As the honours bestowed on Bashorun MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 election continue to gathers momentum, more facts from the ensuing crises continue to emerge. Among them is this press statement by Abimbola Davies, the Director of Organisation of the infamous Association for Better Nigeria (ABN).
First, consider this preamble by Chief Dele Momodu, a very close confidant of Bashorun MKO Abiola. Hear him:
“In the heat of the June 12 crisis, Chief M.K.O Abiola sent for me to see him at home urgently. I was worried and wondered why he sent such a message. I rushed over to Moshood Abiola Crescent, off Toyin Street and was promptly ushered in to see Chief. The house was unusually empty though there were people hanging around downstairs. Chief invited me into his bedroom. I saw a few boxes on the floor. He saw the look of panic on my face and said he has a very special assignment for me. I responded that he should know I will do anything for him. He said he had asked that a press conference be arranged for a particular man of interest but has not told anyone who’s addressing the Media. Then he whispered to me “ABIMBOLA DAVIES is dumping his associates Arthur Nzeribe and co and he will expose everything.”
He then pointed at the boxes: “Those are copies of the speech he would read…” I was sweating already in the air-conditioned room. “You will take the boxes to the Kitchen Restaurant on Allen Avenue while Gadhafi and his boys will get Abimbola and his family to join you there…”
The commando operation was going to involve getting a chartered vehicle to smuggle Abimbola and his family out of Nigeria that very evening. “Dele 1, nothing must go wrong…,” Chief said matter-of-factly…
The mission started immediately and Abimbola came to The Kitchen, addressed the Press, and disappeared into thin air…”
HOW THE JUNE 12 ELECTION WAS SCUTTLED AS NARRATED BY THE MAN BEHIND LEGAL SUBTERFUGE
(Edited full text of the Press Conference addressed by Mr. Abimbola Davies after the annulment of the election)
OUR ROLES AGAINST DEMOCRACY
DISTINGUISHED Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, Fellow Nigerians,
It is important and urgent for me to address the world, especially Nigerians today on the current political crisis, going on in our great country, in which I played a very significant role. Sincerely speaking, I wouldn’t have talked now, but because I’m tired of this political problem our fatherland is facing currently and fear the likely turnout of event, which of course, is nothing but doom. It could have been better if it is natural, but no, this is what I will like to call an “Organised Confusion” by just a few of us to prolong the life-span of the present military administration.
Fellow Nigerians, permit me to put on record today that most of us who joined this Racket of Confusion’ though guilty, never thought it is going to be like this, neither did we envisage a bloodshed.
Each and everyone of us were misled into believing it is for national interest.
In my case for instance, I was meant to serve as a ‘Bridge Between Yorubas and the Ibos. I’m sure you know that an average Ibo man (since the Biafran war) sees an average Yoruba man as a betrayer. But recent events in our country, and especially the way the majority of our Ibo brothers and sisters voted for the Yoruba President elect and condemned the government’s nullification of the June 12 election have clearly shown a misread (sic) of events on my part. And subsequent actions on the part of this administration and of some ABN leaders have shown to me clearly that we were meant to be used and dumped like a wet-rag. This became apparent at a meeting of ABN leaders held at Abuja where ABN leader, Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe spoke with ABN Directors. Then it dawned on us that we were just used by this people, not for national interest but for selfish and personal interest! Arthur was to be the Prime Minister and IBB, to spend 4 more years in office.
ASSOCIATION FOR BETTER NIGERIA
This Association, of which I am the National Director of Organisation has no other mandate than to plan and work on how the incumbent President, General Ibrahim Babangida, will remain the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for at least 2 more years.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
For record purposes, the idea to secure four more years for IBB was the brain child of both President Babangida and Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe.
This idea was conceived after Arthur fell apart with Major General Shehu Yar’Adua when Arthur, who funded the unregistered “People’s Front” indirectly, through Yar’adua, later discovered that Shehu Yar’Adua will emerge as Social Democratic Party’s flagbearer. Earlier before the primaries, there had been some crisis between Yar’Adua and Arthur.
