The confession of Lt. Col S. B.Dimka on the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed continues. Read on:
COMMENT: While you were discussing with T.K.Adamu, was A.B. Umaru there?
DIMKA: Infact, three of us were present. But it was Col. T.K. Adamu who told me about General Hassan’s case.
COMMENT: What am saying is was A.B. Umaru there when Col. T.K. Adamu was discussing this issue with you?
DIMKA: No Sir. But I confirmed this. In fact, as a result of our conversation whether General Hassan was in the know when three of us met, in fact, I called on Col. A.B. Umaru three times when I was in Kaduna.
COMMENT: You confirmed this with A.B. Umaru?
DIMKA: Yes, I did from the way we conversed.
COMMENT: Did A.B. Umaru categorically say that he had informed General Hassan? Did you confirm this?
DIMKA; In fact, confirmation is a matter of bringing a topic and if I am talking to you on a certain subject, probably you have not heard about it and this subject is brought in, I will be convinced that the chap concerned had known about it. I wasn’t sure that there had been a dialogue between A.B. Umaru and General Hassan. I would not just have to say. But I was sure that there had been some talk with General Hassan and the opinion of Hassan was expressed.
When I was in Kaduna, before I came back, General Bisalla came to Kaduna and Lt. Col. A.B. Umaru told me that General Bisalla was in town. I told him I was going to see him. Infact, I booked an appointment with him by 8 p.m. When we got to the house, we met the general’s uncle, his wife and a tall lady who were seated together. It was becoming too long; A.B. Umaru drew attention of General Bisalla. We moved further in, out of the other three rooms.
When we got there, A.B. Umaru said that I wanted to talk to him about possible change of government. He said well, he wanted to inform us that he has spoken to Supreme Military Council and told them what he felt about the whole issue and that he did not give a damn of what was going to happen. He was telling us something concerning his own position, the way he spoke to SMC. Later, he said some few friends came to advise him not to resign. He said after he has finished, the head of state told him that all he had said was not mere discussion but it was the decision of coup planners.
BUKA SUKA DIMKA PRESENTED TO THE PRESS
He said that he had made his point clear so he did not want to go far. Then he said that certain decisions have been taken, that he wanted us to hurry up about the plan because he wanted us to know about the dismissal of the former governors. He wanted us to keep this in mind. I think as we were saying this, he wanted to go somewhere, and then he said we could come in and discuss more on this the following day. Then A.B. Umaru told him I was going back.
He said it did not matter, that he could come in and discuss it in the mess. So, the following day, before I left Kaduna (in fact, I was staying in North East Guest House, Kaduna), Col. T. K. Adamu said to me that infact, he was travelling to Jos, and Bukuru. That he was going to be back same day. Then I told him that I was leaving that afternoon and that I would not be able to see him. So, he said he has spoken to these Reece boys around. He said he had a discussion with Major Okudayo and Capt. Darwang. He said he met them and that they were coming to see me at the North-East Guest House. Later, Capt. Darwang came in. I asked him whether he had been briefed.
I did not see Major Okudayo. Later, I met him in Benin. Captain Darwang told me that he had been briefed by T.K. Adamu and that they were only waiting for the ‘D’ Day. So, when I came back to Lagos, I decided that I was to pass to Benin. When I got to Benin, I went straight to Col. Isa Bukar’s house. I met him. I told him that I came for their sports festival.
He told me that his guest house had already been occupied that I should go to Hotel Plaza and book. I went there and booked. My aim was to speak to Bde Comds to see what their feelings were about the whole show. The first day I arrived, I did not see T.K. Adamu. So, the following day he said that he was looking for me and that he was told I had arrived.
Then he said he had been talking with some junior officers around and he mentioned it to Isa Bukar. He did not tell me, but the opinion was okay and I told him I wanted also to speak to some of the Bde Comds. The first chap I spoke to was Lt. Col. Aliyu of 5 Info. Bde. I briefed him exactly what it was all about.
COMMENT: That was when in Benin?
DIMKA: It was during the sports week. It should be about…… when I was in Onitsha during their sports week, I never spoke to him about it. Infact, I was on my way from Kaduna then. I remember it was about 7th. That particular period.
I got to Benin after coming back from Kaduna and T.K. Adamu learnt I had arrived and he was looking for me. The people actually, I was supposed to meet were: ISA BUKAR, REMEWA, ALIYU, DYRIES.
They were supposed to be spoken to. When I got Col. T.K. Adamu, I asked him whether he had spoken to Isa Bukar and Isa Bukar expressed to him that as far as he was concerned, he was ready. Then I said well, how was he going to go about meeting Remewa. I have not been used to Col. Remewa but I am used to Aliyu. He told me that I should not talk to Dyeries because he was not sure but I agreed that I was not going to talk to him. He was just new in the area he was.
I decided well that since he has spoken to Col. Isa Bukar and what I wanted to do now was to avoid any congregation because nobody knew he was expecting something. I said I was going to brief Aliyu. They were staying in the same building with Remewa, Col. Bako in Benin. What happened was that the first day, 1 just went round to show my presence, I did not say anything to anybody. And the second day I went round to where Col. Aliyu was staying with Col. Remewa and when I got there, they were not in. I think they went out with Col. Armah or so. I stayed with Col.Bako, because I have never taken Bako very seriously.
