THESE WERE THE TURKS USED TO ANNUL THE JUNE 12 ELECTION
IMMEDIATELY after the June 12 election was annulled on 23 June 1993, terrible things started happening: There were fatal protests in the Southwest, with over 175 killed within a week, and it got to a head when the then Minister of Defence, Sani Abacha ordered the Lagos government to quell the protest or the military would take over Lagos.
While this was going on, President Ibrahim Babangida had sacked the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Prof. Humphrey Nwosu and appointed one Okon Edet Uya as the new chairman. New elections had also been fi xed for 14 August 1993, but the SDP rejected the date, saying it would not participate in a fresh election.
Government got angry, and there was a threat to ban the parties and form new ones.
Moshood Abiola had been caged, he would not participate in the new election, a decree had been enacted for this purpose, and he had been banned from contesting for any position in Nigeria. The major problem was that the violent protests would not stop, soldiers were now shooting them, while they continued to destroy government properties and dared the soldiers. Newspaper houses were locked up and their newspapers proscribed. Surely, things were getting out of hand.
It was at this period that the National Director of Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), Chief Abimbola Davis exposed his role and those of other Nigerians in their attempt to abort the Third Republic. ABN was the association used to institute all the cases that eventually led to the cancellation of the elections and Davis was the Yoruba man always mentioned as the one going to the courts on behalf of the group. But Nigerians never knew it was that bad, until Abimbola Davis spilled the beans.
On Friday, 16 July 1993, Davis came out to address a world press conference in Lagos. He spoke on the plans of the ABN, in conjunction with President Ibrahim Babangida, to install diarchy in Nigeria. Text of his press conference entitled: ‘Coup against the civilians: My role, my regrets, is as follows: “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 would not have talked now but because I am tired of these political problems our fatherland is facing currently and fear the likely turn out of event which will cause nothing but doom.
“It would have been better if it is natural, but no, this is what I will like to call an organized ‘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 was misled into believing it is for national interest. In my case, for instance, I was made to serve as a ‘bridge’ between the Yoruba and the lbos. I am sure you know that an average Ibo man, (since the Biafran war) sees an average Yoruba as a betrayer. But recent events in our country, 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 of events on my part. And subsequent actions on the part of this administration and some ABN leaders have shown to me clearly that we are meant to be used and dumped like a wet rag. This became apparent at a meeting of ABN held at Abuja where ABN leader.
Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe spoke with ABN directors. Then it dawned on us that we are just being used by these people, not for ‘national interest’ but a selfish and personal interest: Arthur Nzeribe, Prime Minister and IBB to spend four more years in office.
ASSOCIATION FOR BETTER NIGERIA: This association where I am the National Director of Organisation has no 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 two more years.
HOW IT 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. The idea was conceived after Nzeribe fell apart with Major General Shehu Yar’ Adua, Arthur who funded the unregistered ‘Peoples Front’ indirectly through Yar’ Adua, later discovered that Shehu Yar’ Adua will emerge Social Democratic Party’s standard bearer.
Before the primaries, there had been crises 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 demonstration. May their souls rest in peace.
No matter what happens, Bashorun MKO Abiola must be stopped since the issue is not 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 was designed by some governors and National Assembly members.
In order not to be faulted by anybody, it must also have consent of some Nigerians who must say, “IBB, please, stay for four more years. Don’t handover to Abiola or Bashir.” That, to us was a big task, but Arthur has a big answer to it. Let all ABN state directors in the country meet in Oguta. They met and Arthur gave them specimen of a form, “Go back home with N5,000 each, go and employ few people who will assist you in getting names into these forms the Nigerian way.’
‘Nigerian Way” means doing it fictitiously.
“Furthermore, a state public opinion polls report was made to accompany it. After this happened in Oguta, the following week, Ikoku, Yakassai, and Margaret Ekpo are to form another association to counter Obasanjo and Enahoro’s Movement for National Reformation (MNR) 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 parliamentary.
Same week, Clement Akpamgbo met with Arthur at Iwuanyanwu’s 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.
The person nominated was Abimbola Davis and that person is myself. Another meeting took place in Abuja where it was resolved that Brigadier General Halilu Akilu should contact Alhaji Saleh, the Chief Judge of Abuja, who must see to it that the case is allocated to the ‘right’ judge.
Monday 20 May, 1993, we fi led a motion ex parte which was to create another problem for us though the public did not know. The judge who will hear the case had gone to Lagos for a week and shall not come back until Thursday 24, May 1993, but she was recalled back to Abuja. The outcome we all knew today. May I use this opportunity to clear the air on these men, Dr. Farouk Ahmed and’ Chief Ola Olatunde. These two invincible men are the same to me as they are to you. One of the reasons why we often disagree is that our people are not straight forward. Several times Arthur has given to me gift from Dr. Farouk Ahmed but he confessed to me and Chief Bayo Kehlnde (SAN) when we were going to court in Lagos that OIa Olatunde does not exist, this led me into signing the affidavit at Lagos High Court. It is only recently that Jerry Okoro told me he signed for both names; confirming Dr. Farouk Ahmed does not also exist.
