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|Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Dotng: 4:39am On May 27, 2017|
Abacha summoned me for making a female chief judge in Lagos –Oyinlola
Published May 27, 2017
A former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, in this interview with a select number of journalists, speaks about his tenure and other issues. Gbenro Adeoye was there
You were the Military Administrator of Lagos between December 1993 and August 1996, how did you get that appointment and what was the experience like?
It was a military posting that came just immediately after I returned from an operational assignment as the Commander of the Nigerian Contingent to the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia from 1992 to the later part of 1993. When I got appointed, it came as a surprise and the bigger surprise was that I got it without any godfather. I was simply posted to Lagos State. How I was informed about it was even dramatic. My course mate, Col. Emmanuel Soda, was Military Assistant to Gen. Oladipo Diya, he got to know about (Gen. Sani) Abacha’s decision to make me Military Administrator of Lagos State but Diya told him that he (Diya) didn’t know me well. So Soda was trying frantically to locate me but I was busy playing golf at Ikoyi Club. Finally he got through to my brother, Toye, who told him I would be at the golf club. But I had left the golf club and was on my way elsewhere. As I was driving along, I became aware of a vehicle pursuing me at great speed and, having had an encounter with armed robbers few days earlier, I thought “here we go again!” At that speed, I cocked my rifle. Finally on the fly-over, I slowed down for whoever was pursuing me and primed myself for action, only to discover it was Toye’s car. We both parked, got down and I was told that Emma (Col. Soda) had been looking for me since morning. He added that Soda told him that Diya was in fact the one who wanted to see me. I thought that was serious and we turned back and went straight to Soda. Soda and I went together to meet Diya, who then told me of the appointment. I, there and then, pledged my loyalty.
I proceeded to set up my cabinet after swearing-in formalities. As there was an idea of having civilian deputy administrators in states, I had hoped Senator Bola Tinubu would be made my deputy, so it was the two of us who started putting my cabinet together. He personally brought in Tajudeen Olusi and few others.
Pacifying the Yoruba people of Lagos who were still feeling very aggrieved over the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election was my first and most urgent task as Military Administrator of Lagos State. I met total anarchy. Workers were on strike; markets were closed. No one was working. The agitation for the actualisation of that election was at its peak. There was total breakdown of law and order and outright civil disobedience. Each time I drove out of Government House or the Governor’s Office, I could feel hostility along the way as if I was the one who personally annulled the election. But this didn’t worry me unduly and I could understand the depth of hatred for the armed forces. After some time, I decided that we could not just be sitting down in the office at Alausa, Ikeja. There was an urgent need to meet with the people. So, I decided that I must tour all the local governments. Having served in Lagos before, I knew the peculiarities of each area, which was what informed my decision to commence my tour from Mushin Local Government Area, which I believed constituted the bedrock of the anti-government sentiments then. I must mention that when I drew up the programme and announced that I would start from Mushin, my commissioners were not at ease at all. As a matter of fact, some whispered behind my back that this man who just got back from the war front was planning to get everyone killed. So, when those words filtered into my ears, I told them that no commissioner was under any compulsion to accompany me to Mushin. The only commissioner that accompanied me, if I am not mistaken, was Dr. Segun Ogundimu. Principally, he must have followed me because that was his area. I was received by the local government chairman, Bayo Oshiyemi. I was not surprised at the reception I got at Mushin. I was welcomed with a rain of stones. My boys wanted to react by firing back but I had to caution them. I told them that my life was not in danger and even if it was, I knew what to do. Of course as a Yoruba man, I knew if anyone was killed under my watch, my family would never get out of it. So, I warned the boys not to do anything. I could take care of myself. I then appealed to the people. I told them to at least listen to me first, even if they would kill me later. I assured them that I would convey their grievances to higher authorities if they could discuss with me.
The people were taken aback by the way I spoke with them. A soldier appealing for understanding! They didn’t expect such words from a military officer who had only recently returned from war. They expected me to react to their provocation but when I did something that was unexpected, they dropped their stones and we went into a hall to discuss.
