Former Nigeria’s Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has provided some insider’s details on how the late winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M.K.O) Abiola died.
Abubakar who refuted years-long claims that Abiola was killed, said the late business mogul died after falling ill in the Nigerian government’s detention.
The former Nigerian leader said this in a live programme over the weekend.
Abubakar who oversaw Nigeria’s transition to democratic rule in 1999 was critical of the widespread speculation that Abiola died after drinking tea that was allegedly poisoned.
The New Diplomat recalls Abiola died on July 7, 1998, a month after the late maximum ruler, General Sanni Abacha who incarcerated him took his exit on June 8 of that tumultuous year in Nigeria’s history.
Abubakar while dismissing the mouthwatering claims in respect of Abiola’s death said: “Well, I smile because there were lots of allegations here and there that we killed Abiola. As always, when I am talking about the late Abiola, I still thank God for directing me on things to do when he gave me the leadership of this country.
“On the day Moshood Abiola passed away, may he rest in peace, two to three things make me always say I thank my God for the guidance He gave me.
“One was, I received a delegation from America headed by Pickering, who was then, I think, the Secretary of State or so. In his team I remember very well, was Susan Rice. I remember her very well because of the role she played later.
“So after the normal courtesy and discussion we had, when they were leaving my office, Pickering said Your Excellency, we made a request to see Moshood Abiola, but we were denied. So, I said, why were you denied? who denied you? There and then, I made a decision, I said look, you will see Moshood definitely, I overruled whoever said you couldn’t see him. So, I now called my Chief Security Officer (CSO), I said, please make arrangement for this team to see Abiola, that is one point.” The former Head of State said.
Abubakar continued: “Now, during the incarceration of Moshood Abiola, except his personal doctor, to my knowledge, no member of his family saw him. So, when I became Head of State, based on consultation and interaction together with Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, I gave the family a date that they could come and see him.
“So, a day before he died, his family came to Abuja to see him. For one reason or the other, the whole family could not see him at the same time, so it was agreed that when this group of his family will see him today, tomorrow the next team will see him. So they saw him like yesterday, now this team from U.S. came to see me and I said they could see him.
“Normally, it was in the evenings the family go and see him. So because I had authorised the American team to see him, the other part of the family was waiting to see him.”
“It was at this meeting when the American team was meeting Abiola that he fell sick and suddenly the security officers called the medical team to come and attend to him, and when they saw the situation, they said it was severe and needed to take him to the medical centre. So, it was the medical team plus the American team that took him to the medical centre, unfortunately, at the medical centre he gave up.”