after this period, is that they are now restricted information. Restricted information is the lowest form of security classification.

Having said all this, I can say that Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo, the deposed emir of Gwandu, has gone extra kilometres to bring out the ambivalence that exists between him-self and his very good friends, between himself and his former bosses, between him and his best friend, and above all, he has been able to present to the public the kind of inter-personal rivalry and intra-professional rivalry that had existed among them in the service, and is still existing up till today. In any case, rivalry is part of human struggle all through the ages. Yet, the most important thing is for the rivalry to be ordinate, objective, without bordering on a reckless and dangerous nature, in a manner that would impede the progress and professional latitude of others.

You have just given us a preview of your impression. But in very specific terms, how would you classify the disclosures by Major Jokolo? Are they substantially truthful or otherwise?
No! I would say it this way. The bulk of the information that he disclosed are information that we know to be consistent with the reality of that moment.

Let’s take them one by one. For instance, you are a very close aide to General Ibrahim Babangida, the former head of state, and if we go back to the second series of the interview, the Major sounded like a man speaking for a betrayed group, where he talked about the fifth columnist. He made innuendoes that the IBB gang had a different agenda, though a part of the government and eventually struck. Can you give us an insight into what the drama was at that time?
Even the Council of Ulamas felt that the Buhari regime then was becoming rather too extreme for Nigerians. They were operating their laws, laws which were not consistent with human dignity and morality. The Ulamas disagreed with the killing of the cocaine pushers, which decree was rectroactive. And the famous Sheikh Gummi said that what the government did was a criminal act of murder, a judicial murder and throughout that period, there was an intense war between Sheikh Gummi and General Buhari.

Were all these reasons well tabled before the government of Buhari from within or were they just assembled later by the IBB gang to excuse their coup?

Wait… as I was saying, don’t forget that Sheikh Gummi was respected and revered greatly in the North. He was a clergy of international repute, respected at home and abroad. I remember all the ill-feelings between that government and Sheikh Gummi. In fact, one day, as Gummi was invited to come and see the head of state, Jokolo made unsavoury remarks, insulting remarks, about Gummi. But Gummi ignored the remark, went ahead and saw the head of state and left. Coming to your last question, you find that it is this totality of variables, which was also propped up by the Nigerian press- that the Buhari government was running a reactionary regime- that brought about the need for change. Not the other way round. Don’t forget also, it was only some two persons or three who were running the government- Buhari and General Idiagbon and the then Director General of the National Security Organization (NSO) Rafindadi, who were running the government.

Now, what exactly do you know about the crating of Alhaji Umaru Dikko? What happened and why did it happen the way it happened?

I would leave out the why of your question. But let me start this way, by saying that I was originally invited, I was the original person tasked to carry out that exercise of crating and bringing back Alhaji Umaru Dikko to Nigeria at all cost. The first meeting I had with the principals of the plot, I didn’t say anything. Same for the second meeting, until the third meeting. It was actually at the third meeting that I said I was not doing it.

So, some three names were proposed to carry out the task. They were first, Major Otulana, who was then in the DMI, he was also proposed to do the job. Later, they said no. Major Togun, now Col. Togun, he too was proposed and dropped. Then, Major Mohammed Yusuf, who happened to be my colleague in the military intelligence, whom I respected like my elder brother, even though in terms of strategic appointment, I was senior to him, was picked to go and do the job.

Let me tell you, on the day of the assignment, I was with him on the same flight, my former second-in-command in the Military Intelligence, Col Olu, was with us. It was the three of us who were on the same flight. But none of us, apart from me, knew the mission of the other. And when we arrived in London, we went to see General Aliyu Mohammed in his house. By then, he was at the Royal College of Defence.

We had dinner with him, and then he asked Yusuf-the man who was sent to come and do the abduction to come and see him. He asked him to come and see him, because there was something he wanted to discuss with him. Because even by that time, the information of the plot had leaked and General Aliyu Mohammed wanted to come and brief him that he should go back, but unfortunately, Mohammad Yusuf did not go back to see him. This is because from the outset, he had been briefed not to even talk to Gen. Aliyu Mohammed.

I would leave out the way the operation was planned and why it failed. But I would talk on the impact of the operation on the Buhari regime and how some of its implications may have activated the international and local concerns as to what kind of government was in power. You would find that there were concerns that a friendly country had instituted a criminal activity in a foreign land. One of the most serious crimes against humanity -to abduct a person and bring him to Nigeria.

