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‘Abiola Was Hale And Hearty – Then He Drank the Tea’

Reproduced below is the testimony of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Theodore Bethnel Zadok, before the Oputa Panel in Abuja in July 2001. Zadok was in charge of Abiola’s security and welfare until his sudden death. First published on Ikale Voice Newspaper on 2nd June, 2012.

“I was posted to head the detention base of Chief M. K. O. Abiola with about thirteen (13) body guards under me. And since the day I took over the duties of the detention camp of Chief M. K. O. Abiola, I was responsible for collecting the sum of N800,000 (eight hundred thousand naira) quarterly from Major Hamza Al-Mustapha to the commissioner of police FCT command Abuja for his feeding. That is three times a day subject to what he wanted to eat. I also took care of his health by seeing the doctor any time he complained of any illness. In view of this, he never ate any food or drink anything without me tasting it first before giving it to him to eat or drink.

“I always collected some money from the Chief Security Officer Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, to buy toiletry, fruit drinks, bedding and water.

“The Chief Security Officer, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, ordered me to give Chief MKO Abiola Koran and Bible for reading and I used to collect some money from the Chief Security Officer to buy some newspapers and magazines for the chief to read, and also give the chief some plain sheets for anything he might wish to write. My lord, Chief MKO Abiola never believed that I was a security man who came to guide him but a son who came to take care of his father. I will like to support this statement with a written note written to me by Chief MKO Abiola.

“Before General Oladipo Diya’s coup attempt, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, on the 10th of December, 1997 ordered me to take Chief MKO Abiola to any safe place, preferably the commissioner of police guest house at Wuse. And after the said failed coup attempt, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha ordered me to move Chief MKO Abiola from the commissioner’s guest house to Kado Housing Estate popularly known as Jeremiah Useni Housing Estate, Kado.

“On the 8th day of June 1998, the day the Head of State, General Sani Abacha died, the Chief Security Officer, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, ordered me along with Lt. Ikilama to move Chief MKO Abiola from Kado Housing Estate to Gado Nasko Barracks and from there, all the 13 body guards attached to me were withdrawn except the driver and leaving the soldiers of the Guards Brigade to take over the guard.

“But I was still left behind to be bringing food to Chief MKO Abiola as usual from the police officers mess, Wuse Zone 7. Chief MKO Abiola was informed of the death of General Sani Abacha and the appointment of General Abdulsalami Abubakar as the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief.

He wrote letters to General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the service chiefs; gave them to me to photostat them for him. He gave me some copies to give to Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and passed the rest to the respective owners. After the expiration of the second quarter allocation of N800,000, I approached Major A. S. Aliyu, Chief Security Officer to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, to collect the money for the next quarter. He only told me he had heard me.

“On the day in question, the 7th Day of July 1998 at about 11.30hrs, the Chief Security Officer to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Major A. S. Aliyu, called me on the radio set, asking me to see him in his office. I then proceeded to his office and he instructed me to bring Chief MKO Abiola to Aguda House for an interview to be held by 1300 hrs.

“I then went back to the base and informed Chief MKO Abiola of the interview and he asked me whether Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was aware of the said interview. I told him I didn’t know because Major Hamza Al-Mustapha was busy handing and taking over but I would see if I could locate him to inform him.

“He asked me to bring his dresses which he would wear and also asked me to give him 30 minutes to enable him get dressed. At about 1230hrs, the Chief Security Officer to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Major A. S. Aliyu, came to the base. To the best of my knowledge, that was the first time he knew that place, wanting to know if we were ready and I replied him almost ready. As we opened the door, the chief was already waiting for us. Together we went out and headed to Aguda House, venue of the interview.

“Before we all left the base, Chief MKO Abiola was in sound and healthy condition. He did not complain to me of any illness. About 100 metres from the door stand of the Aguda House, the controller from the control room called me on the radio set and said, I quote, ’30 BRAVO your LOG I answered ALFA GOLFF UNIFORM DELTA ALFA, HOTEL. And he said MAIG SERIA GOLFF from the OSCAR FOSTRO FOSTRO OF CHALIE OSCA GOLFF SERIA you should ROMEO PAPA TANGO to see the subject INDIA MIKE MIKE. I answered RECEIVED.’ Meaning 2i/c Prescort your present location. I answered Aguda House and he gave the message from the office of the Chief of General Staff and that you should see the Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe, immediately please and I answered noted please.

“As we arrived at the Aguda House door step, I led Chief MKO Abiola inside the house and I took permission from the Chief Security Officer to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Major A. S. Aliyu, in whose custody I left Chief MKO Abiola. He asked me to use his vehicle, leaving my vehicle at the door step where it was parked. I then took his vehicle as entrusted and left to see the Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe, at about 1310hrs and I came back from seeing Admiral Mike Akhigbe at about 1350hrs, only to discover that my vehicle was not there at the parking spot.

“On arrival, I saw one of my bodyguards Sunday Pada standing by the side of the door. I asked him where they had gone. He replied me they were inside and that the Chief Security Officer only sent my vehicle to Aso Clinic. And as I was about to enter the room, I met with the Chief Security Officer, Major A. S. Aliyu, who told me that Chief MKO Abiola was not feeling fine and after taking a cup of tea he coughed and fell down.

“I quickly went inside and I saw Chief MKO Abiola lying on the floor facing down. I called him. For the first time he answered, and I lifted him up and turned him upside and called him again for the second time he did not answer. At that time, Doctor Sadiq Sani Wali from Aso Clinic arrived and went about examining the chief. I told him we should rush the chief to the clinic for proper treatment. Myself, the Chief Security Officer, Major A. S. Aliyu, Doctor Sadiq Sani Wali and the two white men standing lifted Chief MKO Abiola into my vehicle outside for onward movement to Aso Clinic.

“Before getting to Aso Clinic, I saw Dr. Sadiq Sani Wali pressing his (Abiola’s) stomach up and down a kind of resuscitating him. As we arrived the clinic, Chief M.K.O. Abiola was rushed to the Emergency Room where I stood by with the doctors including the two white men and the Chief Security Officer, Major Aliyu, until when Dr. Sadiq Sani Wali later confirmed to us that Chief M.K.O Abiola was dead.

“We came out of the Emergency Room and the Chief Security Officer, Major A. S. Aliyu, phoned the villa, I heard him saying to the ADC please, connect me to the Head of State I have an important message for him. For about three minutes, they continued the discussion with the Head of State while he was moving towards his vehicle outside. So I didn’t hear what he was discussing with the Head of State. After the phone we both left for the villa.”

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