ibbFormer Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, has disclosed that he joined his bodyguards in the battle to crush the 1990 Coup attempt by Major Gideon Okar, contrary to the much-publicised speculations that he escaped through a tunnel from Dodan Barracks in Lagos.
He spoke at the weekend with reporters in a pre-birthday interview on the 1990 Coup and brought open the puzzle that had remained secret for almost 25 years on how he escaped the bullets.
He said: “I can remember fairly well that I had some loyal officers who were supposed to be protectors and bodyguards attached to me. Initially, they said I should move and I told them no; I am not leaving the Dodan Barracks. But they remained hard up and much tensed but very resilient. Later, I carried my family outside Dodan Barracks and then I joined my guards in the battle.”
Babangida said he got in touch with the then Chief of Army Staff (the late Head of State) Gen. Sani Abacha to plan a counteroffensive with loyal troops who swept away the coup plotters from Dodan Barracks.
“So, we went out of Dodan Barracks and went to a safe house where we got contact with loyal troops. May God bless Gen. Sani Abacha. Gen. Abacha was then the Chief of Army Staff. We got in touch with him and told him what was happening and he came down, we talked on what we should be doing or what we are going to do. We rallied round loyal troops and then I left my safe house and joined Abacha in his house and that was what happened,” he said.
The former leader said that he would ever remain grateful to God for sparing his life on that day and on other days of similar life-threatening incidents, adding that “those of us who participated in combat will say the same considering what happened to me in 1969 not even in 1990, some 21 years after. God helped me and I remained grateful to Him and to all of you for the support.”
Asked to shed light on his origin, the former ruler took a swipe at those who called him a Yoruba from Ogbomoso town because of his name “Badamasi,” insisting that he hails from Niger State.
“The truth is that I hail from here Niger State. My parents were home between Wushishi and Minna. My grandparents travelled to settle down in these places and that tells it all. But there is nothing wrong being from any part of the country. But the truth is I hail from Niger State. My grandparents and great grandparents moved from somewhere to settle down here in Niger State. There are some who still call us settlers in Niger State; that we are not indigenes of the state because our grandparents came from somewhere. But having lived all my 74 years in Niger State, I think I am more than qualified to be called an indigene of Niger State,” he declared.
IBB commend the current leadership for identifying some of the problems bedevilling the country and urged Nigerians to support President Buhari to enhance security and curb corruption, adding that there was the need for the Federal Government to pursue vigorously its anti-corruption crusade and bring to book those who stole “our wealth.”