"There was a day Babangida sent me to Obasanjo at his farm. I used to take briefcases full of money to Obasanjo from Banangida. That was when corruption started, he cannot deny it." These statements were part of the revelations of the former Press Secretary to General Ibrahim Babangida, Major Debo Basorun, who escaped from Nigeria to save his life under the dictator's regime.
Those conversant with the politico-military situation in Nigeria in the late 1980s will remember the enigmatic Major Adebowale (Debo) Basorun, the military spokesman during the Ibrahim Babangida junta. Somehow, his path crossed with the military establishment he was serving at the time and the gadfly hightailed out of the country so that he could live to fight another day.
He had stunned not only the military establishment but also the country with his resignation, and when it was rejected, the irrepressible army officer went to court in a landmark suit to seek protection from harassment and intimidation by some top officials in the Nigerian Army, notably the Chief of Army Staff, General Sani Abacha, the then Director of Military Intelligence, Halilu Akilu, and the Director of Army Public Relations, Fred Chijuka.
Surprisingly, while the suit was still pending, Basorun fled the country in April 1989 to the United States through what later came to be known as the famous ‘NADECO route’ after several unsuccessful attempts to silence him.
Since his return to the country about two years ago after his close to 19-year sojourn in the U.S., the former Press and Public Affairs Officer (Military Press Secretary) to Babangida (then military president) had kept a safe distance from the media, with which he had related very closely in the past. But he recently broke his silence, which, according to him, is for purposes of putting the records straight as a prelude to the release of his memoirs.
As he revealed to Sunday Sun in this earth-shaking, no-holds-barred interview, indeed the first since his return, the events that led to his fleeing the country were not unconnected with the morbid suspicion that he held the key that could unravel the dastardly murder via parcel bomb of the founding editor-in-chief of the Newswatch Magazine, Mr Dele Giwa, in October 1986.
With nostalgia, he recalls the incidents that led to Giwa’s death and how he stumbled on some iron-cast evidence. He, however, looks forward to the day himself, Babangida and Akilu would be brought before the people’s court to answer all they know pertaining to the cruel murder of Giwa. That is if he is not assassinated before then, he says.
Like a man sold out to his beliefs, Basorun knew the path he would tread when he enlisted in the Nigerian Army at the outbreak of the civil war in 1967 as a Private in the Infantry Corps. He therefore had no qualms when he decided to dump his job in a multinational firm where he had just been promoted.
But what actually hastened his passion to wear the starched green khaki uniform, to the consternation of his friends and family members, was an altercation with a drunken soldier over a lady at a popular joint then in the Mushin area of Lagos State. While celebrating his promotion, he had bought some bottles of beer for the uniformed man, only for the latter, at the height of his stupor, to attempt to forcibly take away Debo’s girl as he made to leave the joint. The slightest resistance from the ‘bloody civilian’ attracted several ‘dirty’ slaps on his face, and before those at the joint could say jack, the drunken soldier had mobilised his colleagues and pandemonium broke out. Debo had to flee for his life.
But, indeed, the incident made an indelible impact on the young Basorun that when he joined the army, he was emotionally and psychologically prepared to confront whatever he considered an injustice. Little wonder years later, he overcame several efforts to undermine him by his superiors and juniors.
I left Nigeria through Republic of Benin
You do not need to commit any offence in the military to get into trouble. They can just slam you for some frivolous charges of disobedience to order and other sundry misdemeanours and that is it. And mine was not an exception. I had gone through all kinds of trouble and persecution and when I decided to resign, the army and the powers that be felt I knew too much. And I did really. So I resigned. But they did not accept my resignation, that was the problem. There was a circular or a directive in military jargon which says those of you working with a particular organization should resign whenever you want to join politics. So I quoted that in my resignation letter. ‘Sir, I’m resigning, luckily you said it, and I’m going to join politics.’ Now, because they never expected it, they said I could not resign and I asked why. Because if I got out they would not be able to nail me because I was pregnant with all kinds of secrets, they wanted me to remain so they could eventually get rid of me. So what I did was to find a way to save my skin. I left Nigeria through Republic of Benin.
