FORMER Chief of General Staff (CGS), Lt.-General Oladipo Diya, on Friday in Lagos insisted that the coup plot over which he was tried and sentenced to death was stage-managed, and called on President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration to publish and implement the Oputa Panel report on the saga.
Diya, who was full of appreciation to the president for granting him and others involved in the 1997 military coup and Nigerians generally for their support, argued that he was never involved in any coup, but that the “diabolical and unjust treatment” was “meted to me on account of my principled opposition to forces of tyranny in Nigeria.”
The former CGS said the whole plot was a conspiracy targeted at him. According to him, the Oputa Panel, which he said was set up by the Federal Government with state funds, came up with a lot of findings and recommendations on several matters, including the coups of 1995 and 1997, noting with regret that the panel findings and recommendations were yet to be published and implemented.
He pointed out that, on the contrary, a similar panel tagged Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the South African government had had its own outcome published and implemented, which he noted had “contributed tremendously in stabilising and putting the country through the path of growth.”
His words: “I want to thank the president once again for his kind gesture and appeal to him to publish and implement the Oputa Panel report. This was a panel set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria with state funds and a report was submitted on it.”
Diya said that Jonathan had demonstrated with the gesture (pardon) extended to him and others implicated in the 1997 coup saga that he was a leader with a high sense of fairness, equity and justice, just as he pleaded with him to extend same gesture to other officers and civilians convicted alongside with him, including his then Special Adviser, Prof Femi Odekunle.
“I want to assume that it is extended to all other people involved in the saga. It is no gainsaying that both officers and civilians sentenced on the incident must benefit from this Federal Government’s benevolence; otherwise, it will put to question the fate of others not so pardoned and were involved in the same saga.”
Diya, who promised to continue to devote the rest of his life to seeking the unity and progress of the country as well as the good of mankind while remaining non-partisan, also expressed his appreciation to the Council of State, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and his military council who earlier gave him and others clemency.
Meanwhile, General Oladipo Diya, as the Chief of General Staff, played prominent roles in a failed attempt in 1997 to topple the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Diya’s Chief Security Officer, Major Seun Fadipe, has declared.
In an exclusive interview with the Saturday Tribune, Fadipe, who was pardoned alongside Diya and others by President Goodluck Jonathan after carrying the ex-convict toga for 14 years, insisted that Diya was, indeed, involved, and that it was he (Diya) who dragged him into the coup.
General Diya had always maintained that Abacha contrived the coup, which became known as phantom coup of 1997, to achieve an ethnic cleansing agenda allegedly directed at senior Yoruba officers in his government.
But putting a lie to the impression and the insistence of his former boss that there was no coup, Fadipe said: “When General Diya and the other Generals decided to remove Abacha, was I there? No, I wasn’t there. When they started their plans, I was not there, but he has been maintaining there was no coup. I have been maintaining there was a coup, but let the government of Nigeria bring out the statements we all wrote during the tribunal and let General Diya see whether he actually wrote those things or not.
“There was a time he said he was actually not a part of this thing (coup), but that General Adisa and I were (the ones) planning it; (and that) we were only briefing him. That day, I shed tears because (I wondered) how a General could lie against his own subordinate - a subordinate that laid down his life for him. I would have betrayed him. I had every opportunity not to be involved in this coup. When he actually told me on the 9th of December 1996 about this plot, I knew I was in trouble.”
Fadipe also stated that one of the eight boys that he sent to arrest the then powerful CSO to Abacha, Major Hamza al-Mustapha, on the order of Diya on the day the coup was to be carried out, was forced to drink acid, which killed him immediately.
-------Bola Badmus and Lanre Adewole, Lagos
-------Nigerian Tribune, Saturday, March 23, 2013