June 12 election annulment: Buhari apologises to Abiola’s family, Nigerians

*Abiola, Buhari

As Soyinka calls for establishment of Hall of Shame for those who have wronged the country

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday apologised to Nigerians and the family of the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.

The election was annulled by then military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Abiola placed under house arrest by police on June 11.

Speaking during a special national honours investiture ceremony held in Abuja, Buhari who formally conferred the Grand Commander of Federal Republic (GCFR) on the late politician, Grand Commander of the Order of the Nigeria (GCON) on Mr. Babagana Kingibe and late human rights crusader, Chief Gani Fawehinmi declared: “On behalf of the Federal Government, I tender the nation’s apology to the family of late MKO Abiola, who got the highest vote [in the election], and to those that lost their loved ones in the course of the June 12 struggle.

“We cannot rewind the past but we can at least assuage our feelings, recognise that a wrong has been committed and resolve to stand firm now and ease the future for the sanctity of free elections

“Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice. This retrospective and posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country.”

“Our action today is to bury the negative side of June 12 – side of ill-feelings, hate, frustration, and agony. What we are doing today is celebrating the positive side of June 12.”

It would be recalled that Buhari had on June 6, 2018, declared June 12 Nigeria’s new Democracy Day and announced that Abiola, his running mate in the election, Kingibe as well as Fawehinmi, would be honoured along with other heroes of the struggle for the revalidation of the election.

Meanwhile, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has called Buhari to consider establishing a Hall of Shame for those who have wronged the country, just as he put up Hall of Fame for the nation’s heroes.

Soyinka who spoke at the event also told the president to stop idolising and displaying loyalty to an unnamed individual whom he referred to as Abiola’s “tormentor-in-chief”.

Many are of the view that he was referring to the late military head of state, Gen. Sanni Abacha as the “tormentor-in-chief”.

It would be recalled that Abacha incarcerated Abiola for four years, 1994 till July 7, 1998 when he (Abiola) died mysteriously.

He wondered why President Buhari will continue to display loyalty to a man he described as “one of the worst dictators in the history of the country” and who should be having his days in court for crime against humanity.

Soyinka said in a private meeting with Buhari, he had also raised concerns over how the President could be saying his administration was fighting corruption, whereas a major road in the Federal Capital Territory is named after a “corrupt former leader.”

However, he said he was not satisfied with the president’s response.

Meanwhile, the secretary to the government of the federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha said the president had approved of some other Nigerians to be conferred with national honours for their contributions to democracy.

Mustapha, who disclosed this in Abuja, did not, however, disclose the identities of the fresh awardees.

“Further announcement on this will be made shortly,” he said.


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