Describes it as media creation
By Vivian Okejeme
Despite the widespread recovery of looted funds from the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, his former Chief of Army Staff, General Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd), defended his erstwhile boss, saying he never stole state funds.
According to him, what Nigerians refer to as “Abacha loot” is a media creation.
The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, he said, was an insider of Abacha government, noting that this explained why foreign countries “do not want to listen to him concerning the country’s money lodged in foreign bank accounts.”
Speaking at the public presentation of a book “Vindication of a General,” Bamaiyi said General Abacha ruled the country to the best of his ability.
He said: “If you remember, we had problem in Sierra-Leone and Liberia under Abacha government and it was money realised under Abacha regime that we used to buy weapons and ammunition to help them fight.
“I am happy the former minister of finance said the money was not looted. But things happen and when things happen like that and you are not here to defend yourself, rumours will just be flying.
“I am not holding brief for Abacha but I would not be in a position to know if money was looted. What I know is that things do happen and I know that Abacha did very well for the country. If we see him from the bad aspect, we should also look at his good aspect and remember him for the good things he did for the country. That is why I said Abacha loot is a media creation.”
Chairman of the occasion and former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, (retd), in his remarks, commended General Bamaiyi for the spirit and candour with which he rendered account of his experience in the book.
The former Head of State also recalled that the role he played and the position he assumed in the coup that brought him to power was not planned, but foisted on him by circumstance of politics of the time.
He said: “On reflection, the circumstance that brought about military coup in Nigeria and thus brought the military into politics is responsible for the cycle of coup and counter coup that followed then till the late 1990s.
“This has led me to the inexorable conclusion that the musical chair of coup and counter coup that followed after me could only be explained to be for other consideration rather than for the defence of Nigeria’s unity for which so much blood was shed and life sacrificed.”