|By John Thomas Didymus|
Digital Journal, June 13, 2013
Abuja - Following inquiries by reporters representing the Nigerian media, Susan Rice has declined to comment on allegations that she served MKO Abiola, winner of Nigeria's 1993 presidential election, a poisoned cup of tea.
According to the Nigerian Leadership, its reporter sought comments from Rice, who, as the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was part of the US delegation that visited Nigeria on July 7, 1998, and met with MKO Abiola for a meeting during which he suddenly began gasping for breath and died of a heart attack, after taking a cup of tea Rice allegedly served him from a "multidimensional" flask.
According to the Leadership, its reporter called Rice's number and her secretary who picked the call said Rice would not comment on the incident and related allegations for "personal reasons."
The Leadership also contacted Thomas Pickering, former US ambassador to Nigeria, who led the delegation to the meeting with Chief MKO Abiola. Pickering also declined to comment on the allegations.
According to Leadership, Pickering's aides at his Woodrow Institute office, said he would not like to speak on the matter for "security reasons." The aide also refused to give the reporter the ambassador's cell phone number.
The Leadership reporter made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Rice by placing calls to her office at the UN. Leadership reports that the secretary of the US Mission in New York, Ms Herrera Kathleen, said Rice would not accept a telephone interview. Kathleen advised that the reporter send an email of questions. However, she could not guarantee that Rice would respond, after the reporter had sent the questions.
Meanwhile, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has acknowledged the June 12 anniversary of Chief MKO Abiola's electoral victory. President Jonathan described the day as unique in the political history of the country.
Speaking at the Aso Rock presidential villa, Abuja, during the swearing-in ceremony of the Police Service Commission chairman, Mike Okiro, and other members of the commission, President Jonathan said: “Today is also a unique day -- June 12. It is a date that has changed the political history of this country in one way or the other. In some parts of the country, some state governments have declared public holiday to mark today but at the center it has not been formally recognized as a public holiday. We appreciate what happened on this day, that you are being inaugurated on this date. I think it is a unique date."
According to Leadership, the Akwa Ibom state commissioner for information and communications, speaking on behalf of the state governor Godswill Akpabio, said: “Abiola paid the supreme price. He died so that we may live and savor the joy of a free people. Freedom, which is concomitant with democracy, is not negotiable. It is an inalienable right of every human being. That is what Abiola fought and died for and we must not allow that death to be in vain. We must continue to engage our leaders until our collective dignity as a people are fully realized and restored. "
Digital Journal reported that since Obama nominated Susan Rice for the position of National Security Adviser, questions have been asked in the Nigerian media concerning allegations that the tea Susan Rice served MKO Abiola during his meeting with the US delegation was poisoned.
According to Digital Journal, Abiola's personal physician, Dr. Ore Falomo, accused the CIA of involvement in the death of Abiola. A former Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, also raised questions about allegations of CIA involvement in the death of the Nigerian multimillionaire politician and president-elect; including allegations that Rice "might have, knowingly or unknowingly, played the role of messenger of death in the case."
According to Digital Journal:
On July 7, 1998, the same day the government had announced Abiola would be released[from detention] , Susan Rice and Ambassador Thomas Pickering, led a US delegation to visit the Nigerian president-elect. Abiola suffered a fatal heart attack during the meeting. The information was later leaked that Rice had served him tea... and that he developed cardiac symptoms and died within minutes of taking the tea."
MKO Abiola won the June 12 presidential election as candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), but the military junta of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida annulled the election, leading to a five-year political crisis that brought the nation to economic stagnation. It is alleged that the CIA was involved in a conspiracy to eliminate Abiola as a way of resolving the political impasse that brought the nation to a halt.
Nigeria's former Minister for Aviation, Femi-Fani Kayode, in an opinion piece published in the Punch, asked:
What did she (Rice) put in the tea that she served to Chief M.K.O. Abiola on July 8, 1998 just before he died? She was one of the last people who saw Abiola alive. She was said to have served him some tea, after which he reportedly coughed violently and one hour later, dropped dead. What was in the tea?
Can someone please ask Rice what her role was in the death of Abiola? Who sent her to dothe job and who was she working for?
Nigerians are hoping that Rice won't snob an entire nation seeking answers.