Alao Aka-Bashorun represented me in court
There was a time we arrested the then President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Alao Aka-Bashorun. Most people would tell you that when we detained them I was the one that championed their cause. Along the line, I worked towards his release and we became close. So, I went to meet him, but he was scared. He asked me if I knew what I was getting into and I told him I just wanted to make an example of those people. At a point we filed a suit in court. The army objected but I said I had resigned. They reminded me of the consequences of my suing the army but I said I was ready for anything.
The day I could have killed everybody, including myself at a Lagos High Court
The case was being heard at Igbosere High Court in Lagos. When I was going to the court, I packed my passports, some of my belongings and I started rotating where I slept. I knew the army would be on my trail. Throughout the time of the case in court they were looking for me but I was always on the move, a step ahead. They disregarded many injunctions just to capture me. There was even a day they got an Air Force plane waiting at Ikeja, they went to the court; that day I would have killed myself, killed everybody.
I simply went to court with an ‘Uzzi’ on me. Femi Falana would confirm it if you ask him. I got the gun through dark sources. That day the army even brought an APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) to make sure they grabbed me at the court premises. I told Femi (Falana) and Oga ( Aka-Bashorun) Bashorun, ‘these people were trying to get me.’ I therefore pulled off my agbada because nobody would search me. When oga Bashorun saw what I had under my agbada, he screamed and told me that I should not do anything. I would probably have killed twenty but I know eventually they would have killed me in return but I was determined not to go down alone. It was Ogbemudia who was the director of the legal services and he represented the army. That man went to tell Justice Thomas of what was happening. The Justice decided he would not do anything until the soldiers were cleared. That was how the planned tragedy was aborted that day.
It is like me coming to your office and you did not know I was armed and eventually I start shooting. You won’t have time to react.
After that, Oga Bashorun told me to hide and I did but at this time I sent messages out to let people know what was going on.
A soldier saved me from ‘capture him dead or alive’ signal
There was this friend of mine in whose house I slept one day. He told me to accompany him to a party at Ibadan. I did. That night, my friend’s wife fell ill and they being members of Celestial Church, the wife opted to go to their church at Abeokuta instead of the hospital. So as soon as we finished the party we were about coming through the express way and something told me we should go and see her at Abeokuta but the man said, no, that he saw her a day before that day. I got there and as soon as we drove into the premise, the woman was screaming and asked me, trembling, if I saw a person? I asked what person?
What actually happened was that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) officers who were ordered to capture me whether dead or alive, listed the numbers of my vehicles, everything they knew about me, most likely the areas that I would frequent. A long time before then, when I was in Dodan barracks, Dimgba (Igwe) was in Concord (newspaper) then; there was this story about some of our boys who were caught at the border and were about to be charged with armed robbery. They were intelligent operatives stand-by at the border check points, but what these boys did was, they caught a smuggler and the smuggler was trying to negotiate with them and later they agreed on something or they would have seized the goods. But the man had connections with the press and went to Concord, and behold it was on the front page. When I got to the office I was told to get those guys arrested and brought back to me. The boys were brought back, locked up with the SSS.
After locking them up, my job was completed. There were about 18 or 28 of them. After this, I thought justice was taking its course. Then suddenly one day, at the first gate, because there were three gates before you get into the barrack, I was told there was a woman waiting to see me. I was surprised because they couldn’t have stopped this woman at the gate if she was my wife. The woman was speaking in Yoruba and only the Yoruba soldiers among them were able to translate what she was saying, that she wanted to see me. Well, I didn’t want a strange woman coming into my office, so I went downstairs to see her at the gate. I was talking through the gate with her. She said she was looking for Bashorun and I asked her where she came from. From Ekiti, she answered. Because she was an illiterate, she couldn’t read my name which was on my tag.
