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Just In: Nigerians will be shocked if they know the truth — Al-Mustapha

He said Nigerians don't even know why the country is on fire.

Monday, June 14, 2021

/ by National Pivot


Former Chief Security Officer (COS) to late General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, has disclosed in an interview with The LEADERSHIP, that there are secrets he cannot disclose yet, but that Nigerians would soon be shocked by the truth that has been kept from them for many years.

He said the country is held hostage by powerful forces within and outside the country who for years, made sure the masses are kept from knowing the real cause of their affliction.

While maintaining the narrative that his former boss, Late General Sani Abacha, meant well for the country, he said there was similarity between how Abacha and Abiola whom the country remembers every June 12th, died.

He said at the time, Abacha took over power, the country was already in distress. He said the Abacha "government was sworn in virtually with empty coffers: it had nothing in foreign reserves; a government that was struggling to even pay salaries – that was what he inherited. "There was nothing when he came," he added. 

He said Chief Ernest Shonekan inherited $200 million as Nigeria’s foreign reserves, but for the three months he presided over Nigeria, "I don’t think there was anything that came in because it was all along crisis time." 

This 'crisis time' was a reference to the effect of sanctions imposed on Nigeria by western governments following the annulment of the 1993 elections and the emergence of Abacha via a military coup which followed. But this was where things began to go bad for the country. 

He said a country already under distress, is now slammed with sanctions whose effects are sure to be dire, although the coup by the Abacha government was meant to bring stability to the country which he said managed to still happen, as he died leaving behind about $9 billion dollar in the nation's foreign reserves, from almost zero when he took over.

When asked to clarify the alleged Abacha loot and the stories around it, he said the sanctions placed on the country in 1993 and 1995, placed the country in a dire situation, and ways to ease the impact on the people were sought-after. This includes doing some dirty stuff like the creation of foreign accounts from which Nigeria could be importing things through them directly. In this way, the country would circumvent the sanctions, thereby push away the effect of any form of hardship inflicted by previous sanctions. 

This he said was learnt from the Libyan government which at the time, had surmounted its challenges having been under sanctions as well.

He said, "As of 1994 when the first coup was foiled, Libya was exactly 11 years old with sanctions on them, and so managing sanctions depending on the type was something for Nigeria to learn. Coincidently, I was one of those sent to Libya to study why after 11 years of sanctions of all kinds, yet Europeans countries – Italy, Spain – prefer coming to Tripoli to do shopping and go back across because they were buying things cheaper. 

"How Gaddafi did it was something to learn from. That was a preemptive measure for a country that had just been taken over by a new government without money and with threats of sanctions from G7 countries. It was a herculean task because the country should first of all work in a way that it should survive it; so we went, bought some things and returned. In fact, our second trip to Libya on modalities of containing sanctions was equally at the very material time that the Prime Minister of China was on a tour.

"So while I was there, because the threat was serious – to block many things coming to Nigeria and also to blackmail the government – Gaddafi in his wisdom spoke to the Chinese president and the premier was told to come to Nigeria for a two-or three-day visit and General Abacha should begin to engage China. Before we could return, he had arrived. 

"He stayed in Nigeria for two and half days. That was when railway contracts were initiated, that was when the issue with NNPC in terms of China buying our oil directly was also signed, that was when the Ministry of Agriculture sought for some certain support and China signed with them. That was when there was some ratifications on international trade in favour of Nigeria from Chinese and some of their allies. Soon after this, the United Kingdom became disturbed, America became disturbed and they began to look towards adjusting their sanctions."

Speaking further, he said, "The leaders of these two countries (UK and US) attempted to talk to General Abacha. For this, obvious threat came and it culminated in when the then foreign minister went for the Commonwealth meeting, Nigeria was insulted deliberately and the then foreign minister threatened – with the contribution and the leadership Nigeria had been given to Commonwealth and with the benefits coming to the Commonwealth headquarters or the masters themselves, yet they could look at Nigeria in that way – it was not out of place for Nigeria to withdraw.  

"That became a very serious issue; so the United Kingdom began to now talk to numerous personalities in Nigeria, talk to numerous members of the Commonwealth in Africa, talking to General Abacha; the tension was so high, so there was the need to consult elders in Nigeria, north and south.  

"So stakeholders were identified from all spheres of Nigeria and assembled in Abuja. The conference hall actually became small, so there was a second arrangement for everybody to move everybody to Camp W.U. Bassey. The foreign minister was asked to brief them, he did and there was a general briefing about all the modalities of enforcing sanctions.

