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Nigeria Masterweb News Report

    Dateline: 21/07/2001 04:46:38

    How Abiola was Killed

    In the course of cross examining ASP Theodore Zadok, late Abiola's Chief Security Officer while he was in prison, Lagos Lawyer Mr. Femi Falana read from a confidential document he obtained from the American Embassy. It was written by the former US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Twaddel after Abiola's death it reads: "As we walked to the sitting arrangement, he allegedly bantered with Pickering recalling with precise detail their two meetings 17 and 18 years ago. Where they had occurred, the other persons present and the subject of their conversation. Abiola provided most of the detail. Pickering supplying other tit bits and leading recollections."

    Falana: Would you agree with me that Abiola was with his senses through out the duration of his detention to your knowledge?
    Zadok: Yes my lord.

    Falana: That is Twaddel. He also said that Abiola was given tea but that he didn't take it. Now the autopsy report prepared by their doctors, the doctors they flew in just listen to this. "After a few minutes in the meeting, he suddenly complained of illness. He was offered some tea which was poured by US embassy personnel." (Which US diplomat poured him the tea? Find Out now!!<=Story Link by NMW) To your knowledge as a senior security officer, do you know of any situation in Nigeria, where a foreigner had given tea or food or water to any detainee?
    Zadok: No, my lord. To the best of my knowledge, anytime I've taken Abiola several times to Aguda House for an interview and any time I got there, we have our personnel who are there in Aguda, it's their duty to prepare tea and they have to prepare this tea in my presence and once they taste it then it is my duty to taste it in front of Chief before I hand it over to him.

    Falana: Would you agree that since Abiola was detained, this was the only occasion you did not taste the tea he was offered? Is that correct?
    Zadok: It's very correct my lord. I used to buy water for Abiola. The whole water he drinks is Swan water. And there is never a time I just removed an unsealed bottle of swan water without opening it and tasting in his presence before passing the rest to him for drinking.

    Falana: Usually that is done by security men and women to prevent any harm been done to your subject. Is that correct?
    Zadok: Yes my Lord.

    Falana: Now you were tricked. Would you agree with me that you were tricked to the office of the Chief of General Staff so that you would not be around when that situation would occur, from the benefit of hindsight now.
    Zadok: It may be so but I had that confidence that I was leaving him with somebody more than me.

    Falana: That is Major Aliyu..
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: Now Abiola was arrested on 23 June 1994, to your knowledge, is that correct?
    Zadok: Yes my Lord.

    Falana: He was arrested in Lagos and detained for two days, are you aware of that?
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: From Lagos he was taken to Gashua Prison in 1994, are you aware of that?
    Zadok: Not aware, my Lord..

    Falana: From Gashua Prison he was transferred to Kano, are you aware of that?
    Zadok: Not, my Lord.

    Falana: From Kano Prisons he was brought to Abuja in a Black Maria were he was arraigned before a Federal High Court, are you aware of that?
    Zadok: I am aware of his arraignment, but not aware of from where he was brought.

    Falana: As a matter of fact you took his affairs in 1996.
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: And for those two years you were fully in charge of him?
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: Now officer, those documents you handed over to the government through Alhaji Kingibe, are you aware if those documents have been returned to the family?
    Zadok: My Lord, I have a copy of the properties here with me.

    Falana: Thank you very much.
    Zadok: When I met Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, in my presence he made a contact call with the wife of the late Chief telling her of some of the property that were in the possession Chief M K O Abiola that were now with him, and that he would like somebody to come forward and collect them.

    Falana: Now, do you have the inventory as you call it.
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana (addressing Justice Oputa) : Sir, we seek to tender the inventory...you have the request...
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord...yes, my Lord

    Falana: Reports for medical attention?
    Zadok: Provisions and medical attention..

    Falana: We also seek to tender this...
    Zadok: You mean the properties?

    Falana: Yes
    Zadok: Why I handed them over to Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe was that, when the family of Chief M K O Abiola and the son came down to Abuja, I was told they were with him so I believed they had a cordial relationship.

    Falana: Between 1996 and 1998, that was the only time the family members were allowed to see Abiola, is that correct?
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: Wont you therefore agree with me that they were allowed to see Abiola to bid him farewell?
    Zadok: Well, I wouldn't say..

    Falana: But that was the only time?
    Zadok: I wouldn't say so.

    Falana: Now, if you wouldn't say so, let's look at this other scenario for this your subject. The head of the American delegation that met Abiola, Under Secretary Thomas Bickering,...
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord...