After a few minutes, I told her I was the person she was looking for, let her in and asked what she wanted to tell me. She said her son was one of those arrested at the border and that the Hausa boys were being released and that the remaining ones in the cell southerners. This woman’s son had nobody to turn to other than his mother. He sent a message to the mother that there was a Yoruba man in the other barrack and they should come and beg me to help him. I said I could not promise her anything but that if it was true only southerners were still being held, I would know how to take up the case. She left, but wanted to know when to come back. I told her not to come, that I would do my best. After my findings, I realized it was true, that the director of SSS, one Gwarzo, a Kano guy actually had had the Hausa guys released from their lock-up. I called him on the phone and asked him what was happening to these boys, brought from Idi-Iroko border. I told him I learnt he was releasing the Hausa boys and leaving the southerners. He said, oh Bashorun you have come with your tribalism because, we used to get into each other’s face all the time. I said well, I knew the number of boys brought into detention and their names. Where are they now?, I asked.
About fifteen minutes later he called back and asked for the Yoruba boy’s name who sought my assistance and he released him. That was the man who saved me from the gallows.
After his release he came to me and I advised him to be more behaved. There was a day Babangida sent me to Obasanjo at his farm. I used to take briefcases full of money to Obasanjo from Banangida. That was when corruption started, he cannot deny it.
…He intercepted the signal, hid it in his shirt and pretended to be ill
That boy I assisted was posted to Obasanjo and on one of the days I visited Obasanjo, this boy still remembered me and came to me, greeted me but I couldn’t remember his face. He reminded me and since then each time I went to Obasanjo, he was always there. He treated me well. After a while I didn’t see him until this trouble broke out. He had been redeployed from Obasanjo’s personal security to their SSS headquarters in Ogun state.
When this signal to capture me dead or alive came, he was the clerk on duty. When the print out came, he read through. He knew what was happening, like wise everybody in the military but they were too junior in rank to comment or offer opinion. He kept the signal print out. To return the favour I did him in the past, he had to leave his duty room to make sure that message got to me before I was killed but he couldn’t do it. What he did was he pretended to be sick, fell down but before that he made a photocopy of the document, put it inside his dress and then he fell to the ground screaming. His colleagues ran to him and took him to the General Hospital Ijaiye, Abeokuta, handed him to the medical experts and left. He jumped the fence and picked a taxi straight to Ile Aanu, the church where he used to worship in Abeokuta. He was a Celestial Church member too. Somehow, he got in touch with my friend and the wife. I did not know how he met that woman, narrated everything to her and the woman was scared to death when he handed the paper to the woman. He told her the papers should be handed to me where ever she could get me. He gave her about three copies. When I got the paper I looked at it and told my friend that that was the end of the road. He said why? I said, well, that’s the end. I was sure they would get me one way or the other.
The woman was eavesdropping on our conversation and said that the husband shouldn’t follow me, saying it was too late night but the husband insisted on following me to Lagos. Fortunately that boy did not release the signal or else I would have been dead by now or I would have killed somebody. On our way at the check points I just introduced myself because none of them was aware of the signal.
In Lagos, my friends persuaded me to leave Nigeria.that I should live, that I should always remember my family and my wife. Then a friend of mine, Tony Akika who ran for Nassarawa governorship in the last election and he also suggested that the best option was for me to seek asylum. But I had been in the system and I knew what was going on. I knew if I went to the British embassy, I knew how close those ambassadors were to the government. It was one thing to run to an embassy to seek asylum, it was another thing to be bundled out and your next neighbour wouldn’t know they had taken you away. They would make a little noise but I knew they were the good boys of IBB. I said it was very risky.
How I fooled Dodan Barracks
So I started to think on how to get out the country. I had a ticket but I had to do something in order to change my name which would appear on the ticket for safety purpose. We were told that the list must be approved by Dodan barracks in order to know whether somebody was trying to escape or not. But I had a cousin who worked there and by the time the list got to Dodan barracks, it was a different name entirely that was on the list, so they just approved it. Meanwhile we contacted the airline and took a business flight telling them my plan had changed and that I would first have to go through Burkina Faso before I would join them to New York. I had a diplomatic passport, so what I did was that there was a friend of mine, Tony Urama whom I contacted. He studied the border round for a whole day, mapping out safe exits we could pass through unnoticed.
