Sunday 17 May 2020

Exclusive: Victims Of 1995 Phantom Coup Cry Out For Justice

Exclusive: Victims Of 1995 Phantom Coup Cry Out For Justice ...

Victims of the 1995 phantom coup plot saga are still groaning in pains over the torture meted out to them by the regime of late despot, General Sani Abacha.
Colonel Gabriel Adetunji Ajayi (Rtd), a former Quarter Master General, Lagos Garrison Command, who is also one of the victims, recently recounted their ordeal to NewsBreakng. “There was neither a coup nor an attempted one in 1995 but an ungodly design by the then government to silence perceived opposition voices in and outside the military,” he said.
After 22 years, they are still appealing to the Federal government of the day to implement the recommendations contained in the Report of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission headed by late retired Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (JSC).
The Colonel also hinted that the coup “which never existed”, was also a ploy than to divert attention from the growing agitation and dissension over the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election believed to have been won fair and square by the late business Mogul and philanthropist, Moshood Abiola.

Read the full letter below:
10th July 2017
Distinguished Honorable Senator (Dr.) Bukola Saraki
President Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Three Arms zone, Asokoro Abuja FCT
Distinguished Senator D.O Alaso Adura
Our Noble Father Sir,
1. We military officers and soldiers contained in annex A to this paper do hereby make our humble appeal to the noble Fathers and distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to come to our aid and ensure that justice is done to us victims of the 1995 phantom coup plot saga foisted on us by the regime of Late General Sani Abacha. Our appeal is based on the need to implement the recommendations contained in the Report of the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission headed by late retired Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (JSC).
2. It was a common knowledge that there was neither a coup nor an attempted one in 1995 but an ungodly design by the then government to silence perceived opposition voices in and outside the military. It was also a ploy then to divert attention from the growing agitation and dissention over the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential election believed to have been won fair and square by the late business Mogul and Philanthropist Chief M.K.O Abiola. Chief Abiola himself as the custodian of the electoral mandate eventually died in military custody after four years of incarceration in July 1998. The Phantom Coup Plot Saga is the quo-efficient of June 12 election annulment crisis. Since June 12 election annulment had given birth to democracy, the dividends of which we are now enjoying there is need to give justice to the victims of the 1995 Phantom Coup Plot Saga.
3. Following the reported phantom coup d’├ętat of 1995 we serving and retired officers in annexe A were unjustly arrested, tortured, tried by what could be termed a kangaroo tribunal, convicted and given outrageous sentences. While some of us were out-rightly sentenced to death by firing squad, others were sentenced to long prison terms ranging from 25 years to life imprisonment. Due to justifiable National outcry and anger by discerning Nigerians, (which also included many of you in this distinguished Senate Chamber), the vibrancy of the Nigerian Press and Electronic Media and of course the sustained pressure by the International Community spearheaded by the United States of America and Canada the death sentences were commuted to various prison terms ranging from 25 years to life imprisonment. Those initially sentenced to life imprisonment had their prison terms reduced to between 6 months and 15 years.
4. Those of us sentenced to death and who had their sentences commuted to between 25 years and life imprisonment had already served four years in prison facilities across the country when the then Head of State General Sani Abacha died on June 8 1998. His successor General Abdulsalami Abubakar reviewed our plight and granted us unconditional pardon on 4th February 1999in the exercise of his powers under section 161 of the unsuspended part of the 1979 constitution. The unconditional pardon was published in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Government Gazette No 33 Volume 23 of 16th May 1999.
•Retired Colonel Gabriel Adetunji Ajayi