It is a thing of great sadness that this quarrel has caused this country so many things, including over 150 lives of some Nigerians who were not ready to be cheated during this recent demonstrations.
May their souls rest in peace.
JUNE 12 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
No matter what happens, Basorun M.K.O. Abiola must be stopped since the issue is not about Bashir Tofa, who is part of us, neither is it NRC which is more or less our party, Arthur declared.
The idea was hatched at Oguta. We shall stop the election through some documents, part of which were signed by some Governors and National Assembly members!
In order not to be faulted by anybody, we must also have the consent of some Nigerians who must say “IBB, please, stay for 4 more years, don’t hand over to M.K.O. Abiola or Bashir TOfa”…. That to us was a big task, but Arhur had a big answer for it. ‘let all ABN State Directors in the country meet in Oguta” — They met and Arthur gave them the specimen of a form (see copy)….’Go back home with N5,000 each, go and employ few people who will assist you in getting names into this forms the Nigerian way’, he Arthur said.
The’ Nigerian way’, means doing it fictitiously.
Furthermore, a fake public opinion polls report was made to accompany it.
After these happened in Oguta, the following week, Ikoku, Yakassai and Margaret Ekpo were to form another association to counter The Obasanjo and Enahoro’s “Movement for National Reformation” – This Committee is to be called Committee of Elder Statesmen.
Their main aim is to counter MNR and submit a proposal for a new system of government – of course, The Parliamentary System.
Same week, Clement Akpamgbo met with Arthur an Iwuayanwu’s (sic) house in the East, to show the Affidavit of the court case to him for perfection.
A Yoruba man must be the plaintiff/complainant so as not to make it look like a tribal war against a Yoruba candidate.
Another meeting took place in Abuja where it was resolved that Brigadier Gen. Alilu Akilu should contact Alhaji Saleh, the Chief Judge of Abuja who must see to it that the case is allocated to the right judge!
Brig. David Mark was to bring more money after a London meeting.
On Monday 20th of May, 1993, we filed the motion Ex-parte which was to create another problem for our group, though the public did not know; Our judge who will hear the case, left for Lagos to attend a week’s course and was not expected to come back until Thursday, 24th of May 1993, but she was recalled back to Abuja.
The outcome of it, we all know today.
We succeeded in getting the injunction despite the fact that we had a court order in lagos stopping our activities.
May I use this opportunity to clear the air on these men — Dr. Farouk Hammed and chief Ola Olatunde. These two individuals (sic) are one and the same to me, as one of the reasons why we often disagree among ourselves, is that our people are not straight-forward. Several times, Arthur has given me gifts from “Dr. Farouk” – but he confessed to me and to chief Bayo Kehinde, SAN when we were going to court in Lagos, that Ola Olatunde does not exist, this led me into signing the affidavit at the lagos high court.
It is only recently that Jerry Okoro told me he signed for both names, confirming Dr. Farouk Hammed does not also exist.
Prof. Humphrey Nwosu refused bluntly at a meeting in Abuja after the court order to comply with the Order, but Akamgbo insisted there must be no election. “This is politics”, “we must stop it now or never”, he said.
At this juncture, the President told Nwosu to do what he felt was the best. And so, the election was held. This aspect of the story, was narrated to me by Arthur who claimed Clement Akpamgbo told him.
To cut the story short, we went back to court under the advice of Brig.Gen. Akilu and assurance (sic) from the President that the Chief Judge has been Briefed (sic).
It may interest you at this junction (sic) that all of us they were using were sad, especially, Arthur, and Jerry Okoro who was completely disenchanted, myself, Thomas Degga from Benue, Akuye of Niger i.e. former Chairman SDP in Niger State and Alhaji Hassan Jibrin from Ankpa in Kogi State.
Lest I forget, Arthur has earlier suggested to Akilu and Akpamgbo that we, the ABN bigwigs and State Directors should address a Press Conference that we are the people who advised the electorate not to vote, i.e. our fake 25 million Nigerians, who wanted IBB to stay.