Now, you find that at that time, the integrity of the government was in tatters. The Press was roaring, it was obvious that this is not the kind of government that would take us to the Promised Land, because it was an extremist government. It is like you say a government run by Hilter. It was to make Aryan race, the German race, superior to any race, but it was doing it on a wrong cause.

This was supposed to be government where Buhari, IBB and others were one. You chased out the government of Shagari. Why did IBB and his gang, not complain or protest all these missteps you have mentioned, using the internal mechanism? Why was the power and coup option a more attractive option?
Let me tell you one thing, not only were those in government talking to them, those of you in the Press were always writing that the government was derailing. Are you now telling me that the Buhari government was not seeing and hearing? They were seeing international reactions.
What I am saying is that all those who are supposed to advise the Buhari junta were giving them the advice but unfortunately, they were not… And you know, General Babangida, you know, he is a liberal personality, he does not like extremism, he believes any government has to go with the sentiment and sensitivity of the people, so long as it does not derail from rational judgment. So long as it does not derail from objectivity, legality and morality.

In Major Jokolo’s interview, he stated clearly that within those who overthrew the Shagari administration, there were groups within the group and that the coup plotting started as far back as 1981. Do you agree with this aspect?

Well, that may not be true. Because I was in the military intelligence and for the period, I was the principal staff officer, from 1980 to 1983, every coup that was about to take place in Nigeria , we had the information. For instance, something similar to what he said… By early 1982, we got the information that a senior military officer – because the man is dead, I would not mention his name -we got the information that he was plotting to overthrown the government of Shagari. What we did, we sent our team of investigations to go to Kwara State, where he was the commander. We went and investigated and they brought home the report. And we wrote to the director general of the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO), Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi. NSO was superior to all other intelligence organizations.

What we did, we sent a copy to the Chief of Army Staff, sent a copy to the DG, NSO it was not our duty to go and tell the president on impending coups. It was the duty of the NSO to go and brief the president. And he was doing that on a daily basis. Shinkafi was briefing the president, everyday and every week. This kind of situation, in my view, does not mean that there was a coup. Probably, what Jokolo may be referring to as a coup, could be that there was an individual or individuals, who felt ambivalent about the government.

That does not constitute a coup. Second, even the coup, that overthrew the Second Republic and the Shagari government, we (the DMI), we got the information and let me tell you something, we sent people to go and interview one of the principal officers of that coup plot. He was then in Jaji. We sent people to him and he called me, because I was very close to him, he called me charging, “Sagir do you think, being in the intelligence for a long time, and we are the pioneers, do you think I can get myself involved in military coup?”

And I replied, “I don’t know sir.” The man is dead also. And then, they just went like that. But it so happened that by December, 1983, the same group struck and took over.

There is this information that Buhari was one person who, like other northern officers, could walk in and see Shagari as at that time, and he was treated like a brother in the army by the government…
No! No!! Buhari does not love Shagari. As a matter of fact, there was this ill feeling between them… No! I wouldn’t want to call it ill feelings. But I don’t know how best to describe it. There was ambivalence between Buhari and President Shagari, especially towards the end of that administration. This difference has always been there, right from when Buhari was commanding the 3rd Armoured Division.

If you remember, it was Buhari, against the norms of the army, who attempted to kick out the Chadian rebels. You know, he carried out an unauthorized operation. But you can also argue that he did a good job. Because you as a commander, you cannot wait until probably they invade your territory completely, overrun you before you act.

So, if he first of all started chasing them out, which is concurrent with the standard operational procedure of the army. If there was a threat, you have to decide whether the threat is based on expediency of the moment or you could wait to tell your superiors. What he did was that he decided to attack first and then inform his superiors later.

And let me tell you one important thing, Umaru Dikko and Muhammadu Buhari were not, never were they the best of friends. This is because all along, Umaru Dikko has always felt that Buhari must not be trusted and this quarrel was on until the Buhari gang struck on the 31st December, 1983.

In your opinion, when exactly did the relationship between General Buhari and Umaru Dikko start degenerating?

