By Musikilu Mojeed and Abdulaziz Abdulaziz
PREMIUM TIMES has obtained a secret audio recording revealing details of how three of the four senior army officers tasked with disrupting presidential election in Borno state in 2015 conspired to frustrate the plot.
A recording of a secret meeting of the three officers at the centre of the plot revealed palpable fear and dilemma among the officials as they struggled to wriggle out of the delicate assignment.
This newspaper reported on Monday how the army high commands at the time gave instruction to cause confusion and halt announcement of the result from Borno state.
A two-year investigation by this newspaper revealed that after the results of 35 states and Abuja were released by INEC on March 31, 2015, indicating that then President Goodluck Jonathan was losing the election, the top hierachy of the army made a desperate push to halt the release of the pending Borno State result.
They also worked hard to trigger confusion and violence in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to stalemate the presidential election.
The expectation, those familiar with the matter said, was that the orchestrated chaos in Maiduguri would spread to other parts of the country in a manner that would cause Mr Jonathan to declare a state of emergency, and suspend the declaration of final result of the poll.
Four officers — Lamidi Adeosun (Major General), Hamisu Hassan (Brigadier General), Danladi Hassan (Colonel), and Mohammed Suleiman (colonel) — were charged with executing the gameplan.
However, the officers, fearing the possible repercussion of carrying out the order passed to them by army headquarters, tactically failed to execute the strategy, our findings show.
At the time, Major General Adeosun was the general officer commanding 7 Division (based in Maiduguri) while Brigadier General Hassan was the chief of staff of the Division. Colonel Hassan was 7 Division’s Garrison Commander while Colonel Mohammed was the intelligence chief of the Division. As Garrison commander, Colonel Hassan had the troops in Maiduguri under his command while Colonel Suleiman had the civilian JTF under his control.
In the audio obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the trio of Messrs Adeosun, Hassan and Suleiman were heard discussing how to extricate themselves from the plot and sell a dummy to their superiors in Abuja.
It remains unclear who made the recording but the clip was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2016.
Below is the transcript of the conversation.
Major General Lamidi Adeosun: My brother, how now?
Colonel Danladi Hassan: Fine, thank you sir.
Major General Adeosun: Well done
Colonel Mohammed Suleiman: Morning Sir
Major General Adeosun: Alhaji Hassan, please sit down
Colonel Suleiman: Morning Sir
Major General Adeosun: What is… (inaudible)
Colonel Hassan: Sir, we went to (inaudible), we met some boys there, youths, sleeping by the side there, and policemen. But the INEC staff nobody was inside. So I asked Suleiman, he said the youths there now are the supporters of APC. They are all over the place, even on the floor. So I told him, the only thing we can do is, if anybody can now send PDP youths there, because the officials have not entered. That is why we come now.
Colonel Suleiman: Because they are not coming early. They have not even left southern Borno.
Colonel Hassan: Up till now, nobody is in Biu. Askira Uba, Hawul and Biu, these three. Because they have to carry Askira Uba from here, to go to Hawul to merge, to announce the House of Reps. Then Biu, they have to now announce the Southern Borno senatorial district in Biu. So, senatorial seat for southern Borno and House of Reps [seats] are not announced. They are still there. I just spoke to the CO (commanding officer), about 30 minutes ago. He said they finish but they are coming. So, we said we have to come and brief you first, then we will still go back. Now, as it is now, with the youths, it is a very dicey situation.
Colonel Suleiman: Very dicey. And even the REC, he has switched off. That is why we had to call Biu now. So when we discovered that they have not left Biu so we asked the SSS man who said that their oga has disappeared for now because he is not expecting these people until evening. So, the whole INEC office is empty now, only the police and some youths. Had it been we can get the REC, we can cause some confusion but… (silence)
General Adeosun: (inaudible)… . It’s an impossible task (inaudible). How do we start to initiate trouble by ourselves when we are here to solve and to stop trouble?
Colonel Suleiman: Sir, all our effort [is] geared towards peace, so now how to create… (inaudible) In fact, Colonel Hassan cannot even enter that place now because these are mainly APC youths that have already termed him PDP rep; and all these boys with their cameras, sir, we should also think of the future.