5. Despite our unconditional pardon, we were in 2000 after staying for one year without any status compulsorily and prematurely retired without taking cognizance of our outstanding records in the military service. This was also the fate of other officers who were discharged and acquitted by either the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) or Special Military Tribunal (SMT). This implied that we were thrown out naked in the market place while our miseries continued. In the Military service compulsory retirement is still a form of punishment which imposes some form of disabilities. The ideal thing was to have restored all of us back to service in line with established historical military tradition after the unconditional pardon. I refer to the story of the arrest, trial and conviction of the French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus for treason and miscellaneous offences in 1894. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in the French Devil’s island of Guyana where he spent almost five years before his innocence was discovered. He was given an unconditional pardon and reinstated without loss of seniority, integrity and material possession. There are also ample references here in Nigeria Military of such reversal of injustice even including posthumous restoration and promotion. We refer here to the examples of Brigadier Mohammed Aliyu Gusua, Colonels ADS Wya and Esgeri Garuba etc. Our astonishment over this shabby and unjust treatment was rooted in the fact that the then sitting President General Olusegun Obasanjo was one of us the victims in the Phantom coup plot saga.
6. Those officers in serial numbers 34 to 38 were already long retired before their arrest, trial and conviction. Others who were non-active military personnel were also arrested, tried and convicted through the same Special Investigation Panel and Special Military Tribunal. Some of these people included Senators Shehu Sani, Chris Anyanwu, late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, Kunle Ajibade, Sanusi Mato, late Ben Charles Obi, George Mba, late Miss Rebecca AyanbeIkpe, Anthony Awoluyi (DSS Operative) and Miss Quinette Alagoa etc. They all served various terms of imprisonment with the exception of Mr. Anthony Awoluyi who voted with his feet into self-exile in the Benin Republic.
7. Upon the inauguration of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration on May 29 1999 (he himself a survival of the 1995 Phantom coup plot saga see serial 34 annexe A) the Federal government set up a holistic Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights abuses and violations which occurred under successive military regimes in Nigeria. The commission was headed by the Honorable Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Petitions were submitted to the commission by a broad spectrum of Nigerians who had axes to grind with successive military regimes from January 1966 to May 29 1999.
8. All of us serving and retired officers wickedly and unjustly roped into the 1995 phantom coup saga submitted our petitions collectively and individually and further gave oral testimonies on oath before the panel. Upon due diligent consideration and review of our petitions, the panel adjudged our fate to be a travesty of justice and made the following administrative and judicial recommendations to be implemented in our favour:
*All the charges and sentences passed on all victims by Abacha’s 1995 and 1997 Kangaroo Courts are to be quashed since charges, trials and convictions did not follow any known Rule of Law both in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
*All the serving military victims are to be promoted to their appropriate higher ranks in line with their course mates in the Armed Forces followed by voluntary retirement.
*Monetary compensation to be paid to all victims by the Federal Government (we believe this includes non-military personnel roped into the Phantom Coup plot).
*Medical evacuation for all victims who are still nursing physical and mental injuries as a result of ruthless torture during an investigation and solitary confinement in prison facilities across Nigeria.
*All victims are to be fully rehabilitated by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
*Apology letters to be written to all the victims of the 1995 phantom coup plot saga to heal their wounds.
9. The Obasanjo administration could not implement the recommendations of the Oputa Panel which it accepted publicly with fun-fare for some undisclosed reasons. He however set in motion process of the implementation of the recommendations concerning us through his Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation Chief Bayo Ojo SAN. Nothing came out of it till both of them left office in 2007. We again raised the issue with President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration which set up a Presidential Committee on Prerogative of Mercy under the then Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the federation, Chief Michael Kaashe Aondoakaa SAN to consider our plights on merit and grant us the necessary relief.
10. Upon a critical review of our peaceful agitation and the administrative recommendations of Oputa panel, the committee recommended among others our promotion to the highest rank held by our course mates in the Armed forces and to be followed immediately by voluntarily retirement with full compensation in line with the recommendations of the Oputa Commission on Human Rights Abuses and Violations of rights. This is as it affected all the victims of 1995 phantom coup saga.
11. The Federal government was yet to implement the recommendations of Michael Aondoakaa’s committee when President Yar’Adua whose late elder brother was equally a victim took ill and eventually passed on in May 2010. We took up the case with his successor former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to use his good offices to redress the grave injustice done to us by ensuring the full implementation of the aforesaid recommendations of Oputa Panel and that of the Presidential Committee on the prerogative of mercy.
