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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Discourse 325. Al-Mustapha and the Mysterious Deaths

Discourse 325
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Hamza al-Mustapha and the Mysterious Deaths

I had my suspicion right from the beginning regarding the deaths of the three biggest politicians in the Nigerian political landscape of the 1990s – Maj. General Shehu Yar’adua (rtd), General Sani Abacha and Chief Mashood Abiola. The ‘big three’ died mysteriously and suddenly within the spate of exactly seven months.

It all started on December 8, 1997 when Shehu Musa Yar’adua died in prison where he was serving a life sentence for his involvement coup plot. The then government said that his death was natural while the opposition claimed that he was killed by the agents of the then President, General Sani Abacha. Shehu was the politician to beat in the country. He had the strongest political structure that cut across the country’s regional, ethnic and religious divides. Though I was not surprised of his involvement in a coup plot given his notoriety as a power schemer, however, I doubted the opposition’s claim that Abacha assassinated him. If Abacha had wanted to get rid of him, I thought, the President had enough alibi in Shehu’s conviction as a coup plotter. Two, Nigerians will attest that Abacha was not a coward by any measure. Three, the opposition to date has not presented any credible evidence to substantiate its claim other than speculation. Four, the person who was alleged to have administered him the lethal injection was never convicted even after the demise of his supposed sponsor. He is still a free person. Incredible. One.

Then exactly six months later, on June 8, 1998, the country was told that the night before, President Abacha has died of cardiac arrest which was caused by eating a poisoned apple served him by an Indian lady. Of course that was not a natural death. Mysteriously, the Indian lady was never arrested or convicted. Nothing about her was heard again. And surprisingly too, the death was never investigated by his successors. The body was rushed to his hometown of Kano and immediately burial without any autopsy conducted. His wife, Hajiya Maryam, was to later look at Jerry Useni in his face and tell him, “You killed my husband.” Two.

Then almost exactly a month later, on Tuesday, July 7, 1998, Chief Abiola, the widely acclaimed winner of the cancelled June 12, 1993 presidential election was announced dead. The cancellation of that election had for years generated heat in the polity. After declaring himself President, Abiola was imprisoned in 1994 by the President Abacha. He died just after being released from prison by the successor of Abacha, President Abdulsalami Abubakar. Before he could even return to his family, he was invited to the State House for a meeting with US delegation where he suddenly died after being served with a tea. That is all Nigerians knew. They cried foul. But the government, together with US officials, said it was a natural death caused by cardiac arrest, again. The family protested, demanded for an autopsy by overseas doctors to which the government yielded. But nothing came out of it. The family went silent on the matter. Surprising too was the sudden silence of protest voices from the champions of Abiola’s mandate, who had accused him of cowardice. Three.

Nigerians, gullible as ever, ascribed the serial deaths to God, whom they accuse of every death. However, I did not see the hands of God here, even then. Without the benefit of hindsight, anyone who reads the scenario would be compelled to arrive at the same conclusion. Those behind it were careful in concealing the truth from Nigerians by virtue of their high positions in the land.

Until now, perhaps.

The bombshells dropped by Hamza al-Mustapha in a Lagos High Court in the past three days are likely to give the world a glimpse into the myth behind these deaths. He is one person whose footprints were not washed away by the waters of the conspiracy.

Al-Mustapha, as he is popularly known, was arguably the second most powerful person in the country during the period of Abacha presidency. His claim that he ‘helped’ Abdulsalami to become the President after Abacha’s death can hardly be disputed because he was in a position to do so, being in control of the security of the Presidency and given the fact that Abacha loyalists were heading major military command positions in the country. Naively, instead of staging a coup, he acceded to installing Abdulsalami and remained in the country.

Abiding by the tradition of power, few months later, President Abdulsalami arrested Al-Mustapha, who was later accused, among other things, of assassinating Kudirat Abiola, the wife of Chief Abiola, on 4 June 1996. Since 1998, Al-Mustapha has been in custody where, he believes, successive administrations have tried to keep him at bay by frustrating any progress in his trial. As it is turning out now, after thirteen years, he has decided to fight back using the arsenal of information he has as a former security chief.

