MKO Abiola, Susan Rice and a Deadly Cup Of Tea ,By Femi Fani -Kayode

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AMBASSADOR Susan Rice  until recently the American Ambassador to the United Nations. Her long-standing aspiration of becoming the Secretary of State for her country dashed when the Republicans in the Senate started sharpening their knives in anticipation of her formal nomination for that position by Barak Obama.

Sensing that her nomination would not scale through the Senate and that she would not be confirmed as Secretary of State due to the role she played in the cover-up of the Benghazi affair in which the American Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other American citizens were murdered by a group of Islamist terrorists, her nomination withdrawn.

Instead of Secretary of State, Obama has now nominated her for the position of National Security Advisor, which is a job that does not require Senate approval or confirmation.

I wish Susan Rice well in her new assignment but I am constrained to ask the following questions. What did she put in the tea that she served to Chief MKO Abiola on July 8, 1998 just before he died?

She of the last people that saw him alive; she served him some tea, he coughed violently and hour later, he dropped dead. What was in the tea? Was it Abuja “green tea,” Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Liptons or some other more exotic brand?

Can someone, please, ask Susan Rice what her role was in the death of MKO Abiola? Who sent her to do the job and whom was she working for? At that time she was Assistant Secretary of State for in Bill Clinton’s government. Was she acting on his direct instructions or simply on the instructions of her boss and controller in Langley?

Chief MKO Abiola was the winner of Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections. That election took place on June 12, 1993. The following week (precisely on June 23), General Ibrahim Babangida annulled it.

Shortly after that, as a consequence of the sheer outrage that was generated by the annulment, Babangida was compelled to “step aside” and hand over power to Chief Ernest Shonekan.

In what was clearly a strategic manoeuvre, he (Babangida) left General Sani Abacha (his own Chief of Army Staff) behind to be the Minister of Defence for the incoming administration.

A few months later, Abacha toppled the Interim National Government of Chief Shonekan, which he had served and seized power for himself. Abiola was arrested and detained. He was never granted his freedom again.

Four years later, forces that are yet to be identified, murdered Abacha himself and General Abdulsalami Abubakar took power. Exactly 30 days after Abacha was killed, those same forces that killed him murdered Abiola as well in an attempt to “balance the equation.”

These are the facts and sequence of events. thing is self-evident and cannot be denied no matter which side of the divide may have been on in the June 12 saga — certain questions must be answered. And some of those questions are as follows:

Who killed MKO Abiola? Who killed Sani Abacha? What role, if any, did officials of the Abubakar administration play in the murder of both Abacha and Abiola? What role did the CIA play and exactly what transpired in the room when Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice (as she then was), Ambassador Thomas Pickering and other faceless and nameless officials from the American Embassy met with Abiola on the very day that he was meant to have been released?

Sadly, instead of being released on that day, he dropped dead in what can only be described as in mysterious and questionable circumstances.

This is all the more so because Abiola’s security officer and the man that was charged with looking after him and protecting him throughout the time that he was incarcerated (an honest, upstanding and courageous police officer by the name of ASP Zadok) told the Oputa Panel in 2002 that Abiola was “hale and hearty” and in “very high spirits” just before going into the meeting with the Americans.

He went further by telling the panel that as he was about to enter Aguda House (the premises where the meeting was scheduled to be held) with Abiola, he was asked to leave his principal, to step out of the premises and to go and pick up another car from somewhere else by of General Abdulsalami’s security officers.

He promptly obeyed the order but half an hour later when he came back, he found Abiola in a terrible condition, coughing violently, writhing all over the floor in pain and breathing his last breath. Thirty minutes later, he gave up the ghost.

Another question that needs to be answered is the one that the veteran journalist and respected columnist, Mr. Gbolobo Ogunsanwo, has dubbed as “the question of the missing one hour.”

Permit me to explain. According to the testimony that was given to the Oputa Panel by Major Hamza al-Mustapha, who was General Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, from the first day that Abiola was arrested right up until the day that he was murdered, he (al-Mustapha) was in charge of his (Abiola’s) security.

Each time Abiola was moved from one safe house to another, he had to sign for it. Each time Abiola ate his food or drank anything, his men tasted and drank it before hand.

He went as far as to say that each time Abiola went to the toilet, he was made aware of it and that nothing happened around Abiola or to him without his direct permission and the involvement of his most loyal men.

After Abacha was murdered and Abdulsalami Abubakar became of State, al-Mustapha was still in charge of Abiola’s security and he still maintained direct responsibility for his life, his wellbeing and his welfare right up until the minute that he was murdered.

When Mustapha appeared before the Oputa Panel, he exposed the fact that in the entire period of four years that he and his team watched over Abiola, it was only in the one hour that he was killed that they had no knowledge or control of what was happening to or around him.

According to him, Abiola was removed from the Guest House that he had been staying without his (al-Mustapha’s) signature or knowledge and without anyone seeking his permission. Simply put, he was kept in the dark about the whole thing.

