A pro-democracy group, Stand Up Nigeria has condemned alleged plans by President Bola Tinubu’s administration to appoint Gen. Hamza Al-Mustapha (rtd.) as the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The group in a statement signed by its Coordinator Sunday Attah on Sunday said such a plan if true, does not only negate the pro-democratic principles which President Tinubu stands for but will erode the gains made over the years by the NSCDC.
According to the Attah, appointing such a controversial figure as Al-Mustapha who has a questionable past will lead to the country losing respect in the international community.
He said, “At first, we want to believe that the rumours are not true. It will come as a shock that President Tinubu who fought against anti-democracy forces which Al-Mustapha was part of under the dictatorship regime of Gen. Sani Abacha would even consider appointing such a person to head a security agency.”
He argued that the head of a security agency saddled with protecting critical national assets cannot be left in the hands of individuals who had masterminded military coups in the past.
He said, “We are aware of the dangerous trends in military coups in West Africa. Heads of security agencies must be people with total loyalty to democratic tenets.”
According to Attah, any attempt to appoint a Controller General outside the Corps will be counterproductive as such action will not only set a bad precedent but will demoralise young officers, who will now have the impression that they cannot rise to head the agency irrespective of how hard they work.
He said, “We also wish to remind the President that the established order of ascension within the security agencies and paramilitary organizations should be upheld. This will promote fairness, morale, and a sense of justice among the personnel. Deviating from this order can lead to discontent and negatively impact the effectiveness of these organizations.”
He recalled that the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Hameed Ali from outside the Customs and that it resulted in controversies including his refusal to wear uniforms.
He said, “Interestingly, both Ali and Al-Mustapha are retired Army officers.”
According to Attah, the current CG of the NSCDC has already started some reforms in the Corps and should be encouraged to continue
He pointed out that personnel of the Corps have benefited from various training and welfare packages under the CG, and asked why anyone would consider making any dramatic changes.
Al-Mustapha is a former Nigerian Army Major and intelligence officer who served as Chief Security Officer to the late dictator, General Sani Abacha, who was Nigeria’s military head of state from 1993 until his sudden death on June 8, 1998.
He has been accused of being behind the assassination of Kudirat Abiola. Kudirat was allegedly killed by Sergeant Rogers on the orders of Al-Mustapha.
Kudirat was the wife of Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Nigeria’s hero of democracy widely believed to have won the 1993 presidential election which was annulled by the military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida (retd.).
Kudirat Abiola was a Nigerian pro-democracy campaigner. She was assassinated on June 4, 1996, while her husband, Moshood Abiola, was being detained by the Nigerian Government.
She was reportedly killed on the orders of Al-Mustapha.
In November 2022, a statement signed by Khafila Abiola, on behalf of Kudirat’s children titled “Sergeant Rogers Killed Our Mother Hamza Al- Mustapha’s Orders,” insisted that Al-Mustapha was culpable in the assassination of their mother following his denial. They insisted that Al-Mustapha did not counter the evidence of one Sergent Rogers at the Oputa Panel and in various judgments.
The statement partly reads, “Our attention has been drawn to a recent statement made by Major Hamza Al-Mustapha. In it, he accused the current Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN (immediate former VP), of instigating Sergeant Rogers to falsely claim that he, Al-Mustapha, was behind the assassination of our mother, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
“First of all, we all watched the proceedings of the Oputa Panel where Sergeant Rogers freely stated that he assassinated our mother and attempted to murder Senator Abraham Adesanya and Chief Alex Ibru, late Publisher of The Guardian newspaper based on the instructions given to him by Major Al-Mustapha. The evidence of Sergeant Rogers was not challenged by Al-Mustapha and his lawyers at the Oputa Panel.
“Second, the Lagos State High Court convicted and sentenced the armed agents of Al-Mustapha to imprisonment for the attempted murder of Senator Abraham Adesanya.
“Third, the Lagos State High Court also convicted and sentenced Al-Mustapha and his accomplices to death for the cold murder of our mother. Their subsequent acquittal by the Court of Appeal was most likely politically motivated. The appeal filed against the judgment is currently pending at the Supreme Court.”