By Hafsat Abiola-Costello
The write-up, “A call to national service: The MKO Abiola autopsy”, published in the Vanguard of April 21, 2017, seems to promote any other cause except the just.
The article could be faulted on many fronts. Here is a paragraph from it:
“However, in the particular circumstance it was decided to carry out toxicology examination of the tissues and body fluids in the forensic laboratory in Toronto, Canada. It had been reported that the deceased had been served tea when his designated carer had not been present. I signed the release of the samples for toxicology investigation to Dr. Young to be carried out in the Toronto forensic laboratories in Ontario, Canada. We the home pathologists completed our report to the coroner showing that the death was due to the seen natural causes, and that toxicology examination was also being carried out.”
It was wrong to have addressed the press on the cause or causes of the death when the report of toxicology examination was not yet available, especially in the light of the fact that a hale and hearty Abiola died immediately after being served the cup of tea.
Then who among the local doctors, representative of the Abiola family, NMA, etc., was in Canada to monitor the toxicology examination to ensure the integrity of the process?
In the very first place, why was Abiola served tea without the knowledge of his “designated carer”? It is suspicious given the fact that in Nigeria, no one is allowed to give food or water to a detainee or prisoner without first taking part of it. In this case, the tea in question was not tasted by any member of the American delegation who served it.
The pathologist-writer appears to give himself away as doing a public relation job for the Abdusalami regime when he said: “General Abdulsalami promptly freed political detainees. The changes he effected were surprising, considering that the two leaders came from the same stable, namely, the Nigerian army. Such divergence in governance hardly ever occurs in civilian administrations, one supposes, because the laws and rules of the game are more or less followed. However, Chief M. K. O. Abiola who was still in detention one month after General Abdulsalami assumed power also suddenly died on July 7, the day on which he was due to be released.”
How did he know my father was to be released on July 7? Was he put in General Abdusalam’s confidence? And if he was, could he find out from the General why his regime released other political prisoners in a timely manner, but not MKO?
Just in case this writer has forgotten, pro-democracy activists received a credible report of the intention of the military junta to murder my father rather than release him.
On page 19 of Professor Wole Soyinka’s autobiography, You Must Set Forth At Dawn, for instance, he recounts the following ominous message that he received mere days to my father’s death: “A notorious gang in the Nigerian Army has concluded their plan to assassinate Chief Moshood Abiola as a final settlement of the Abacha/Abiola war in a ‘no victor, no vanquished way’. Believe it or not, if the report given to me is anything to go by, Chief Abiola’s death could come within few days.”
Meeting between Wole Soyinka and Kofi Annan
Unfortunately, that urgent message reached Professor Soyinka only after he had met Kofi Annan, then Secretary General of the United Nations in Vienna and was too late to mount an international alert on the intention to kill my father. As predicted, MKO died mysteriously a few days after.
Further lending credence to this warning was the fact that before my father’s death, General Obasanjo was approached by General Babangida with the possibility of running for office. According to an interview General Obasanjo gave, he reportedly asked, “What about Abiola?” IBB assured him that my father would be “taken care of.”
We have since moved on with our lives since the supreme sacrifice by my father and others paved the way for the democracy we now enjoy, believing that the truth about his sudden death will one day be known. But let no one play on the intelligence of Nigerians that MKO died of natural causes.
Yet, a word for the lackeys who are always in a hurry to cover up wrong-doing in the name of loyalty. Cease the deceits, denial and complicity. Ultimately, by failing to release MKO, the regime bears full responsibility for his death. As Martin Luther King cautioned long ago, “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” Rest assured, whatever side of history you fall on, my father will have his day.
Hafsat Abiola is the daughter of the business mogul and acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola.