Samuel Awoyinfa, Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has faulted the claim by a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, that he (Obasanjo) planned to kill the former army chief.
Wondering why he would want to kill Bamaiyi, Obasanjo stated that his government between 1999 and 2007 arrested the former COAS to clear his name for allegedly killing other people during the reign of military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.
He said this on Sunday at his Presidential Hilltop residence in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital while hosting members of the Ogun State Correspondents’ chapel.
The former President argued that the former Chief of Army Staff was arrested by law enforcement agencies in the country for alleged criminal acts.
Bamaiyi, in his recent book, ‘Vindication of A General’, accused Obasanjo of plotting to kill him to scuttle any plan by the former army chief from toppling his administration.
In the book, Bamaiyi stated, “Upon handing over power to Gen. Obasanjo in May 1999, Gen. (Abdulsalami) Abubakar told the new civilian President that he must rein in General Bamaiyi, else, he would overthrow the new government and from that moment, General Aliyu Gusau, the then National Security Adviser, and President Obasanjo made it a duty to imprison me by all means.
“When Obasanjo took over, some Peoples Democratic Party big shots decided that based on the report, I had control of the Army and should be arrested. The government looked for avenues to arrest me.
“They started by checking Army accounts to see if I had stolen money.”
When reacting to Bamaiyi’s allegations, Obasanjo, who was visibly angry, denied any plot by his government to kill Bamaiyi, but admitted his regime arrested him to ensure that he answered for his misdeeds.
Obasanjo added, “That I wanted to kill him? What of the people he allegedly killed? My government did not plot to kill him. My government asked him to answer for those that were alleged to have been killed by him and that is legitimate.
“That is if there is an allegation that you have done something, that you have committed a crime, then you are arrested; you should answer. That’s all; pure and simple!
“Who the hell is he that I would want to kill him? Kill him for what? To achieve what? No! There were allegations, the police and the law enforcement agencies decided to look into the allegations.
“They invited him and they asked him to answer as a result of what was found, so they charged him to court. So, it’s now up to him, the investigators, as I said, the prosecutors and the judiciary. That’s all.”
Obasanjo suggested a three-pronged approach of thorough investigation, diligent prosecution and ensuring that the judiciary is committed as a better way of fighting corruption.
This approach, he believed, would make anti-corruption agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission more effective.
The former President asked the anti-graft bodies to utilise the lawyers in its fold rather than engaging lawyers from outside the agencies to handle the prosecution of their cases.
Obasanjo believed that lawyers from outside the agencies might deliberately file a weak case just to give the other party an advantage.
He said, “To make the anti-graft agencies more effective, we need more light than heat. I was reading today when the President said the EFCC should stop losing cases.
They lose cases for a number of reasons. One, they engage more of outside lawyers. I believe that they need staunch ‘ogbologbo’ lawyers inside (within the agencies) that will do the work.
“If I am a lawyer and I want the opponent to win a case, what I will file will be wishy-washy. And if I file a wishy-washy case, the opponent will see the loophole and he will get out of it. I believe that it is important.
“Secondly, thorough investigation is very important. Now, investigation must be thorough, it must be proper and it must be really taking seriously.
“Our judges must be committed to fighting corruption because if the investigation is very sound and you have ‘ogbologbo’ lawyers to handle cases, if you have ‘Salamigate’ you know what the answer will be.
“So it is a line – investigation, prosecution and the judiciary. If there is a weakness along this line, chances are that corruption cases will continue to be lost.”
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