Chairman of Forte Oil Plc, Femi Otedola, has narrated how former Managing Director of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Peter Igbinedion, allegedly scuttled his attempt at securing the release of the late Moshood Abiola.
The oil mogul made the revelation at the public presentation of two books by Ovation International Publisher, Dele Momodu, in Lagos on Wednesday.
Abiola, winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, was arrested in 1994 by the then military regime of now late Gen Sani Abacha for insisting on the validation of the mandate given to him in what is regarded as the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s history.
Otedola said after watching Abiola emerging from a Black Maria after his arrest, he was motivated to seek his release through the intervention of his friend, Ibrahim Abacha, a son of the military dictator at the time.
He said he met with the younger Abacha at Igbinedion’s residence in Ikoyi, Lagos but the encounter did not go the way he had expected.
Hear Otedola: “I told Ibrahim to tell his dad to release MKO as it was not fair for a man who was being denied his mandate to be so humiliated by being put in a black Maria, to which our host, Peter, interjected by saying “who is this?” and he swiftly walked to the door holding it open and walked me out of his residence.”
Thus ended Otedola’s intervention in seeking Abiola’s release.
Fate, however, had more in store for the men.
Otedola continued: “I later ran into Mr. Igbinedion at Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s London residence in 2013 and he was begging for my number. How tables have turned.”
Igbinedion was sacked as FAAN MD by former President Muhammadu Buhari and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari recently conferred Nigeria’s highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Abiola.
Ibrahim Abacha died in a plane crash on January 17, 1996.
Abiola died in prison on July 7, 1998, a month after Gen Abacha died on June 8.
Otedola is today one of the richest men in Africa.