You see, when Buhari unanimously decided to go on that North-East operation without due clearance from the appropriate quarters, those who were close to President Shagari had said: “Look! This man should be retired because he was supposed to have informed the high command first before he set out on his mission. Their differences were as a result of a build up of emotions, arising from a sequence of activities, but starting from somewhere around this quarrel.

Are you saying that Umaru Dikko was one of those who suggested to Shagari that Buhari should be retired from the Army?


Yes! He impliedly did so.
Now, the Danjuma aspect to the entire episode. Is it really true that General Danjuma was a principal plotter in the abduction saga? That he suggested that Umaru Dikko should be put in a crate?
I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t have the complete information about his culpability or otherwise. But he knew something about it. To what extent, I don’t know.

But the Israeli connection. To what extent were they culpable in the whole plot?

Well, as far as I know, the Israelis were the ones who floated the idea of the abduction and the security services of Nigeria were never involved at the planning stage of the project. In fact, most of the security organizations in Nigeria did not know about the project. It was hatched and directed by the office of the head of state in collaboration with the director-general, NSO. And you know, one of those arrested and detained was an Israeli retired intelligence officer. I must add that the British government took the issue of the plot very seriously. They closed all bilateral talks on the issue and there was no leeway for the military intelligence officer involved. As a matter of fact, when General Babangida was on a state visit to Britain, the British made it clear that, that aspect was a closed area.

Let’s go to Major Dangiwa Umar and the suggestion in the interview that he sought the Nigeria Customs appointment under the Babangida regime. Is it true?

Believe me, I know both Dangiwa Umar and Major Jokolo are cousins. I am extremely close to both of them. Do you know that for a very, very, very long time, Dangiwa and Jokolo were not on talking terms? It was at my instance that they returned to talking terms. And Major Jokolo thanked me for that. He said there were a lot of things he misunderstood about Umar. He didn’t know that Dangiwa Umar is a very rational thinking man.

But later, the situation, their differences further deteriorated. All I am going to state is – coming back your question- if you know the history of Major Dangiwa Umar, you would know that he is not somebody who is interested in any political appointment. The information I have is completely different from that of Major Jokolo. The information I have -we spoke on this matter with General Ibrahim Babangida as at that time– and he told me that the regime was interested in completely rejuvenating, reorganizing the Nigeria Customs Service, given the huge damage that the service was doing to the economy.

They wanted somebody to go there, a professional military officer to go to the Nigerian Customs and carry the mission of the administration, by transforming the Customs Service for good. Three names were proposed. They are the present National Security Adviser, General Sarki Mukhtar, the next person was General Magashi and the third person was the then Major Dangiwa Umar or Colonel Dangiwa. The thinking by President Babangida was that those were very good officers who could go to carry out the mission of the administration by transforming the Nigerian Customs and bring about the required sanity in the service, so that the mission of the administration could be enhanced. That’s all I know.

Then, as the names were being peddled around, there was a consensus that those officers should not be exposed to the customs service. It was taken that to allow professionalism, they should appoint somebody within the Customs service to do the transformation. Later, Dangiwa was posted to the Federal Housing Authority and before he agreed, it took six months. I am not sure if General Magashi or General Mukhtar were ever aware that they were recommended for the position. Back to Dangiwa, he didn’t and never liked any political appointment. He wanted to remain part of the hard core of armored corps formation. Don’t forget that this was the man, who voluntarily decided to resign as the governor of Kaduna State, to go back to the University of Harvard.

What exactly is the source of the quarrel between Major Jokolo and Major Dangiwa?

I have not asked either of them to tell me the deeper part of their quarrel. All of them are from the same place, they are cousins. It could have been deeply rooted from their youth; it may be part of their family squabbles. I don’t know, I am only speculating.

How did you reconcile both men, as you just said, yet you don’t know the cause of their quarrel? Does that make sense?
Look, all I did, I spoke to Major Jokolo to speak to Dangiwa to iron out their differences. And I spoke to Dangiwa to do the same to the emir of Gwandu, and after a long time, they agreed. What led to the degeneration of the problem, I don’t know.

Who do you think is General Theophilus Danjuma, a villain or a hero? What kind of man is this man, whose name has been mentioned in so many things, good and evil, including a number of coups and killings?