Al-Mustapha has also told the court that large sum of money - $200m, 75 Sterling Pounds and N500m – was used to buy the silence political leaders of Chief Abiola’s from ethnic group – the Yoruba. The money was withdrawn on the directive of the President Abdulsalami from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Two days ago, he tendered to the court a document signed by Abdulsalami to support his claim. He also submitted a tape – to be played today in the court – showing the Yoruba leaders’ visit to the Presidency, into which, according to Al-Mustapha, they went looking angry but from which they came out smiling.

It is difficult to dispute Al-Mustapha on his claims. Using money to settle people is a common practice in managing security matters in Nigeria. An ambiguous vote called “security vote” exists in every government in the federation, whether local, state or federal. So Al-Mustapha is not at all sounding Greek to the ears of Nigerians. The truth-value of his statement is very high. It can be proved otherwise only if the money can be traced to the Liberian peace keeping mission it was officially meant for.

Opinion leaders from the Southwest have challenged Al-Mustapha to mention the names of the beneficiaries. We do not know how much is in the video right now. However, I do not expect to see the distribution of the monies there physically. Nigerians are discrete in deals like this. We await the speculations, denials and counter-denials that would follow.

It will also be difficult to deny the claim that his continuous incarceration is a instigated by fear. If he has such implicating evidences, his imprisonment is a natural, if not a merciful, consequence in the game of power. He is lucky to be alive, so far. Abidina Coumassie, the publisher that was to publish the evidence earlier was not that lucky. He was poisoned to death, according to Al-Mustapha. If there were any evidence to prove his guilt, as many commentators have argued, successive regimes would not have wasted time to convict him.
In any case, if the hand behind the scenes is obscure, the beneficiary of these assassinations is known – former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He would not have been president were any of the ‘big three’ living – Shehu Yar’adua, Abacha or Abiola. He was lucky that the mysterious hand that has worked throughout his life, saving him from death in different coups and shoving him into power, has remained until now. Let us have a look at the skill of this mysterious hand.

Obasanjo, then in his twenties, had just returned from a military training course in India. According to him, he was sharing bed with Nzeogwu when the latter plotted and executed the January 15, 1966 coup in which many prominent northern political leaders including Prime Minister Balewa, the Premiers of northern and southern regions – Ahmadu Bello and Samuel Akintola – were gruesomely murdered along with many northern military officers. Immediately after the coup, Obasanjo ran to Maiduguri, for safety, and hid in the house of Alhaji Maidaribe. He later claimed that he did not know anything about the coup.

Then in 1975 Obasanjo, along with General Murtala Mohammed, TY Danjuma and other officers toppled the Gowon regime. Obasanjo became the Deputy Head of State. However, only six month into the regime, Murtala, the Head of State, was assassinated in a coup attempt. Obasanjo, again, disappeared, this time briefly. After resurfacing, he ‘reluctantly’ accepted to become the Head of State. It is widely believed in Nigeria that the CIA had a hand in the assassination of General Murtala (,, Allegations have also been made by a tabloid in the UK, according to an edition of Hassan Sani Kontagora’s Hotlline magazine over a decade ago, that Obasanjo had a hand in the assassination. (Unfortunately, I am not able to quickly lay my hands on the reference but I will give its citation on this blog as soon as I access it)

After handing over power to civilian president in 1978, Obasanjo retired from the military and enjoyed the position of an ‘elder statesman’. He was involved in many international initiatives on the African continent. One of them, according to, is “Founder and Chairman of Africa Leadership Forum and Chairman, Board of Directors, Africa Leadership Foundation, Inc, New York.” He held those positions until 1999 when he became President of Nigeria, covering the time when the deaths of the ‘big three’ took place between 1997 and 1998. I cannot substantiate the widely held belief that the CIA funds the foundation. However, a visit to the official site of the foundation – - reveals that it is funded by UNDP, USAID, The World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, The Mac Arthur Foundation, and 13 other strong international partners.
And in 1995, he was convicted by a military tribunal in the coup plot against the Abacha government, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment until President Abdulsalami Abubakar freed him after Abacha’s death in 1997.

Immediately he was released, he was sold the idea of running for the Presidency. He showed some reluctance, if I will recall well, and pleaded for time to make consultations. Finally, after Abiola was done, he had no difficulty accepting the offer.