Professor Humphery Nwosu refused bluntly at a meeting in Abuja after the court order to comply with the order, but Akpamgbo 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 on the advice of Brigadier General Akllu with assurance from the President that the Chief Judge had been briefed.
It may interest you at this juncture that all of us they are using were sad, especially Arthur, Jerry Okoro, who were completely disenchanted, myself, Thomas Jegga 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 had 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 got 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 when Akilu dropped the receiver and told me, Jegga, Jerry and Hassan, “Look at that ‘bagga’ who always comes to me at my house in Oguta with respect. 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. I know when to hit the idiot until I become the Prime Minister,” he retorted. 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 June 14 night in Suite 1034 at Abuja Sheraton.
Tuesday, I got one young lawyer who called himself Ifeanyi Nwaigne, Esq. This young lawyer drew Arthur’s attention to something missing and believed that the court shall not honour our prayers 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 referred to the chambers of Justice. M.D. Saleh, who was the prosecutor and the judge at the same time delivering judgment as well as defending us.
In fact, when Chief Fani Kayode filed an appeal on behalf of Bashir Tofa against the ruling of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory refusing the joining of Bashir Tofa as an interested party in the suit brought by me on behalf of ABN vs NEC and three others. 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). Justice Saleh later phoned Alhaji Bashire Albasu, the commissioner of police at Abuja of this judgment. The commissioner delivered the judgment letter to NEC.
On 16 of June I was at Oguta with the state directors of ABN when I heard it on the radio that I have gone to court again and got another order cancelling the result. I want to state clearly that I did not sign the said affidavit of the case neither have I given Jerry Okoro any authority to make or sign any affidavit on my behalf. Second, the case was on notice not motion ex parte which gives the right to serve the defendants.”
The case was filed on 16 of June, 1993, heard same day and judgment delivered same day. The defendants were not served. When they started conflicting court judgement, Arthur told me IBB called Justice Bello Muhammed, Chief Justice of the Federation, to seek his advice and that Justice Bello told him that the dignity of the judiciary must be kept and that Nwosu shouldn’t have organised the election at the first instance. Meanwhile, all efforts to get Kaduna Court of appeal 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 efforts be repealed and NEC was suspended and election annulled. All the cases instituted but yet to be filed on presidential election was also annulled.
Thus winning the case and race of almost two 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 and governors .lkoku and 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.
THE NEW AGENDA. “M.K.O. Abiola must not be the next president and IBB must remain the President of Nigeria after August 27. How? After the two parties have refused the two options of the government which is to accept a fresh election or national government with all democratic structures dissolved, the only option acceptable, an interim government with all democratic structures undissolved, 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 hand over to the parties’ interim government and left the National Assembly undissolved, the National Assembly can pass a bill upholding the June 12 election. So, the government should watch on. With the pressure on IBB now, we shall like to think seriously on how he would stay beyond the date. We then adjourned till the following day.
July 8. 1993, at Suite 934 Abuja Sheraton, ABN bigwigs, which included the following people, myself, Jerry Okoro, Arthur Nzeribe. Tunde Babs, Lagos director, came up with the conclusion which will later be the new agenda:
(I) That the government should put the parties in a tight corner asking them to organise a fresh election. The parties should also tell the government, within seven days the modalities and procedures to be adopted. With this idea, we are sure the parties if they agree, will tell the government that there is no way a good, free and fair election could be held on or before 27 August successfully, they will call for extension of handing-over date to October 1, thus giving us room to come up with fresh ideas on how to extend further.
(II) NATIONAl INTERIM GOVERNMENT: that the government should accept it on the condition that National Defence and Security Council remains as supervisory council with IBB as the chairman and remains as president. The constituted NEC will tell the nation that it has discovered that presidential system of government has failed the country and should now call for national debate on the new system of government just like that ot the IMF debate. “This is to last for six months, the outcome of which shall be the introduction of French parliamentary system of government 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 proposals.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it was at this juncture that I regained my sense, 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, IBB and Nzeribe 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 Brigadier Akilu that another party would emerge if SDP maintains their stand and that ABN would be its nucleus. 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 Power ‘UNITED WE STAND, AMERICA and ABN shall be proscribed. ABN will be proscribed after all those millions of naira and dollars we have spent locally and internationally. Arthur told myself and Alhaji Hamisu Gambo, the DaIawan Kastina, 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 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 the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has 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 election, I hereby call on the government of General Ibrahim Babangida to release the RESULT without further delay. I, ABIMBOLA DAVIS, representing my unregistered association, the ASSOCIATION FOR BETTER NIGERIA, hereby withdraw the suit and ask the government to release the RESULT which Basorun MKO Abiola won convincingly.
The incumbent government should allow Abiola to keep the people’s mandate he has with him, after all, Authur Nzeribe is lobbying to settle with Abiola because he 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 has been toyed with, please save your image and defend your fatherland.
To you as the fourth 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 election or register in a new party. We have no other place to call ours but this great country NIGERIA.