CSF on Oputa Report 01012005
December 28, 2006 | posted by Nigerian Muse (Archives)

Oputa panel report indicts Abdulsalami govt over Abiola

By Kayode Matthew
Monday, January 03, 2005

LAGOS — THE Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (HRVIC) which probed allegations of human rights violations in the country from 1966 to 1999 has said in its report that Chief MKO Abiola died in suspicious circumstances and the General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s government knew much more than it admitted on his death.

In a publication of the seven-volume report of the commission by the Civil Society Forum, the report regards the denial of Chief Abiola’s mandate as a serious infringement. Said the report: "In the case of Chief Moshood Abiola, we are of the view that the government of the day knew much more than it has admitted. We believe that the denial of Chief Moshood Abiola’s mandate was a violation of the rights of Nigerians to freely choose their leaders. We regard this as serious infringement.

"We also believe that Chief Moshood Abiola’s death was the result of his incarceration and the denial of access to adequate medical attention. The testimony of the Chief Security Officer to the then Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, was full of contradictions.

"From the evidence before us, Chief Abiola died in suspicious circumstances. The commission, therefore, recommends a thorough investigation to throw light on and inform the Nigerian people on what killed Chief Moshood Abiola.

The Human Rights Commission, otherwise called Oputa Panel, also investigated the murders, assassinations and disappearances of other prominent Nigerians and made recommendations on the cases of Chief Alfred Rewane, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Mr. Dele Giwa and Mr. Bagauda Kaltho.

According to the report, "with respect to the cases of Chief Rewane, Kudirat Abiola and other cases, the commission passed the relevant files to the Attorney General of the Federation for further action. The Attorney-General of the Federation then forwarded the files to the High Court in Lagos, where the cases are being prosecuted.

"As for the case of Dele Giwa, we are of the view that beyond the legal technicalities that some of the key witnesses hung on to, the Federal Government should be encouraged to re-open up this case for proper investigation.

"In the case of Bagauda Kaltho, there is enough prima facie to lead us to the conclusion that there was complicity by agents of government in the case. We, therefore, recommend that the case be re-opened for proper re-investigation and possible prosecution of the perpetrators."

The Oputa Panel also frowned at the refusal of three former Heads of State to appear before it to defend themselves in petitions filed against them.

The panel indicted Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar in the petitions filed against them and condemned their refusal to appear before it.

It, therefore, recommended that "since they did not avail themselves of the opportunity to come and tell their own side of the story, as the president and some former and serving senior governments did, we leave a blank space on our records against each and everyone of the three former Heads of State as evidence that we are leaving them and their side of the story in the court of human history.

"We recommend to the Federal Government that all the former Heads of State be considered to have surrendered their right to govern Nigeria and Nigerians at any other time in the future. It is left for Nigerians to judge."

Sunday Punch, January 02, 2005

Reopen deaths of MKO, Kudirat, Dele Giwa, others – Oputa panel’s report

Kunle Oderemi

A fresh revelation on the Oputa panel report indicates that the panel recommended that the Federal Government should visit the cases surrounding the death of prominent citizens such as Chief MKO Abiola, his wife, Kudirat, Chief Alfred Rewane and Mr. Dele Giwa.

The comprehensive report of the panel set up in 1999 and headed by retired Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, emphatically stated that the cases should be re-opened for proper investigation in the public interest.

Abiola, a business mogul and politician, died mysteriously in 1998, after spending four years in incarceration over the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, which he won.

The Late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha threw him behind the bars for declaring himself as the winner of the election widely described as the most peaceful and freest in the annals of the nation.

His wife, Kudirat, was also assassinated in Lagos on June 4, 1996, over her campaign for the de-annulment of the election, while another notable businessman, Chief Alfred Rewane was also killed in curious circumstances during the clamour for the revalidation of the poll.

He was killed on October 6, 1995.

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka at a book launch in Ibadan, to commemorate the 4th anniversary of Ige, called on the Federal Government to institute a panel of enquiry to unveil the mystery behind his assassination.

On December 23, 2001, Chief Ige, who was the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, was killed at his private residence by suspected assassins.

Another notable figure, Mr. Dele Giwa, a vibrant journalist, was assassinated through a parcel bomb in October, 1986 during the regime of former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

The detailed report of the panel is contained in a publication by a coalition of civil society organisation, Civil Society Forum (CSF), a copy of which was made available to Sunday Punch in Lagos on Saturday.

In its 32-point recommendation, the panel stated as a prelude to the revisiting the cases, by the government, the office of the Inspector-General of Police was asked to call for investigation into the cases already sent to it by the panel.

“The Commission forwarded the cases of Chief Alfred Rewane, and Alhaja Kudirat Abiola; to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, who in turn forwarded the files to the High Court of Lagos, where the cases are being prosecuted.

“Arising from the cases are the arraignment of General Ishaya Bamaiyi, and others before various High Courts in Lagos.

“The petitions from alleged victims about the alleged violations of their human rights by the aforementioned persons (Gen. Bamaiyi and others) were dealt with in Volumes Four and Six of this Reports.”

“However, while we affirm that matters pending before our courts should take their normal course, we advise that, in the spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation, unity and peaceful co-existence, which the commission has laboured in this report, the president may wish to consider a political solution as an alternative process or else accelerate the hearing of these cases.

The report emphatically stated that cases surrounding the death of Abiola should not be glossed over, but must be properly investigated.

“The Federal Government should open the case of Chief Moshood Abiola again for proper investigation in the public interest.”

The commission also insisted that the case over the assassination of Dele Giwa must be revisited.

“The Federal Government should open up the case of Dele Giwa for proper investigation.”

Another striking feature of the report was the recommendation that all security organs such as the National Guard should be swapped because of their human rights abuse records.

“It is recommended that security outfits as the Strike Force, Body Guards and National Guards, which reared their ugly heads and were used to abuse the rights of Nigerians with impurity be scrapped.

“The outfits such as the State Security Service (SSS) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), should be re-oriented to uphold the rights of Nigerians.”

Government’s failure to release the report after the commission submitted it about two year ago has continuously triggered public controversy.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Akinlolu Olujimi (SAN) recently said that the government was hamstrung over the matter because of a Supreme Court ruling declaring the commission illegal.

But some legal luminaries, including the president of the African Bar Association (ABA), Mr. Femi Falana, have faulted the government claim, giving conditions under which the report could be officially released.

A statement by the coalition of the civil society groups, which published the report, said the Supreme Court decision did not stop the recommendations from being published by non-governmental bodies.

Part of the statement signed by the co-ordinator of the CSF, Mr. Segun Odebunmi and the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. George Ehusani, reads:

“Stakeholders of the Civil Society Forum were convinced that though there is a court ruling that voided the Commission, as a result of which the government may not be compelled to implement the recommendations, the ruling nevertheless did not foreclose the publication of the findings of the Commission by individuals and non-governmental organisations for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

“This is why the Civil Society Forum has undertaken the publication of the seven-volume report, beginning with the Executive Summary and Recommendations, which we now present to the Nigerian public in book form. The entire report is available on the website: www.oputapanelreport.org. Please, use your reputable medium to support the dissemination of the findings of this Commission for the good of the Nigerian people.

“We believe that a better Nigeria is possible, but we must first know the truth of our battered history, and be determined that never again shall we give dictatorship a chance in our motherland.”


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