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Saleh, June 12, 1993 and history

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Justice-Dahiru-Saleh

Justice Dahiru Saleh

It is a sad commentary on Nigeria that history, not just as a subject of academic study, but as a phenomenon, revered in many parts of the world, is derided here or, at best, trivialised. This offers an insight into the inertia which has attended the quest for development in the country.

The other day, a former Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Dahiru Saleh, who was an actor in the judicial contrivance that preceded the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election came out to say that he it was who should be held accountable for the annulment of that historic election and not General Ibrahim Babangida who was military president of the country and who indeed publicly announced the annulment of the election.

It would be recalled that against the background of Decree 13 of 1993 which ousted the courts’ jurisdiction with regard to creating impediments to the transition to civil rule programme, Justice Saleh had ordered the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to halt the release of the June 12 results on the grounds that the election ought not to have been held in the first place.

He based his order on the June 11, 1993 night-time ruling of Justice Bassey Ikpeme that suspended the electoral exercise. As he put it inter alia, “…while the political blame game must be on Babangida, he (Babangida) did nothing of the sort to stop him [Abiola] using my court…Anybody not satisfied with what I was doing as Chief Judge could appeal to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court, simple. And I have no regrets, none whatsoever. No regrets. I would repeat the same thing now.”

This statement, impunitious in essence and revisionary of historical facts, is an insult to the people of Nigeria. Anyone in search of the cause of national woes needs not look far. It is the height of insolence that a retired chief judge who ought to hide his face in shame for being part of a mesh of conspiracy that threw the country into a five-year political impasse and, over which the country barely escaped disintegration, could come to the public square, dance naked and twitch his nose at the people he caused so much physical and psychological anguish. The claim of singular responsibility, though untrue, tells of the character of some of the people who are custodian of the temple of justice. It simply shows how much integrity deficit there is in the Nigerian judiciary.

History, it is said, has many authors. The one by victors, and of course, the other, which lives in the minds of the victims. But given the peculiar amnesia in the Nigerian environment which is compounded by the discouragement of research in history in the academia, revisionist history in the mould of Saleh’s needs to be countered; otherwise, it would be seen as the gospel truth and further dignified by sundry interpreters.

In the harrowing 1990s, it was obvious to both actors and observers of events in Nigeria that General Babangida was on a self-transmutation route and his transition programme, so convoluted that analysts dubbed it ‘permanent transition’ was leading nowhere. It was simply the strength of the country’s diversity and popular resistance that checkmated Babangida’s self-succession agenda and forced him out of power. Whatever the plots and the number of dramatis personae involved in the annulment saga, Saleh and his breed were mere pawns on a political chessboard, which buck stopped on the table of Babangida who held the reins of power.

How can we forget the trauma of that period? The June 12, 1993 election had represented for Nigeria a life-time opportunity for national unity. The elections defied religious considerations to produce a Muslim president and vice president both men having received an overwhelming mandate of all Nigerians. The annulment of the exercise unleashed unsavoury events that the country is yet to recover from till today.

The transition programme did not only gulp an estimated N40 billion of our national resources, it also led to authoritarian resurgence, cost lives of many Nigerians including Chief MKO Abiola and his wife, Kudirat, Chief Alfred Rewane among others. Besides, many elder statesmen and national icons were forced into exile.

It is quite unfortunate that barely 23 years after, villains, who ought to be regretfully examining their consciences in some penitentiary have the audacity to rewrite our history before the actors, many of whom are still alive. It speaks to the damage that has been done to Nigeria’s history. Certainly, an awakening to the nation’s history in the academia and in the consciousness of all Nigerians is the only answer to such revisionism as Saleh’s.


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Justice Dahiru SalehNEC
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7 Comments
  • “Those who control the past control the future, those who control the present control the past”- George Orwell, 1984.
    “To be ignorant of all that happened before you were born is to be forever a child”- Cicero

    History matters. Nigerians are however, yet to realize this. The road to totalitarianism is usually paved with a falsification of history or the taking away of history. Then a new generation emerges that knows nothing about the past and therefore conducive to enslavement.

