This is an opinion piece by Ozodinukwe Okenwa.
When the pioneer investigative journalist in Nigeria, Dele Giwa, was blown to smithereens by a letter-bomb delivered to his residence in Lagos by two Babangida Loyalists, ex-SSS Director, Kunle Togun and DMI’s Halilu Akilu one of the national dailies in Nigeria had asked repeatedly the question: “Who Killed Dele Giwa?”. Though the question was never answered everyone had known all along who masterminded the Dele Giwa assassination and why.
Between the dictator in power at that time, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and the mysterious Ms Gloria Okon’s narcotics peddling story the truth lies somewhere in-between. If Giwa had not been brutally taken down and out may be Babangida would have since become history.
State terrorism never started in Nigeria with the Giwa murder. Nor ended with the last October’s #EndSARS Lekki Toll-Gate Lagos massacre. During the retired General Olusegun Obasanjo dictatorship, decades ago (following the Murtala Mohammed assassination) the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti, suffered state terrorism culminating in the horrible murder of his beloved mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. When the so-called ‘unknown soldiers’ came calling they threw the old woman out from a second-floor window! She later died as a result of that heinous attack.
The late ‘Abami Eda’ was a thorn in the flesh of the military establishment then just as the late Giwa was about to make history by exposing a state secret involving international narcotics trade and its illicit proceeds and money laundering.
The present Buhari regime has committed a lot of state terrorism with impunity. Under PMB’s watch the Shiites were massacred in their hundreds in Zaria, Kaduna state, by trigger-happy soldiers under the command of the former Chief of Army Staff, retired General Tukur Buratai, now an Ambassador. Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo killed hundreds at Zaki-Biam and Odi in Bayelsa state.
The immediate past Chief of Army Staff, (COAS) General Ibrahim Attahiru, along with other military personnel on his entourage and the crew members of an Air Force jet were all recently killed in a fatal air crash in Kaduna. The plane burnt itself to ashes! They were going to Zaria on an official assignment. Their barely-recognisable charred remains were buried in Abuja at the National Military Cemetery.
Neither the President, the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, nor the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, were present at the emotional funeral ceremony. The absence of the number one and two citizens sent tongues wagging as to the reason behind it all. Conspiracy theories emerged online as to the cause of the crash and why those at the zenith of power who should ordinarily be there were not there.
The Vice-President, Prof. Osinbajo, could be indisposed hence his conspicuous absence. Days after the burial of the dead military men the VP was seen in Lagos at the premises of Reddington Hospital for his annual medical checkup. While the President often visits London for his medical needs Osinbajo prefers the state of aquatic splendour for his medical evaluations. That is good enough, patronising Nigeria and Nigerian doctors!
For Mallam Garba Shehu, the controversial presidential spokesman, Buhari must have resolved not to pay the last honour to the fallen COAS because “he doesn’t like this idea of closing roads, security men molesting people on the road for him to have the right of way”. Laughable? And for Ms Lauretta Onochie, another Media Aide to President Buhari, for the Head of State to be in any national funeral outside the Villa there must be a 48 hours notice ahead of time! Risible?
Though investigation is said to be on-going to unravel the mystery behind the Kaduna air crash that sadly took the life of the COAS and others concerned Nigerians were asking probing questions as to the possible motive behind the crash. Was Gen. Attahiru ‘liquidated’ by other Generals who saw him as a threat to their Boko Haram ‘business’ or investments? A whole lot of money is being misappropriated or stolen outright by some high-ranking Army officers in a corrupt web of arms and ammunition purchase contracts.
But given the late COAS professionalism and apparent patriotism the end of the looting spree could have arrived at an abrupt end with him at the helm of the military affairs. As he took over last January he had raised an alarm over the billions of Dollars of military hardware contracts signed and paid for but not accounted for. The arsenal were nowhere to be found!
Besides, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, had during an interview with the BBC Hausa service echoed the same missing or undelivered ammunitions only for him to recant after possible pressure from certain quarters. He claimed later that he was quoted out of context on the allegations he made against the immediate past Service Chiefs.
So the crucial question: Was Gen. Attahiru (54) eliminated in order for the embezzlement to be covered up or for it to continue? Was he killed for the prosperous business of the war on terror to continue unabated? Who benefits from his permanent removal from the scene?
Another theory: Was Gen. Attahiru planning a coup against the incumbent President? And flowing from that insinuation and following intelligence reports could it be that he was softly taken out to forestall a manifestation of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi/Mohammed Morsi scenario in Egypt playing out in Nigeria? The late President Mohammed Morsi, it would be recalled, had appointed Gen. al-Sisi as his Army Chief and Defense Minister but the latter overthrew the former and decimated his Muslim Brotherhood group.
Was that the reason President Buhari boycotted the late COAS burial? Nobody knows for sure but there is room for conjecture. Buhari had been beaten before and stabbed in the back by his trusted lieutenants, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and the late Sani Abacha. So he may not want another ‘Brutus’ to repeat what happened before.
With rumours of coup enveloping the landscape lately could it be that the late General was set up by the cabal running and ruining Nigeria on behalf of President Buhari? There is urgent need for an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Kaduna crash.
May the soul of Lt-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, the newly-wedded pilot, and other gallant officers who died in the air mishap rest in peace.