ABUJA, JULY 24, 2016 – President Muhammadu Buhari says he was overthrown as head of state in 1985 because of his crusade against corruption in the military.
In an exclusive interview published in the current edition of The Interview magazine, Buhari said senior military leaders ousted him in August ’85 to save themselves from his wrath.
After himself coming to power in 1983 via a coup, Buhari was deposed two years later by a coup led by Ibrahim Babangida, a retired general and former military president, Aliyu Gusau, former director of military intelligence (DMI), and other members of the ruling supreme military council (SMC) , and he was detained in Benin until 1988.
Recalling the incidents that happened 31 years ago, he challenged Babangida and Gusau to tell the truth on why they carried out the coup against him.
“I learnt that Aliyu Gusau, who was in charge of intelligence, took import licence from the ministry of commerce, which was in charge of supplies and gave it to Alhaji Mai Deribe,” he said.
“It was worth N100,000, a lot of money at that time. I confronted them and took the case to the Army council in a memo…I wanted Gusau punished.”
In a statement on www.theinterview.com.ng, Azu ishiekwened, managing director/editor-in-chief of The Interview, said “this is one edition that won’t let sleeping dogs lie”.
He recalled that Babangida had told The Interview in its December edition that there was nothing in the memo that Buhari said he submitted to the army council.
“Don’t forget that I was one of Buhari’s closest aides. I was the chief of army staff. So, I had an important position, an important role to play within that administration. I don’t think it had to do with a memo,” Babangida said back then.
But in a tone which revealed that the past may neither have been forgotten nor forgiven, Buhari challenged Babangida and Gusau to come clean on why they removed him, asking The Interview to choose whose story to believe.
He also fielded questions about his health, the 2016 budget, the pace of his government, former President Goodluck Jonathan and why he handed three ministerial portfolios to Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos state.
Buhari’s current anti-corruption crusade has claimed its biggest casualties in the military, with Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser having been in detention since 2015 over the $2.1bn arms scandal.
Earlier in the month, said after receiving the third interim report of the committee auditing the procurement of arms between 2007 and 2015, the president ordered the investigation of Azubuike Ihejirika, former chief of army staff, and Kenneth Minimah, his successor .
In all, 18 serving and retired military personnel, 12 serving and retired public officials and 24 chief executive officers of companies, were recommended for investigation.