I shared my experience in Somalia with them and the fact that though that country is a nation with one religion, Islam, nobody, throughout the time I stayed there, had the time to pray even once because it was all gunshots; there were gunshots every minute. They had no government and anarchy reigned supreme. I made them understand that if we did not deal with our grievances the right way, our condition could degenerate into what I saw in Somalia.
I affirmed that the annulment was bad and unacceptable and asked them if they wanted to fight the rest of the country or go into meaningful dialogue. I also assured them that they would have my backing in whatever decision they made.
By the time I was leaving Mushin, I was carried shoulder high and that became a propaganda point for the government. The event was broadcast by the Nigerian Television Authority and I was flooded with phone calls.
Following up on the success of that visit, I took a tour to Lagos Island. In that place, as expected, most of my cars were damaged. A retired officer, Captain Carew, was the Chairman of Lagos Island Local Government at that time. I met with the elders and the same story I told in Mushin, I told them. I recall that on Lagos Island, there was this Chief Onilegbale, he must have been over 80 years old and he told us a proverb… “Ti a ba ni ki a lu keke, egbaafa; ta ba ni ka lu ya, egbaafa. Ki wa lo de t’aa kuku lu ya.” He meant that whichever way we approached the issue of June 12, the result would be the same and so would the price, so why not go to war? Again, I explained to the people that they had two alternatives, either to fight or to dialogue. They eventually agreed with me and chose dialogue. They sent me off with the sound of drums.
I believed that the next most turbulent would be Yaba, so I took a tour there. Ironically, there was no record of violence against me in Yaba and there was no rowdy reception either. That was how I moved round the state and broke the ice. I was able to, at least, stabilise the polity and commence the programme of bringing peace to Lagos State. My joy is that I administered Lagos at the most turbulent period in the history of that state without firing a shot.
Apart from that, what projects and programmes of your administration gave you joy?
But at a point, you said you could not rehabilitate roads because there was no bitumen?
The issue of bitumen was one interesting story. You know I got to Lagos in December 1993 and, as I said, government was maintaining roads and constructing new ones and bridges where necessary until sometime in late 1995, when we had issues with construction materials. That time, government projects were as a matter of policy majorly executed through direct labour. The Kaduna Refinery, which was the only refinery producing bitumen in the country, was sabotaged in the political crises of that period. The only option we had was to import the material. I asked for permission and for forex to import bitumen, which was the main component for building roads, but the Federal Government said no, I should go and source for forex from the black market. The exchange rate was N84 to a dollar at the black market known then as the autonomous market, while the official rate was N22 to a dollar. At the official rate, I would have been able to construct, as of that time, a kilometre for N4m, but if I had gone to the autonomous market, that would have cost four or five times the price. How would I do that and people would not accuse me of embezzling Lagos State funds?
But the other states got forex from the Federal Government at the official rate…
Yes. But Lagos was not given. I don’t know what the offence was. But I was in office to solve problems. So, I appealed to the people of the state. I asked if they knew any source through which we could get bitumen locally they should assist us. Nobody responded except Chief Lawal Solarin of Eterna Oil. Unfortunately, what he gave was insignificant to the enormity of the scope of work we had to do. However, I will continue to appreciate his good gesture because in that time of trouble, he was there for me.
The only solution was to contract out the roads. So, I contracted the Victoria Island roads to HFP Construction Company; Lagos Island roads were contracted to Julius Berger; Western Avenue was given to Strabag and Mushin-Abeokuta Road was contracted to NW Limited. That was how I gave the major roads out to these grade one construction companies and they were carrying out the work satisfactorily until I left in August 1996. The inauguration of the roads was done by my successor. However, because of politics, nobody was able to say those were the steps I took. All they were saying was that I complained that there was no bitumen. I also made a mistake of not engaging the media enough. I thought I was on a military assignment and didn’t need to deliberately tell my stories.
