By Eric Teniola
THE presidential pardon granted by President Muhammadu Buhari to former Nationalist and Minister, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro (1923-2010) and also to Professor Ambrose Folorunsho Alli (1929-1989), former Governor of the defunct Bendel State and endorsed by the National Council of State is most welcome. I hope the pardon will be extended to others, including Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, former Minister of Transportation, whose cases are being reviewed in the Presidency.
Let us discuss that of Professor Ambrose Alli first. On December 31, 1983, President Shehu Shagari’s elected government was dethroned by a military coup headed by Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Also dethroned and detained were elected governors who served between 1979 and 1983.
They are Dr. Victor Olunloyo and Chief Bola Ige (Oyo), Alhaji Lateef Jakande (Lagos), Chief Bisi Onabanjo (Ogun), Chief Michael Ajasin (Ondo), Professor Ambrose Alli and Chief Samuel Ogbemudia (Bendel), Chief Cornelius Adebayo and Chief David Attah (Kwara), Dr. Clement Isong and Chief Donald Etiebet (Cross River), Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, Alhaji Abba Musa Rimi and Alhaji Lawai Keita (Kaduna),
Alhaji Garuba Nadama (Sokoto), Alhaji Abubakar Bardeh and Wilberfoce Juta (Gongola), Mohammed Guni and Asha Jarma (Borno), Chief Jim Nwobodo and Chief C.C. Onoh (Anambra), Chief Sam Mbakwe (Imo) and Chief Solomon Lar (Plateau), Alhaji Abubakar Rimi and Alhaji Barkin Zuwo (Kano), Chief Melford Okilo (Rivers), Alhaji Abubakar Tatari Ali (Bauchi), Mr. Aper Aku (Benue) and Alhaji Muhammed Anwal Ibrahim (Niger).
In overthrowing President Shagari’s government, Brigadier Sani Abacha, told the nation in a broadcast on December 31, 1983 that: “You are living witnesses to the great economic predicament and uncertainty which an inept and corrupt leadership has imposed on our beloved nation for the past four years. I am referring to the harsh, intolerable conditions under which we are now living.
Our economy has been hopelessly mismanaged. We have become a debtor and beggar nation. There is inadequacy of food at reasonable prices for our people who are now fed up with endless announcements of importation of foodstuff. Health services are in shambles as our hospitals are reduced to mere consulting clinics without drugs, water and equipment. Our educational system is deteriorating at an alarming rate.
“Unemployment figures, including the undergraduates have reached embarrassing and unacceptable proportions. In some states, workers are being owed salary arrears of eight to 12 months and in others there are threats of salary cuts. Yet our leaders revel in squandermania, corruption and indiscipline, and continue to proliferate public appointments in complete disregard of our stark economic realities.
After due consultation over these deplorable conditions, I and my colleagues in the armed forces have in the discharge of our national role as a promoter and protector of national interest decided to effect a change in the leadership of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and form a Federal Military Government. This task has just been completed.”
Shortly after, the Supreme Military Council was constituted and the following were appointed as members: Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of The Nigerian Armed Forces from Kaduna state; Brigadier Babatunde Abdulbaki Idiagbon, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters((Kwara State); Major-General Domkat Bali, Defence Secretary(Plateau State);
Major General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief of Army Staff(Niger state); Commodore Augustus Aikhomu, Chief of Naval Staff(Bendel State); Air Vice-Marshal Ibrahim Mahmud Alfa, Chief of Air Staff(Gongola State); Major-General Mamman Jiya Vatsa, Minister of Federal Capital Territory(Niger State); Brigadier Joseph Olayeni Oni, GOC, 1st Mechanised Infantry Division-Kaduna(from Lagos State);
Brigadier Mohammed Sani Abacha, GOC 2nd Mechanised Division -Ibadan(from Kano State); Colonel Salihu Ibrahim, GOC, 3rd Armoured Division- Jos(Kwara State); Brigadier Yohanna Yerima Kure, GOC, 82nd Division-Enugu(Kaduna State); Brigadier Mohammed Mangoro, Minister of Internal Affairs(Sokoto State); Brigadier Muhammadu Gado Nasko, Commander-Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery(Niger State);
Brigadier Paul Omu, Army (from Bendel State); Navy Captain Ebitu Ukiwe, Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command(from Imo State) and Air Commodore Larry Koinyan, Air Force(from Rivers State).
On April 5, 1984, General Buhari promulgated decree Number 3 and decree Number 8. Decree No. 8 states that the Federal Military Government hereby decrees as follows: 1. Immediately after subsection (1) of section 1 of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Military Tribunals) Decree 1984, there shall be inserted the following new subsection
(1A), that is – “(1A) Any public officer who – (a) has engaged in corrupt practices or has corruptly enriched himself or any other person; or (b) has by virtue of abuse of his office contributed to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
or has in any way been in breach of the Code of Conduct, shall be guilty of an offence under this Decree and upon conviction shall, apart from any other penalty prescribed by or pursuant to any other provision of this Decree, forfeit the assets, whether movable or immovable property, connected with the commission of the offence, to the Federal Military Government.”
To be concluded…