Vanguard, October 3, 2010
What exactly do you know about the circumstances surrounding the death of your father?
Let me start by saying that I was 10 years old and was not even in the country when that coup took place. I was sent to Britain to finish my primary school.So in July or so 1965, I left the shores of Nigeria for Britain.
And I was 10 years old but I used to hear on radio that the Prime Minister had been abducted, he had been taken to Port Harcourt; he has been taken to Abeokuta and other such places. As I held unto the small transmitter radio as a small boy, in my mind I said my father is dead or they may kill my father or what ever. At the end that was what happened.
So the recent publication attributed to one of his former ministers is very sad. It is like re-opening an old wound and he said that is wrong. This man who was shot and his decomposed body was found and identified and was buried, how can someone come out today, 44 years after, to say he was not killed.
What in your opinion, could have been the motive?
The whole nation is today staggering and reeling from the effects of the greed and machinations of a small group of people. Whether those people were used, whatever is the case, they did it because they thought they were going to be free, quote and unquote, of domination by another region, another religious group or another tribe.
These were very basic sentiments which today we can see looking at our politics after 50 years, there is a lot of non-sense. It is just opportunities used by certain people to achieve their myopic interests.
The interview granted by former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba more or less corroborated Mbu’s statement?
Well, Segun Osoba said such a thing after so long. He has claimed that he carried the story, he visited the scene, he saw the dead bodies, he saw one fresh body and about six or seven other ones decomposed but this fresh one was leaning on a tree, and it was covered with white cloth.
Did he go there during the day or in the night? Who did he go with? Let him give correct evidence and how come that he didn’t make a statement to the special branch of the police when they were doing the interrogation. How come no body mentioned him and incidentally he said that no body invited him? Yet he had the guts to go there yet he never published anything.
He wrote a story on the discovery of the bodies
Is it not a sinister move? Why did Mbu come out and get immediately supported by Osoba?
Osoba was a green, ambitious young man, who was just coming into the job and was writing well, and since then he has become quite a doyen in the industry.
The question is that if he is ready to bring to light controversial situations, he should be ready to face criticisms and be accused of all sorts of things by other people.
Osoba and Mbu said there was no autopsy. He should have met and discussed with other Nigerians who were in LUTH at that time, they will quote for you the name, I think one Dr. Peters, who was the doctor that did the autopsy. Doctor Majekodunmi was the minister of Health who was involved in this. Ask him who and who were involved and if there was an autopsy in the first place. And he will confirm to you that there was.
What Chief Osoba said was that the period between the recovery of the bodies and when the PM’s was flown to Bauchi for burial, as well as, the fact that autopsy is not part of the Islamic culture.
How can the Prime Minister of a nation be killed and there is no autopsy? Is the government not functional in that place? There was a semblance of order for a period of time before Ironsi took over. So all this position were there then, there is no need to do an autopsy 50 years later because somebody somewhere said there was no autopsy.
There was. The records are there and the people are there. Find out from them what happened. It is only one man giving evidence against a confirmed documented evidence of a whole generation of Nigerians.
Does your family have a copy of the said autopsy?
There was no need for a copy of the autopsy to be given to my family. It is the official view of reasons of death and it is filed in the special branch of the military intelligence, probably sent overseas to be confirmed by your allies and associates. Definitely some people outside Nigeria received this document.
I have two approaches, I agree with Fani-Kayode who said it was a blatant attempt at historical revisionism. I have lots of friends, Igbos, Yoruba and I tell you one thing: what attracts us, which keeps us going, is our love for our country, wanting it make it go forward and actually everything about the average Nigerian is that he wants to see progress. However all this acrimony that okay this man did this to me let me get back at him is not going to carry us anywhere. It is going to sink us lower and lower, so the thing is let devilish remarks like those made by Mbu and Osoba, not be made.
I will really appreciate if Mbu will come out and say that he is sorry for what he said and that honestly, it didn’t happen. Now he will die as a hero. This is a man who should realise that what he is saying doesn’t make sense and for us the younger generation to actually build our country where tribe and tongue don’t differ, is our own gain. I cherish the old anthem more than the new one, I would say, Segun Osoba, please shut up. Don’t try and stir water which has been cool and calm for so long.
We have forgotten those wounds and we are trying to build a country of young people the majority of whom have no job. Now if we hadn’t done the things that we did, if our young hot-headed military boys had not done what they did at that time, things would have been different. The military would not have come in. They do not understand anything about running our country and we wont have been in this mess.
So in spite of the problem, let them not make the same trouble that made before. Do they want a second or third civil war?
And then this man Mbu, is this a time to make inflammatory statements? Is this a time when a statesman will make such careless and damaging remarks? That’s one thing personally between them and me; secondly you can call it naïve. If they are up to mischief revising history, you don’t need history to be revised. The Igbo people are very active and aggressive in seeking their own rights, politically what is theirs will come to them, and they have gone very far in their economy and academic development. The fact that they do not have political power is not that they were outdone in 1959 or 56 when the NPC and NCNC came together and so on. These are all facts of history. Today is not what it is yesterday except we want to continue living in the past.
And when people are looking for jobs or to contribute, not to be made slaves to some public masters, I think we have gone so far that we should not succumb to this kind of propaganda because it looks like a remnant of the old 1960 propaganda between north and south, that kind of myopic ulterior motives which is why you can cause confusion, you become leader. Is he making noise to become a leader?
So his historical revisionism, he should realise that while we remain, not me but my generation who are victims of the coup in 1966, it has affected the whole country even people at that time who went out in Diaspora are in tears up till today because their country is still in shambles.