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|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Dotng: 4:40am On May 27, 2017|
How about the issue of security as there were serious cases of armed robbery in Lagos at the time?
Yes. Anywhere there are political crises, violent crimes would reign there too. Men of the underworld took advantage of the socio- political turbulence that came with the agitation against June 12 election annulment. So, security of lives and property became a serious problem. My administration came up with the idea of floating an effective, well-kitted, mobile security outfit code-named Operation Sweep. That was in 1995. Operation Sweep was a joint task force of all the armed forces and the police. It was an entirely new crime fighting idea. The operatives were out on patrol 24 hours. I was also out on patrol every night. With that, criminals were effectively swept out of Lagos as it became a danger zone for them to operate. A measure of the outfit’s effectiveness and success led virtually other states in the country to follow our footsteps by setting up similar outfits. My successor, Col. Buba Marwa, sustained the outfit and passed it on to Bola Tinubu in 1999. I am happy that although the name may have changed today in Lagos and in other states, the concept is still alive.
How about the Lagos House in Abuja?
It was started before I got there. I met it under construction but I finished and inauguration of the Lagos House in Abuja. We also did housing, in all the five divisions of Lagos State. This was carried out majorly by the Lagos State Development Corporation. Also, most local governments did their own low cost housing under the administration.
We also learnt of the politics involved in your appointment of the first female Chief Judge in Nigeria, can you tell us the story?
When Justice Ligali Ayorinde, who was the Chief Judge became terminally ill, I visited him on his sick bed at St. Nicholas Hospital and told him of the government’s plan to evacuate him abroad for better medical care. I also wanted him to suggest his successor in case he could not make it back. Justice Ayorinde wrote down the names of Justice Roselyn Omotosho and Justice Thomas and said either of them would do. After that visit, Ayorinde passed on while on medical evacuation to the United Kingdom. I wanted justice to prevail in filling the vacancy between the two justices. I wanted to be able to defend my selection at the end of the day, so the digging began. It was discovered that both candidates were called to the Bar same day but there had to be a separating factor. It was later discovered that the woman got to the Bench first. So, the papers of Roselyn Omotosho were processed to become the next Chief Judge. I had no idea I was making history with Omotosho. But some people were against the fact that a woman was to be made a CJ in Nigeria. Before her, no woman anywhere in the country had reached that height. I didn’t know that; I just believed that I was doing justice. Then, my enemies, because of that decision, cooked up bad stories that were taken to Gen. Abacha and he decided to remove me as administrator. However, I was lucky that as of that time, his kitchen cabinet was still intact and he was consulting and listening to them. He informed members of the kitchen cabinet, the likes of Generals Ishaya Bamaiyi, Patrick Aziza, Bashir Magashi, Admiral Mike Akhigbe, and some others that he was removing the boy in Lagos. They asked what my offence was. He told them the boy had been misbehaving, usurping his powers. They all vouched for me and persuaded him to give me the chance to explain myself and they prevailed. They even put their positions on the line, telling him that if he found me wanting, they should be relieved of their posts too. He was surprised at the support base I had among very senior officers. So, right from that meeting, Abacha summoned me to appear before him the next day which was a Sunday. Since I had been hinted that the major issue was the appointment of Omotosho as Chief Judge, I duplicated the relevant files and took the two files on the subject to the Villa. I was scheduled to see him by 3.30pm but I got to the villa at 3pm. Now, you would be lucky if you had an appointment with Gen. Abacha for 10am and you see him by 10pm. You may stay days and not be able to see him. But when I got there on that Sunday afternoon, I was told that he was waiting for me. I said no, that was impossible, I insisted I was there to see the Head of State and not Al-Mustapha. The BG (Bodyguard) laughed and told me to proceed, that the Commander -in- Chief was indeed, waiting for me. Then it dawned on me that I was in big trouble.