The plan went further that we should then be arrested and arraigned before a magistrate court who will give us bail on personal recognition.
Arthur addressed the Press but when Akilu saw the copy of the Press statement Arthur made, he said that it was not strong enough for us to be arrested and that we should go back to court.
Arthur was mad after Akilu had dropped the phone receiver and told me, Degga, Jerry and Hassan – “Look at that baggar who always comes to me at my house in Oguta and respects me…. Whenever he sees me at Presidential Villa, he would rise up and bow his head in greetings, now he calls me ‘Champion’ and I use Sir, Sir, Sir, for the idiot. I know how to hit the idiots, when I become the Prime Minister,” he retorted.
STOPPING THE ELECTION RESULTS
We must get the injunction on Tuesday to stop the result from being announced, but there was no lawyer to do it since all our lawyers were not around.
So, Arthur prepared the affidavit himself on Monday 14th night, in his suite 1034 at Abuja Sheraton.
On Tuesday, I got one young lawyer who called himself lfeanyi Nwaigne, Esq. this young lawyer drew Arthur’s attention to something missing and believed that the court shall not honour our prayer to stop Nwosu from announcing the results.
The issue at stake was that our MOTION EX-PARTE did not have MOTION OF URGENCY. The guy did not understand that he was not going to fight anything. The case was heard in the chamber of Justice M.D. Saleh who was the persecutor and judge at the same time, delivering judgment as well as defending us.
In fact, when Chief Fani Kayode (SAN) filed an appeal on behalf of Bashir Tofa against The ruling of the High Court of the Federal Capital territory, refusing the rejoinder of Bashir Tofa as an interested party in the suit brought by me on behalf of ABN versus NEC and three others, Justice Saleh merely removed the appeal document and gave it to me….!
In other words, there should not be the trace of appeal against that particular ruling. (Appeal document attached).
He, (Justice Saleh) later phoned Alhaji Bashir Albasu, the Commissioner of Police at Abuja, to inform him of this judgment.
The Commissioner of Police delivered the judgment paper himself, to NEC.
On the 16th of June, I was at Oguta with the State Directors of ABN when I heard it on the radio that I had (sic) gone to court again and got another order canceling the result. I want to state clearly that did not sign the said affidavit of this said order, neither have I given Jerry Okoro any authority to make or sign any affidavit on my behalf.
Secondly, the case was on NOTICE not, a MOTION EX-PARTE which gives the right to serve the defendant.
The case was filed on the 16th of June, 1993, heard same day and judgment delivered same day!
The defendants were not served.
APPEAL AND FINAL NULLIFICATION
When we started having conflicting court judgments, Arthur told me IBB called Justice Bello Muhammed, The Chief Justice of the Federation, to seek his advice and that Justice Bello told him that the dignity of the judiciary must be kept, that Nwosu shouldn’t have organized the election at the first instance.
Meanwhile, all efforts to get The Kaduna Court of Appeal to nullify another judgement that the results be released, by Akpamgbo and Akilu, failed.
A meeting was held quickly and some members of National Defence and Security Council were contacted on the phone and it was resolved that the Decrees that are likely to stall our effort be repealed and NEC was suspended and the election annulled: All the cases instituted or yet to be filed on presidential election was also annulled.
Therefore it appeared the ABN has won the case and race of almost two years, the ensure IBB remains in power… But, have we really won??
While all this was going on, Bashir Tofa was INSTRUCTED to insist that the election be cancelled whereas the government on its part shall start lobbying with the traditional rulers, governors…!
Ikoku, Yakassai shall lobby the Senators and members of the House of Representatives to accept the new agenda.
Paul Unongo, Sola Saraki and others started lobbying to serve under the interim government.
M.K.O. ABIOLA MUST NOT BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT AND IBB MUST REMAIN THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA AFTER AUGUST 27TH.
After the two political Parties, SDP And NRC, refused the two options of the Government, which were to either accept a fresh election or accept a National Government with all democratic structure dissolved, the only options acceptable – An Interim Government, with all democratic structure undissolved, which will be made unworkable.
