By Eric Teniola
The first part of this piece published last week ended with Decree No. 8 and Decree No. 3 of 1984 promulgated by the military regime of General Muhammadu Buhari.
THIS Decree(No.8) may be cited as the Recovery of Public Property (Special Military Tribunals) (Amendment) Decree 1984 and shall be deemed to have come into force on December 31, 1983.
The Decree 3 says: “ WHEREAS by section 5 (1) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Military Tribunal) Decree 1984, the Head of the Federal Military Government is empowered, by instrument under his hand, to constitute special military tribunals for the purpose of the trial of certain public officers:
AND WHEREAS by section 5 (2) of the Decree it is provided that each tribunal appointed under the Decree shall consist of — (a) a Chairman who shall be an officer in the Armed Forces not below the rank of Colonel or its equivalent; (b) three other officers of the Armed Forces not below the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel or its equivalent (c) a serving or retired judge of a High Court or any court of like jurisdiction who shall, amongst other things, assist the tribunal in determining questions of law.
General Buhari later constituted five military tribunals to try the detained governors. The Lagos tribunal (Lagos State) was headed by Brigadier Paul U. Omu with Brigadier M.M. Nassarawa, Navy Captain J.N. Kanu, Lt-Colonel Yinka Martins and Mr. Justice T.A. Oyeyipo as members.
The Ibadan zone (Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Bendel and Kwara states) was headed by Brigadier C.B. Ndiomu. Other members are Commodore I.J. Ogohi, Lt-Colonel Y. Madaki, Wing-Commander C.C. Ohadumere and Mr. Justice S.U. Minjibir. The Kaduna Zone (Kaduna, Kano, Niger and Sokoto states and the Federal Capital Territory) had Navy Captain M.A. Elegbede as the Chairman while the members were Lt-Colonel I.D. Gumel, Lt-Colonel M. Maina, Wing-Commander J.P. Obakpolor and Mr. Justice P.P. Nwokedi.
It was the Kaduna zone headed by Navy Captain Muftau Adegoke Babatunde Elegbede (1939-1994) that jailed the former Kano state governor, Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo (1934-1989). He was tried and sentenced to 23 years in prison on charges of corruption by the Kaduna Zone. Alhaji Bakin Zuwo was released from jail in January 1988.
He died on 16 February 1989 in a German hospital, where he had been taken after a fall. He was buried in Kano, his beloved city, in whose politics he had featured prominently for several decades. Alhaji Bakin Zuwo was survived by three wives and 26 children.
Sadly, Captain Elegbede was assassinated by gunmen on June 19, 1994 along the Gbagada/Oworonsoki expressway in Lagos.
It was the Ibadan Zone that jailed Professor Ambrose Folorunsho Alli. The Zone was headed by Major General Charles Bebeye Ndiomu (1934-2002) from Odoni in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Professor Alli from Ekpoma in the then Bendel State was educated at the Immaculate Conception College in Benin City before going to St. Patrick’s College, Asaba and to the School of Agriculture in Ibadan.
He trained as a medical laboratory technologist at the University College, Medical Laboratory, Ibadan, from 1950-1953 and studied Medicine at the University College of Ibadan from 1953 to 1960. Alli did further medical studies in Britain after that and worked in hospitals there and in Zimbabwe (1960-1962). Professor Alli returned to Nigeria in 1966 to begin a distinguished academic career.
He was a Professor of Morbid Anatomy at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1969 to 1971, and at the University of Ibadan from 1971 to 1974. From 1974 to 1979, he was Head of the Department of Pathology, University of Benin. He was tried on corruption charges and sentenced to a total of 66 years imprisonment. The sentence was later reviewed and reduced to seven years.
His health deteriorated while in jail. Alli was released on February 13, 1988 only after the payment of N983, 000.00 raised by his friends into the government chest. He died on September 22, 1989 (his 60th Birthday) at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital. On page 17 of his book titled MY DIALOGUE WITH NIGERIA, the former Chief of Army Staff, General Julius Alani Ipoola Akinrinade wrote that:
“Some people have pointed out seeming contradictions in the trial of former public officers. For instance, they say that while some former governors were jailed for accepting money from contractors, the contractors themselves were not jailed; and while Abba Musa Rimi and Wilberforce Juta were jailed for giving money to legislators, the legislators themselves were not jailed for taking the money.
I believe that in both cases, the governors were wrong to have taken the money and spent public funds in a way not permitted by law. People are confused because the government has not bothered to explain and they are in fact, edgy because they regard the judgments as contradictory. The government has to be open and, at least, brief the people on why it takes certain actions. I don’t think this government has someone to do public relations for it properly”.
It was Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo state who renamed Bendel State University to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. The governor was assisted following a motion moved by Honourable Pascal Ugbomeh (Etsako Constituency 1) of the Edo state House of Assembly while the right honourable Thomas Okosun presided as Speaker in the then Edo House of Assembly, in 1999.