You see, I don’t like to comment on my superiors. Danjuma is like the father of modern Nigerian Army. Danjuma is a honest, loyal, down to earth professional soldier. When I mean professional, I mean highly intrepid. When I mean intrepid, I mean that he fears nothing above him and behind him. When he was in the army, he was interested in professionalizing the army, in de-corrupting the military, in bringing esprit de corps. But mark you, General Danjuma like every other person, might have his shortcomings. But in aggregation, you have to score him above an average officer.

Going by the Jokolo interview, this same General Danjuma is the principal actor in the killing of Fela’s mother. This same man knew about all the coups that have taken place in the country. In the interview, he is mentioned in the killing of Aguiyi Ironsi and his host. How does one now reconcile your glowering assessment of him?

I am a man of peace. And the Bible says in Matthew: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’. The undercurrent issues that happened in 1966, 1967 up to 1968, are better left unsaid. It is not for me to open old, sensitive issues and I would appreciate if you insulate me from them.

Sir, do you think Umaru Dikko has forgiven those of you who wanted to put him in a crate like a ….?
You should better direct that question to Umaru Dikko. But I doubt if he would forgive anybody. He said in his interview that he would never forgive the principal actors and he knows them all.

Since then, have you not met with Umaru Dikko?

Don’t you see Umaru Dikko invited during the Oputa Panel? He invited me. I did not go.
This issue of June 12. There are arguments that it goes beyond General Ibrahim Babangida and the General himself has made such reference severally. Being a close confidant of the General, can you shed a little more light on those who may have contributed to the annulment of June 12 election?
I think I know much, very much about the annulment of June 12 elections. And I can tell you one person that I personally escorted somebody to go and see. We went to seek his opinion on the annulment of June 12 election.

That person is Chief Tony Anenih. I escorted somebody to go and see him. By that time he was the chairman of the party. By the time the person came out, he told me that Chief Tony Anenih was in full support of annulment. By that time, the election had not been annulled. There was a lot of pressure on Babangida. He was extremely edgy and nervous, because there was too much pressure on him. He didn’t want to annul that election, I tell you. But those officers in the Armed Forces Ruling Council were pressuring him. Some were telling their colleagues that even if Abiola should be sworn in, they would take over the next day.

The mere fact that we were getting a lot of information that if the June 12 was not annulled, there would be coup or the Commander-in-Chief could be killed was enough… but going further, let me tell you, most of the obas from the South-West were not in support of Chief Abiola becoming the president of Nigeria. Two, another principal crusader against the June 12 is General Olusegun Obasanjo. He was in the forefront, he was pressuring because of the differences that existed between him and Abiola. And then, there were differences between Abiola and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, even though he was dead, the Yoruba saw Abiola as somebody who betrayed Awolowo and were against him.

What about such officers like the late General Sani Abacha? What about the northerners, who later became the biggest beneficiaries of the annulment. Didn’t they pressure Babangida too?

Honestly, what can I say about Sani Abacha I don’t want to mention…... He is dead and my religion has prohibited me from talking about the dead. Because the dead is not here to defend himself. I have told you about Anenih, I have told you about the Yoruba Obas and if I may add, most of the guys who appeared as the hardcore members of the PDP, they were those who wanted the June 12 elections to be annulled.I was the first person contacted to abduct Dikko from UK – Capt Sagir Mohammed (retd)
From DESMOND MGBOH, Kano
Monday, June 16, 2008

•Umaru Dikko
Photo: Sun News Publishing

Alhaji Sagir Mohammed, Wazirin Ringim, is a man who mostly speaks the mind of the former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. Apart from being an aide to the ex-president, Mohammed, at different times, served as a commissioner in Kano and Jigawa States respectively and was a one-time permanent secretary in the Kano State Government House. In this interview, he reacts to issues raised by the deposed Emir of Gwandu, Major Mustapha Jokolo, in a recent interview published by Saturday Sun. Mohammed threw new insights into the chilly drama that characterized the fall of General Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state and sundry sensitive national issues.

You have just gone through the series of Mustapha Jokolo’s interview. What are your impressions of the whole disclosures?
First and foremost, I have to make this declaration, a declaration of loyalty from the start, that the former emir of Gwandu, the former military police officer, Major Mustapha Jokolo, is my personal friend. We share many good memories. Above all, he was the emir of Gwandu, an institution that I respect and which I am part and parcel of, bearing in mind that I am the Waziri of Ringim. Major Jokolo, being the former emir of Gwandu, it means he was a senior to all the northern emirs, including my emir, the Emir of Kano.