Secret  were given to keep him out of the loop, to take Abiola to a destination, which he knew nothing about and to ensure that none of the usual trusted food tasters and minders were with him.

The only person that accompanied Abiola from the old guards of those that had watched over him for the previous four years was ASP Zadok and when they arrived at Aguda House (the venue of the meeting), he was conveniently sent on a meaningless errand by General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s Chief Security Officer and told to leave.

Hence, for the first time in four years, Abiola was left completely on his own, and he was surrounded by a coterie of strange faces who had no genuine affection or empathy for him.

He was with them for one hour and during that hour, not one of those that had watched over him, that had secured his safety and had grown familiar with him over the entire four-year period of his incarceration was with him. It was during that “missing hour,” when he was all alone and very vulnerable, that he was poisoned.

Sadly, by the time Zadok, who was undoubtedly loyal to him, returned to the scene, Abiola was already dying. The question is who gave the order for Abiola to be brought to that meeting? Why did they keep al-Mustapha in the dark about it? Why was Zadok sent to bring another vehicle that was obviously not needed?

That one hour, and what transpired during its course, holds the key to everything. It appears that Abiola was lured into a trap by a group of smiling strangers, who did not wish him well and who had sinister plans for him. It was like  a lamb to the slaughter.

Given these circumstances, I have no doubt that this was a case of premeditated murder but the question is whose call was it and why did it have to happen? What was the motive? Was it done just to “balance the equation,” as some said at the time or was it done in an attempt to pave the way for an Obasanjo one year later? Could General Olusegun Obasanjo have been released from jail and elected President if Abiola had lived and if he had insisted on claiming his mandate?

The Nigerian people have a right to know the truth and it is about time that those that have wielded power in this country for the last few decades told them. The powers that be must appreciate the fact that they cannot sweep things under the carpet forever and that one day, no matter how long it takes, they will be held accountable by God and the Nigerian people for the morbid, secret and oftentimes homicidal choices and decisions that they made.

Yet, the truth is that the military operates like a cult and we may never get an honest answer from any of them about what really happened. This is because there are very few Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umars in the Nigerian military. Very few of them are prepared to break ranks with the leadership and break the omerta code of silence like Abubakar Umar did over the June 12 election.

Very few of them are prepared to call a spade a spade, speak the truth, expose the lie and damn the consequences. Most of them to spin the yarn and tell the dirty lie that Abacha and Abiola’s deaths were both from natural causes and that it was just a coincidence that one dropped dead on July 8, 1998, just four days before the 5th anniversary of June 12 and the other dropped dead exactly one month later on July 8, 1998.

As they say, “the secrets are embedded in the sequence of events and the dates” and, in this case, the sequence of events and the dates really do tell an interesting and revealing story.

Still, no matter how hard they try to cover her up and silence her, truth is stubborn and she cannot be drowned. She is like a pack of straws that are held together and pinned down by an all-powerful hand at the bottom of a river. As long as she is held at the bottom of that river, she cannot be seen or heard.

Yet, one day, in the fullness of time, that all-powerful hand that seeks to suppress her forever will get tired and let go and at that point, Lady Truth will happily float to the top of the water where she will be seen and heard by all.

It is in the same way that one day, in the fullness of time, the pernicious and perfidious verdict of “death by natural cause” or “act of God” that the powers that be have claimed are the causes of Abiola and Abacha’s deaths, respectively will be exposed for what they are.

Those that to spin that lie and conspire to hide the truth will pay a heavy price for their murderous deceit either in this world or in the next. The most filthy and despicable creature under God’s sun is the unrepentant and compulsive liar and he or she that bears false witness, that sheds innocent blood and that seeks to kill, jail, maim, defame and destroy the innocent in the name of the state. Their evil knows no bounds and they will surely burn in hell.

Those that to perpetuate the lie, to hide the truth and to spin the tale that there was nothing untoward or mischievous about the death of Chief MKO Abiola, whose only crime was to win a free and fair election and refuse to renounce it, shall fare no better.

Until these questions are answered and justice is done, Nigeria will not know lasting peace and cannot possibly achieve her full potentials. It is a spiritual thing. Abiola gave his life that we may have a better tomorrow; yet, we refuse to acknowledge it or to bring his killers to justice. We are repaying his with evil and the consequences of that are set out in the Word of God.

Whatever anyone may have thought of him as a person, the fact remains that had it not been for Abiola’s sheer resilience, courage, steadfastness, sacrifice and gallant refusal to bow before the Nigerian military and give up his 1993 mandate, we would not have democracy in Nigeria today.

He was faithful to his cause to the very last. In return for that, the least we could do is to ask the relevant questions, demand the appropriate answers and expose the bitter truth.

We owe MKO Abiola, his wife Kudirat (who was also murdered) and all the other June 12 and NADECO foot soldiers and martyrs that much.

•Fani-Kayode was the Minister of Aviation

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