27 Years after Nigerian Journalist Baguada Kaltho died in Kaduna bomb explosion, man reveals US agent connection
By Salau Biu
A medical doctor has hinted how Nigerian journalist, Baguada Kaltho was killed.
Mahdi Shehu speaking on Arise TV suggested that Baguada Kaltho may have been killed in the bomb blast through the connivance of an American agent, Russel Hanks.
Baguada Kaltho, a staff of The News Magazine died in a bomb explosion at the Durbah Hotel in Kaduna in 1995
He said in the United States Political Attache had offered him 1m to bomb Durbah Hotel in Kaduna which he refused.
He said “Let me tell you my experience 27 years ago. Between the 7th and 9th of June, 1995, 27 years ago in Kaduna, when the bashing of Nigeria’s image was at its own highest peak. A then Governor, Lt. Col Lawal Jafaru Isa, he’s alive now, and he can confirm what I’m going to tell you now, put up a seminar between Kaduna State government, New Nigerian newspapers, and NTA. The seminar was titled “Not in Our Character,” Mahdi narrated.
He spoke further “All federal government officials were there, state governments, security agencies, Matthew Hassan Kukah delivered a paper there. I also spoke on the floor. The import of the seminar was to deconstruct the image being painted of Nigeria that is so bad. But what is the news there? The news is that after the seminar… after my contribution, a tall, lanky, blue-eyed, blonde-haired American man approached me outside the hall at Hassan Chiroma Katsina House, venue of the seminar. He just handed over his card to me and left. What was the name on it? Russell J. Hanks, American Embassy, Political Officer. That was on the 9th of June,
He said not until the 11th of August he received a call his my landline, and on the caller ID, he saw the number.
“It was Russell’s number. He said, ‘Mahdi, I’m just calling as a follow-up to our meeting the last time and say hello to you. Bye-bye,’ he dropped (the call). Again, on September 9th, he called me again for the same courtesy call, then 11th of December, he called me and said that ‘Mahdi, I’ll be coming to Kaduna. Will you have a cup of tea with me?’ I said fine. He came in, he called, and I met him at Hamdala Hotel. We had a cup of tea. I think he was trying to size me up because he was busy asking me about the performance of Abacha’s government, and I was playing safe, but then came the big bang.”
He narrated that on 21st December of the same year (1995), he came into Kaduna, and he called him again saying ‘Mahdi, I have a business for you. And it’s very important. Meet me at Hamdala Hotel, on the last floor at Hamdala Hotel wing, which I did. On arrival, Russel Hanks told me,
‘Mahdi, we are worried. The American government is doing a bomb campaign against Abacha. We don’t want him. We are promoting a regime change. This parcel (holds out a phone in the description) is what I want you to do. See Durbar Hotel, just away there – 600 metres. Go into the bookshop and drop this parcel – small parcel. This is N500,000 for you and another N500,000 waiting for you. Once you drop the parcel, please come back to collect the second N500,000.”
“I said, ‘Russel, you have miscalculated. When I addressed Adamu Ciroma as the Minister for Agriculture in that seminar, you’re referring to, when I addressed (Abubakar) Rimi as the Communications Minister when I addressed Ismaila Isa Funtua as the Chairman of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, I did that as a citizen, not because I don’t like my country. I dressed him down. I abused him. He said, ‘Mahdi Mahdi; now I know you’re a good citizen. I’m just trying to test you. You are nationalistic. We look forward to working with you to stabilise Nigeria, and that was another fault’.
He said he held him because saw saw his desperation.
“He wanted me to leave, but I refused to leave. Then I heard a knock on the door (gwamp-gwamp)
He said its was the late journalist Bagauda Kaltho.
Mahdi said after he refused Hanks’ offer to bomb Durbar Hotel, on his way from the venue, he saw late journalist Bagauda Kaltho at the entrance of Hanks’ room.
“We went to the door together, and he wanted to see me off. At the door was Bagauda Kaltho, the journalist that was said to have been killed by Abacha. Bagauda was right at the door there. I think he gave him an hour before me, but I keyed into Bagauda’s hour.”
Mardi said Bagauda went into the room while he left.
He said not long after that, two hours later there was a bomb explosion at Durbar Hotel at the bookshop.
He said se rushed to meet the then Kaduna State Governor, Lawal Jafaru Isa who he said can confirm the story.
“I drove straight to the government house to see the Governor. For what reason? Urgent security reason. I was ushered into Lawal Jafaru Isa’s office, and I told him what happened. The following day, I was brought to Abuja. I was able to see Abacha in his residence, and I narrated to him.”
“Before they could say, Jack Robinson, four days later, Russel Hank flew out of Nigeria. Ten days later, security operatives came to Kaduna to interview me. When I gave them the narrative, one of them took to the side and said, ‘Mahdi, keep off. We are very jealous. Security agencies are very jealous institutions. You have done your own. Don’t ever give any public comments on it. Don’t give interviews, don’t give anything because if you begin to talk, our failure would have been seen very clearly.’
“From this following information, I called Mamu three times, and I said, ‘Mamu, security agents are more jealous than a woman whose husband is about to take a second wife. Keep off from them. They’ll injure you,’
Mahdi said Mamu didn’t listen to his advice for him to stop being an intermediary. He described security agencies as being jealous and parasitic and said he wasn’t surprised Mamu was arrested as he saw it coming and expected it a long time ago.