Yesterday’s high court decision in Lagos to free Major Hamza Al Mustapha, close aide of late military leader Sani Abacha over the death of Kudirat Abiola, wife of Millionaire presidential aspirant M.K O Abiola brings to an end a dark chapter in Nigeria’s history.
Somebody (or group of people) need to be held responsible for killing the first lady Nigeria never had.
If Major Mustapha did not kill Kudirat, who then killed the charismatic 44 year old senior wife of Abiola? She was gunned down in a hail of bullets on the Lagos-Ibadan highway on June 4th 1996, three years after her husband was detained for claiming his right to the Nigerian presidency after he won the annulled 1993 June 12 elections.
Mrs Kudirat Abiola rose to national prominence with her very visible campaign to get her imprisoned millionaire businessman husband released from jail. She also wanted to have him installed as president following his release and so was a threat to the power of military ruler Sani Abacha who still occupies the position of Nigeria’s most brutal leader. He was also noted for his widespread human rights violations and industrial scale corruption.
Abacha as sitting president, wanted Abiola to remain in jail for as long as possible because releasing him would have threatened his own position.
Abacha was therefore the main beneficiary of Abiola’s continuous detention.
Two years later on June 8th 1998, Abacha himself died under suspicious circumstances in the presidential villa and was hurriedly buried the same day according to Muslim tradition. No autopsy was done to establish the cause of death. This fuelled speculation that he was poisoned by his political rivals possibly through some high class prostitutes.
There is a dedicated website that celebrates the life and times of Kudirat, a “mother, wife and activist. She had seven children with Abiola.
President Goodluck Jonathan will be opening a veritable can of worms if he decides to re-open investigations into the circumstances that led to Kudirat’s death. He could simply pretend to allow the laws courts to do their job but with the release of Mr Hamza Mustapha, there are no other suspects. Three men in a car shot Kudirat death. Those men are probably still alive and in Nigeria and somebody knows them and the conspiracy.
Kudirat’s husband M.K.O Abiola died on July 7th 1998, the day he was scheduled to be released. Nobody is in jail following his mysterious death. This will mean there will always be a dark shadow hanging on the psyche of Nigeria as a nation if nobody is punished for the death of two of its most notable dignitaries, M.K O. Abiola and his wife Kudirat.
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida 71, the former military leader who set all these events in motion when he cancelled the June 12 elections for no apparent reason has answers to give to the Nigerian people.
As late as 2011, he was still struggling to stand as presidential candidate.
Some things never change in Nigerian politics. The ghost of Abiola and Kudirat will haunt the Nigerian nation till their killers face justice.