Major Hamza Al-mustapha (retd) was Chief Security Officer to Late Head of State, General Sani Abacha. Al-mustapha, who was detained for 15 years after Abacha’s death, for allegedly being accessory to murder of powerful Nigerians, including Kudirat Abiola, the wife of late MKO Abiola, in this interview with ALIYU ABUBAKAR ASKIRA says there is no such thing as Abacha loot, even as he insists that Boko Haram can’t be defeated by the President Muhammadu Buhari government among others.
Most people are finding it difficult to situate your state of origin, is it Yobe or Kano state?
I was born in Nguru, Yobe state, and went to primary and secondary schools there. I later joined the military after my secondary school. But all my grand and great grand fathers are from Koki Quarters. So we are actually from Koki Quarters in Kano Metropolis.
So to answer you correctly, I am from Kano State, but was born in Yobe state.
Is it true that when the Supreme Court acquitted you after 15 years in detention former President Goodluck Jonathan facilitated your release so you could work for him to win a second term?
It was mere coincidence of event that the Supreme Court set me free during Jonathan’s government. However, many people told me that had it been the then president wanted me to remain in detention; he would have made it possible one way or the other. He could have tampered with my case. But the truth of the matter is that it was the Supreme Court that released me, not Jonathan.
Recall that when I was released, I embarked on massive consultations with opinion leaders across the country including militants in the Niger Delta, and elders like Chief Edwin Clark. And in the North, I met with some leaders of the Northern Elder’s Forum like Ango Abdullahi, several youth leaders in the region. I also set up a Foundation The Hamza Al-Mustapha Peace and Unity Foundation and even when I was still in service, I had set up a Foundation in Nguru and raised lots of money to assist the less privileged in the area in terms of scholarship and poverty alleviation.
As CSO to late Gen Sani Abacha you were viewed in some quarters as being too powerful and having allegedly messed up several powerful military officers and politicians. What is your take on this?
As a military officer, one can only leave service when you die, when you are incapacitated, when you are dismissed or when you are involved in a coup. Happily, none of the above happened to me.
My duty as the CSO to the then Head of State, Gen Abacha, was to protect his family, to protect the seat of power, which means the government and I take directive directly from the Commander-in-Chief, even though there were other senior military officers, who by virtue of their positions, we worked hand in hand.
But under Abacha, we ran a courageous, security conscious and serious government that people thought what we were doing was dictatorship, at a point. I can tell you I was in charge of the securities of other African Heads of State like Gambia, Serra Leone, Liberia among others. But today, I can tell you with all sense of honesty, the way the government is running its affairs Nigeria needs serious prayers because I do not see any sign that kidnappings and Boko Haram activities will stop in the nearest future.
There has been a resurgence of Boko Haram attacks and we are also witnessing security challenges in Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna, Taraba and Benue states. What is your advice?
I can tell you that some of our leaders don’t even know the dynamics of Boko Haram or the issue of Kidnappings, ravaging most parts of the North. To set the record straight, Boko Haram started as far back as 1999 by some unpatriotic Nigerians in collaboration with some advances countries. All they wanted was to destroy the North and its vast resources. You know when you are in a state of crisis; you cannot have the peace of mind to exploit the vast resources in the region.
Secondly, there were also out to destroy Islam and all they do is to recruit some jobless people from our neighbouring countries including Nigerians because of poverty, equip them, give them powerful equipments and gadgets, and then they are ready to attack Nigeria to ensure that the country does not move forward.
Why is it that there no kidnappings in South-east or South-west, you only have Niger Delta militants in the South-south, we have armed personnel patrolling our boarders, so who is helping this militants to cross into Nigeria with heavy equipments?
Even when I was in prison, I was working hard to assist this country so if people said Abacha’s approach to governance is called dictatorship, then Nigerians are in for a long period of insecurity as our leaders don’t even know how and when to end the crisis.