Five ‘Okadas’ took me to Cotonou
I left this country on April 20, 1989, slept in his house and left at about 2 AM. We took five bikes, one carried my luggage, another carried me. One Okada traveled from like here to Mile 2. It dropped us and another took us from there to Oshodi and before it was dawn we were already at Cotonou. When we got there a taxi was arranged to take me. I moved from one taxi to another.
In Togo, the commandant at the border was so drunk he slept off while talking to me
There were occasions when I nearly ran out of luck too as I tried to make good my escape. The first close shave was in Togo. At that time the whole of the West Africa was ruled by the military. When I got to the check point I was asked to present my passport and when they saw it they knew I was an officer and I had to confirm it. Because you have to disguise and go by these rickety vehicles. I think the soldier who stopped me was wondering what an officer was doing in a taxi. I tried to speak English to him but he didn’t understand and he said I must go and see his commandant. He was armed and I could not speak French. He could easily kill and bury me there and that would have been the end. I agreed and left my luggage in the taxi. When I got to the commandant, I was very lucky because he was drunk. He could speak only a smattering of English. The soldier handed my passport to him, saluted again and fell out. Then I told the man I was trying to write a book and he could pick one or two things I was saying. After about three minutes of waiting, he’d had slept off, was just snoring. I was the only one with him in the office and something just occurred to me that I should take my passport and go. I just took the passport, opened the door and headed towards the gate. The one at the gate thought his boss had okayed it. I was expecting someone to call me back or question me. The taxi was about off loading my luggage when I screamed and it waited.
I almost ran into trouble in Ghana
The other incident was in Ghana, the border, they were smart British-trained Ghanaian soldiers. I gave my passport to the Corporal who was in charge of vetting people into the country. He looked at it, and asked who owned I said it is me; he said it was a diplomatic passport, I said yes. He asked who I was and I replied him Major Bashorun, Nigerian army. He asked me what I was doing in that type of vehicle, but it was rude of him because at that time I thought things couldn’t get worse. He said, sir, you know as a senior officer you are not supposed to travel in such a vehicle. He was right, the vehicle had “moi-moi leaves” all over it all because you wanted to get away. He said I should stand aside which I did because I did not want to argue too much. Then he came to me and said we should go and see his commandant. I asked him who he was and when he mentioned his name I quickly told him to tell his commandant that Major Bashorun wanted to see him immediately! I had to use that tone because we both were English-speaking countries and we were all trained by the British army, he was a captain and I, a major.
I said he should go and call his boss. The guy looked at me like I had gone nuts. I said he should go and get him here and reluctantly he went. Before he came I did not know whether it was the bible I was reciting or whatever. I was particularly scared was that Jerry Rawlins guy knew me. He was close to us when he was the head of state; he knew me, in fact, Babangida and him used to joke a lot. By military ranks he was a captain, a junior to me but he was a head of state of his own country. So we got close, even at Abuja and he knew me. He was Babangida’s friend and if he had caught me he would have sent me back immediately. That was my greatest fear. So after about 20 minutes, this captain just came. As the captain was approaching, I just called out his name; ‘Captain’, he said yes sir. When he said yes sir I knew I had him where I wanted him. I summoned courage and walked up to him, I shifted the blame on the corporal. I said he was very rude to me and the captain started apologizing and the civilians who were with me in the vehicle were wondering that this must a big man. He asked me where I was going and I told him I was writing a book and I wanted to experience the real thing. He signed it and told me I could go.
I lied to my guide that there was $20m waiting for me in America
There was another guy who helped me. His mother was a Ghanaian while the father was French. I used him to get into Ouagadougu by deceiving him I was trying to write a book. When we started seeing the landscape of the city I told him that my friend and I were going to the United States. They asked me why I wanted to go to there. I said there was about $20m we had stolen and kept and if I did not get there on time my peers in the presidency would go there and take it away.