I entered his office, saluted him and the first thing he asked me was, “why are you in uniform on a Sunday? Then I responded, calmly that, “Sir, I wouldn’t know which other assignment the Commander-in-Chief may have for me, that is why I came prepared to go anywhere.” I think my answer also got him, so he said, ‘sit down and then snapped at me: “What am I hearing about this CJ or no CJ?” The allegation was that I had usurped his powers.
I said thank you sir and I gave him one of the prepared files, taking him through it page by page. I said: “this is how I started the process sir; when I made the recommendation, I wrote your office sir and this is your reply approving the step I had taken and the recommendation I had made. I followed the process of picking the senior between the two – who was called to the Bar first and then the Bench.” When Abacha saw everything with his own approval, he looked deeply at me and said: “Ola, go back and continue the good work.”
Meanwhile, the news had been broadcast unofficially that I had been removed and would not be returning as governor from Abuja. As a matter of fact, somebody had been tipped to replace me and the person was already in Lagos. So, when I came back, the usual airport reception was not there because everyone was waiting for the news that would say, the military administrator of Lagos had been sacked. But nothing of such came. When I got to work on Monday, one of my commissioners came to ask, “Sir, are we still working or work has finished?” Then I told her that when I came to Lagos, both print and electronic media said that Oyinlola had been appointed MILAD and that they would say the same way if I was removed. So I asked them to wait till such happened. That was how I continued my work. That was one of the intrigues that I was able to survive.
Kudirat Abiola was killed when you were in charge of Lagos State. What can you tell us about it that we do not know yet?
The killing of Kudirat Abiola was an unfortunate incident I had to grapple with. I was opening the reconstructed Sura Market on Lagos Island – that was on June 4, 1996, when I got a call from the current Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu – he was a Commissioner of Police somewhere in the country then. He called me and said, “Excellency, have you heard that Kudirat Abiola has been shot?” I quickly rounded off the market event and headed for Ikeja. I called Ogundimu, the Commissioner for Health and he confirmed it. He said he was there at the hospital battling to see if they could save her life. It was Ogundimu who later gave me the news of her death. Then mischief makers took over. The next thing they said was that she was coming from my office in Ikeja and that after she left, I sent assassins after her. But I thank God, when eventually the person who shot her, Sergeant Rogers, was arrested and in the course of the trial, he told the story of how he did it, Oyinlola’s name did not feature once. Providence also made President Olusegun Obasanjo to institute the Oputa Panel and at the panel, nobody mentioned my name. You can imagine that kind of thing. I, who had never slapped my wife, so how would I have instigated people to take guns and pursue a woman? Those were the kinds of intrigues I faced in Lagos. It was something else.
What kind of relationship did you have with your predecessors while in Lagos?
Very cordial relationship. And I must say that they all assisted me one way or the other to weather the various storms I met in Lagos. For instance, when the state was preparing to hold the Junior World Cup in 1995, the anti-government coalition groups were making frantic efforts to ensure that the government lost the hosting right and that came in different forms. Because people did not work for over eight weeks due to the June 12 strike, refuse started piling up all over the city. It was totally embarrassing. So, I appealed to some notable stakeholders in the state, primarily Alhaji Lateef Jakande, to help appeal to the people that though indiscriminate dumping of refuse was meant to embarrass the government, the collateral damage, through health hazards, would know no bounds and the people would be at the receiving end. I was told that Jakande had faced something similar to that when he was governor and this old man came out, rolled out his team and they were there assisting me everywhere day and night. I am eternally grateful to him and to Alhaji Rafiu Jafojo, his deputy. The anti-government coalition keyed into the situation. The moment we cleared refuse from one place, their agents, using tippers at night, would go and dump refuse at the middle of the road somewhere else. When I realised that these people were deliberately doing these as acts of sabotage, I started going out on night patrol and I was able to confiscate some tippers dumping refuse on the main road. By the time I seized five of such vehicles and painted them in Lagos State colours, nobody was prepared to lose their tippers again. We were using the confiscated tippers to pack whatever the saboteurs dumped. Then that aspect of their operation stopped. It was a tough one. I had to do the unusual to make sure the unusual menace stopped. That was another challenge.