    Falana: ..Addressed a press conference in Abuja later that day, saying that Abiola died of natural causes, are you aware of this?
    Zadok: I'm not aware, my Lord.

    Falana: Are you also aware that before the so-called autopsy was carried out, the US President, Bill Clinton, said that he was sending a condolence message to Nigeria to and the family of Abiola because Abiola died of natural causes, are you aware of that?
    Zadok: I'm aware of it, my Lord...

    Falana: Yes...my Lord, that is all for this witness.
    Falana: You have been following the proceedings before this August commission, particularly with respect to Abiola's case?
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: You know in Lagos, Brig.-Gen. Ibrahim Sabo gave evidence to the effect that on the very day the Late General Sani Abacha died, that General Bamaiyi in Aso Rock to say, now that Abacha is dead, can't we also kill Abiola in the same manner to balance the equation?
    Zadok: I heard it, my Lord.

    Falana: When you later learned that Chief M K O Abiola died in those circumstances, won't you agree with me that he was killed from all the circumstances?
    Zadok: My Lord, that very particular time that this incident happened, in fact, I was not myself because as Abiola said, I am holding him as a father..

    Falana: And he took you like a son?
    Zadok:(concurring) :...And he took me like a son... I want to tell you one story today. General Abdusalami Aliyu informed me that the same seventh day of July, by 4 O'clock...

    Falana: 1998?
    Zadok: 1998, that I should make arrangements for a plane to move Abiola to Lagos and that he would be free. So that is why I told you that I was not myself when I discovered that Abiola is dead on the same day.

    Falana: Officer, that plane eventually carried Abiola's dead body to Lagos.
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: Is that your answer? What was carried to Lagos was Abiola's dead body..
    Zadok: But not the same day because Abiola was kept like two weeks before his dead body was taken away

    Falana: Taken to Lagos...Now, you said you had to send to Aso Rock to fetch Doctor Wali, that is, from Akinola Aguda House. Didn't you have radio or walkie talkie?
    Zadok: My Lord, I didn't know why the Chief Security Officer had to do that because he was in the possession of cellullar, and Dr. Sadiq Wali was also in the possession of a cellullar and a telephone on his table at the Aso Clinic. So, why he decided to send a driver and vehicle to pick him, he is to answer the question, my Lord.

    Falana: Now, while this rigmarolling was going on, going to Aso Rock Clinic to bring the doctor, Abiola was reeling in pains on the floor?
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord.

    Falana: Finally officer, don't you agree with me that car, your own car, was left behind for the purpose of using it to convey Abiola to Aso Rock Clinic?
    Zadok: My Lord at...

    Falana: Because it was tinted.
    Zadok: Yes, my Lord. At any given time I have a security vehicle on the ground because of any eventuality. So, I wouldn't have even liked to use my vehicle to see Admiral Akhigbe because I have a BG ( body guard) who is behind and whom I can pass the same instruction to.

    Falana: Now, this other one you said. Who ordered the stoppage of the feeding allowance for Abiola?
    Zadok: I wouldn't say a particular person ordered it. As I said in my statement I do collect this money quarterly, and at the end of June, I expect another quarter to materialize.

    Falana: Yes, first week of July. But because Abiola was going to die on the 7th of July it was no longer necessary.
    Zadok: I wouldn't know.

    Falana: That General Abdulasalami and his CSO, Major Aliyu, should assist this commission by coming here to explain how Abiola died, won't you agree with me?
    Zadok: I think so, my Lord.

    Falana: Thank you sir.
    Yakubu Maikyau (Bamaiyi's counsel) on Zadok

    Maikyau: You said General Bamaiyi visited Abiola before he died.
    Zadok: Yes, he visited Chief Abiola before he died and I said so.

    Maikyau: Did he come alone or was he in company of the service chiefs?
    Zadok: He came in company of the service chiefs.

    Maikyau: You are sure he came in company of the service chiefs or he came alone?
    Zadok: I can't remember very well but I think he came in company of the service chiefs.

    Maikyau: What was Abiola's feelings after his meeting with Anyaoku?
    Zadok: Abiola was happy with the meeting with Anyaoku as they embraced and took photographs.

    Maikyau: Was General Bamayi with the American delegation when they visited?
    Zadok: General Bamaiyi was not around when the American delegation visited.