"There were threats to Nigeria’s survival, threat to President Abacha’s survival. And the government, for pegging Naira at N82 and pegging it at N22 officially, there was a fight from the World Bank, G7, IMF. With all sense of humility, I don’t think there is anyone among the past leaders that could absorb that, knowing well that at any moment anything could have happened, but he did it on behalf of Nigeria and Naira remained stable at the expense of his life; there was a threat, visibly open (to Abacha’s life)."

But the idea to circumvent the sanctions through the creation of foreign accounts didn't seem to work out well for its original intentions. 

He said while at the meeting at Camp Bassey, where high level dignitaries from across the country were in attendance, a consensus was reached on many issues including the creation of the said accounts, but not in the name of Abacha himself. So according to him, the decision to create the foreign accounts was not unilateral.

Al-Mustapha, however, wonders why these accounts and the funds in them are now referred to as "Abacha loots" as though he did everything on his own, and as if the funds were for his personal use.

He continued, "The essence of the sanctions – or all they were doing – was to inflict punishment on Nigerians and when they feel pain they will now support any force to uproot him out of office, nothing else. There were the psychological, diplomatic, monetary, security aspects of it, among others. At times, you could see on CNN, BBC things that never happened. You see all the exaggerations as if there was fire springing out of Nigeria, if you can remember.

"So for us to manage that, this idea (foreign accounts) was given by these elders and it happened. This was in 1997, no sooner did money begin to go outside to the best of my knowledge and then Abacha died. 

"So here, there are numerous types of dirty politics. If you are to open an account outside Nigeria, what are the requirements? Name, company name (even if it is a codename), thumbprint, passport size photograph, signature, address of place of movement of funds from and to, amount deposited initially, by who, to who, through which company, so it is endless, particularly, in international banks. 

"I am asking these questions. Bring banks where all Abacha’s picture appeared, all that Abacha thumb printed, all that Abacha signed and deposited, how much was it? Bring the documents and show it to Nigerians. 

"The question I ask is, where are they? Question number two I kept asking: General Abacha was Chief of Army Staff since 1985, his foreign account should be submitted to people to know the year he opened the accounts, it will show how much was it; give it to Nigerians to see. When money was deposited, was it before he became the head of state or was it when he was the head of state?"

While asking further questions he said ended up getting him jailed, he said the funds in the foreign accounts weren't Abacha's, but the result of the consensus reached by prominent leaders across the country in a bid to defeat the impact of the sanctions. 

He however, noted that huge amount of money meant for the foreign accounts never reached their destination after Abacha's death, and were instead, shared by those who came after him, but no one is asking questions about those funds, neither is anyone held accountable.

But since Abacha is no longer alive, Nigerians are made to believe that the late head of state owned the funds in accounts that weren't in his name. And those who knew the truth, remain silent because they know what they did.

He said, "The question is, why is it that the government found it difficult to mention any of the above? Another question is, after Abacha’s death, some of these accounts where counter sanctions funds were kept emerged, where are the documents? The monies that are there, were they returned to Nigeria’s coffers? 

"The moment you ask that, there are some certain groups that are ready to shoot you. I wasn’t involved in anything monetary; I wasn’t consulted; I wasn’t involved. I had a business of keeping Nigeria afloat and in peace. If you must know, right at the beginning it was not money that took me to the army.

"I actually ran away to sneak into the army. Nobody knew how I joined the army in my family. So to me, these are the questions I am asking and I was asking them from prison. 

"Those were the questions I used to ask the government of Abdulsalami then, and later Obasanjo. When Yar’adua came, I was asking questions, why not call me, why not subject me to tell you the little I know; they never did, they didn’t want to because there are some certain aspects of it… Soon after Abacha died, money was a problem. 

"Whatever money that was not deposited was shared by numerous persons who were in government. You will get to hear that later. Abacha inherited an empty purse. He inherited it from Shonekan and there was nothing in foreign reserve, so Abacha began to build Nigeria from ground zero to $9.3 billion in foreign reserve by the time he died."

He also disclosed that the actual reason he was imprisoned, was because he asked questions whose answers would have changed the way Nigerians see things today. But the masters do not want to be exposed.

He said Abacha stepped on big toes and ended up being killed the same way Abiola was killed.

He said, "When General Abacha died, the way he died foaming and gasping for air, and with a swollen heart was exactly how Abiola died too. And you know what took me to prison? Let me for the first time tell you this: the question that took me to prison, with all the attempts to kill me, was where was the tape?"

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