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Former Chief of General Staff under Abacha, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, passes away

Lt. General Oladipo Diya, former Chief of General Staff under the late Head of State General Sani Abacha, passed away early on Sunday morning. His son, Prince Oyesinmilola Diya issued a statement announcing his passing.

Background and career of Diya

Born in Odogbolu, Ogun State, on April 3, 1944, Diya joined the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna and fought in the Nigerian Civil War.

In 1993, he was named Chief of General Staff, and in 1994, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council. From 1994 until his arrest for treason in 1997, he was Abacha’s second-in-command and de facto vice president of Nigeria as Chief of the General Staff.

Coup Plot and Arrest in 1997

In 1997, Diya and several soldiers were accused of plotting a coup to overthrow Sani Abacha’s government. Diya and his associates were imprisoned after the alleged coup was uncovered by Abacha’s loyal forces and Diya and his cohorts were arrested.

General Victor Malu, the former commander of the West African regional peacekeeping force ECOMOG, presided over the military tribunal that sentenced Diya to death.

Diya was pardoned by General Abdusalami Abubakar, who succeeded Abacha after his death in 1998.

Many believed that the much-publicized coup was actually a plot by Abacha to eliminate Diya, who was gaining popularity among the elite and opposition parties for his moderate views on the Nigerian situation.

Previously, Abacha’s loyalists had twice attempted to assassinate Diya using bombs, first at the airport and then in the streets.

The death of General Diya

Diya was a key character in the military history of Nigeria. Notwithstanding his alleged participation in the 1997 coup attempt, he would be recognized for his contributions to the Nigerian military and his service to the country.

Writing by Daniel Adejo