Arthur Nzeribe, Ishaya Bamaiyi: Where are they now?

They were once powerful in the various positions they occupied in government, but many years after, no more news about them. ELEOJO IDACHABA reports.

Arthur Nzeribe

Many Nigerians will not forget Arthur Nzeribe in a hurry, not because he was a senator who once represented Orlu Senatorial District at various times or because he is one of the super-rich king makers from the South-east region, but largely because of the ignoble role he played using the infamous Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), a medium through which he planned to derail the 1993 presidential election. Nzeribe is someone that is synonymous with controversy. For example, while in the Senate between 1999 and 2003, he was suspended over an allegation involving N22 illionm fraud of which he was accused of planning to use in effecting the impeachment process of the then President of the Senate, Anyim Pius Anyim. After that, the Orlu Peoples’ Consultative Assembly staged a one-million man march against him in 2006 in order to drum support for his recall from the upper chamber. This dealt a serious blow on his career as he later lost the primaries of his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to Osita Izunaso in December 2006, the reason for which he could not return to the Senate. 

He was said to have quietly retired to his Oguta home; thereafter, rumour had it that the Oguta business mogul now goes on wheel chair on account of stroke. He however dispelled the rumour in a press interview when he said shortly, “I am not suffering from stroke and I cannot wish anyone to suffer stroke. But to those manufacturing and spreading this hateful speech against me, I wish them well.”

Nzeribe is known for trouble, at least in the days he still mustered strength in himself, he was always prepared to put up a fight on any matter he believes in. For instance, a newspaper quoted one Gozie Odum, a native of Oguta, while speaking about Nzeribe as saying, “We know very well that as a senator, Athur Nzeribe didn’t do anything for us, but we would have loved him to remain there for certain reasons that if anybody wants to make trouble with Oguta people, once the person remembers Athur Nzeribe and his capacity to do anything, the person will think twice.” Many years after this maverick politician left the Senate and public office, no one has heard anything about him again.

Ishaya Bamaiyi

Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi is a retired military officer and former Chief of Army Staff in the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. That was his last public appointment before he left the military in 1999 following the return to democratic rule after many years of military interregnum in politics. He was later imprisoned by the new democratic government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000 following several allegations against him. In 2008, the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua granted him pardon after spending eight years in kirikiri Prison.

Gen. Bamaiyi, as he was known by many, though a gentleman, was, however, controversial in many ways in his days in the military. For example, during the Chukwudifu Oputa-led panel that investigated human rights abuse in the days of the military, it was a revealing outburst by the former head of military intelligence, Gen. Mohammed Sabo, about the role Bamaiyi played, especially in the Abacha days. Also, it’s on record that his own elder brother, the late Musa Bamaiyi, a retired General who once headed the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), reported the younger Bamaiyi to the panel over some wrong doings. Aside from all these, he was said to be the prime suspect in the death of Alex Ibru, publisher of The Guardian Newspaper and another prominent Delta state indigene, Mr Isaac Porbeni. As a result of this, he alongside others was arraigned by Lagos state government for murder, the reason for which he spent part of his post retirement years in jail. All these, he, however, denied in a book entitled: The Vindication of a General unveiled in Abuja years after in which he decided to tell his own side of the whole stories. In that book, he said that upon handing over power to Obasanjo in 1999, Gen Abdusalami Abubakar told Obasanjo that he (Obasanjo) must be careful of him (Bamaiyi) because he may overthrow the new democratic government. He said because of that, the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Aliyu Gusau, and Obasanjo made up their minds to incarcerate him by all means. “This did not surprise me though because while we were in service, Gen. Abubakar decided to secretly investigate certain people during the Abacha rule. I had not been told, although some soldiers like Sgt Rogers were invited for investigation. When I had to replace my security officer, I asked for Capt Najaja to replace Capt Bature who was in the US; however, Gen. Abubakar said Najaja was being investigated. From that point, I knew many things were wrong,” he stated in that book. Prior to becoming the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Bamaiyi had held several appointments. For instance, he was Adjutant, 182 Infantry Battalion from 1968-70; Commanding Officer, 70 Infantry Battalion from 1972–77; Directing Staff, Command and Staff College, Jaji, from 1982–84; Commander, 9 Mechanised Brigade, from 1986 – 1990; Commander, Brigade of Guards from 1990–92; Director Training, Army Headquarters, Department of Operations from 1992–93; Commander, Lagos Garrison Command. 1993-96. He was appointed COAS by the late Gen Sani Abacha in 1996. For a long while now, this retired Genera whose fear is the beginning of wisdom has not been seen in any public event.

Fidelis Okoro

Senator Fidelis Okoro was the two-time senator that represented Enugu North in the Senate between 1999 and 2007 first on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD), but quickly crossed over to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and became an ally of former Enugu state governor, Chimaroke Nnamani through whom he got re-elected into the Senate in 2003 where he was until 2007. When he took his seat in the upper House, he became a member of many committees like Senate services, industries, agriculture and Niger Delta. Beside these, he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs. In the days that former chairman of police pension scheme, Mr. Kenny Martins’ scandal was all over the media space, Senator Okoro was said to be one of those whose behind-the-scene maneuvers led to whatever has become of the case today. In 2015, one of his sons who went by the nickname Johnny was allegedly shot dead in Abuja by a police officer for reason that has remained unclear. However, the ex-senator sued the police authorities, then FCT police commissioner and the Inspector General of Police under whose purview the murder was committed. Since then, not much has been heard about him again.

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