12. The government of former President Jonathan took necessarily legal and administrative actions by taking the issue to the National Council of States as contained in the National Council of States Memorandum CS – 2013 dated 17th March 2013. Grapevine sources revealed to us that the matter is actually held up in the department of Prerogative of Mercy Federal Ministry of Justice Abuja hence, our appeal for your sympathetic Fatherly intervention.
13. Distinguished Senators, we have been suffering in silence for the past 22 years since the issue has been lingering unresolved. Some of us are already dead while some others are battling with the debilitating illness. Precedence for such request to right glaring acts of injustice exists in the contemporary world and Military history and even right here in Nigeria. Such acts of righting injustice are not injurious to the system as some might want to plead. After all the system is made for man and not man for the system. Though we agree as soldiers that military life is incomplete without self-sacrifice and self-denial for every enlisted soldier knows that he/she is subject to three Ds (discharged, dismissed, or dead)these become destructive when wickedness is elevated to the level of National policy as displayed during General Sani Abacha dispensation.
Distinguish Senators, the sterling legacies of the 8th Senate since its inception two years ago is secured forever without any validation from anybody or any quarters. Our passion and persistence is for justice not only to be done but to be seen to have been done so that never again shall such type of thing happen in Nigeria.
The beneficiaries of injustice today in Nigeria might become its victims tomorrow. It is trite that injustice is the father of impunity which gave birth to corruption and other variants other forms of malfeasance. Let the future generation of Nigerians and historians say with nostalgia that there was a Senate President and Senators who did justice to fellow Nigerians when hope was almost lost.
God bless our Distinguished Senate President, God Bless the 8th Senate, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. May your tenure be a pleasant one. We remain in the shadow of your mercy and compassion.
Yours Faithfully,
Colonel Gabriel Adetunji Ajayi (Rtd)Acm,Fss, Psc(t), FIIPS
(For and on behalf of the victims of 1995 Phantom Coup plot saga)
1. Annex A:List of the affected officers and Soldiers.
2. Annex B: References and Witnesses
Annex A
s/n Rank Names Date of Enlistment Date of Compulsory Retirement Rank on Compulsory Retirement (ROD) Date due for normal Retirement Rank on Due Retirement Remark.
1 Col. E.L. Ndubueze 9/5/1966 4/3/1999 Col. 9/5/2001 Brig. General
2 Col. L. Gwadabe 23/4/1970 4/3/1999 Col. 23/4/2005 Maj. General
3 Col. G.A Ajayi 27/6/1971 4/3/1999 Col. 30/6/2006 Maj. General
4 Col. J. Isa 27/6/1971 29/9/1995 Col. 30/6/2006 Maj. General
5 Col. O. Oloruntoba 3/1/1972 4/3/1999 Col. 3/1/2007 Maj. General
6 Col. R. S. Bello-Fadile 3/1/1972 4/3/1999 Col. 3/1/2007 Maj. General
7 Col. R. M. Emopae 3/1/1972 4/3/1999 Col. 3/1/2007 Maj. General
8 Lt. Col. M.S. Dasuki 3/7/1972 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 3/1/2007 Maj. General
9 Lt. Col. C.P. Izuorgu 28/6/1972 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 3/1/2007 Maj. General
10 Lt. Col. W.A Lawal 31/12/1973 29/9/1995 Lt. Col. 31/12/2008 Maj. General
11 Lt. Col. M.A Igwe 12/1/1973 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 2008 Maj. General
12 Lt. Col. H. Bulus 2/1/1973 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 2/6/2010 Maj. General
13 Lt. Col. R.D. Obiki 2/1/1973 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 2/1/2008 Maj. General
14 Lt. Col. S.A. Mepaida 4/7/1974 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 4/7/2009 Maj. General
15 Lt. Col. O.E. Nyong 23/6/1973 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 2008 Maj. General
16 Lt. Col. S.E. Oyewole 23/6/1973 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 2008 Maj. General
17 Lt. Col. D.A.D Usman 23/6/1973 29/9/1995 Lt. Col 2008 Maj. General
18 Lt. Col. V.O Bamigbose 31/12/1974 4/3/1999 Lt. Col. 31/12/2009 Maj. General
19 Major A.S. Umar 4/1/1980 29/9/1995 Lt. Col 4/1/2018 Maj. General
20 Major N.U. Okoro           – 4/3/1999 Major           – Maj. General
21 Major I.O. Edeh 2/1/1973 4/3/1999 Major 2/1/2009 Maj. General
22 Major E.O. Obalisa 29/12/1975 4/3/1999 Major 30/12/2010 Maj. General
23 Capt. M.A. Ibrahim 24/9/1984 4/3/1999 Capt. 24/9/2019 Maj. General
24 Capt. A.A Ogunsuyi 15/3/1983 4/3/1999 Capt. 3/3/2019 Maj. General
25 Capt. U.S.A Sulaiman 5/6/1982 29/9/1995 Capt. 5/6/2017 Maj. General
26 Lt. K. Olowomoran 29/1/1982 29/9/1995 Lt. 28/1/2018 Maj. General
27 2/Lt. R. Emouvhe           – 4/3/1999 2Lt. – –
28 Comdr. D.A. Omessa 28/6/1972 23/10/1995 Comdr. 3/7/2007 Rear Admiral
29 Comdr. L.O. Fabiyi 1/7/1974 4/3/1999 Comdr. 3/7/2009 Rear Admiral
30 Navy Lt. A. Olowokere 4/3/1980 4/3/1999 Navy Lt. 4/3/2015 Rear Admiral
31 63NA/196806 Sgt. Patrick Usikpeko (Late) Warrant Officer
32 63NA/313099 CPI. Godspower Ogbionouvia Warrant Officer
33 79NA/22520 L/Cpl. Joseph Onwe Warrant Officer
34 General OlusegunObasanjo (Rtd) Already retired before arrest, trial and conviction
35 Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (Rtd) Already retired before arrest, trial and conviction
36 Lieutenant Colonel Micheal A. Ajayi (Rtd) Already retired before arrest, trial and conviction
37 Lieutenant Colonel M.R Okiki (Rtd) Already retired before arrest, investigation without trial or conviction. He however remained in detention for a very long time after.
38 Major Akinloye Akinyemi (late) Already retired before arrest, trial and conviction.

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