Snippers in Police Uniform: Obasanjo, the Days of Abacha; History and the Historian By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
General-Chief-Writer Olusegun Obasanjo and over 50 other army officers were, without fair hearing, jailed by Abacha government on trumped up charges of coup plotting.
Nigeria, under Abacha, became a pariah nation after being expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations for executing Ken Saro-Wiwa and other activists who were campaigning for a fairer share of Nigerian oil revenues and against the environmental damage caused to their lands by the drilling and spills of big oil companies.
Lt-General Oladipo Diya, Major-Generals Abdulkareem Adisa and Tajudeen Olanrewaju, and several other officers were on death row awaiting execution for their role in another coup plot with no thanks to the conscienceless Abacha.
The acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993 election, late Chief MKO Abiola had been in jail for 4 years, kept incommunicado from the outside world. He later died in prison via the conspiracy of the America and the Generals.
The Guardian Newspapers (owned by Abacha’s minister Ibru) was proscribed by a newspaper proscription Decree and shut down after it criticised the government. It was the paper’s continual criticism of Abacha’s regime that led to the near fatal assassination attempt on Ibru’s life.
Senator Bola Tinubu, apparently afraid of Abacha’s Snippers, flees Nigeria with his intellectual-civilian lieutenants. Alani Akinrinade, Babafemi Ojudu, Gani Faweyinmi, etc were unlucky as Abacha caged them in different prisons for questioning his tainted spirit of authoritarianism.
Kudirat Abiola was gunned down in daylight by sharp-shooters allegedly oiled by the Abacha’s clan. Kayode Fayemi, now a Governor, could not practice physical journalism as he turned guerrilla Journalist for the fear of Abacha was the beginning of wisdom.
General Abacha was on the verge of transforming himself from a military ruler to civilian President having strong armed the then 5 political parties in the country into adopting him as their presidential candidate.
On June 8 1998, God proves his worth as the Alpha and Omega. Abacha reportedly died of a heart attack and was hurriedly buried without an autopsy by the time the news filters through to most Nigerians. Nigerians publicly celebrate the death of a reviled leader with wild jubilation. MKO Abiola also died in prison while battling to reclaim his annulled mandate.
With Abacha, Abiola and the June 12 issue out of the way, General Abubakar announces a swift 10 month programme for a return to civilian democratic rule. Just 10 months after Nigeria seemed doomed to perpetual military rule under General Abacha, the military steps down and a new democratic government was elected.
The speed with which Abacha’s infrastructure was dismantled just seemed too contrived. With Abacha alive and Abiola incarcerated, most people thought democracy was impossible in Nigeria. Just 10 months after his death everything he did was undone: his killers squad were dismantled, coup convicts and pro democracy activists released, Nigeria back in the Commonwealth, democracy restored, and the army back in the barracks.
History and posterity are phenomenons that judges people. Affirmatively, history and posterity can never forget and forgive Abacha for the deeds he did in the nation of Nigeria. It is an understatement to christen Abacha a mistake of history; he was an aberration in government.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, like every living creature, is a double-sided man. Suave and witty, controversial and hilarious, frank and factual. Obasanjo, to some, is an Elderstateman of international repute while many sees him as a villain and one of the architects of the barrage of poverty and quagmire militating against Nigerians and the nation of Nigeria.
Obasanjo is known for his depth of jokes that catches mankind napping and gasping for breath because of the dexterity with which he delivers them likewise his famous letters to sitting presidents which always bring an omen with it after its voyage.
Ex-president Shehu Shagari in the 1980 will remember Obasanjo’s snippy letter to him, so will the tough and ruthless Muhammadu Buhari recollect with a slit in his throat, the OBJ letter. The evil genius and daring Maradona in Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida will always smile into recalling the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) Obasanjo’s appeal letter in the famous bid to save Nigerians in the grass root from being economically ruined.
Recently, precisely on the 12th December 2013, a letter written by Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan was leaked to the press. Obasanjo, in his letter, accused President Goodluck Jonathan of under-developing Nigeria and as well, placing 1,000 Nigerians on political watch. Obasanjo also accused Jonathan of training Snippers aimed at unleashing against his political opponents as 2015 polls gathers momentum.