He became the President in 1999. Nigerians will recall how every step was taken to ensure he became the President, including the prevention of anyone from the northern part of the country from contesting in all the three registered political parties. Thus, Abdulsalami administration nurtured his journey from prison to the Presidency. Always a lucky guy!
As President, Obasanjo ensured that Hamza Al-Mustapha remained in prison. Pleas made to his successor, Umaru Yar’adua, to release him were rejected, presumably either for what Al-Mustapha knows or because the late President was still nursing the belief that the Major, when he was the Chief of Staff to Abacha, had a hand in the death of his elder brother, Shehu Yar’adua.

To complete the work of that mysterious hand, President Yar’adua also died of cardiac arrest, opening the gate of opportunity for his successor, who was appointed to the Vice Presidency by Obasanjo, to become the President. It is clear this hand has been helping Obasanjo either through coups or cardiac arrests. Mhm. Na wa!

I am not sure whether Al-Mustapha’s bombshell can conclusively demolish the mountain of obscurity regarding the role of prominent officials in the deaths of the ‘big three’ of Nigeria’s 1990s and the political imbroglio that characterized those seven months. However, one thing is certain: either he remains alive in prison or his revelations will instigate yet another ‘mysterious’ death which Nigerians will not find hard to fathom.

Criminals usually forget something behind that implicates them. Major Hamza Al-Mustapha may just be one such thing.

4 July 2011


Abubakar said...

Its a conspiracy hatched and executed far beyond the local powers. Where it to be in other morally developed nations, it will follow by new chain of reactions of evidential acceptance and counter denials. Such would have pave way for us to the mysteries begining with the maiming of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to as recent as forces and financiers of Niger Delta militia and Boko Harram. I wish, i wish!!!

Anonymous said...

Please get your facts right. Jerry Boy was not around when Abacha died. He only got to know of the death later from Mustapha who was also suspecting him. General Abdulsalam explained the issue of the Indian girls and why they were allowed to go.

By the way, i can see Mustapha is achieveing his aim of causing distraction from his trial on the murder of Kudirat. This is a familiar stunt. Ribadu did it during his trial for non-declaration of assest (a crime he is guilty of) and El Rufai is presently doing it against charges of Nepotism.

Mustapha's travails is an ayat for all - 'stand up to justice as a witness to Allah.....'

Tony said...

Do you really believe this your long story ? Adding and subtracting facts and suppositions as it is convenient for your conspiracy theory and your base motivations which are so clear ? Come on, spin me another yarn. Was Mustapha dumb for all the years Adesanya and Bola Ige were alive when we never heard a whiff of this allegation ? Or is it the next strategy after his initial strategy of stalling his trial failed ?

Anonymous said...

This is a nice piece! May Almighty Allah expose the perpetrators of these murders and protects you, Tilde from them. May HE also gives us the strength, understanding and tolerance to live peacefully together. Long live Nigeria!

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

Before we go the bandwagon way, I would like to make a clarification here especially after posting the anonymous comment above. I thank him on the correction regarding Jerry Useni's role. I did not find Abdulsalam's reasons plausible. Nobody should have a hand in the murder of a President and just go free. Why would he allow the Indians go without conclusive investigation?

The clarification: Nobody here or elsewhere among those calling for Al-Mustapha release or conviction is claiming a knowledge of his guilt or innocence. It is the task of the prosecution to prove him guilty. Right now, the law presumes him innocent. However, it seems some people have already presumed him guilty and they want us to follow them despite all logical absurdity in that conclusion.

What is disgusting about his case is how Al-Mustapha spent 13 years without conviction or discharge, or making any progress in either direction. This is the first time it is happening in Nigeria. We have seen Nzeogwu and his co-murderers kill Balewa, Akintola, Sardauna, Maimalari, etc, and they were never prosecuted or sentenced except for their brief detention in Lagos. In fact when Nzeogwu died in the civil war on the Biafran side, his body was identified by Federal government and returned to Kaduna where it was given a state burial. Imagine.

Can we compare this with the allegation against al-Mustapha on the death of Kudirat or plot to assassinate Ibru? Yet, all what most commentators on the matter are saying is try this man and either convict him or discharge him. Show the world the evidence. None so far is put forward in 13 years!