Yes, that was the only way to sway him otherwise he would have felt offended, that he had this guy and I wanted to leave him in the lurch because we had earlier agreed we were going to stay in an hotel, and we were going to enjoy. He was going to bring his people, but now he saw that I was going away he was angry but I told him not to get me wrong, that we would still get to the hotel. You see, I did not know anybody there and he could blow the whole thing up. So I tried to pacify him that it was money I was actually going to collect and I would bring it back to Ouagadougou. So I still got the hotel and he brought his people and they were enjoying with drinks. After we settled in the hotel my mind moved to my flight because we were to leave about six that evening and I had not even confirmed whether I would be on the flight or not, so I started getting worried and told him to leave his brothers and sisters to the drinks while we went to the airport to confirm first otherwise I would be stranded.
So we went, he spoke French to them and they checked my name which was there but the problem was that I didn’t have a yellow card. I started begging, so we were directed to the minister, who later came and handed it to me. When I got to the airport, I showed it to them and I was cleared. I moved those guys at the Sheraton hotel to the airport lodge, still in the drinking mood, but I was cursing them inside. I paid all the bills and when it got to the boarding time I sat down thinking I would be doomed if the plane failed to take off, that was how we took off. I left Nigeria on the 20th and got there on 22nd. All that trouble took two days.
My friend, Okonta, who promised me accommodation left me stranded
There was a guy I met called Okonta. He had his store at Lagos Island. I have seen him on few occasions. He was my friend then he had another friend from Bendel from Edo state whom I helped on some printing contracts jobs and each time I visited US on vacation I would visit him and he would entertain me and take me round to the whites because he is married to a white.
So all along when those things were happening, he was aware. Then when I was thinking about getting out of the country, he said I could stay with him. And because he was not from my stock, he is from Bendel, even if they were looking for me it was an unlikely place they would go. So we had that agreement and as soon as I got to New York I called his number from a pay phone. He answered and I said, well I am in New York, but he couldn’t believe but I told him to call back the number from the pay phone, which he did, I picked the call. He was scared and he came up with a cock and bull story that I should check into an hotel and that he would come and pick me the following day but I must call him first.
Now, it was between the hours of 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning because the plane came around 5 in the morning. So what I tried to do was to beat 12 O’clock time line for the hotel because if you are going you have to check-out 12 O’clock again, you have to pay because it is another day, so I was trying to stretch my dollars now to make sure I left by 12 O’clock so that it would take me 24 hours whenever I wanted to pay. I sat there and there was this guy who was one of the security guys. He had been watching me from the tower, I just sat there. He greeted me and I responded and he said you are a Yoruba and I said yes. He said he saw me come out of the airport.
I was still wearing a Yoruba dress. Then I told him I was coming to spend my vacation with somebody.
I mentioned one. I was waiting for 12 O’clock before I checked in but he said there was no need that he had a senior brother with whom I could put up. I asked him where his brother was and he immediately called him on the phone, spoke in Yoruba that there “there is a daddy here that will put up with us till tomorrow before he goes to meet his friend”. The man said there was no problem. i did not disclose my identity, they entertained me. At night I went to stay with him because he was a bachelor. I stayed with him in his place, then the following morning I started calling my friend’s number who was supposed to come and pick me but he never answered the phone. After several attempts to reach this guy, I became troubled because this security guy thought I should have left, based on our agreement. Sometimes, I would give the phone to him to try calling my friend in case he would answer the call. Then after a few days I was compelled to tell the guy what was going on, although I did not want to go to any Yoruba person initially because the army would be able to track me more easily that way. So I told him my story and he confirmed it that they had been hearing something similar in Nigeria. I had to stay with them for about a month. During that time I started reaching out.
Amnesty International also let me down big time
Then, I was the secretary for Amnesty international in Africa, even when I was in uniform. So, I thought my problems would be over once I got to the States. But I was disappointed. I got there with all my papers thinking they were the people that would rescue me; headed for the UN, they said they didn’t do such things there and that I should go to the state. I even showed them my credentials, all that I was doing for them in Nigeria. They directed me to the International Community for Human Rights lawyers. I went there about a week after my stay there, guess what? They said they would not be able to take up my story, not until after six months. I said I wanted it done immediately but they said, no.
They were like an NGO, I asked how I could get my case handled and they said, well, unless I got to a private attorney. His name was given to me as Jack Sax. He graduated from law school in 1952, and he was a Jew and highly connected.