  • vincentumenyiora

    [This statement, impunitious in essence and revisionary of historical facts, is an insult to the people of Nigeria. Anyone in search of the cause of national woes needs not look far. It is the height of insolence that a retired chief judge who ought to hide his face in shame for being part of a mesh of conspiracy that threw the country into a five-year political impasse and, over which the country barely escaped disintegration, could come to the public square, dance naked and twitch his nose at the people he caused so much physical and psychological anguish. The claim of singular responsibility, though untrue, tells of the character of some of the people who are custodian of the temple of justice. It simply shows how much integrity deficit there is in the Nigerian judiciary.]

    Look not that you said it, I have often wondered where are we going in Nigeria – where is the leadership taking or leading the people and worse is that even those you think can understand what is happening do not show that ability! They probably know, but at best we have seen that they hide under the mistakes and or euphoria and the who saga carried on or continues! I mean, to say that he was responsible for the debacle and that he should be held responsible is the biggest fallacy despicable of course from a Judge and they don’t feel any guilt – it is all coming from that afterthought! I just wonder how they can get Nigeria fixed under this kind of people – those who you think are educated enough and can be relied upon come up with this kind of revelations and in such audacious manner and nobody can do them anything! And nobody is talking seriously about that Confab recommendations to be visited so that those parts in Nigeria that want to develop can do so unhindered by not only the shortsightedness but deliberate actions of your leaders all these years! I mean thinking about this man – a whole Judge you’ll think should be directing but he did that in a most despicable manner even at that IBB himself who was purported to be organizing/ shaping Nigeria politically, he could have prevailed on the decision and allowed Prof. H. Nwosu to continue with the results at least to make name for himself in that field! He did not and that event led to his stepping aside such that the whole balme was rested on his shoulders irrespective of June Saleh has to tell Nigerians now!

    All these derive (underpinned) as I said earlier, from the ‘wrong things allowed to happen administratively-back-stage in Nigeria’ irrespective of the reason why you’re in government for the people generally and not for the few of you! And we have been treated with some more of this still kind going on even in this present administration! May I repeat it here again – they should study my new political leadership solution for Nigeria submitted personally on the 2nd Feb. 2015 at the (SGF) office in ABUJA and see what it can do for the smooth political growth of Nigeria! The solution is to enable you bring back into the scenes in the States also those who can respect the principles enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria and not trying always to circumvent the provisions or the intentions – the unscrupulous characters you have parading themselves as leaders in Nigeria!

  • Irreligious

    Were we a sane society, this self-outing lunatic should have been where he rightly belongs. But the Nigerian state itself is one big psychiatric ward administered by patients with much longer histories of derangement. And has Saleh asked about the fate of that abomination of a woman upon whose midnight judgement he based his own tainted `truth`? Mr. Saleh, you may be a self-defined freak or even a closet demon, but surely evil will kill you.

  • Efeturi Ojakaminor

    The other day one of those who killed our dream on June 12, 1993 came out to tell us the kind of legislature we should have and believe me you, Nigerians (beginning with the press) gave him a hearing. That is who we are, a dumb lot. Pushed against the wall, we creep into it. They know it and that is why they taunt us after all their crimes against the nation.

  • vincentumenyiora

    I mean if somebody of Justice Muhammed Saleh’s status can speak in the manner he has and we are talking about how to revive moral rectitude for Nigeria, I don’t know how we can achieve this recalling the report about the’Kitchen Cabinet’ led by Abba Kayri! One major reason why you must sue for the re-structuring of Nigeria as recommended by the Confab so that you can develop as your God intends your destiny to be unduly influenced by the whims and caprices of people you do not know what is in their minds about your existence! !

  • aderibgbe48

    Honestly, I have nothing to say on the issue than to wish this old-man a very good-trouble-life” May your soul be troubled” Because for all lives that were lost on those days are now in peace, while you, old-fool, soul in piece. So enjoy it ! Nigerians are moving forward: Aka:” To Keep Nigeria One is a Task That Must Be Done” Upon all your evils, we are One.

  • amador kester

    June 12,, 1993 epitomized the hindsight that nigerian democracy is a hoax and needed urgent geopolitical restructuring. To date nigerians are still struggling to wish away this fact and sorrow for it