We also shared esprit de corps, while in the army.
Commenting on his interview, I will say that I find it a little bit disturbing. The mere fact that he threw caution aboard, that he neglected so many factors and resorted to unleashing all the information, he gave out. I, therefore, think that I owe it a moral duty, that I am duty bound to comment on some specific issues he raised. I cannot comment on everything he has said, because he was much more placed at a vantage point then, having spent a large part of his career in the corridor of power, in Dodan Barracks precisely.

You find that aspect of the information he might have unleashed was information that he was privy to. Probably, the bulk of it was embellished; some of it inaccurate, but a substantial part of the information is based on reality. But you would also find that it is not all the information you know that is in your head, having served in a sensitive position, that you can come out and tell the public.
This is owing to the fact that some of the information are, indeed, classified. But of course, after 25 years, they are declassified- the best you can say after this period, is that they are now restricted information. Restricted information is the lowest form of security classification.

Having said all this, I can say that Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo, the deposed emir of Gwandu, has gone extra kilometres to bring out the ambivalence that exists between him-self and his very good friends, between himself and his former bosses, between him and his best friend, and above all, he has been able to present to the public the kind of inter-personal rivalry and intra-professional rivalry that had existed among them in the service, and is still existing up till today. In any case, rivalry is part of human struggle all through the ages. Yet, the most important thing is for the rivalry to be ordinate, objective, without bordering on a reckless and dangerous nature, in a manner that would impede the progress and professional latitude of others.

You have just given us a preview of your impression. But in very specific terms, how would you classify the disclosures by Major Jokolo? Are they substantially truthful or otherwise?
No! I would say it this way. The bulk of the information that he disclosed are information that we know to be consistent with the reality of that moment.

Let’s take them one by one. For instance, you are a very close aide to General Ibrahim Babangida, the former head of state, and if we go back to the second series of the interview, the Major sounded like a man speaking for a betrayed group, where he talked about the fifth columnist. He made innuendoes that the IBB gang had a different agenda, though a part of the government and eventually struck. Can you give us an insight into what the drama was at that time?
Even the Council of Ulamas felt that the Buhari regime then was becoming rather too extreme for Nigerians. They were operating their laws, laws which were not consistent with human dignity and morality. The Ulamas disagreed with the killing of the cocaine pushers, which decree was rectroactive. And the famous Sheikh Gummi said that what the government did was a criminal act of murder, a judicial murder and throughout that period, there was an intense war between Sheikh Gummi and General Buhari.

Were all these reasons well tabled before the government of Buhari from within or were they just assembled later by the IBB gang to excuse their coup?

Wait… as I was saying, don’t forget that Sheikh Gummi was respected and revered greatly in the North. He was a clergy of international repute, respected at home and abroad. I remember all the ill-feelings between that government and Sheikh Gummi. In fact, one day, as Gummi was invited to come and see the head of state, Jokolo made unsavoury remarks, insulting remarks, about Gummi. But Gummi ignored the remark, went ahead and saw the head of state and left. Coming to your last question, you find that it is this totality of variables, which was also propped up by the Nigerian press- that the Buhari government was running a reactionary regime- that brought about the need for change. Not the other way round. Don’t forget also, it was only some two persons or three who were running the government- Buhari and General Idiagbon and the then Director General of the National Security Organization (NSO) Rafindadi, who were running the government.

Now, what exactly do you know about the crating of Alhaji Umaru Dikko? What happened and why did it happen the way it happened?

I would leave out the why of your question. But let me start this way, by saying that I was originally invited, I was the original person tasked to carry out that exercise of crating and bringing back Alhaji Umaru Dikko to Nigeria at all cost. The first meeting I had with the principals of the plot, I didn’t say anything. Same for the second meeting, until the third meeting. It was actually at the third meeting that I said I was not doing it.

So, some three names were proposed to carry out the task. They were first, Major Otulana, who was then in the DMI, he was also proposed to do the job. Later, they said no. Major Togun, now Col. Togun, he too was proposed and dropped. Then, Major Mohammed Yusuf, who happened to be my colleague in the military intelligence, whom I respected like my elder brother, even though in terms of strategic appointment, I was senior to him, was picked to go and do the job.

