I just read the account of American diplomat, Susan Rice, who was with MKO Abiola some minutes before he died in custody. Her narrative was suspect, obviously to exculpate her herself from a suspicion of American culpability in the death. I wasn’t convinced with her narrative. To hear the other side, l bring you the
testimony of Assistant Superintendent of Police, Theodore Zadok on Thursday, July 19, 2001 at the Oputa panel.
“I was the head of the detention base of Abiola with 13 other bodyguards. I was responsible for collecting N800,000 quarterly from the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Gen. Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, through the Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, for the feeding of Abiola. I was also responsible for taking care of his health.
“Abiola would never eat any food until I had tasted it in his presence. Even when I wanted to give him bottled water, I had to drink from the same cup before giving him to drink. I used part of the quarterly allocation for his toiletries, bedsheets and other needs.
“While in detention, we gave him papers and biros with which to write. We also gave him a copy of the Bible and the Quran. When I was asked to take over his security, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Yakassai, head of the Strike Force introduced me to Abiola as Lt. Usman and that was what he called me till he died. At a point, Abiola never knew I was a security man from the Villa. He saw me as his son.
“On December 10, 1997, before the (Diya) coup, Mustapha ordered that we should move Abiola to a safer place in Wuse. Later after the coup, he said we should move him to Kado Estate.
“On the day Abacha died, (June 8, 1998), Mustapha ordered that Abiola be moved to Gado Nasko Barracks. On this day, the security was unusually heavy but we did not know why.
“General Sabo told me that General Bamaiyi called him aside after the death of Abacha and told him (Sabo) that since Abacha was dead, Abiola too should be killed in the same manner.
“(This was corroborated by General Sabo when he said that Bamaiyi had begun underground moves to get Abiola killed, saying “he called me and told me”. I started looking for Mustapha to alert him of the plan. Mustapha too had been looking for me. By the time we saw, Mustapha told me that he had arranged to move Chief to a safer place.”)
After General Abdulsalami was sworn in as the Head of State, all the bodyguards attached to the detention camp of Abiola were withdrawn except the driver and one other person. But I was still serving him food.
When Abiola heard of the death of Abacha, he wrote a letter of condolence to Mrs Abacha, as well as the widow of Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.
“After the N800,000 I collected for the second quarter expired, I approached the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Abubakar, Major A.S. Aliyu, for reimbursement. But he never gave me the money.
On the day Abiola died, the 7th of July, 1998, at about 11.30 hrs, the Chief Security Officer to General Adbdulsalami Abubakar, Major A.S. Aliyu called me on the radio set, asking me to see him in his office. I then proceeded to his office and he instructed me to bring Chief M.K.O. Abiola to Aguda House for an interview to be held by 1300 hrs.
I then came back to the base and informed Chief M.K.O. Abiola of the interview and he asked me whether Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was aware of the said interview. I told him I didn’t know because Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was busy handing over but I would see if I could locate him to inform him. He asked me to bring his dresses which he would wear and give him 30 minute to enable him get dressed.
“At about 13:30hrs, the Chief Security Officer to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Major A.S. Aliyu, came to the base. That was the first time he knew the place. He wanted to know if we were ready and I replied him that we were almost ready. As we opened the door, the Chief was already waiting for our arrival. Together we went out and headed for Aguda House, the venue of the interview.
“Before we all left the base, Chief M.K.O. Abiola was in sound and healthy condition, he did not complain of any illness. About 100 metres to the gate of Aguda House, the control room called me on the radio set and said and I quote “30 bravo your log”, I answered “Alfa Golff Uniform Delta Alfa, Hotel” and he said “Maig Seria Golff from the Oscar Fostro of Charlie Oscar Golff Seria. You should Romeo Papa Tango to see the subject India Mike Mike”. I answered “Received” Meaning “2i/c (second in command) Prescot where is your present location, I answered Aguda House and he said message from the office of the Chief of General Staff and that you should see the Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe immediately please, and I answered noted please”.
As we arrived the Aguda House door step, I led Chief M.K.O. Abiola inside the house and I took permission from the Chief Security Officer to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Major A.S. Aliyu with whom I left the custody and care of Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
“He asked me to use his vehicle, leaving my vehicle at the door step as it was parked. I then took his vehicle as instructed and left to see the Chief of General Staff, Mike Akhigbe, at about 1310hrs. And I came back from seeing Admiral Akhigbe at 1350hrs, only to discover that my vehicle was not there at the parking spot. On arrival, I saw one of my body guards, Sunday Pada, standing by the side of the door. I asked him where have they gone to, he replied that they were inside, the Chief Security Officer only sent your vehicle to Aso Clinic. And as I was about to enter the room, I met Major A.S. Aliyu who told me that Chief M.K.O. Abiola was not feeling fine, that after taking a cup of tea he coughed and fell down.
“I quickly went inside and saw him on the floor face down. I called him for the first time, he answered and I lifted him up and turned him upside and called him again for the second time, he did not answer. At that time, Dr. Sadiq Sani Wali from Aso Clinic arrived and was about examining the Chief. I told him we should rush the Chief to the Aso Clinic for proper treatment. Myself, Major A.S. Aliyu, Sadiq Sani Wali and the two white men standing lifted Chief Abiola to my vehicle outside for onward movement to Aso Clinic.
“Before we got to Aso Clinic, I saw Doctor Sadiq Sani Wali pressing his stomach up and down resuscitating him. As we arrived the clinic, Chief M.K.O. Abiola was rushed to the emergency room where I stood by with doctors including the two white men and Major Aliyu until Doctor Sadiq confirmed to us that Chief M.K.O. Abiola is dead.
“Thereafter, the CSO phoned the villa and he asked to speak with the C-in-C, (General Abubakar) but that for three minutes, they continued the discussion while I moved towards the car.
“The question is who gave Chief M.K.O. Abiola tea in my absence? Who tested the tea before giving it to him and in whose presence was the tea tested? These questions are for the Chief Security Officer to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Major Aliyu to answer.”