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Oputa panel report indicts Abdulsalami govt over Abiola

Posted by By Kayode Matthew on 2005/01/03 | Views: 545 |

Oputa panel report indicts Abdulsalami govt over Abiola


THE Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (HRVIC) which probed allegations of human rights violations in the country from 1966 to 1999 has said in its report that Chief MKO Abiola died in suspicious circumstances and the General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s government knew much more than it admitted on his death.

LAGOS — THE Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (HRVIC) which probed allegations of human rights violations in the country from 1966 to 1999 has said in its report that Chief MKO Abiola died in suspicious circumstances and the General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s government knew much more than it admitted on his death.

In a publication of the seven-volume report of the commission by the Civil Society Forum, the report regards the denial of Chief Abiola’s mandate as a serious infringement. Said the report: "In the case of Chief Moshood Abiola, we are of the view that the government of the day knew much more than it has admitted. We believe that the denial of Chief Moshood Abiola’s mandate was a violation of the rights of Nigerians to freely choose their leaders. We regard this as serious infringement.

"We also believe that Chief Moshood Abiola’s death was the result of his incarceration and the denial of access to adequate medical attention. The testimony of the Chief Security Officer to the then Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, was full of contradictions.

"From the evidence before us, Chief Abiola died in suspicious circumstances. The commission, therefore, recommends a thorough investigation to throw light on and inform the Nigerian people on what killed Chief Moshood Abiola.

The Human Rights Commission, otherwise called Oputa Panel, also investigated the murders, assassinations and disappearances of other prominent Nigerians and made recommendations on the cases of Chief Alfred Rewane, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Mr. Dele Giwa and Mr. Bagauda Kaltho.

According to the report, "with respect to the cases of Chief Rewane, Kudirat Abiola and other cases, the commission passed the relevant files to the Attorney General of the Federation for further action. The Attorney-General of the Federation then forwarded the files to the High Court in Lagos, where the cases are being prosecuted.

"As for the case of Dele Giwa, we are of the view that beyond the legal technicalities that some of the key witnesses hung on to, the Federal Government should be encouraged to re-open up this case for proper investigation.

"In the case of Bagauda Kaltho, there is enough prima facie to lead us to the conclusion that there was complicity by agents of government in the case. We, therefore, recommend that the case be re-opened for proper re-investigation and possible prosecution of the perpetrators."

The Oputa Panel also frowned at the refusal of three former Heads of State to appear before it to defend themselves in petitions filed against them.

The panel indicted Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar in the petitions filed against them and condemned their refusal to appear before it.

It, therefore, recommended that "since they did not avail themselves of the opportunity to come and tell their own side of the story, as the president and some former and serving senior governments did, we leave a blank space on our records against each and everyone of the three former Heads of State as evidence that we are leaving them and their side of the story in the court of human history.

"We recommend to the Federal Government that all the former Heads of State be considered to have surrendered their right to govern Nigeria and Nigerians at any other time in the future. It is left for Nigerians to judge."

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