One of the officers who participated in the arrest of then Head of State, and current President, Muhammadu Buhari, during a military coup on August 27, 1985, Abdulmumini Aminu, has stated that contrary to claims, he and his colleagues never handcuffed Mr. Buhari upon arrest.
Mr. Aminu, a retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army, also said in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday that contrary to believe, he was the one who led a team of three Army officers to arrest Buhari.
There are speculation that Mr. Buhari was arrested by the Immediate past National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, during the coup that saw the emergence of Ibrahim Babangida as military president.
“I must confess that I led that operation. I went to Dodan Barracks that time in company of two other officers – then Major John Madaki and Lawan Gwadabe. Three of us went, but specifically I was the one that went upstairs to bring Buhari,” Mr. Aminu said.
The retired colonel, who was also a one- time military administrator of Borno state, denied mistreatingMr. Buhari while arresting him.
He said he had and still has deep respect for Mr. Buhari and that he still remain an admirer of the President and could not therefore have shown him any disrespect.
“With due respect, I have been reading in the papers and listening to radio, people saying that we manhandled him, we disrespected him. That was not true. I and General Buhari are the only two who knew what transpired upstairs and there was nothing like that.
“We gave him his absolute respect as a superior, because even before that time, we had absolute respect for him, because of whom and what he was. We respect him a lot till today and there is no animosity between us and he knew it was a military assignment that we were carrying out from our superior. He even told me at one time.
“So for us, it is just like the other way round of when he came to power during the anti-Shagari coup. I was among those who played a major role in getting him to power. So, he knew the role I played. And even Buhari knew in 2003, I was arrested because of him. That time, I supported him. I worked for him at that time, without even him knowing anyway, but he later knew. You see, once you believe in somebody and you know he has the capability, you can do anything for him without even him knowing,” he said.
Mr. Aminu said it was a “blatant lie” reports that Mr. Buhari was handcuffed.
“It is a blatant lie. In an operation of that nature, we don’t carry handcuffs,” he said
He however, admitted that he did not salute the then Head of State at the time because the flag had been lowered.
“I did not salute him because according to military tradition and norms when the flag is lowered, you can only pay compliments the way you deem fit, not salutation.
“We met at 2 a.m. and at that time, we don’t salute because the flag is down, until 6 am again when the flag is up. To insinuate that he was handcuffed, that is far from the truth. We only accorded him all the respects he deserved. I still hold him in very high esteem,” he said.
The ex-military administrator also gave insight into the ongoing insurgency in the north east which began in Borno state where he was a Military Governor.
He blamed authorities for not tackling the incident at its preliminary stage and allowed it to fester, hence the difficualty in arresting the situation.
Mr. Aminu recalled that while he was governor in old Borno (comprising Borno and Yobe States) there was a security challenge caused by the proliferation of arms and ammunitions from the political uphealvals in nearby Chad Republic.
He said he brought together all security agencies in the state and adopted what he called an “unorthodox method” of dealing with the situation.
He said plain cloth security men use buses to infiltrate criminal gangs.
“I ordered the purchase of two buses used by security personnel in civil dress and unarmed. That was how we were able to check the insecurity.
“They would think that they were ordinary people and we arrested many of them, sometimes we killed some. And from there, we had a lot of information until we checked the criminals and that was how we eliminated them right from the beginning,” he said.
Mr. Aminu however, said the Boko Haram crisis had metamorphosed into a serious problem for the Nigerian government now.
He said it has gone beyond insurgency because al-Qaeda and ISIS are being alleged to be involved or supporting Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“They are using armoured vehicles, heavy machine-guns and sometimes helicopter. So it is not a child’s play. I’m happy that they have taken full military operation to bring to an end the problem of insurgency in the Northeast.
Mr. Aminu also said if the concept of National Gurad as put in place by the Babangida administration in 1993 was allowed to thrive, the unit would have checked and nip in the but most criminal activities including insurgency before they get out of hand,
“I recall that in early 1993, during Babangida’s administration, National Guard was established and I was the pioneer commander. When it was established, Abacha was vehemently against it, because the military, the police and other security agencies saw it as a rival organisation.
“The military and politicians were not comfortable. Some say Babangida established the unit to enhance his stay in power but that was not the idea. Before it was established, I went to seven countries that established similar outfits. When I came back, we even started sending people for training, suddenly it was abolished.
“Believe me if that outfit was allowed to thrive, armed robberies, kidnappings and all these would not be, because we could have curtailed them from the onset. We could have had the intelligence to discover all these things. That was our mandate. No security outfit had that kind of mandate and our training was geared towards that. The essence at that time was to establish it as a fighting force as well, so that if there was any attack on Nigeria, it would be the National Guard who would take the first shot to stand the enemy. If it gets to the point that they cannot cope, then the military comes in,” he said.