By Bashir Adefaka
“If Olusegun Obasanjo, lucky elected President, who himself as beneficiary of presidential pardon having been involved in more convincing 1995 alleged coup plot, failed to pardon even people wrongly implicated and imprisoned with him; if Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua could not pardon Olanrewaju because his presidency was short-lived by his still painful death; if Goodluck Jonathan for six years failed to pardon the right persons that Olanrewaju represents but pardoned the wrong ones like Alayeimaiseigha being political benefactor, we call on you to prove different by personally and specifically calling for the file of this General and closing your eyes to favourably treat his matter once and for us. Posterity will always smile at you thereafter and for life.”
Aside being citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Akure, Ondo State, South West Nigeria, I am a diehard Buharist and journalist that many have adjudged a no-nonsense on the path of patriotism. I do not compromise the unity of Nigeria. So, whatever I will put down in this piece, there will be more questions to be answered by whoever will accuse me of anything other than to conclude that I do it for the good of the President, the government and the country.
Mr. President, General Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, what is it about General Tajudeen Adeniyi Olanrewaju (Rtd) that, despite our many appeals for over four years now, you have continued to play “I hear nothing” to the cries for him to be pardoned? We called on you in the morning, we called on you in the early/after noon and we called on you in the night. This time that I put this together is precisely Tahajud (midnight prayer) time when Allah is said to be at the sky nearest to the earth of humans. This is so because my heart has continued to bleed any time I remember this innocent General that has been one of few who have done their best for the good of this country just like you.
The bleeding rate worsens, especially when one comes to remember how even the very person, Lt. General Oladipo Diya, believed to have committed the offence of coup plotting against General Sani Abacha government along some other offenders, including a former governor whose international corruption and UK bail jumping nearly destroyed Nigeria’s image internationally, was pardoned by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, during his administration but left this fine General, Olanrewaju, in the cold for no reason. We called the attention of Jonathan to this he never showed interest in considering our calls. But what is the offence of this General? Nobody has anything to say.
I did my underground work and found out that Olanrewaju has no offence against even Abacha other than there are some people mainly from Lagos his birth place, who either avoid telling the truth to President Buhari about this matter because of fear that a pardon for General Olanrewaju, a man considered by many as man of integrity, who never stole any government money neither does he smoke nor womanise as officer of the Nigerian Army, will be an overshadow for their political clout.
This was further discovered because, I still remember Abacha lingered over the decision to kill those Generals and other officers of the Diya and Co (1997) including the main man, Lt. General Oladipo Diya, GCON, because he was not comfortable with implication of Olanrewaju and he showed his pains that the Lagos-born General was among being that he knew quite well that Olanrewaju could not have plotted coup against him. If this is not true, why was Olanrewaju not shown in any video the like of which Diya and Adisa were shown crying before Abacha and late dark-goggled General at a particular point offered Diya tissue paper to clean his tears?
All panels including the Military Tribunal led by now late General Victor Malu and the later time Oputa Panel exonerated General Olanrewaju, yet, while the main accused with evidence of coup plot, Diya, has since been pardoned, Olanrewaju continues to be left in the cold with his entitlements and salaries still held for no reason by the government of the country that this Prince of Lagos State fought the Civil War to keep together as one. What a Nigeria! What a Country of our Father!!
I will not talk much here, but I can only remind General Muhammadu Buhari of letters written last year (if asked to provide evidence, it can be provided) by Mrs Ruth Akiyode, wife of Late Lt. Colonel Oluwole Akiyode, who was tortured to death in prison while military boys – obviously working for those that mischievously implicated General Tajudeen Olanrewaju – were trying to coerce him to say incriminating things that would justify their implication of his boss, Olanrewaju, who was Akiyode’s boss as Minister of Communications at that time. After all the widow of over 20 years has said in that letter pleading with President Buhari “as a man of justice and a listening leader, please pardon my husband in death and his boss, General Tajudeen Olanrewaju and pay them their benefits and entitlements”, what else does the President want us to say? The widow even further wrote another to the wife of the President, Aisha, who also did not even acknowledge her letter talk less she would act helping appeal to her husband.
Recall Akiyode was in the Military Intelligence and until his arrest along with his boss, over the Diya Coup served Nigeria as Special Assistant to the Minister of Communications.
Personally, I, Prince Bashir Adefaka, interviewed General AbdulKarim Adisa at his White House Ilorin GRA residence in 2002 and each time I tried to get the side of General Olanrewaju in his account of the coup experience he jumped. He never mentioned Olanrewaju. I asked him: “General, was there actually a coup?” He said there was a coup but that Olanrewaju was his only pity but that his book on the way would tell the story clearly. I am not really sure if Daddy Adisa was able to put the book he said would be launched by General Ibrahim Babangida together before his accident and subsequent death, what I can lay my hands upon is the book written just about two years ago by the mastermind of Olanrewaju’s implication, Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi, copies of which are now available to many.