Are we demanding too much from our legal system? Is it too much for some people to swallow?

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

@Tony.My brother Oga Tony, please return and tell us here what I subtracted to fit the conspiracy theory. Biko.

penwise said...

Many thanks doctor for this historical excussion.Keep writing.Now l know somethings l never knew.

Olusoga Lati Odusanya said...

For all I care, no one among the names mentioned or to be mentioned by this keg of gunpowder will naturally own up but the truth is obviously not too far from being told, whether Mustapha remains alive or falls to the natural conspiracy of the death merchants.
However, Nigerians are in for anrude shock because it is impossible to hide the truth for ever.
The fear may well be that Al-Mustapha's life ismin a grave danger and all we can all do is to pray formhis safety.
What with the loud silence of the original Nadeco members, all of who have continued to use the names of the late Shehu Musa Yar'adua and Moshood Abiola to feather their nests?
The die is cast. Walahi.

S DOGO said...

Very understand piece indeed and Nigerians are really anxious to hear the perpetrators behind the scenerio. We're still waiting for Al'mustapha to blow in more evidences so as to have a clear vista about the trial. Kodus to sir Tilde. Allah ya saka da alhairi.

Dr. Emmanuel G. Msheliza said...

Let it be known to these so called 'LEADERS' that:LIFE is but 'Nothing', no one can get out of it(life) alive. It is appointed for every man to taste death and after DEATH is the judgement of GOD ALMIGHTY.

Oumar said...

While we all believe and know our justice system is very rotten and no man should be incarcerated for 13years without knowing his faith irrespective of the crime even if he/she were to murder the whole of Nigeria.
I am just curious why Al-Mustapha had to wait 13years to make this allegations?It surely does not make much sense to me.

Anonymous said...

We the restive people who are living under a neocolonialist and unpaatriotic rulers know who to hold responsible when Al mustafa has even a headache. Let them not think being aligned with the world powers would save them from the day of reckoning. Let them ask piochet, mobututu, zian el abidin, mubarak ..
Let them also not understimate the potentials of people power. The arab street was underestimated and scorned for decades. Touching a single hair from Al mustafa should be the last straw. We have the right to know what is manipulating behind the scene our collective destiny.

Sarkiyaki Mohammed said...

To me Oumar it makes sense for Al-Mustapha to wait for 13 years before revealing the scoop, because it’s part of the strategy for him to remain alive. You drop it at the appropriate time. Coming to the issue, the starting point is: “Al-Mustapha has also told the court that large sum of money - $200m, 75 Sterling Pounds and N500m – was used to buy the silence political leaders of Chief Abiola’s from ethnic group – the Yoruba. The money was withdrawn on the directive of the President Abdulsalami from the Central Bank of Nigeria.” All we are demanding from the court is to examine the documents tendered by al-Mustapha, investigate the above allegations to prove or disprove the allegation. Simple. Whether Al-Mustapha waited too long to disclose the information or not is uncalled for.
When experts make decisions, they don’t logically and systematically compare all options. That’s exactly what Al-Mustapha is doing. It may sound illogical that Al-Mustapha waited for 13 years before revealing some vital information, but experts’ decision making are not always logical.
This is what experts call “duping delight” – the thrill you get from fooling others. Those behind it would not continuously and carefully conceal the truth from Nigerians. And I can’t help but to agree with the writer’s conclusion: “Criminals usually forget something behind that implicates them. Major Hamza Al-Mustapha may just be one such thing.”

Anonymous said...

Have read your reaction to my comment. May be you have not been following this case closely. Mustapha and co have frustrated their trial for over 13 years. Their lawyers have tried all the tricks in the books to turn this criminal trial into a political one.

While you have a point about Nzegwu and co, I think you have to decide how far in history you want to go to justify mustpaha's release. As a muslim, I will again refer you to the Ayat on Justice i refered to earlier. May Allah give us the will to stand up for truth and justice.

Ahmed Musa said...

Haba Dr, how can you say you don't find Gen Abdulsalam's exlanations on the Indian girls issue plausible. Do you expect him to tell the world the truth - that it will be injurious to the memory and legacy of Abacha and his Family to keep it in public memory that Abacha's last act before his death was an outing with prostitutes. Are you saying if you were in Abdulsalam's position, you will not have seen that angle.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde said...

