By Abdulwahab Abdulah
LAGOS — Sergeant Kyari Jidaie Gadzama, who was Major Hamza Al-Mustapha’s orderly while he was the Chief Security Officer, CSO, to the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, yesterday, shed light on the coup allegedly planned by the former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd), disclosing that the coup was real and that al-Mustapha’s driver was also interrogated over the coup.
Gadzama, who was before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos High Court to give evidence in the trial of al-Mustapha for alleged murder of Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s wife, told the court that there was no doubt that the trio of Generals Oladipo Diya, Tajudeen Olanrewaju and late Abdulkareem Adisa planned to topple the administration of the late Gen. Abacha.
Asked whether he was aware of any coup while he was in the Presidential Villa, the witness said: “Yes, there was a coup involving Gen. Diya, Gen. Olanrewaju and Gen. Adisa. The coup was in the public knowledge. It is those of us in the security that knew that there was coup. My boss (al-Mustapha) driver was involved and was taken to Jos. We were also invited to Jos to appear before the investigative panel.
“Even two of my colleagues were also involved. My boss was also invited to Jos over the coup. The names of all of them (Diya and others) were mentioned in the coup.”
Testifying further, Gadzama told the court that contrary to the argument that Gen. Olanrewaju was moved all the way from Lagos to Jos by road, the witness said: “There was Donier plane which conveyed people from Lagos to Jos and from Abuja to Jos.”
He also told the court that he was arrested three times and was severely tortured in order to force him to implicate al-Mustapha, but he refused.
Recounting his alleged horrible experiences in the hands of the interrogators after he was arrested immediately Al-Mustapha was transferred out of the Villa to Enugu, Gadzama said, “Immediately the CSO was moved to Enugu, I was arrested at my Aguda house and moved to the SSS headquarters in late 1998. I was asked if I submitted my arms and I said yes. They checked the record, I was asked why did I leave my office, I said my colleagues had left after the change of government, the CSO, Col. Aliyu thereby asked for my arrest.
“I was taken to the police headquarters, where I was detained and handcuffed with leg chains. After 17 days in the cell, somebody came in the night and loosed my leg chains and tied it with the Liason Officer, Bashir, who said to me that ‘don’t you think Al-Mustapha’s own is finished’ ? He therefore asked me to cooperate and do whatever the man, told me, because that is not the final destination.
“Following day, I was invited upstairs before the panel put up by the government, where I was asked what I know about Major Al-Mustapha, I told them, I didn’t know anything. I was then taken back to the SSS headquarters. I saw three men and a woman , who asked me to sit down, from there I saw my mate, Sgt. Rogers who told me I should cooperate with the men and follow whatever they say, else, I will be in trouble. I was given Sgt Roger’s statement and I told them I did not understand, suddenly, somebody came from behind and hit the chair I sat and I fell and rolled to the wall, where I secured serious injuries. I fainted, by the time I woke up, I saw water all over my body. I was later moved to the cell,” he said.
He said he was taken to the same venue the second day, where he was shown Roger’s statement and asked about what my boss (Al-Mustapha) did. “I was instructed to write that I was given arms by my boss, but I told them, it never happened.”
He said he was subjected to serial punishment ranging from non payment of his salaries and frequent transfers, which made him to eventually leave the Army. He denied ever meeting anyone called Sariki Sasa or Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan when he was the orderly to Al- Mustapha.
Reiterating the tight security at the Presidential Villa during late Abacha’s regime, Gadzama told the court that it will be difficult for anybody, including the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, to gain access to the Villa without the approval of his boss, Al-Mustapha.
Further hearing continues today.