*Biographer relives talks with Boko Haram
**President ‘didn’t foil 1985 coup despite hint’
Boko Haram demanded from the Federal Government €5billion (about N1,706,850,000,000) to free 219 Chibok girls . The Euro exchanged for approximately N341.37 last night.
President Muhammadu Buhari allegedly got wind of the August 27, 1985 coup d’état against him as a military Head of State but he did not foil it to avoid executing some senior Army officers.
These facts are contained in the book, “Muhammadu Buhari: The challenges of leadership in Nigeria”, authored by Prof. John Paden.
The book, which was presented to the public on Monday at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, contained some unknown issues about the President.
But the insider’s account on the botched negotiation between Boko Haram and the Federal Government provided fresh insights into the plight of the Chibok girls.
Some excerpts from the book are: “An additional issue was the status of the Chibok girls. Secret negotiations had been held regarding an exchange of Boko Haram prisoners for the girls.
“On several occasions, prisoners were taken to Maiduguri to facilitate an exchange. But these negotiations stalled when Boko Haram demanded a ransom of €5billion for the girls.
“The dilemma for the DSS, which was handling the negotiations, was that a military assault to rescue the girls would almost certainly result in their deaths at the hands of their Boko Haram captors.
“But the Nigerian government was not going to accede to Boko Haram’s extra-ordinary demand for a vast sum of money which would no doubt be used to fund future attacks.
“One or two girls were able to escape their captors in May, but the rest remained captive and the impasse continued
“The Chibok girls were not alone in their grim fate. Hundreds if not thousands, of persons had been captured by Boko Haram in the North-East. Buhari would need to continue degrading Boko Haram until he could tighten the noose around its Sambisa hideouts and bring a close end to this painful episode.”
On why Buhari placed his ministers on lower salaries and allowances, the author said the President wanted to make ministerial appointment less attractive as a way of curbing corruption in public office.
He went on: “Buhari was trying to eliminate the allure of ministerial appointments as a means of accruing wealth either through receiving a generous salary or through exploiting power for corrupt personal gain.
“Of course, the effort to combat corruption also required creating disincentives for corrupt practices strong enough to dissuade ministers from ‘chopping’ on the side. The penalty if caught would be dismissal and public shaming.”
Concerning the arrest of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the author said the ties between the President and ex-Prime Minister David Cameron made it possible.
“Yet the close ties between Buhari and British (former) Prime Minister David Cameron facilitated efforts to launch a coordinated effort to bring money launderers to book, as demonstrated in the role of the London Metropolitan Police in the case of Diezani Alison-Madueke.”
The National Crime Agency (NCA) in the UK arrested and quizzed Mrs Alison-Madueke and four others on October 2, 2015 for alleged bribery and corruption and money laundering.
Also the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has interrogated between three and five more suspects since Mrs Alison-Madueke’s interrogation by the NCA.
The same NCA had last year obtained permission from a Westminster Magistrate’s Court to seize £27,000 from Mrs Alison-Madueke and two other women.
Regarding the counter-coup of August 27, 1985 which led to Buhari’s removal as a military Head of State and the emergence of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida, the author said the President knew a plot was coming but he did not want to shed blood.
The book reads: “The question has arisen subsequently as to whether Buhari knew about the countercoup in advance.
“Given his ‘appreciation’ of complex situations, it is argued by some, how could he not have known? Some of those closest to Buhari at the time have subsequently argued that he did know a countercoup was coming. They insist that Buhari calculated that to preempt this plan would have meant executing six or eight senior officers. This he was unwilling to do.”
The book explained that Buhari was detained after the 1985 coup in Akure and Benin from August 27, 1985 to December 1988.
The book states: “Babangida also tried to look for ways to indict Buhari personally, but his integrity and grassroots popularity helped protect him.
“After the Babangida countercoup, three of the ministers were retained. Babangida also set up the Aboyade probe into the finances of Buhari and some key ministers but the investigators could find no evidence of any personal aggrandisement on his part during his term as Head of State.
“Significantly, the three ministers retained from the previous administration by Babangida-Lukman, Bali and David-West— strongly defended the integrity of Buhari and his close associates, and no charges were ever brought against Buhari.
“Meanwhile, Buhari had been taken from Lagos by plane to Akure in Ondo State. After a few months in Akure, he was taken to Benin City in the south of the country, where he would stay under house arrest until his release in December 1988.”