General Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former military Head of State, says late Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, acclaimed winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential election in Nigeria, died after falling ill.
He said Abiola was not killed.
Speaking in an interview with Trust TV, he explained that this was contrary to insinuations that Abiola took tea that was allegedly poisoned, before he passed on.
General Abdulsalami Abubakar further explained, “Well, I smile because there were lots of allegations here and there that we killed Abiola. As always when I am talking about late Abiola, I still thank God for directing me on things to do when he gave me the leadership of this country.”
He stated that “on the day Moshood Abiola passed away, may he rest in peace, two to three things made him always say he thanked God for the guidance He gave him, adding that he received a delegation from America headed by Pickering who was then the secretary of state or so and the team was Susan Rice.”
He added that after the normal courtesy and discussion they had, when they were leaving his office, Pickering said, “Your Excellency we made a request to see Moshood Abiola but we were denied”, so I said “Why were you denied? who denied you?” There and then I made a decision, I said “Look, you will see Moshood definitely, I overruled whoever said you cannot see him”. So I now called my chief security officer, I said “Please make arrangement for this team to see Abiola,” that is one point.”
He said that during the incarceration of Moshood Abiola, except his personal doctor, to his knowledge, no member of his family saw him and when he became Head of State, based on consultation and interaction together with Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, he gave the family a date that they could come and see him.
He explained that a day before he died, his family came to Abuja to see him, stressing that for one reason or the other, the whole family could not see him at the same time, so it was agreed that when this group of his family will see him today, tomorrow the next team will see him.
He said, “So they saw him like yesterday, now this team from US came to see me and I said they could see him. Normally it was in the evenings the family go and see him. So because I had authorized the American team to see him, so the other part of the family were waiting to see him.”
The former Head of State stated that “it was at this meeting when the American team was meeting Abiola that he fell sick and suddenly the security officers called the medical team to come and attend to him”, adding that when they saw the situation, they said it was severe and they needed to take him to the medical centre.
He explained that it was the medical team plus the American team that took him to the medical centre, unfortunately at the medical centre he gave up.
General Abdulsalami Abubakar further explained that it was then his security chief called and said, “I have bad news for you”, I asked what it was, he said, “Abiola is dead”. I was shocked.
He said his security chief told him that he was there with the American team, at that time he (former head of state) was staying in the barracks, he had not moved to the villa,saying, “so I said okay, let him take the American team to my house, I will meet them at the house; so I closed from the office, and went there.”
The former Head of State stated that the issue was how would he break the news to Abiola’s family and how do his government tell the world Abiola had passed on, saying that he must be thankful to God and again to Ambassador Kingibe because they called on him and asked him to bring the family of Abiola and when they came, he broke the news.