Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

What Secrets Has Dikko Got?

Elizabeth Ohene

When abducted, he was on the way to an interview with ELIZABETH OHENE
BACK in February this year when Dr Umaru Dikko had overcome his first flush of anger and indignation at what he considered as the treachery of the soldiers involved in the coup that overthrew the civilian regime of Nigeria, he expressed profound sadness at the identity of the coupmakers.

"They know me well, I know them well, as I speak to you now, they can see me in their mind's eye in much the same way as I can see them quite clearly and predict their every move ... but it is really a pity, people who have been friends all their lives should not be fighting each other, but since they started it, I have no choice but to fight them back. They took up arms against a constitutional government they had sworn to defend and that should be fought".

Later on when members of the Federal Military Government started accusing him of plotting to overthrow their regime, he was insistent that the soldiers were afraid of him simply because of what knowledge he had about them. Just how desperately anxious the regime was that "that knowledge" should not be made public was made dramatically clear on the streets of London when he was kidnapped.

For two weeks before the incident, the FMG in the person of the Minister for Information, Captain Omeruah had been talking about the discovery of yet another plot in which a British professor had drawn up a plan for destabilization of the FMG. Dr Dikko, according to Capt. Omeruah was gathering "embarrassing information" about members of the FMG and was preparing to release such information through newspapers to undermine the confidence of Nigerians in their new leaders. Capt. Omeruah therefore alerted the nation to brace itself.

One thing was peculiar about these warnings, no attempt was made to suggest that Dr Dikko was about to release 'false' information but only embarrassing information.

This writer was curious about what. type of information Dr Dikko actually had and accepted an invitation to meet him to hear his reactions to the Omeruah warnings and possibly give me a sampling of the type of information that the regime appeared to be worried about. That appointment was fixed for 12 noon on Thursday 5 July, 1984.

When Dr Dikko stepped out of his home a few minutes after 12 noon that fateful Thursday therefore, it was to go to that appointment not to take a stroll as has been suggested and he was going to take a London black cab. The rest is of course, history for as he stepped outside onto the street, he was abducted and bundled into a yellow van.

One of the questions that I have been trying to find answers to since the events of that day is: what documents, if any, was Dr Dikko carrying with him on the way to the appointment? As a follow-up to that, what documents have fallen into the hands of his abductors?

Had Dr Dikko got over his earlier reluctance to say anything embarrassing about members of the FMG because, as he had said "many of them have been my life-long friends and it is against African tradition to do such things to people with whom you have eaten from the same bowl!"

One thing however was clear, Dr Dikko had underestimated his 'friends' of times past, for some five to six weeks ago, he had told friends in London about information that had reached him about plans to kidnap him. "I understand they have put a contract out for me to be abducted and taken back to Lagos, I hear they want me alive and not dead".

But he dismissed the story for two reasons: the soldiers will not stoop to such tactics, it is not in the Nigerian political temperament to act like that and secondly, people do not go about abducting people in London, this is a civilised country..."

As all the indications begin to point to the complicity of the Federal Military Government or agents acting for it, it is obvious that Dr Dikko was wrong on both counts, but has to be thankful that the British police reacted so promptly and rescued him.

See also

kidnapped victim umaru dikko

talking drums 1984-07-16 where was Dikko going when kidnapped Rawlings the man behind the mask