    Maikyau: Was General Bamaiyi in Agura House when Chief Abiola died?
    Zadok: No, he was not around.

    Maikyau: In other words, would you be surprised if you are told that General Bamaiyi was not in the delegation of the service chiefs when they visited Chief Abiola?
    Zadok: No.

    Maikyau: Are you aware that Chief Abiola wrote General Bamaiyi while in detention?
    Zadok: Yes.

    Maikyau: Do you know the content of the letter?
    Zadok: The letters were sealed before they were given to me, so I don't know the content.

    (Maikyau tried to tender a copy of the letter Chief Abiola wrote to General Bamaiyi but the commission said they had it in their possession)

    Chief Clement Akpamgbo (Mustapha's counsel) on Zadok

    Akpamgbo: Did Mustapha ever stop Chief Abiola's feeding allowance?

    Response: Major Mustapha never stopped the feeding allowance of Chief Abiola.

    Akpamgbo: Who removed the bodyguards you were working with?

    Zadok: The new CSO, Major Aliyu removed the bodyguards.

    Akpamgbo: Was Chief Abiola's movement out of his former detention center for his safety?

    Zadok: Yes, Chief Abiola's movement out of his former detention center was for his safety.

    Oumar Shitien, counsel to Sabo, on Zadok

    Shitien: Were you always in the room where these meetings you referred to were held?

    Zadok: Yes I was always in the room but my seat was far from where they discussed

    Shitien: Did you ever hear Chief Abiola say anything about his mandate?

    Zadok: In the meeting between Chief Abiola and Admiral Akhigbe, he repeatedly said he will never abandon his mandate.

    Shittien: You said that Chief Abiola wrote some letters, cast your mind back to the one dated 2/7/98 and tell us what you know about it

    Zadok: The letter dated 2/7/98 is where he regretted about the roles played by General Abacha and Yar'adua to betray him. It also contained request for approval of condolence letter to Mrs. Maryam Abacha.

    Shittien: What was his response after these meetings he had with the service chiefs?

    Zadok: Anytime a meeting is held with Abiola, I don't usually ask him the outcome but inside the car on our way, he will start by laughing and say look at these small boys.

    Shittien: Did you ask Major Aliyu in whose care you left Chief Abiola if necessary precautions were taken like another person tasting the tea before it was given to him?

    Zadok: Since Major Aliyu was the overall security officer, I did not have the guts to ask him if all precautions were taken. Major Aliyu should be called to explain.

    Shintten: You said Kola Abiola visited with other members of the family before Chief Abiola died. So what was his state of health?

    Zadok: Kola Abiola came with his sisters and one step-mother. Abiola started preaching to them from the Bible and the wife said, Bishop, we are not here for preaching but to know your problems. They discussed well.

    Shittien: You said Chief Abiola was detained at various safe houses?

    Zadok: Yes, he was detained at Apo, Asokoro, Wuse and Kado. We had different detention centres. On the last days we moved under heavy arms.

    Shitien: You said Chief Abiola used to write notes..

    Zadok: Yes, he used to write notes in plain papers and in the open place which is the part of the bible. He used to ask me to Photostat his letters.

    Shittien: And you handed over these things to the family?

    Zadok : When I handed over the documents to Kingibe, there were none of those documents removed.

    Shittien: (Later read the note Chief Abiola wrote to General Bamaiyi)

    Falana: My lord, I ask this commission to protect this witness by directing the IG to protect him.

    I also pray that this commission should bring Abdulasalami Abubakar and his CSO, Major S. Aliyu should assist this commission by coming here to explain how Abiola died.

    (Colonel Richard Bangaje Tassah, who led the team that searched Major Mustapha's houses in Kano, Nguru and Abuja, gave evidence that he actually took away audio and video cassettes and every security-related materials found in Major Mustapha's houses. In all, he admitted taking away six Ghana-must-go bags, adding that "if you put everything recovered in Ghana-must-go bags, they may be up to 11. It contained video and audio cassettes and documents. I handed them over to Special Investigation Bureau, Military Police headquarters, Lagos.

    Asked by Falana who he specifically handed the items to, he replied: "I handed Mustapha and the items to Lt. Colonel T. Sani now retired. He said some of the cassettes were marked secret and that he did not know why they were asked to search Mustapha's houses from where arms, ammunitions and other military apparatus were recovered. After his testimony, Chief Akpamgbo asked the commission to order Lt. Colonel T. Sani to produce the items carted away to enable them put more facts before the commission.)

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