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|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by CROWNWEALTH019(m): 4:52am On May 27, 2017|
When you place religion ahead of common sense
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by dodelight(m): 4:55am On May 27, 2017|
CROWNWEALTH019:How was religion placed ahead of common sense?
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by CROWNWEALTH019(m): 5:04am On May 27, 2017|
dodelight:Islam forbids female judge ..
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by madridguy(m): 5:15am On May 27, 2017|
Stop saying what you don't know
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by CROWNWEALTH019(m): 5:17am On May 27, 2017|
madridguy:I schooled in Ilorin... So I know what I am saying
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by joespiceman(m): 5:26am On May 27, 2017|
Am not sure the op read what he posted
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by madridguy(m): 5:31am On May 27, 2017|
You don't know what you're saying. I repeat, stop saying what you have no knowledge about. Morning!
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by segebase(m): 6:20am On May 27, 2017|
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by CROWNWEALTH019(m): 7:34am On May 27, 2017|
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by xnsandrxns: 7:37am On May 27, 2017|
I think our former leaders should occasionally come out to explain the motives behind some of the controversial decisions they made while in power.
There might probably be good reasons for most of these things we hate them for.
And interested people can learn one or two things from their experience
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|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Dotng: 9:00am On May 27, 2017|
joespiceman:Behold! The children of Nairaland.
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by NwaObinkita: 9:04am On May 27, 2017|
It is a lie...
Abacha was a proper Gentleman
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|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by IhateAfonjas(m): 9:04am On May 27, 2017|
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Alisegun(m): 9:04am On May 27, 2017|
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by NaijaMutant(f): 9:04am On May 27, 2017|
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by RealHaute: 9:05am On May 27, 2017|
Didn't know he was a military man.
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|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Paschal55(m): 9:06am On May 27, 2017|
Somebody please summarize
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Chiefpriest1(m): 9:06am On May 27, 2017|
Abacha is dead. He will not come back to defend himself. Whether in terms of his policies or his stealing.
But I still believe Abacha did not steal half of what his successors and even Ibb his predecessor stole.
He was just unlucky to have died, yet close to N500 billion has been recovered from him, if not even more.
We need a strong government who will damn the consequences and probe all governments from 1983.
These people have robbed Nigeria's future...
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by sbashir10: 9:07am On May 27, 2017|
A military Governor in 1993 to 1996 and also a civilian governor in 2003 and 2007.
and we are the leaders of tomorrow, when that tomorrow never comes.
I'll have to go back to my primary school teachers for lying to us about being the leaders of tomorrow that never comes.
secondly, abacha did not opposed him installing a female judge.
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by hakeem4(m): 9:07am On May 27, 2017|
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by NaijaMutant(f): 9:08am On May 27, 2017|
Islamic defenders of Yorubas
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by smartty68(m): 9:08am On May 27, 2017|
Omo this news pass movie script walai... Endless scrolling
OP, do you know what he promised to do for the female if she gives him that thing
No be him fault, as him brain relocate to under him leg...
Anyways, I just come to comment what I don't understand sef.
Lemme run off
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|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Akinaukwa: 9:08am On May 27, 2017|
Ops, your epistle is too long. He complained of female Judge but preferred to die in the hands of female oloshos abi.
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by Ezedon(m): 9:09am On May 27, 2017|
Did he summoned you from hell?
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by idu1(m): 9:13am On May 27, 2017|
How many slaps did he gave you?
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by GurlFriend: 9:17am On May 27, 2017|
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by poksmahn(m): 9:17am On May 27, 2017|
A very interesting interview. Life was nasty, short and brutish those days.
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by lagostokd: 9:17am On May 27, 2017|
I'll take you serious the day I see a female imam
|Re: Abacha Summoned Me For Making A Female Chief Judge In Lagos –oyinlola by smartty68(m): 9:17am On May 27, 2017|
Dotng:Indeed they are here again
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