The Ekiti State chapter of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) yesterday urged Nigerians to enquire into the circumstances that led to the death of the late business mogul and politician, Chief Moshood Abiola, under the Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar government.
The late Abiola won the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda annulled. He died in detention under Abdulsalami, who succeeded the late Gen. Sani Abacha, the Head of State who incarcerated the late politician.
Recalling the events that led to Abiola’s death, ARG noted that in the heat of the post-election military arrangement, Gen. Babangida “stepped aside” to pave the way for Chief Ernest Shonekan, the leader of the interim government which Babangida put in place after annulling the nation’s freest and fairest election.
In a statement in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, by its State Coordinator, Bunmi Awotiku, Afenifere decried what it described as the “public’s short-term memory malaise”.
It said this is why the circumstance of Abiola’s death has been swept under the carpet.
The group noted that the annulment and the politician’s death, coupled with the people’s failure to revisit the circumstance, is “the worst injustice in the history of Nigeria.”
Urging Nigerians to “cast away the slough of fear and wean themselves of the malaise of forgetfulness”, Afenifere advised eminent Nigerians to find out “how he died just after he held a meeting with concerned foreign powers alongside members of the junta”.
It noted that while it is good to immortalise the late politician, “it is more important to try and raise queries on the nebulous circumstances under which Chief Abiola, who was not known to suffer any particular ailment at the time, died”.
Afenifere added: “We hereby wish to call the attention of eminent citizens of our great country to pick the gauntlet of exhuming questionable circumstances under which the winner of the June 12 election died.
“They said Abiola died, but in which hospital and under which circumstances? We don’t know. Like so many people, we believe Abiola was killed. But why could a sinless winner of an election deserve death as a reward from a country which he sought to serve?
“While the efforts to immortalise him is going on and while the Federal Government may seek to consider naming the National Stadium after the acclaimed ‘Pillar of Sports in Africa’, significant thought and action should be spared, causing legal enquiries into the death of Chief MKO.
“It is time Nigerians seek answers to the killing of Abiola; it is time the seeming mystery surrounding his death is exposed and explained. It is good to honour him. But it is more honourable to enable posterity know the particulars of his death.
“The death, or rather killing, of Chief Abiola in detention under the leadership of Gen. Abubakar is a burden the Federal Government has to conscientiously discharge. This is the ultimate honour, which can be accorded democracy, which his death has made possible for the benefit of Nigerians.”
By Sulaiman Salawudeen, Ado-Ekiti
This article was first published in The Nation on June 13, 2012
Last modified: June 14, 2012