July 16, 2024

June 12: How I was almost killed by Abacha men in Ibadan – Yomi Faparusi


Yomi Faparusi, a Nigerian-American based in Tennessee in the United States on Tuesday narrated how he allegedly escaped abduction and death during the June 12 struggle.

Faparusi alleged that he was almost abducted and killed by the State Security Service, SSS, now the Department Of State Service, DSS.

DAILY POST reports that the struggle for democracy began on June 12 1993 when Nigeria had its first presidential election since the 1983 military coup.

The election was won by the late Chief MKO Abiola, who died on July 7, 1998.

Although both the local and foreign observers said the election was free and fair, the then military Head of State Ibrahim Babangida cancelled the election over alleged irregularities.

The development caused chaos in the country leading to the decision of Babangida to step aside on August 27, 1993. Ernest Shonekan, MKO townsman from Ogun state took over as interim government.

However, on June 11, 1994, Abiola declared himself President of Nigeria. He was later arrested by General Sani Abacha on June 23 1994 over alleged treason.

The former Head of State was also accused of having some assassins, who he allegedly sent after pro-democracy activists.

In one of those expeditions, Abacha allegedly sent his killers to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital to get Faparusi abducted.

Faparusi told journalists in a virtual press conference on Tuesday that he fled the country in 1997 to seek political asylum in the United States after realizing that he would be detained by the Abacha regime.

He said, “I was involved in the June 12 movement because I disdain military regimes. They are an illegal form of government, regardless of the justification often used. You need to note that, while in Nigeria, I lived under a civilian government for only four years—the Shagari regime from 1979 to 1983.

“My formative years were under military rule, and I believe that messed up a lot of people in my age group. Abacha was a tyrant on a different level. I was determined to end his government.

“On UI campus, despite being a medical student, I participated in the Students’ Union and several demonstrations. Off-campus, I worked with chapters of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in strategy. Back in the day, the NLC would have a nationwide strike, which was not sustainable for a long time.

“I was one of the proponents of scattered and sequential strikes- different chapters strike at different times so the strikes could be continuous like a relay race. In the U.S., I attended events President Tinubu and other NADECO leaders organized. These were a rallying point for someone like me because I was a stressed young man who had to make a sudden life change. It was often a mixed feeling seeing that hope was kept alive, but the reality was the sheer number of Nigerians in exile.

“I had to flee Nigeria in 1997 and seek political asylum in the United States when I realized that I would be detained by the Abacha regime and killed.

“We were preparing for a nationwide strike and demonstration by various groups of Nigerians: students, market women, and, of course, labour unions. The plan leaked, and the Abacha junta started picking up people. Without cell phones, back then, one could not get a heads-up about an impending arrest by the State Security Service (SSS), now DSS.

“I was at the Aleshinloye market in Ibadan when I saw three men dressed like SSS agents following me. I moved fast and hid in a shop and when I was trying to leave, I saw these men waiting for me. Fortunately, one of the store owners allowed me to stay in his shop; he left me at his store after the market closed. Afterwards, I stayed underground, and when I heard of my comrades “disappearing”, I decided to flee Nigeria.

“This generation and next should take their voting rights very seriously. Many died for their rights, so they should please make sure they vote in every election.

“June 12, 1993, was one of the freest and fairest elections in the history of Nigeria, but the greed of the ruling military junta squandered that opportunity.

“Nigerians are resilient, and while an illegitimate military government might try to suppress people’s votes, it can never silence or destroy the will of the masses for democracy. Also, democracy is not free; it is sadly often paid for by the lives and sweat of patriots.

“The significance of June 12 is why we have civilian rule in Nigeria today. People might have reservations about the state of affairs in Nigeria, but nothing would have been as bad as a military government still ruling today. The focus should be on something other than what the government is doing wrong but on what every Nigerian can do for Nigeria. God bless.”

DAILY POST reports that the former Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 changed the date for the commemoration of Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12.



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