I went to him and he gave me an appointment. He went through my documents and said it was a good story. The man affirmed that he had never seen something like that before in his life.
The first day I went for an interview with the immigration was when I was given a temporary asylum. He said since he had been practicing in history he never did that.
Because I was weeping, so touched, looking back to what had happened to my life, the people I had helped turning against me.
I was given temporary asylum, so I called my people in Nigeria to give them a brief of what was happening. Within two months I had been granted asylum. Then I intimated that friend of mine, Tony Akika because he was very reliable, in fact, he was looking after my family and everything.
The military went after my wife and children
Initially they didn’t know where I was. They thought I was still hiding in the country and they hoped that they would catch me one day.
They were hunting, setting up road blocks everywhere. There was a driver who used to drive me, he misbehaved and I posted him. I did not let him know. We got to the office when I had done his posting, I told him to take the off that day. He was very angry. So, when they couldn’t track me down they went through this driver. You know the driver was the closest person to me, then he told them well, we used to go to one lady at Iyana Ipaja. The military men were harassing all my friends and families, wondering how I managed to slip out. As soon as I got to US, I got in touch with Champion and Concord, which as the front page news. When the army heard that they knew the game was over.
There was one Yoruba man, the second Lieutenant who was sent to come and dislodge my family. They just came in, tore the place apart, the ceiling, looking for documents, scattered everything. They threw my family out and my wife started calling friends to come and pick them. That was how they also left.
I started the Democratic Movement in U.S
I’ve not said personally; let us assume you got a friend who wanted to come to the US and was contacting you. The truth is I started the Democratic Movement in the US and I got all points to prove it. I started an organization called Democratic Alliance for Nigeria. I was using my money to fly to all the state capitals to address all the groups, because that time the game was off, the khaki was off. I’ve got documents, got branches all over that I set up before some of them started coming. And you know I came from the military and I was just using my experience to get people together to form a coalition.
I will do it all over again.
I dropped out of school in Form Three
My childhood was tough. I belonged to the 61/65 set of Abeokuta Grammar School. I’m currently the president of the group.
I left school in form three, when my father died I was in form one and from a polygamous home. My mother couldn’t cope. I had to move down to Lagos to do all kinds of odd jobs.
Because of yam and beans, I once lied that I was a painter
I was a labourer, a bricklayer. I did anything that would give me food. I will tell you a story. There was this man who was looking for a painter and I told him I was one because I was hungry.
I did not know what to eat the following morning. So I had to become everything. He started talking in their painter’s terms but I was targeting the ewa agonyi he was going to buy, because that was the best food that would take you throughout the day.
Of course I did not paint the house eventually. Painting, you would think is the easiest job on earth. I did not know it was very technical. So this man took me to Fadeyi, a very big house, showed me, but my mind was on another thing. After the yam and beans breakfast he had bought, he showed me the place, gave me the paint and he went to face the bigger side.
By the time he returned 30 minutes later, I was drenched in paints. I was in the secondary school then and my mother couldn’t pay. It I was in the army that I took my GCE. I was in the infantry when I came into the army.
I joined the army in 1967
I joined the army in 1967. I was part of the first set that trained at Abeokuta. I have got witnesses living. I volunteered to go to the war front because one of my boys came back from Bonny as a lance corporal and I was still a private. I had to say ‘sir’ to him. I told my colleagues I was going to the war front and that was how I left. That was during the Biafra/Nigeria civil war. I was with 70 Battalion, 10 Brigade, Asaba. That was where I cut my teeth. When I graduated from Abeokuta as a recruit and became a private soldier, we were then moved to 70 Battalion. The commander was Brigadier Ola Oni, Bajowa was a captain. These are people I came to help later. You can see all life Is all about.
The day I was to leave, Sylvester Ige, he was among the first set of Bendelites trained at the Abeokuta cantonment. He said, Bashorun, you are going? And I said yes, I am going, I cannot stay without a rank. He too volunteered to go. We signed for guns and ammunitions. This we always did in the evening. So if the ammunitions you signed for got missing, they dragged you down. I signed and we were off, hopping from one lorry to the other to Benin. The guy is from Benin. The Biafrans had just entered Benin. They were being pulled down by the federal troops and Yar ‘Adua was the captain. The late Musa Yar’Adua was the chief of staff then. He was the OC of the unit.