In any war, you need dialogue, negotiation and third party intervention to come to a peaceful resolution not to go to Sambisa to chase Boko Haram insurgents away and return to base.
You had expressed intention to run for the presidency, why did you change your mind?
I formed the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) to contest for the presidency in 2019 general elections, but later I travelled out for medical check-up.
You see, when I was in detention, I went through several torture and I had several hard objects inserted in my body and I had to travel out to undergo operation to remove them, during that period. So, some people that are afraid of Hamza Al-mustapha sent their stooges to take over Green Party of Nigeria while I was away.
When I returned and discovered that and I decided to join the People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN) because their manifesto is exactly what I have in mind for this country and as you can see the elections are fast approaching so my presidential ambition now is a topic for another day.
Recently, Swiss Government released $322m part of what is called Abacha Loot with a condition that it must be shared to poor Nigerians, what is your take on that?
Nigeria is a country that has very powerful media organizations and media managers that can be given money to destroy whoever they wish, whether it will lead to the total destruction of the country or not. I can swear anytime and anywhere that there is nothing like Abacha Loot, take it from me. I can assure you that people will also read from the series of books I am going to write and which will soon be published about so many things. Take it from me and with all confidence and honesty that there was nothing like Abacha Loot.
When some Nigerian elite, including a former military Head of State, discovered that they could not control Abacha, they started mobilising foreign powers to put sanction on Nigeria, and because of that, late Gen. Abacha and the members of the Supreme Military Council, including some renowned financial experts, met and decided to create dedicated accounts outside the country but through the CBN in the name of Nigerian government.
The implication of this was that any country that tried to test Nigeria’s will or interfere in the affairs of our country, we will approach them and ask them if they are owing us, then we use money in the dedicated account to pay them off so that they will mind their business.
Abacha did not steal even a Kobo from the country’s treasury but the media succeeded in painting him like a thief. By the way, we have been hearing about the recovery of billions of naira as Abacha Loot, where is the money? Where were they kept, and which projects were they used for?
The retired former Head of State, who was campaigning for sanctions against Abacha’s government then, left to me, he would have been arrested and shot. We ran what is called serious and no-nonsense government with complete sense of discipline as our watch word. Today, Nigeria’s is derailing so fast that it will be difficult to rescue it from collapse if we do not get serious leaders.
When you were released from detention there was this allegation that some powerful Nigerians contracted you to import foreign snipers to kill about 1,000 prominent Nigerians, was there anything like that?
Let me give you a piece of the story, some powerful individuals in the country that were afraid of seeing me freed in the society contracted a Kaduna-based Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Sunusi Khaliel, and for 9 nine months, he was delivering sermons every Friday in his mosque on this particular issue. In fact, it became so serious that I noticed ordinary Nigerians that loved me were beginning to ask questions.
So, what I did was to go back to how the matter started. I have people that video-taped everything for me including documents, I even recorded the last encounter of the Ulama and this people which was recorded for me when he was collecting three small Ghana Must Go filled with money as his pay for running down Mustapha’s character.
When I put everything in order, I took him to Sharia Court for both of us to swear by the Holy Qur’an that his allegations against me were true, and when it was almost set that he will be disgraced, some respected elders called the two of us and some people to settle out of Court.
Nigeria today I can tell you is completely sick and is not being governed by a competent hand that will restore our dignity, ensure the respect of our position in Africa, or in the international Arena. Nigerians are dying of hunger and you said you are distributing N10,000 or N5,000 poverty alleviation stipends to the poor. You claimed that you have recovered billions of naira from corrupt Nigerians and put it in the Central Bank, so how can that transform to putting food on the table of the poor?
If I become president, I will use this loot recovered from corrupt Nigerians and I will be training 200,000 Nigerians on quarterly basis across the country. In fact, after training them, I will give them N5 million each so that they can be self employed. But today, you are giving people N10,000 as poverty alleviation and the best name you can give to this exercise is money recovered from Abacha loot. There is nothing like Abacha Loot.