So, when we were about to leave, Col. Aliyu came in with Col. Isa Bukar the two of them in Isa Bukar’s car. Bako said he wanted us to go somewhere. In as much as I wanted to talk to Col. Aliyu, I didn’t want to give out immediately that I am on appointment with him. He had a Civic Honda which he brought to Benin. Bako wanted us to use it. He said he wasn’t going to release it because they were going out also. Aliyu said he could only surrender his staff car to us. So, we went in Col. Bako’s staff car went round the town and we came back.
After the cocktail party that evening, there was going to be a get-together at the guest house. So, I told Col. T.K. Adamu that I would be around in the evening. He came, after the cocktail party. I drove back to my hotel to check whether anybody looked for me but there was no message. I came back to the Guest House. At the Guest House, I met Gen. Haruna. He was the guest of honour there. They were there with Col. Isa Bukar, Dyries, Bacha, Armah, Aliyu, Nwachukwu, Bako and the CO of 4 Bn, Enugu. Well, they were all there; I didn’t know Gen. Haruna was there. I called Aliyu outside and Bako came and asked if he could join us.
I told him I was dicussing something else with him. Then I told Aliyu that my coming here was to meet and talk to him, Isa Bukar, Remewa, and Dyries. But it looked as if Bukar had been talked to. Definitely, I did not want to talk to Dyries. He said well, that was alright. I told him that the operation was fortunate and whether he was going to pass and hear what this chap will say. Infact, the only chap remaining was Remewa. He jumped out and said it was alright that he will tell Remewa. I should just let him know. I said I hope on their own part if there was trouble. He said no.
He said he wanted him to come to Lagos to assist. Then I said no. That wasn’t the issue. What I wanted to do was to talk to Remewa. As I mentioned General Haruna, I didn’t know but I will tell you what happened about me and Haruna when I went back after I told Aliyu, he didn’t want it. I went back drinking and dancing. Then I told General Haruna I will be visiting him when I get to Lagos. He said whether I knew his house. I said yes. The following day, apart from Aliyu whom we had discussion with that evening, I left them around two o’clock.
I left even General Haruna and the rest and went back to my hotel. Remewa wasn’t at that meeting but Aliyu had promised talking to him. The following morning, I was told I was going to be guest of honour in the cycling. I insisted that I wasn’t invited so why should I bother myself to wait to be the guest of honour. They said the chap they expected to come was not going to come. So, I said I was sorry. The Chairman, Lt. Shelleng begged that I should wait.
I waited because I was going to see Col. Aliyu whether he had told Remewa. I wanted to get something from him. At 10:30, though the cycle was supposed to arrive around 12:00, so at 10:30 I decided that I was going to have breakfast somewhere because I was hungry. I asked the driver to drive straight to where Aliyu and co were staying. Surprisingly around eleven, they were still in bed. I just went back to my hotel. At the hotel, Lt. Sabo came in. When I was in the stadium, I think we missed ourselves. He went to the stadium; he was told I was gone. He came back to the hotel; he was told I was not in.
But he was told I was not gone. In fact, there was this missing of ourselves. When finally I went back to my hotel to check if I had messages, which of course I didn’t, I was packing my things when Sabo came and said that he had been hearing about the plan and that he was fed up. I expected probably that I should come in straight and tell him. But I knew what he was saying concerned this issue, but I didn’t want to show exactly. So, he said he had been briefed, T.K. Adamu told him.
He said he was so happy such a thing was coming up. My advice was that we are going to be sorry. I knew somebody must have spoken to him, or you heard. I said the situation is not bad here. I gave up facts. You don’t have to give up yourself.
So, he said his problem here is that each time he tried to advise any officer he finds it very difficult to get a direct answer, and that I am trying again to use the same method. I said no, it wasn’t the same method. I don’t want any silly thing to start off. His own way of thinking, he said I should remember July 1966 problem he started at Abeokuta. I said well, that was OK.
He said he is just warning me if again his hand is going to be worst. I said it was not necessary he should calm down. When he finished, I went back and told Sabo if you had anything else talking to me, I am going back to Lagos. Any important thing to tell me, already I know you know about this thing, meet me in Lagos and then you can talk to me.
Infact, I did not discuss anything with Sabo. Although I knew he was curious to know, I wanted to cut him short. I said if you have any important thing you should come down to Lagos and meet me. When I came back to Lagos, I went to see Major Dabang, only to be told that he was in hospital. His wife said he was in hospital. I said OK. I went to Gen. Bisalla’s house again this was the third time.
I met him …. I said, remember he had only told us about it. Infact, it was on the way to Benin that I listened to creation of states. So, I told him that I was just coming back from Benin. This is what is happening. I have spoken to Col. Aliyu and Isa Bukar had been briefed and that Aliyu was responsible to have been briefing Remewa. Although I checked and they were all on bed.
And I met Gen. Haruna although I promised that I will come and speak to him. He did not comment about Gen. Haruna. I told him that on my way I called at this boy and I was told he was in hospital. He told me that I should not bother, all I needed was to get all the other Majors concerned that it has to be within a week. Now, I came back from Benin on Thursday. On Friday, I went to see him. I told him that Major Dabang was in the hospital. He said I should take over, and be sure that the target did not escape. In fact, I should take it as an order that we must kill the target.
He said I should not bother about him. Whatever happens he was to take charge of Ikeja he being the CO. I should go ahead and contact the other officers concerned and make it at least a week. I left him and came to Ikeja and met Major Mshella. I told him that: Look, my friend, the way things are going, this thing could leak anytime. This was what I told the boy, and the chap said well, he is scared himself the way Dabang said we should wait until he was out of hospital. I told him that the way things were I don’t understand. Now, the General is saying that there is no time to waste and Dabang is telling us that until he is out of hospital. I told him we must go ahead…