Meanwhile, we were staying in Sylvester’s family house. Then, I saw one of his sisters and we started talking. One thing led to another and within two weeks we were married. We got married in one of their shrines. That was how I got married. Now that I was married, we were given a separate room in the house. After two weeks, I told Sylvester we had to go and finish our mission but he almost discouraged me but I went on the long run. When I got to Agbor, I reported to the unit there. I left all my properties with my wife. I was away for a long time. By the time I went back to the place, she was married and had little children for another Corporal. I was involved in the third attempt at Onitsha in crossing, which is where I got my Corporal rank and at Akpaka Forest Reserve, I was made a sergeant. I was shot in the head and at the hospital I became a staff sergeant.
I sustained head injury and was moved to Ibadan
I was the field captain, I commanded a battalion. I got my papers; I rose from private to staff sergeant. If you demonstrated valour you got promoted. I remembered one of the commanders who promoted me, one Major Broderick, made me a staff sergeant at the Base Hospital in Benin. From there, we were moved to Ibadan because there were two divisions with headquarters at Ibadan. When we got to Military hospital, Oke-Ado, in Ibadan, I saw many amputees. I was sent to Lagos because I had a head injury and the hospital was not equipped for effective treatment. Back in Lagos, they treated me and discharged me as an out patient to Oshodi that was where I was as chief staff sergeant. One day as I was returning home, I was living at Baba Oloosha, just at the bus stop, I saw trucks, buses and heard that (Benjamin) Adekunle said people should start capturing soldiers.
So as I stepped out of the molue, I saw these guys and they said Colonel Adekunle said they should bring me.
I looked round, thought of running away. Everybody was scared of the Top Marine Commando then. I just summoned courage and followed them. We were detained and after three days transferred to Port Harcourt.
So after about three weeks, they had incurred some loses at the war front, a lot of deaths. The commander just said we should all move. They put us in a place called Crater, brought in people from two divisions. Some people were bunch of old soldiers. That was where I was commissioned Second Lieutenant. We were about nine or eleven that day and everybody was scared. At that point, nobody knew what was happening or what to expect. We were just praying.
I went into war as a private and became a battalion commander. There are documents to show that and people could testify.
I wanted my daughter to be the first female Air Force pilot
I wanted my daughter to join the armed forces as pilot because I wanted her to be the first female air force pilot. I enrolled her in Air Force Girls’ Military School, Jos. I told her that was what I wanted her to be. But unfortunately before I came, you know women, she met a boy friend, forgot about military and now she is married and rearing kids.
My Catholic father-in-law and his sons beat my wife and grounded her for three months for dating me, a Muslim.
I have eight children. Well, I’m a Nigerian, my wife gave me five and another woman gave me three.
I met my wife through a friend and I ended up giving that friend his own wife too. That was after the war. My first child was born in 1974. We started as friends and you know what young guys do. We started talking but initially I didn’t want to marry her.
Honestly, there was a girl I was dating at the Federal School of Science then. Eventually she married a senator. But my wife then was about twenty three. By our standards then, she was still a child. More so, I am Muslim while she was a Roman Catholic. Her father did not want to hear anything about me but somehow I got along with her.
She knew I had other girl friends, but you know a woman who knows what she wants. That is what I tell my children now. A woman would what she wants to do and she would not care about distractions.
We had been in the relationship for while and I decided to take her home. All the while, I was still okay with the girl friends I had but didn’t touch this one.
As I was about to go and drop her she stopped me and said “you would always tell me you love me, what is the big deal about these things?” But she was still young and I didn’t want to sleep with her and apparently she felt insulted, like I was saying she was not good enough, and she busted into tears. You know as a young man what you wanted is what you wanted. That night, I obliged. By the time we got to the front of her house, her dad and her elder brothers were waiting for us. They pounced on her, stripped her naked at that age and beat the hell out of her. Her body was covered with scars, all for my sake.