Former chief security officer (CSO) to the late head of state, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, yesterday defended his late boss, General Sani Abacha, insisting that the late head of state did not loot the nation’s treasury as being reported.
He also described President Muhammadu Buhari as an honest and dedicated person who deeply loved the country.
Speaking with the media in Lagos yesterday, Al-Mustapha said that most of the funds recovered in different parts of the world were kept there by the Abacha government in anticipation of sanctions likely to be imposed on the country by the international community.
Al-Mustapha insisted that a stakeholder meeting took place in Abuja involving traditional rulers, key politicians and senior members of the Abacha cabinet where it was agreed to keep some money abroad so that the country will stay afloat when the expected sanctions eventually came.
“General Sani Abacha served this country for four years and seven months and during that period, he stepped on many toes. Aside the two or three coup plots that were made known to the public, there were several others that were not made known.
“These collaborators with some members of the international community were bent on removing him from office. General Abacha is dead today but those powerful forces are yet to forgive him. While alive, General Abacha’s enemies teamed up with the international community and they threatened to impose sanctions on the country.
“There was a meeting in Abuja where it was agreed that money should be kept outside the shores of the country so that when sanction came, that money will keep Nigeria afloat. Tom Ikimi was the foreign affairs secretary then.
“At that time oil was selling for seven or eight dollars. We took no loan to run the economy and that was when we also created the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). I was embarrassed while in prison and I heard about what people called ‘Abacha Loot’. I wrote from prison to the late Abacha family to publish and make public whether those monies were in his name, date of lodgements before he became head of state or after he became head of state.
“I was at the meeting where the decision was taken but because all of us could not leave the Villa, I had to go back before the meeting ended. Like I said, Abacha stepped on toes and those people have still not forgiven him even in death.
“You should also remember that Abacha was not traveling out of the country. At the beginning of his administration he did go to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and perhaps one or two other countries and that was in 1994. Most of his travels were within Africa, so how was he able to stash such money outside the shores of the country?
“While as his CSO, the only bank account I had was with the Bank of the North and that was where my salary was paid. I went to the Army to serve my country and not to make money as I came from a well-to-do family,” he said.
Al-Mustapha pleaded with Nigerians to give him time to conclude all the court cases involving him and the federal government, just as he promised to reveal what actually took place on the day the late General Abacha died.
“Like I said before Oputa Panel, what killed Abacha was also what killed MKO Abiola. I will just plead with you to have patience; once I’m through with the court cases, they will be made public in my memoirs and they are in three volumes.”
The former CSO also declared that he was not a card carrying member of any of the political parties in the country, but he described President Buhari as a man of character, uprightness, transparency and sincerity who deeply loved the country.
“General Buhari is an honest Nigeria who has been dragged into politics. No one can question his love for the country. Even his enemies acknowledge that. And those are the qualities we saw in him; that was responsible for his appointment to head of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF).
Al-Mustapha also denied having run a killer squad while as CSO to Abacha, insisting that what he did was to pick the best hands from all the security agencies in the land to protect the head of state, adding that “even the brigade of guards who were residents within the Villa would find it impossible to carry out a successful coup against Abacha.”
He said the last 15 years had been tough for him as he was subjected to series of dehumanising punishment while in prison just to break his spirit.