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Why I betrayed Al-Mustapha —Katako

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Mohammed Abdul alias Katako, was the serving military officer who provided the evidence that led to the death sentence on the CSO to the late Military Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha over the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. However, in this interview with Edwin Olofu, he opens up on what actually led to his testimonies saying he was compromised.

Who is Mohammed Abdul?

My name is Mohammed Abdul (Alias Katako) I’m a serving soldier with Nigeria Army Unit 313 Artillery Regiment in Minna in Niger state
You were a witness in the Kudirat Abiola case. What is your reaction on the recent death sentence by hanging of Major Hamza Al- Mustapha?
I know the judgment is not right and is not correct. It was not just. I was part of the trial right from the beginning. I gave evidence in the court twice. In the first evidence I gave, I lied and in the second evidence, I gave I told the court the truth about what happened.
Contrary to my first evidence, the day that incident happened, I was not even in Lagos I was in Azare town in Bauchi state. That was the day I got married. That was the 4th of June 1996. I didn’t know how it happened, but later there was an arrangement between myself, sergeant Rogers and government officials to lie in the court. The first time I was arrested I was not introduced to Major Al-Mustapha’s case. After several months in detention and after undergoing many procedures of torture and suffering, I was asked to testify against Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha.
What happened after that?
Let me narrate to you how it all happened, I was working in the annex of the Dodan Barrack when the then OC, SSS called me and said that he will come and pick me so that we go to the airport to pick some dignitaries.  I told him my location and he came and met me. On our way, he said we should stop over in the SSS headquarter to refuel our car. I remarked that they don’t give fuel there and besides that it was late. He said there was a special arrangement for us. I said ‘ok’. When we got there, he said that we should go and say hello to the boss but I declined. He insisted and we went and after exchanging banters he told the boss that he has brought me. At that point I was shocked. The boss said I should remain and he left me there. I was asked to go and wait in an office. I waited there for three days without anybody talking to me. That was how my journey into detention started.
I was subjected to all manners of ill-treatments. At a point, I was asked to implicate Mohammed Abacha, because I was told that they wanted to collect money from him and I was promised to be given 10% of any amount they collected from him. 
They also promised to buy me a house and at the end of the trial I will be taken out of the country. So, that was the arrangement. Sergeant Rogers was present, the former Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Rtd Colonel Kayode Are, former Minister of Justice, late Bola Ige, former Commissioner for Justice in Lagos, Professor Yomi Oshibajo and his deputy Arthur Owerri were present. It was in the presence of these people that they promised us. And out of these they only bought house for me.
So they bought the house for you?
Yes; but at the end of the day my conscience didn’t allow me to continue lying. That was  why when I went to the court the second time, I told the judge the truth about what happened. But to my greatest surprise I heard a different judgment and they sentenced him to death. I have been worried. I have not been able to sleep since the day I heard this judgment. That is the reason I made up my mind to meet you and have this interview so that the world will hear the truth from me at least to clear my conscience. I need to be free with myself and my God because I know I have put a lot of people into pains and I am not happy. That is the major reason why I am granting you this interview.
Can you make yourself clearer, you said your testimony was against Mohammed Abacha, where is the connection to Al Mustapha’s case?
Yes. You know I was asked to testify against Mohammed but later I was used again to do so against Al-Mustapha. I was told that if I cooperate, the promise will be fulfilled. I and Rogers sat again with them. I was thought to say I was among the team that killed Kudirat Abiola and that I was the person that drove the car. I agreed and a statement was written in the SSS office in Abuja on my behalf and I signed.
At the end of the day when we went to court we told the judge all the lies but afterward nothing came out of the promises that were made. My conscience keeps pricking me every day. I told myself that as a Muslim I was not supposed to be bothered with the things of this world but what will be in the hereafter. I decided to repent and stop lying. So when I went to the court the second time, I told the judge the truth of the matter during cross examination.
What is the truth of the matter?
The truth is I was not in Lagos on the 4th of June 1996. I was in Azare and I don’t know what happened in Lagos that day because I was not there.
You said the government made some promises, so had the government fulfilled its promises, would you have reneged on your statement?
No! It is not that. Even if the promises were fulfilled I wouldn’t have changed my mind. Like I told you earlier, my conscience kept on hunting me every day. I’m not feeling comfortable because I think of the hereafter not what I will gain here in the world. Because on the Day of Judgment, as a Muslim, I know I will be asked about all my deeds in the world. I don’t need to say it myself with permission from God, the truth must be revealed. So that was why I changed my mind and decided to say the truth.
What was your relationship with Hamza Al-Mustapha?
I never work with him; I only worked with Mohammed Abacha and the only time I saw him was when he came to see Mohammed. Before the incident we have never sat to discuss with him even for once in my lifetime except in the SIP that was in the SSS headquarters. That was the first time we discussed, and before the SIP, this statement was written.

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