Hamza Al-Mustapha, an army major and former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, recently floated a non-governmental organisation, Al-Mustapha Unity and Development Initiative.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, he speaks on the mission of the organisation and its source of funding as well as life after 15 years in detention, his plan to return to the military, and the allegation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Mr. Al-Mustapha was heading a killer squad for President Goodluck Jonathan ahead of the 2015 general elections.
PT: What have you been doing since you returned from detention?
Al-Mustapha: We were deliberately disconnected from the society that we have been with for many years before having served Nigeria, from my commission to my arrest in 1998. So from 1998 to 2013 is a long period. So, for 15 years that you’ve been kept out of the society you are desirous of serving and you believe you owe a lot. It is only normal that we continue to have a reconnect as a directive from within our own programmes from the north to the south. We have built a lot of goodwill in the years past and it is only normal that we see ourselves going around for a reconnect.
PT: What is your impression of the recent ceasefire agreement between the FG and the Boko Haram?
Al-Mustapha: Where there are any operations those who are deep into it are the ones that are actually aware of the nitty-gritty involved. So, if out of the surface or I don’t know about the conception to the present state, it will be foolish for me to be commenting on it. I prefer not to talk if I’m ignorant of some topics, rather I am confident to discuss or talk or contribute on any matter that I am familiar with and I am aware of.
PT: How would you respond to the allegation by former President Obasanjo that you are heading a killer squad for President Jonathan?
Al-Mustapha: I have replied him that it is most unfortunate. That is what I said. And for him to have come up with that I’m sure he has no fact, he has no figures, and he has nothing to say other than what he has done. If he’s angry that God has granted us freedom, that’s another thing entirely. But to give such an allegation, weighty as it is in the eyes of the law, certainly that is a fundamental issue that cannot be brushed aside. I challenge him to an open a debate as a direct reply.
When he made that allegation in writing to the president I was not in Nigeria. I was in India treating the injuries he infected on me courtesy of torture that he arranged on me since 15 years. And while I was on hospital bed the information came that a letter was written on such an allegation. It’s most unfortunate. I wish being a statesman, a former head of state (and) a former senior military officer he should be able to summon me, even to Otta. I’m ready to go anywhere he wishes to discuss such issues. But I was not and I am not to be counted among those who have ill feelings against Nigeria. Rather we are bridge builders; we are peace building machine and we believe in peaceful coexistence of Nigeria. It is the mission before us. So it was so it is. We will not deviate from that.
PT: You’ve forgiven him?
Al-Mustapha: Of course, I have. Every other person, even out of mischief, requires forgiveness. It is strength to he that has forgiven and it a lesson to he that initiated mischief. Mischief cannot and will not have a sustained result no matter who, where and when.
PT: What are your views about the presidential ambition of some prominent northerners like Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar?
Al-Mustapha: I am not a political party card-carrying member. So I cannot comment on that. I’m watching the way you, as a citizen, is watching. We will keep watching. So, the interest and desire of whatsoever as provided by the law to provide leadership to Nigeria is therefore for anybody to exercise.
You can aspire to contest for presidency tomorrow and we look forward with delight where young men will take up a challenge. Give it a shot, try, if you can, as enshrined in the law. While they are contesting we are also looking particularly for younger ones to do so and to provide leadership to Nigerians.
PT: What is your take on the entry of late Head of State, Sani Abacha’s son into the governorship race in Kano State?
Al-Mustapha: He is desirous of becoming an aspirant. Mohammed Abacha is my younger brother and where he has an interest, surely I will also have an interest there. I don’t think he’s the one contesting I’m the one pushing him to contest.
PT: Are you supporting President Goodluck Jonathan?
Al-Mustapha: The president is the president and commander-in-chief and as a commander-in-chief, he is the commander-in-chief to the military and that is where I belong.
PT: Are you still in service?
Al-Mustapha: My matter will come up at the Supreme Court and once it finishes everything will be formally regularized and it will be one. I’m in court.
PT: Right now you are not in the military?
Al-Mustapha: I’m in Supreme Court. You will hear the outcome because it will be made public.
PT: You have an NGO called Al-Mustapha Unity and Development Initiative. Who is funding it?
Al-Mustapha: Well-wishers and many of my friends in and out of Nigeria! We are committed to peace building assignment in our hands and we believe we will add colours and make the difference in Nigeria. We want a very peaceful Nigeria. For many things to come, it will.