Candid Advice For Al-Mustapha By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir
Justice delayed is justice denied, and one is guilty or not, the fact that judgement on one’s matter is delayed, then he has been denied justice. Finally, the once very powerful Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, CSO to late General Sani Abacha, has been set free after 15 years of incarceration and prolonged stay in prison. Whether he had committed crimes or not, it was obvious that Al-Mustapha was going to have a lid on him in view of the very sensitive and powerful position he held in the last military government, before present day democracy. The events that took place just at the end of the Abacha rule, especially the death of Abiola carried too many unresolved puzzles. Al-Mustapha was among many charges, tried for the murder of Kudirat in a case whose prosecuting counsel had a very thin file of evidence and vanishing witnesses. His major crime was that he was the Major that stood tall behind Abacha, and for that he was buried alive for 15 years.
Obviously he was going to be released but at the right time. When I heard of his coming home, I refused to celebrate because I was skeptical if it was real and thought that another ‘count’ of the charges against him was going to keep him further in jail. This time he had scaled all the counts and did come home to a hero’s welcome. Crowds of sympathisers in Kano, the hub of northern politics as well as in his country home of Yobe, flocked the streets and made him feel loved, a person that was vilified at some point in time. I was happy for him and glad that he would reconnect with his family and his kids would embrace their daddy. Whatever the thesis surrounding the freedom of this intelligent military intelligence officer with very sterling service experience, it was time to put his ordeal behind him and go home and rest.
I had a very deep need to reach this fella and tell him a few candid things or that he could hear my thoughts out loud. Even if it was a whisper, I wanted him to hear me say, mallam, (I guess he would retire or be retired) I wish for you a quiet time of retirement and rest; rest from the drama and conspiracies of the stories in and around the corridors of power. I wanted to tell him that pension now has a regulatory commission and boasts of trillions in pension funds and that I would rather have him quietly retire not just from the army, but from public life and any form of publicity.
I wanted to plead with him that the days Nigeria was entertained by revelations from him while in jail should not be resurrected. All I was going to say in a nutshell was brother, keep low and lie fallow. Somehow I did not get to hear him; I did not know how to reach him anyway.
Before I could understand whether he was still Major Al-Mustapha or now Mallam Al-Mustapha, our public space was full of theories as to how and why Al-Mustapha was released and the plans that Jonathan’s government had for him, trying to use him to garner support for the 2015 elections. I was disappointed that I hadn’t written my letter in earnest because similar things I wanted to advise him against were already gathering steam. In Nigeria, you cannot just dispel these rumours as they are churned out, especially from government and politics.
One huge theory was that he is to be picked as gubernatorial candidate for Yobe state or what is left of Yobe state! Another puts him as a minister, while yet another rumour mill placed him in the security apparatus to help fight current day insecurity. Whatever the role for him, I sincerely believe that for a man that stood over Nigeria at the time he did and for a man that wielded so much power and virtually had the corridors of power on his shoulders, playing these roles is simply a demotion in purpose. Alas! our democracy has embraced these demotions and every governor wants to turn around and become a senator, whereas as governor, senators from his state took instructions from him on how to vote in the National Assembly or in party conventions in as much as they were in the same party.
I believe Mallam Al-Mustapha’s family missed him and fervently prayed for him to come home and might have even lost hope in the process. Like a dream come true, they are with him now. Please Mallam Almu, repay them for their prayers, patience and love and give them another 15 years, this time, of peaceful and quiet. The dignity, honour and promise you used to know in the Nigerian military of a decade and a half ago do not habit in today’s democracy or with politicians. Please Mallam, absolve yourself from further damage and finger-pointing and thank Allah for the opportunity thrown your way. Grab the ropes of hope in gratitude and prayer and embrace the peace at home. Meanwhile, if the freedom is negotiated on the sounds we hear from the rumour mill, well I can’t say anything other than wish I had not written my letter!
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