2o years after the Major Gideon Orkar Coup: We call for the Release of the bodies of the Victims for proper burial.

By Dr Adekunle Ojo, PHD

The National Assembly, NASS has been called upon to reopen the circumstances surrounding the April 22, 1990 military coup which led to the death by firing squad of 76 soldiers who had called for the division of the country along ethnic lines. The military coup was on April 22, 1990. This Thursday, it will be exactly 20 years that the soldiers were killed at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos.

The soldiers were killed on Friday May 27, 1990 after they were convicted by the Major-General Ike Nwachukwu-led Special Military Tribunal which found them guilty and sentenced them to death by firing squad.

The coup was led twenty years ago by Major Gideon Orkar, a Tiv but most of the active participants were from Niger-Delta region, underscoring the fact that the issues raised by the coup plotters were selfless issues which should not have led to their being killed by the government of General Ibrahim Babangida.

In the letter addressed to the Senate President, Senator David Mark and signed by Dr Ojo Adekunle, the group urged the National Assembly to institute 'an investigative panel to determine the circumstances surrounding the massacre of these soldiers and also to find out if the y were heroes or not. We are concerned that the blood of these innocent heroes were she on Yoruba territory and we the Yoruba people are anxious to see the release of the bodies of these men to their relations for proper burial so that their spirit can give our ancestral land the peace it deserves.

So much innocent blood had been shed on the Yoruba territory by forces alien to us, the shedding of innocent blood on Yoruba ancestral homeland is against the spiritual wellbeing of our people. The April 22 coup plotters made demands that were favourable to the Yoruba people. We see no reason why they should have been killed. We have been reliably informed by the ifa Oracle that THERE WILL BE NO PEACE IN NIGERIA UNTIL THESE MEN OF TRUTH HAVE BEEN GIVEN PROPER BURIAL.

The group stated 'We know that you, Senator Davie Mark was part of the General Ibrahim Babangida's regime that killed by firing squad these soldiers, many of whom were also declared wanted by the then military authority. It is suspected that you will be bias in this inquiry. But under a democratic dispensation, it is mandatory for people to probe the past, so as to seek better understanding of the facts of history, and in this case, the circumstances that led to the killing of the soldiers and whether they were actually wrong to have taken the steps they took considering the fact that the issues rasied by these soldiers continue to torment Nigerians today.

You may which to recollect, Mr Senate President, that the Orkar group called for the excision of five states of Bauchi, Kano, Sokoto, Bornu and Katsina from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, unfortunately, these states they wanted excised remain the breeding ground for Islamic extremism and unwarranted waste of lives of innocent Nigerians due to faith motivated unrests.

'We really want to know, what motivated the coup plotters, what were the problems listed in the army, are these problems still existing, have the challenges they raised been addressed, and more importantly, is there ethnic justice in the Nigerian army and are the objective conditions in Nigeria enough to ward off a possible reoccurrence of a similar uprising in the armed forces in Nigeria? We think the NASS must as a matter of urgency, set up a 'Congressional Hearing' on the April 22, 1990 coup to ascertain the remote and primary causes and to see how the problem can be stemmed in the bud in future.

The group added: This is the standard practice all over the world. In the US, the Senate set up Congressional Hearing on issues of Slave Trade, Human Rights Violations and even wars like the Vietnam War and several others that border on the past, present and future of the country.' EIRO called on the Senate to set up the hearing and bring all living witnesses to appear before it. 'We think that the leaders of the April 22, 1990 coup are national heroes . They raised fundamental issues about the future of the country and about the national question. We in EIRO are calling on the National Assembly to release the bodies of these heroes for proper burial by their relations.

Dr Adekunle Ojo, PHD