Colonel Hassan: Yeah, yeah!
Major General: Is it only the future? What of today today? If Maiduguri gangs [up] today… that is the immediate thing, that is the primary thing. If we trigger anything … (inaudible).
Colonel Suleiman: Yes sir. Like in Bauchi, the soldier that shot one of the boys there now, they have snapped pictures and they are calling for his prosecution. Boys surrounded the INEC [offices] since day before yesterday. Early this hours they forced the INEC to announce this thing, sir. APC scored nine hundred and fifty something thousand, PDP [got] 80 [thousand].
Major General Adeosun: (inaudible question).
Colonel Hassan: Yes sir, that one is carrying about 500. The official one is nine hundred and something thousand.
Major General Adeosun: (inaudible intervention).
Colonel Suleiman: Yes, sir. They have even increased by 400.
Major General Adeosun: Is there any announcement … . (inaudible).
Colonel Hassan: They announced in Sokoto, in Bauchi and the states, around 4am.
Colonel Suleiman: I think the best thing, sir, let them know that the youths have taken over the place.
GOC mumbles, Officer 1 agrees with “Yes sir”
Colonel Hassan: The man will not understand o. Only tell the Chief, we went, we are studying the situation [and] we are working on it. We are working on it, working on it, honestly sir, until…
Colonel Suleiman: (cuts in): … . it’s announced. Because it cannot be announced before six this evening. They’ve not even left Biu now.
Colonel Hassan: Because by the time INEC announces all other states [and] left Borno alone, in fact, sir, he will even still think we are the ones blocking them from going.
Colonel Suleiman: Before it dawned on him that it is too late.
Colonel Hassan: You know, sir now we tell them we have sealed the place. If trouble is too much later in the day, we say we have to stand down because nobody knows why it is not announced. Up till now he will still think it is we, the work we are doing that is preventing the announcement. So we are buying time, sir, we are preventing the announcement until around maghrib [sunset Muslim prayers], then maybe, when we cannot, when they announced around maghrib, we have done our best, sir.
Colonel Suleiman: Yes. We will say we blocked it (Borno result) but they are not doing anything at their own end.
Can we say the REC was with us?
Colonel Hassan: Yes! [We will say] We have carried the REC and the professor, we are waiting for the other people to go and do something so, until we can… because they [those coming from southern Borno] will not enter until late. So it will now… because they don’t know where he [the REC] is. So, it will mean now, we are the ones stalling the announcement.
Major General Adeosun: Nobody will even tell them say they have not arrived.
Colonel Suleiman: Yes, sir. We are on it kawai [simply], sir.
Colonel Hassan: We are on it! We are on it because actually they will not announce today until late in the evening. Meaning they will arrive here… because it is a whole day journey sir.
Colonel Suleiman: ..and they are still in Biu.
Colonel Hassan: Let me confirm from the PCO.
So, sir, they would think we are on it. Because what they don’t want is the announcement so when they reached up to evening sir, now we say crisis has become too much, we just have to contain and announce.
Colonel Suleiman: Or, we can say even say they pulled out somewhere.
Colonel Hassan: Yes, we can say they pulled out somewhere and announced.
Colonel Suleiman: And by that time sir it is already too late. They just have to…
General Adeosun: And, what I … .. (inaudible)
Colonel Hassan: (cuts in) Sir, God will give us… me I have been praying to God only.
Colonel Suleiman: Sir, I believe, sir, by the time they get to know the other results between 10 and 12, they will not even think of it (Borno result).
Colonel Hassan: (On phone) Hello, Abdul. Okay, they just set off. Five minutes ago? So we can estimate [their arrival] here 6, 7? Okay. Okay, Abdul. Well done. Is there a way I can get the number of one of them so I can be monitoring them? Did you talk to any of them so that I can monitor their movement… Yes, send me the number of one of the members in the team, maybe a policeman or a supervisor, one member, so that if they get to Gombe, anywhere they get they will be telling me. Because they are the ones we are waiting for. Okay, thank you very much.
