…Don’t vilify Abacha, query those who stole billions he left, says Al – Mustapha
…Says Emirs, chiefs were consulted when money was kept overseas
By Henry Ojelu & Ibrahim HassanWuyo
Again, former Chief Security Officer, CSO, to late Nigerian military Head of State, Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha has risen in defence of his boss, asking Nigerians to attack those looting the money his principal left behind for the country, rather than Abacha.
He insisted that the billions stashed in banks overseas during the regime of late General Sani Abacha, was not a unilateral decision, explaining that it was a decision taken after a meeting with relevant stakeholders and monarchs from all over the country.
His comments drew the ire of some civil society groups and activists, including former Vice President of Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Monday Ubani, Adetokumbo Mumuni, Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP and Evans Ufeli of Cadrell Advocacy Centre.
The Yobe-born Army Major, who many Nigerians alleged was part of the political intrigues and military maneuvers of the Abacha junta, spoke with the BBC Hausa Service monitored yesterday in Kaduna.
He said: “I’m saying this based on what I know and based on trust to Nigerians, their dignity and honour. I’ve said it that there was a period Nigeria was to be sanctioned. So there were plans to keep money overseas so that Nigeria and Nigerians would not suffer when the sanction was imposed on the country.
“We gathered emirs and chiefs from the South and from the North together with VIPs of that time, those in government and those outside government. We met at a place called Camp Bassey Officers’ Mess in the Brigade of Guards. It was there we deliberated on the threat to sanction Nigeria. Many decisions were taken.
“The meeting was also attended by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning, the CBN etc. It is surprising…. you should know when a person is opening an account, it is that very person that will go to the bank for biometric capture.
‘’The person’s photograph will be taken, he will avail the bank with the required information, the source of the money, all these are requirements that must be met. The portfolio capital movement ,also the time and date of the movement.
“But for him that had not gone to these countries where the money was kept. What justification have they to say the accounts belonged to him? Have they ever seen where late Abacha appended his signature or thumb print that the money belonged to him?
“I’m surprised by the way Abacha is being blackmailed. I am surprised because when he assumed leadership, Nigeria had less than $2 billion in the foreign reserve. Things were not organized.
“But within four years and eight months, he did what was possible to raise it to over $9 billion. But after his death, all these billions vanished in nine months. The person that raised Nigeria’s image and enhanced security is now the subject of insult. But those who shared the money he left are still alive and untouchable.”
Reacting to Al-Mustpaha’s declaration yesterday, Adetokumbo Mumuni, Executive Director, SERAP, said: ‘’It is only a criminally-minded person that would defend the wanton looting of Nigeria’s collective resources by late General Sani Abacha.
‘’It is sad that Al-Mustapha has suddenly wakened up to defend the evil that his boss committed. Abacha’s loots are indefensible. It is criminal for anyone to attempt to defend Abacha’s loots.
‘’He stole money directly from the Central Bank and starched them in foreign banks. Al-Mustapha cannot rewrite the history of what happened then because we know better.’’
On his part, Monday Ubani, said: ‘’Al-Mustapha should thank his stars that he is in a country where people commit and defend evil and get away with it.
‘’Is he saying that his boss never stole? If he never stole, why are we getting alert every time and from many countries of his loot? If he has nothing to say in defending his boss which is his right, he should spare us the agony of listening to his cock and bull story. If he knows those that stole Abacha’s loot, he should tell Nigerians their names.’’
Also reacting, Evans Ufeli, said: ‘’Al- Mustapha has no moral justification whatsoever to say Nigerians should not vilify his former boss. He should be arrested for the aforesaid statement because he has shown through this statement an intention to repress crime.”