FG urged to pardon coup plotters, Major Gideon Orkar, Dimka
By Sandra Ahmed, Abuja
The Federal Government has been asked to extent State Pardon to leaders of failed military coups that took place on February 13, 1976 and April 22,1990 in Nigeria. Today marks the Major Gideon Orkar coup.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Middle Belt Democratic League, (MBDL) and a Pan Yoruba group, Apapo O’odua Koya, (AOKOYA) said the leaders of the two coups were motivated by the National Question and had acted to meet the genuine aspirations of Nigerian minorities.
The statement was made available to Irohinoodua. The group’s urged the South and Central Nigeria State Governors to honour the coup leaders. “Their bodies kept on shallow graves should be exhumed for proper burial. If you fail to do this, history will produce those that will do it in the future”, the two groups stated.
The Statement signed by the Saleh Amoka General Secretary of MBDL and AOKOYA Deputy Secretary, Dr Makinde Tanimowo said Col Buka Suka Dimka who led the 1976 revolt against Murtala Mohammed and Major Gideon Orkar who led the uprising against Gen Murtala Mohammed were “genuine people who saw the injustices meted to minorities and sought to correct them” The groups said the actions of the soldiers was effected because it was the only way change was permissible at the time they acted.
The joint statement said “When Gen Yakubu Gowon was overthrown, it was clearly due to his central Nigeria origin. Dimka rallied round officers from the central states to correct the injustice. It was a legitimate aspiration. In the counter offensive, 100 junior and senior officers of Middle Belt origin were murdered and buried in shallow graves. After this coup, many people of Middle Belt origin were singled out for persecution in the military and in the civil service. On April 22, 1990, Major Gideon Orkar saw the Gen Babangida’s programme of extinction against minorities. Babangida had claimed that he was from Bagwatse of the Fulani stock in SokotoState where he said his father migrated to Niger State. Orkar mobilised middle belt officers and ratings to fight back. His demand failed and amother set of about 100 Middle Belt were shot dead after a secret trial where the soldiers had no represenration of their own.
The group said historical events since the two events have vindicated the leaders of the mutiny.
“We have to review grant these men posthumous pardon. They acted in defence of their own people. When laws are inhuman, resistance becomes a legal duty. We call on President Mohammadu Buhari in the spirit of National Reconciliation to grant state pardon to the leaders of these historic events. It is unfair to continue to present them as enemies of the state or enemies of Nigerians”
The group said granting them State Pardon will go a long way to time honoured scars and wounds inflicted on the people of the Middle Belt by the Nigerian authorities
It said ” We need to deconstruct history and face the facts of our situation as a country. The events of 1976 and 1990 coups should be revisited. It is unfair to continue to keep them in shallow graves. It is time to release their bodies, in what ever form they are, to be buried by the people of the Middle Belt”