1983 COUP: How Buhari’s regime maltreated southern, Christian politicians — Akande

By Clifford Ndujihe & Dapo Akinrefon

FORMER Governor of Osun State and Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Bisi Akande, has accused the General Muhammadu Buhari-led military regime of employing double standards in treatment of political detainees after the December 31, 1983 military coup.

According to him, Southern and Christian political leaders got a raw deal compared to their Northern and Muslim counterparts during the regime’s onslaught against politicians in 1984 in the guise of fighting graft.

Writing in “My participations,” his 557-page autobiography, which was launched last week, Chief Akande, who recalled his ordeals in various detention centres from Ibadan to Bonny Camp and Kirikiri Prison, said the maltreatment of detained southern and Christian political leaders was palpable.

For instance, of the 19 states of the country at the time, only the deputy governors of Oyo State were tried and while Vice President Alex Ekwueme was hauled into prison, President Shehu Shagari was detained at a comfortable Federal Government Guest House in Ikoyi. 

His words:  “The roll call at Bonny Camp was who-was-who in the defunct Second Republic. There I met former governors Ige of Oyo, Adekunle Ajasin of Ondo, Bisi Onabanjo of Ogun, Ambrose Alli of Bendel, Lateef Jakande of Lagos, Adamu Ata of Kwara, Jim Nwobodo of Anambra, Sam Mbakwe of Imo, Melford Okilo of Rivers and Clement Isong of Cross River.

“Also with us at Bonny Camp were S.M. Afolabi, my predecessor as deputy governor who served briefly as President Shagari’s minister of Education and Chief Ogedengbe, another former minister from Ondo State.

“I felt strangely discriminated against among them all because I did not meet any other deputy governor apart from Chief Afolabi.

“In 1984, there were 19 states in Nigeria, 10 from the North and nine from the South. I ruminated and asked myself: ‘Why has Oyo State been singled out for maltreatment of deputy governors?’ I concluded that the ways of the military had no rhyme or reason…

“One day, former Vice President Alex Ekwueme joined us in Kirikiri. He appeared visibly perplexed, shaken with emotion and he wept bitterly as he was shoved into his cell on our floor.

“Unlike the Vice President, President Shagari was being detained in a luxurious Federal Government Guest House in Ikoyi.

“There was a sudden pall of gloom everywhere. Many of us felt sad and agitated about the humiliation being meted out to the vice president.

“Thereafter, pockets of corridor talks began among the inmates. The theme, all over, was that there were double standards in the arrests and humiliation of politicians from the South and the North, between Christians and Muslims with the southerners, and Christians suffering the worse treatment.”

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