Eighteen years after the death of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola, Maj. Hamza Al-Mustapha (retd.), a former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha has revealed that Chief Ayo Opadokun and some other Yoruba leaders knew Abiola’s killers and even took bribe from them.
Al-Mustapha made the allegation while addressing journalists shortly after a meeting with the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, Chief Ralph Nwazuruike, on Monday at the Arewa House in Kaduna, according to a report by Punch.
However, Opadokun has described Al-Mustapha as a “pathological liar,” adding that he had made a similar allegation in the past and had recanted.
But Al-Mustapha has insisted that he had a videotape showing the Yoruba leaders collecting “dollars” from Abiola’s killers at the Aso Villa in Abuja.
Abiola who ran for the presidency in 1993 and widely regarded as the presumed winner of the election fought till death after the then military junta of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.) annulled the election. Abiola died on July 7, 1998 under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of Abacha, who had kept him in detention.
Al-Mustapha, who was remanded in prison for 14 years over the death of Abiola’s wife, Kudirat, said Opadokun and others had been invited to the Aso Villa the day after Abiola’s death.
Al-Mustapha said, “…When Abiola died, a day after, he (Opadokun) was invited to the Presidency and he came to the Villa alongside his friends. He came with anger into the villa. Those who killed Abiola invited him to the Villa. At that material time, they came to fight the government. They wanted to set the country ablaze, considering the tone they came with. They went into the meeting; they came out laughing, yelling and yelling as if nothing happened in the country.”
The former CSO said he had since tendered the video tape before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court.
However, Opadokun who was the Secretary of the defunct National Democratic Coalition, denied the allegations. He also denied going to the Abuja the day after Abiola’s death or collecting money from anyone at the Presidential Villa.
He said the pro-democracy group was invited for a discussion on how to move the country forward about five days after Abiola’s death, adding that no money was offered and that they could not have collected any even if it was offered.
He said, “Two years ago, this Al-Mustapha made the same allegation against us when he was facing criminal trial for the murder of Kudirat Abiola and when I castigated him, he recanted. He is a pathological liar who should be ignored; he is just seeking attention.”
He further challenged Al-Mustapha to make the video footage public. Opadokun said, “He has not shown anybody any evidence till tomorrow. Let him present his so-called video to Nigerians. He said so two years ago and he has not shown anything to anybody now; he wants to be heard.”
Asked if he was at the Villa with some other Yoruba leaders the following day Abiola died, Opadokun said, “No! No! No! Look, we were invited by Gen. Abubakar Abdulsalami five days after I was released from prison. Five of us were invited: (the late) Chief Bola Ige, (the late) Senator Abraham Adesanya, (the late) Senator Francis Okpozo; and Dr. Arthur Nwankwo. We were invited and he made the same allegation that we were frowning when we got there to see Gen. Abdulsalami and that when we finished, we were laughing because we had been bribed. But two years ago, he recanted that he didn’t say so, so he should be ignored because he is seeking attention.”
Explaining the reason for Abdulsalami’s invitation to them, Opadokun said, “He (Abdulsalami) was consulting with critical pressure groups in the country for a way forward and we presented him with a programme of action suggesting that he should form a government of national unity.”
And when asked whether he and the others were given money on that occasion, Opadokun again said, “No! No! No! We never did (collect money). Nothing like that could have happened; we never would have accepted.
“I was in Ikoyi Prison when Abacha died and I was released about seven days after. It was after five days after I was released that Abdulsalami invited NADECO leaders for consultation as he had invited others, so it is a lie. It was in Abuja and it was during the day.
“You should ask where Al-Mustapha was at that time. Because of insubordination and disrespect to his boss, as soon as Abacha died, he was sent to Enugu; so we were told. So where was he?”
According to Punch, Opadokun said he did not see Al-Mustapha when he and the other NADECO chieftains were at the Villa to see Abdulsalami,
“No, he couldn’t have been (there),” he said.