I will not hesitate to recommend al-Mustapha's lawyers to Guinness Book of records if they are able to prevent progress in his trial beyond the first step or prevent the prosecution - for all thses years - from adducing a single evidence. I am not a 'lauya' neither am I a security agent. I only try to use my common sense.

Kai, to tell the truth I dont even lnow al-Mustapha or any of his relations to date. I am only standing up for justice, as the anonymous writer has requested. In fact this is the first time I am uttering a word about his trial. But things are getting too long, whether by his making or not.. Tomorrow Tilde's trial may take 20 years and people will say, "Ehe! What is new since Al-Mustaphas case has taken thirty years?" This is a bad precedent.

May I suggest that government fires the prosecutor and hire the best lawyer in the world to overcome their tricks such that we get done with the possibility of the trial becoming the longest case in history.

It will be difficult not to see this case from the political angle simce everything about it is political. The military throughout history is a structure wired with very high voltage. It can shock any of it's members any time. MUSTAPHA Younis in Libya is its latest victim.

@Ahmed Musa. You touched my heart because you raised a moral dilemma that may be valid in the cultural sense. Well, this is how i would have kept the balance between justice and culture, between the right of the nation and that of the family:

I wouldn't have tried the Indian girl - assuming that that narration is true - but I'd have handed her over to the securities who will release her only after she has confessed who hired her to poison my boss. As the President, I'd try that person using the girl as a witness if necessary. Allowing her to go leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Laubare said...

that was a nice piece Dr least we forget Gen Tunde Idiagbon was also die mysteriously remember after drinking some medication.

Anonymous said...

Jerry boy was indeed around when Gen Abatcha die ask him very well he is still alive if he denie it he will be remained of some incident of that day. Remember a kwai star?

Peace4Peace said...

Dr Tilde, May allah reward you for standing for Justice. May He protect strengthen you to continue this blog.

Amna said...

Dr. Tilde, may the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah (SWA) be with you and your family in this Holy month and always.For those of us that are teachable and willing to learn we thank you for your dedication and courage. You always enrich us with historical facts and current affairs. May Almighty God reward you abundantly.Please keep doing what you are doing. We salute you. Amna-UK

Anonymous said...

i was opportuned to be a witness to the statements made by Major Hamza Al-mustapha at the Justice Oputa Led panel.i really admire the Former CSO`s courage and ability to be able to stall conviction against him thru the constant complications of his phantom consipiracy fictions,which he perfected because he is a curator of conspiracy himself considering that the past regime of his Boss was the most controversial of all administration in Nigerian history,i.e mysterious death of all opposing the regime,Un proven coup plot alegations,the first time ever that the are video evidence of every allegation the made which clearly make them professionals in doctoring any form of video clips.i.e how come a man who was a 2nd in command not know that the Head of state has a video recording of all his meetings that Oladipo Diya would kneel and be crying to Abacha knowing fully he is recorded without even attempting to spot the camera.Unfortunately nemesis has always been catching up with the major when ever the is a public outcry for his realese he stupidly come out with those Drama of his which he thought was the reason he survives,forgeting that its the will of God that keeps him.i think he does not deserve freedom.and so fortunate to him as a muslim Allah SWT is probaly cleansining him of all the attrocities he committed including destroying the Image of his Boss Gen.Sani Abacha as a result of being power drunk.

Anonymous said...

Carry on Dr Tilde every one is entitled to his/her own views.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous August 4 5:51 Jerri Boy was the One who lead the lady *Not Indians as Abdusalam told You* to the weak Abacha not Knowing she was possesing spiked Viagra set up by....The CIA? i can talk more about this here do d research #UntoldStory - Mr Ayat

Anonymous said...

keep on the good work dr by saying the truth at your disposal for allah will set the major free and protect us from the shackle of those blood tasting leaders.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr Tilde for opening up the discussion on the involvement of CIA in some of the most unfortunate episodes of the history of our nation. How ever for those that have read "The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man",need no prognosticator to explain to them about the involvement of the Jackals in the trying periods of our history.Furthermore, the Organizations that Fund the N.G.O chaired by OBJ in the 90s Are same Org that sign the pay checks of the Jackals on behalf of the CIA.