According to the obviously angry Obasanjo, Jonathan is training his Snippers where the late Nigerian Maximum Dictator, Sanni Abacha trained the Snippers he unleashed against pro-democracy activists and his perceived political enemies when he was ruling Nigeria with impunity and reckless abandonment. Abacha’s ambition to transform from a Military leader to Civilian leader sends many progressive-minded Nigerians to early grave while many were burgled, ransacked, bashed, lashed and decayed.
As expected, when Obasanjo raised his allegations against President Jonathan, most Nigerians with easily cajoled minds and gullible thought kicked. Obasanjo was vilified; called names such as hypocrite, liar, etc. Obasanjo’s dirty history was retold. His past was re-echoed. He was silenced. He became an object of ridicule in the hands of those he nurtured and trained. The Owu High Chief’s image was battered by those he handed over the insignia of power to. As a pundit, I nearly countered Obasanjo but an unseen spirit whispered to my ear that I should keep mute.
Compatriots, 12 Januray 2014 makes it exactly a month that Obasanjo wrote his controversial letter to President Jonathan; and Coincidentally, the Snippers struck the same day. Obasanjo vindicated. The quasi-snipers explode, not in Abuja, or Lagos, but in Potharcourt, the commercial and administrative headquarter of Niger/Delta nations.
The quasi-Snippers, the ones in uniform explode. A sitting Senator was razed, caged, gun-lashed. Egalitarian Magnus Abe, a fearless and unrepentant supporter of Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi, Governor, Rivers State was shot at close range by the Snippers in kakhi uniform. Abe represents the poverty ridden and high calibre people of Rivers East Senatorial District In National Assembly.
How time flies! Just exactly a month after Obasanjo’s controversial letter became a public discourse, the Snippers text-runs their imported instruments and weapons of destruction, oppression and intimidation. Abe was shot by the trigger-happy men of the Nigerian Police for daring to exercise his rights to association and peaceful assembly. Magnus Abe was shot while making preparation for the mother of all rallies to drum-up support for Ameachi and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Apparently jittery of the yet-to-commence rally, the quasi-Snippers, under the supervision of the notorious Police Commssioner of Police in Rivers, Joseph Mbu, attacked Abe, Amaechi and APC’s supporters. The courageous Abe, not minding the ammunition and weapon of mass destruction in the hands of the Snippers in uniform, challenged them of why his constituents are being harrased. He was shot like a criminal. A distinguish Senator of the federal republic of Nigerian was ambushed.
In defense of their barbaric, disgustful, animalistic, idiotic and irresponsible action, the Joseph Mbu led Snipers in uniform, citing Public Order Act (Cap 382) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, argued that they kicked because Abe and his people did not obtain permission from them before planning to stage a rally.
I cannot believe that Joseph Mbu is still claiming that he refused to give a permit to the Save Rivers Movement, the organizer of the rally that led to the shooting of Magnus Abe. I am surprised that an illiterate that doesn’t know anything in relation to the Nigerian law is occupying the office of a state commissioner of Police.
For Mbu’s information, a court of competent jurisdiction has ruled that citizens do not need a permit for public gathering. Also Mbu should be told that no part of Nigerian law or constitution banned political activities at any point of the year. INEC is the only bidy empowered to declare campaign on political offices open. Political activities go round the clock in a democratic society.
Mbu, be informed that INEC only have calendar and time for political campaigns to political offices and not political activities. It saddens my heart that Mbu does not know the difference between political activities and political campaign. Etymologically, the day Gov Amaechi declared for APC was a political activity and not a political campaign.
Without much ado and in the absence of sentiment and irrational affirmation, I put it to the quasi-Snipers that the provisions of the Public Order Act (Cap 382) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, which prohibit the holding of rallies or processions without a police permit are illegal and unconstitutional; they contravenes section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 1999 constitution of Nigeria is supreme.
Lastly, like it was in the day of Abacha, the Snipers are apparently back on the streets of Nigeria. As the history and posterity are still cursing and militating against the Abacha’s clan, the incumbent tormentor-in-chief of Nigeria should remember that whatever anyone do today, becomes point of reference tomorrow. History can never been erased from the dictionary of historians.
Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye, Magodo, Lagos.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org