Let me tell you, on the day of the assignment, I was with him on the same flight, my former second-in-command in the Military Intelligence, Col Olu, was with us. It was the three of us who were on the same flight. But none of us, apart from me, knew the mission of the other. And when we arrived in London, we went to see General Aliyu Mohammed in his house. By then, he was at the Royal College of Defence.

We had dinner with him, and then he asked Yusuf-the man who was sent to come and do the abduction to come and see him. He asked him to come and see him, because there was something he wanted to discuss with him. Because even by that time, the information of the plot had leaked and General Aliyu Mohammed wanted to come and brief him that he should go back, but unfortunately, Mohammad Yusuf did not go back to see him. This is because from the outset, he had been briefed not to even talk to Gen. Aliyu Mohammed.

I would leave out the way the operation was planned and why it failed. But I would talk on the impact of the operation on the Buhari regime and how some of its implications may have activated the international and local concerns as to what kind of government was in power. You would find that there were concerns that a friendly country had instituted a criminal activity in a foreign land. One of the most serious crimes against humanity -to abduct a person and bring him to Nigeria.

Now, you find that at that time, the integrity of the government was in tatters. The Press was roaring, it was obvious that this is not the kind of government that would take us to the Promised Land, because it was an extremist government. It is like you say a government run by Hilter. It was to make Aryan race, the German race, superior to any race, but it was doing it on a wrong cause.

This was supposed to be government where Buhari, IBB and others were one. You chased out the government of Shagari. Why did IBB and his gang, not complain or protest all these missteps you have mentioned, using the internal mechanism? Why was the power and coup option a more attractive option?
Let me tell you one thing, not only were those in government talking to them, those of you in the Press were always writing that the government was derailing. Are you now telling me that the Buhari government was not seeing and hearing? They were seeing international reactions.
What I am saying is that all those who are supposed to advise the Buhari junta were giving them the advice but unfortunately, they were not… And you know, General Babangida, you know, he is a liberal personality, he does not like extremism, he believes any government has to go with the sentiment and sensitivity of the people, so long as it does not derail from rational judgment. So long as it does not derail from objectivity, legality and morality.

In Major Jokolo’s interview, he stated clearly that within those who overthrew the Shagari administration, there were groups within the group and that the coup plotting started as far back as 1981. Do you agree with this aspect?

Well, that may not be true. Because I was in the military intelligence and for the period, I was the principal staff officer, from 1980 to 1983, every coup that was about to take place in Nigeria , we had the information. For instance, something similar to what he said… By early 1982, we got the information that a senior military officer – because the man is dead, I would not mention his name -we got the information that he was plotting to overthrown the government of Shagari. What we did, we sent our team of investigations to go to Kwara State, where he was the commander. We went and investigated and they brought home the report. And we wrote to the director general of the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO), Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi. NSO was superior to all other intelligence organizations.

What we did, we sent a copy to the Chief of Army Staff, sent a copy to the DG, NSO it was not our duty to go and tell the president on impending coups. It was the duty of the NSO to go and brief the president. And he was doing that on a daily basis. Shinkafi was briefing the president, everyday and every week. This kind of situation, in my view, does not mean that there was a coup. Probably, what Jokolo may be referring to as a coup, could be that there was an individual or individuals, who felt ambivalent about the government.

That does not constitute a coup. Second, even the coup, that overthrew the Second Republic and the Shagari government, we (the DMI), we got the information and let me tell you something, we sent people to go and interview one of the principal officers of that coup plot. He was then in Jaji. We sent people to him and he called me, because I was very close to him, he called me charging, “Sagir do you think, being in the intelligence for a long time, and we are the pioneers, do you think I can get myself involved in military coup?”

And I replied, “I don’t know sir.” The man is dead also. And then, they just went like that. But it so happened that by December, 1983, the same group struck and took over.

There is this information that Buhari was one person who, like other northern officers, could walk in and see Shagari as at that time, and he was treated like a brother in the army by the government…
No! No!! Buhari does not love Shagari. As a matter of fact, there was this ill feeling between them… No! I wouldn’t want to call it ill feelings. But I don’t know how best to describe it. There was ambivalence between Buhari and President Shagari, especially towards the end of that administration. This difference has always been there, right from when Buhari was commanding the 3rd Armoured Division.