Akpamgbo called to seek our opinion and we brought his attention to what we suspected to be a booby-trap:
If IBB should handover to the Parties’ Interim Government, and left the National Assembly undissolved, the National Assembly can pass a bill upholding the June 12th election. So the government should watch out.
With the pressure on IBB now, we still continued to work seriously on how he would stay beyond the August 27th day.
We then adjourned till the following day.
July 8, 1993, at Suite 934 at Abuja Sheraton, ABN bigwigs which included the following people, myself, Jerry Okoro, Arthur Nzeribe, Tunde Babs-Lagos Director, came up with this conclusion which will later be the NEW AGENDA:
That the government should put the parties in a tight-corner asking them to organize a fresh election.
The parties should also tell the government within 7 days, the modalities and procedures to be adopted…With this idea, we were sure the parties, if they agree, will tell the government that there is no way a good, free and fair election could he held on or before 27th August successfully, they will call for the extension of handing-over date to October 1, thus giving us room to come up with fresh ideas on how to extend further.
On National Interim Government, we agreed that the government should accept it only on a condition that, The National Defence and Security Council remain as Supervisory Council with IBB as the Chairman and remain also as the President.
The new constituted NEC will tell the nation that it has discovered that Presidential systems of government has failed the country and should now call for National Debate on the new system of government, just like that of the IMF Debate. This to last for 6 months, the outcome of which shall be the introduction of French Parliamentary (system) with IBB remaining as the president and Francis Arthur Nzeribe as the Prime Minister who picks his own Cabinet. Thus accepting Committee of Elder Statesmen’s proposal.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, it was at this juncture that I realized within myself as it dawned on me that what I was supposed to be fighting for was different!
That I have been used for the purpose of allowing just two people to realize their ambitions — One to keep his job, the other to have power which he is ready to do anything for!
Then on Wednesday, 14th July, I heard from Brig. Gen. Akilu that another party will emerge if SDP maintain their stand and that ABN will be its nucleus(sic).
The party will be called “UNITED WE STAND – NIGERIA” and will vie with the NRC in the Presidential election whenever necessary.
The name was given by the President himself in line with Perot’s UNITED WE STAND-AMERICA and ABN’s shall be proscribed.
ABN will be proscribed after all those millions of Naira and Dollars we have spent locally and internationally!
Arthur also told myself and Alhaji Hamisu Gambo, the Dalawan Katsina that some illiterate Directors of ABN from the North shall be removed. These are the same people who risked their lives for you.
I then called on all ABN Directors and sought their opinions on the matter, they unanimously agreed to follow me to wherever I go.
All of us are sad, sad that some innocent Nigerians were killed through sheer selfishness of the few and that we are part of this plot!
Though we did not envisage this bloodshed or serious riot, most especially when Nigeria Labour Congress have refused to go on strike!
Nigerians, we are guilty, but forgive us!
Pride will not allow some of us to come out, but this I am doing on behalf of myself and other State Directors of ABN, PLEASE, FORGIVE US!
On the June 12th election, I hereby call on the government of GENERAL IBRAHIM BADAMOSI BABANGIDA to RELEASE the RESULT without further delay, I, ABIMBOLA DAVIES representing my unregistered Association, the ASSOCIATION FOR BETTER NIGERIA hereby withdraw the suit and ask the government to release the RESULT which Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola won convincingly.
The incumbent government should allow Abiola to keep the peoples mandate he has with him, after all Arthur Nzeribe is lobbying to settle with Abiola because he too knows that the game is up.
To the President-elect, all Nigerians who voted him and those who did not because they do not trust this regime, forgive and forget!
To Association for Better Nigeria, goodbye, so that the real peace, unity and stability we used to know will come back!
To Arthur, goodbye now, goodbye, so Nigeria will remain!
To the military whose dignity have been toyed with, please, save your image and defend your fatherland.
To you as the 4th realm of the estate, pray for me, my life so I will tell the full story in future.
And to you Nigerian electorate, never succumb to any new election or register in a new party. We have no other place to call ours, but this great country, NIGERIA.
Thank you All…