I put you on speaker with Suleiman.
Colonel Suleiman: And the GOC.
Colonel Hassan: (amplifies) and the GOC. Thank you very much. Thank you (drops call).
So, sir, this is the CO.
GOC: Is the CO in Biu?
Colonels Hassan & Suleiman: Yes, sir, 231.
Colonel Hassan: So, they just left now. Five minutes ago. SO, sir, the whole of today there won’t be announcement. So, the work he asked you to do, we are doing it, sir. We have closed the place, even if he calls, sir, studying the situation. Yes, we have closed the place, studying the situation.
Colonel Suleiman: They are all under restriction.
Colonel Hassan: Yes, s we are now seeing a better way to make sure it is done, not scandalous, but we have closed the place. That is all.
By the time these ones will start coming, maybe I have to call (inaudible) because now telephone is even difficult [to say] they are in Damaturu now sir, what do we do sir? By that time they [would] have announced [the results for] everywhere.
Colonel Suleiman: By 12 o’clock, sir, it would dawn on them that the game is over.
Colonel Hassan: And by 12, it wouldn’t have been announced [in Maiduguri]. So, sir, we have closed the place.
Colonel Suleiman: Because all the other major states, everything [results], are there.
Colonel Hassan: Me, I will certainly go there and see them.
Colonel Suleiman: SO, sir, by that 10 o’clock when they will start the early morning announcement I am sure it would only be Borno and maybe Rivers.
General Adeosun: (inaudible interjection)
Colonel Suleiman: Sir, Rivers they brought it but they said it should be taken back because there are complaints by APC and other parties, so he sent two of his national commissioners to go and verify certain allegations. So, sir, by the time this afternoon, even if they add all, and see that the margin, even if you get Rivers and Borno, [could not neutralise the APC votes] they may even declare.
General Adeosun: If you get Rivers and Borno (inaudible) percent.
Colonel Suleiman: Yes, sir. And it is not up to that gap. So…
General Adeosun: (cuts in) What we are saying now, what is the number of people that there. It is not even up to one million.
Colonel Suleiman: In Rivers?
Colonel Hassan: No, Borno.
General Adeosun: No, here. Yeah
Colonel Suleiman: Just about 500 and something [thousand].
General Adeosun: Then Rivers, one point something million. Put together it is not up to two million.
Colonel Suleiman: Yes sir. And there are other gaps.
General Adeosun: I see the gap there is more than two million.
Colonel Suleiman: Yes, sir.
General Adeosun: Because 10 [million votes] to 13 point something.
Colonel Hassan: So, sir, that is why I say God is working on our side.
General Adeosun: Ameen
Colonel Hassan: Yes sir.
Colonel Suleiman: Insha Allah [by God’s grace] sir.
Colonel Hassan: Sir, before these ones come it’s 6 [o’clock]. As long as they have not announced the result up to 6[PM], we [pretend that we] are doing the work. We [claim that] have sealed the place, we are looking for what to do up and down so we don’t start shooting. After briefly when we sealed the place, sir, if they did not hear Borno up to 6 o’clock they know we have sealed the place. They are monitoring everything. Then maybe around 7, 8PM they hear [then we say] it has overpowered us, there is nothing we can do, that we have sealed the place completely.
Colonel Suleiman: yes, sir. We can leave it like this for now sir.
General Adeosun: We can leave it at this?
Colonels Hassan & Suleiman: Yes, sir.
General Adeosun: Ok, now let me call him. Because actually I don’t call him.
Colonel Suleiman: Sir, [tell him] we are there on it.
Colonel Hassan: Yes sir. We are there, we have sealed the place.
General Adeosun: I will tell him, since yesterday, early morning that he spoke with me, two of you help do it, heavy instructions. You are on it.
Colonel Hassan: Yes sir. Good, good!
And I assure you sir, they will not hear the result until
Colonel Suleiman: (cuts in) midnight
Colonel Hassan: Midnight today. So, meaning that we have held it, confrontations ongoing.