If you remember, it was Buhari, against the norms of the army, who attempted to kick out the Chadian rebels. You know, he carried out an unauthorized operation. But you can also argue that he did a good job. Because you as a commander, you cannot wait until probably they invade your territory completely, overrun you before you act.

So, if he first of all started chasing them out, which is concurrent with the standard operational procedure of the army. If there was a threat, you have to decide whether the threat is based on expediency of the moment or you could wait to tell your superiors. What he did was that he decided to attack first and then inform his superiors later.

And let me tell you one important thing, Umaru Dikko and Muhammadu Buhari were not, never were they the best of friends. This is because all along, Umaru Dikko has always felt that Buhari must not be trusted and this quarrel was on until the Buhari gang struck on the 31st December, 1983.

In your opinion, when exactly did the relationship between General Buhari and Umaru Dikko start degenerating?

You see, when Buhari unanimously decided to go on that North-East operation without due clearance from the appropriate quarters, those who were close to President Shagari had said: “Look! This man should be retired because he was supposed to have informed the high command first before he set out on his mission. Their differences were as a result of a build up of emotions, arising from a sequence of activities, but starting from somewhere around this quarrel.

Are you saying that Umaru Dikko was one of those who suggested to Shagari that Buhari should be retired from the Army?


Yes! He impliedly did so.
Now, the Danjuma aspect to the entire episode. Is it really true that General Danjuma was a principal plotter in the abduction saga? That he suggested that Umaru Dikko should be put in a crate?
I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t have the complete information about his culpability or otherwise. But he knew something about it. To what extent, I don’t know.

But the Israeli connection. To what extent were they culpable in the whole plot?

Well, as far as I know, the Israelis were the ones who floated the idea of the abduction and the security services of Nigeria were never involved at the planning stage of the project. In fact, most of the security organizations in Nigeria did not know about the project. It was hatched and directed by the office of the head of state in collaboration with the director-general, NSO. And you know, one of those arrested and detained was an Israeli retired intelligence officer. I must add that the British government took the issue of the plot very seriously. They closed all bilateral talks on the issue and there was no leeway for the military intelligence officer involved. As a matter of fact, when General Babangida was on a state visit to Britain, the British made it clear that, that aspect was a closed area.

Let’s go to Major Dangiwa Umar and the suggestion in the interview that he sought the Nigeria Customs appointment under the Babangida regime. Is it true?

Believe me, I know both Dangiwa Umar and Major Jokolo are cousins. I am extremely close to both of them. Do you know that for a very, very, very long time, Dangiwa and Jokolo were not on talking terms? It was at my instance that they returned to talking terms. And Major Jokolo thanked me for that. He said there were a lot of things he misunderstood about Umar. He didn’t know that Dangiwa Umar is a very rational thinking man.

But later, the situation, their differences further deteriorated. All I am going to state is – coming back your question- if you know the history of Major Dangiwa Umar, you would know that he is not somebody who is interested in any political appointment. The information I have is completely different from that of Major Jokolo. The information I have -we spoke on this matter with General Ibrahim Babangida as at that time– and he told me that the regime was interested in completely rejuvenating, reorganizing the Nigeria Customs Service, given the huge damage that the service was doing to the economy.

They wanted somebody to go there, a professional military officer to go to the Nigerian Customs and carry the mission of the administration, by transforming the Customs Service for good. Three names were proposed. They are the present National Security Adviser, General Sarki Mukhtar, the next person was General Magashi and the third person was the then Major Dangiwa Umar or Colonel Dangiwa. The thinking by President Babangida was that those were very good officers who could go to carry out the mission of the administration by transforming the Nigerian Customs and bring about the required sanity in the service, so that the mission of the administration could be enhanced. That’s all I know.

Then, as the names were being peddled around, there was a consensus that those officers should not be exposed to the customs service. It was taken that to allow professionalism, they should appoint somebody within the Customs service to do the transformation. Later, Dangiwa was posted to the Federal Housing Authority and before he agreed, it took six months. I am not sure if General Magashi or General Mukhtar were ever aware that they were recommended for the position. Back to Dangiwa, he didn’t and never liked any political appointment. He wanted to remain part of the hard core of armored corps formation. Don’t forget that this was the man, who voluntarily decided to resign as the governor of Kaduna State, to go back to the University of Harvard.

What exactly is the source of the quarrel between Major Jokolo and Major Dangiwa?