In the Bamaiyi’s book, which was immediately torn to shred by many including Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Babangida, Abdulsalaam Abubakar and Olanrewaju himself, as well as late Colonel Gabriel Ajayi, his former second-in-command at Lagos Garrison Command, he raised many issues and made comments that were enough for President Buhari to have seen the light, in addition to the recommendations of Oputa Panel that directed pardon of all the officers of 1995 and 1997 alleged coups, why General Tajudeen Olanrewaju should be pardoned expressly and all his benefits and entitlements restored to him. But two years, even, after that Bamaiyi’s book, which in spite of everything with its clear mention of how Diya was alone in the act, consciously did not mention Olanrewaju in any complications regarding the coup plot, this Presidency has still kept all of us in the dark over it.
If therefore a man, who has paid his dues not only as a brilliant Commander Corps of Artillery of the Nigerian Army but also Brigade Commander, 328 Brigade, Akure, Commander of Air Defence Igbara Oke, Ondo State, Acting Military Governor of Ondo State, General Officer Commanding Third Mechanised Division Nigerian Army Jos, Member, Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) now known as Federal Executive Council by virtue of being a GOC at that time, and above all Minister of Communications of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and whose White Paper so far is adjudged the best for the repositioning of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), if therefore such a man is treated this way, I can only repeat once again: What a Nigeria! What a Country of our Father!!
But my hope is not totally lost because, I want to believe that it was because of the confusion caused most parts of the Buhari’s first term, he could not concentrate enough to attend to this matter. I now speak directly to the mind of the President in the following manner:
My Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,
My Yoruba people of Akure Ondo State would say, “Mo ya majiya l’ofa ki mma baa jiya” (meaning that, I struggled for good life so I would not suffer in life). I decided to stay away from those who wanted to run Nigeria down and therefore have been working for the good of the country so that the country will bless and favour me like it does to other patriots. How come the country that I help work for as a patriotic journalist and citizen for many years, particularly in the over four years that you have come to power, is not blessing and favouring me? How do I mean? Whenever I see somebody unjustly treated, I am the person that is directly affected. I joined the Buharism struggle because I found out that General Muhammadu Buhari was being unjustly treated and we worked hard to make you great again as our President and we did it again and got you a second term against the will of the affluent elites including those in Coalition led by a former ruler that believes he is lord over all of us.
General Tajudeen Olanrewaju is the man at the centre of the storm being unjustly treated at this time. And as a man of justice, leader with God consciousness and listening ears, a man of integrity and, above all, a pragmatic person, I appeal to you, President Buhari, to please do us all the PATRIOTIC FRIENDS OF PMB a single favour of not only pardoning General Tajudeen Adeniyi Olanrewaju (Rtd), his late aide, Lt. Colonel Akiyode, tortured to death, but also ensuring that all their withheld benefits are paid to him and his aide and their entitlements as retired Army officers are restored. Today, General Diya that did things that Bamaiyi hid behind to implicate General Olanrewaju (obviously on envy ground because of rumour he was being intended by the Head of State to replace Diya as Second-in-Command) is fully guarded by soldiers. Olanrewaju, who is innocent, deserves the same entitlements. Nigeria would have been so unkind and ungrateful to him and us, if General Olanrewaju, husband of Oluyemisi, is not pardoned and honoured with restoration of his happiness that is benefits and entitlements.
By doing us this – just like you did forgiving and honouring with GCFR MKO Abiola, a man that sponsored your Military regime’s Chief of Army State, to overthrow you as Military Head of State on 31st December 1993 – Mr. President, you will have further built our confidence in our country, Nigeria that Nigeria is a society where bring goodhearted pays, if you pardon General Tajudeen Olanrewaju and let the man regain his happiness and justify his support for your emergence in 2015 once again.
If Olusegun Obasanjo, lucky elected President, who himself as beneficiary of presidential pardon having been involved in more convincing 1995 alleged coup plot, failed to pardon even people wrongly implicated and imprisoned with him; if Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua could not pardon Olanrewaju because his presidency was short-lived by his still painful death; if Goodluck Jonathan for six years failed to pardon the right persons that Olanrewaju represents but pardoned the wrong ones like Alayeimaiseigha being political benefactor, we call on you to prove different by personally and specifically calling for the file of this General and closing your eyes to favourably treat his matter once and for us. Posterity will always smile at you thereafter and for life.
God bless Nigeria!
*Bashir Adefaka, a Prince of Isolo Akure, Ondo State, is a Lagos-based Nigerian Journalist. Reach him via his email: email@example.com.