I have not asked either of them to tell me the deeper part of their quarrel. All of them are from the same place, they are cousins. It could have been deeply rooted from their youth; it may be part of their family squabbles. I don’t know, I am only speculating.

How did you reconcile both men, as you just said, yet you don’t know the cause of their quarrel? Does that make sense?
Look, all I did, I spoke to Major Jokolo to speak to Dangiwa to iron out their differences. And I spoke to Dangiwa to do the same to the emir of Gwandu, and after a long time, they agreed. What led to the degeneration of the problem, I don’t know.

Who do you think is General Theophilus Danjuma, a villain or a hero? What kind of man is this man, whose name has been mentioned in so many things, good and evil, including a number of coups and killings?

You see, I don’t like to comment on my superiors. Danjuma is like the father of modern Nigerian Army. Danjuma is a honest, loyal, down to earth professional soldier. When I mean professional, I mean highly intrepid. When I mean intrepid, I mean that he fears nothing above him and behind him. When he was in the army, he was interested in professionalizing the army, in de-corrupting the military, in bringing esprit de corps. But mark you, General Danjuma like every other person, might have his shortcomings. But in aggregation, you have to score him above an average officer.

Going by the Jokolo interview, this same General Danjuma is the principal actor in the killing of Fela’s mother. This same man knew about all the coups that have taken place in the country. In the interview, he is mentioned in the killing of Aguiyi Ironsi and his host. How does one now reconcile your glowering assessment of him?

I am a man of peace. And the Bible says in Matthew: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’. The undercurrent issues that happened in 1966, 1967 up to 1968, are better left unsaid. It is not for me to open old, sensitive issues and I would appreciate if you insulate me from them.

Sir, do you think Umaru Dikko has forgiven those of you who wanted to put him in a crate like a ….?
You should better direct that question to Umaru Dikko. But I doubt if he would forgive anybody. He said in his interview that he would never forgive the principal actors and he knows them all.

Since then, have you not met with Umaru Dikko?

Don’t you see Umaru Dikko invited during the Oputa Panel? He invited me. I did not go.
This issue of June 12. There are arguments that it goes beyond General Ibrahim Babangida and the General himself has made such reference severally. Being a close confidant of the General, can you shed a little more light on those who may have contributed to the annulment of June 12 election?
I think I know much, very much about the annulment of June 12 elections. And I can tell you one person that I personally escorted somebody to go and see. We went to seek his opinion on the annulment of June 12 election.

That person is Chief Tony Anenih. I escorted somebody to go and see him. By that time he was the chairman of the party. By the time the person came out, he told me that Chief Tony Anenih was in full support of annulment. By that time, the election had not been annulled. There was a lot of pressure on Babangida. He was extremely edgy and nervous, because there was too much pressure on him. He didn’t want to annul that election, I tell you. But those officers in the Armed Forces Ruling Council were pressuring him. Some were telling their colleagues that even if Abiola should be sworn in, they would take over the next day.

The mere fact that we were getting a lot of information that if the June 12 was not annulled, there would be coup or the Commander-in-Chief could be killed was enough… but going further, let me tell you, most of the obas from the South-West were not in support of Chief Abiola becoming the president of Nigeria. Two, another principal crusader against the June 12 is General Olusegun Obasanjo. He was in the forefront, he was pressuring because of the differences that existed between him and Abiola. And then, there were differences between Abiola and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, even though he was dead, the Yoruba saw Abiola as somebody who betrayed Awolowo and were against him.

What about such officers like the late General Sani Abacha? What about the northerners, who later became the biggest beneficiaries of the annulment. Didn’t they pressure Babangida too?

Honestly, what can I say about Sani Abacha I don’t want to mention…... He is dead and my religion has prohibited me from talking about the dead. Because the dead is not here to defend himself. I have told you about Anenih, I have told you about the Yoruba Obas and if I may add, most of the guys who appeared as the hardcore members of the PDP, they were those who wanted the June 12 elections to be annulled.

On a lighter note, where is Gloria Okon?

Who is Gloria Okon?

The lady that suddenly disappeared during IBB’s regime in a most mysterious manner?

Am I the Inspector General of Police?



On a lighter note, where is Gloria Okon?

Who is Gloria Okon?

The lady that suddenly disappeared during IBB’s regime in a most mysterious manner?

Am I the Inspector General of Police?

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