In light of the recent Julian Assange controversy, I wrote an article on the Nigerian attempt to kidnap Umaru Dikko and return him to Nigeria to face trial. The article was published yesterday in the UK’s Independent newspaper:
“Umaru Dikko, the man who was nearly spirited away in a diplomatic bag
One of the more outlandish options for Julian Assange’s passage to Ecuador has been tried before. Max Siollun reports
Monday, 20 August 2012
On 31 December, 1983, the elected government of Nigeria was overthrown in a military coup by the country’s army. The new military government jailed several government ministers for corruption and embezzlement while in office. However, the powerful former Transport Minister, Umaru Dikko, fled to London. The military claimed that Dikko used his position as Transport Minister to enrich himself in a series of racketeering scandals. It regarded Dikko as its most wanted fugitive from justice and wanted to bring him back to Nigeria to face trial.
To bring this about, they hatched a plot to kidnap him off the streets of London. Nigerian intelligence services and undercover agents (with the help of several Israelis who were alleged to be members of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad) tracked Dikko to a house in west London. After placing the house under surveillance, the agents decided to strike on 5 July, 1984.
Moments after Dikko emerged from the house, two men burst out from a van parked outside the house. They grabbed Dikko and bundled him into the back of the van. The team inside the van included a doctor who injected Dikko to render him unconscious.
Dikko’s kidnappers locked him in a large crate labelled “diplomatic baggage” and addressed to the Nigerian Ministry of External Affairs in the then capital city, Lagos. They claimed diplomatic immunity for the crate’s contents, and drove him to Stansted airport to place him on a waiting Nigerian cargo plane.
Unbeknown to the kidnappers, Dikko’s secretary had glanced out of her window just in time to see her boss being bundled into the van outside his house, and she dialled 999.
The kidnap was initially thought to be the work of criminals and was referred to Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist squad. The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was also informed.
The British government ordered customs officials at airports, ports and border crossings to be vigilant when inspecting Nigeria-bound vessels. One customs officer at Stansted airport was especially vigilant. Although the Nigerian cargo plane was minutes from taking off with Dikko on board, he ordered the crate to be opened. Nigerian intelligence officials and diplomatic staff protested that the crate could not be opened as it was protected by diplomatic immunity.
The customs officer called anti-terrorist police. They cordoned off the area and evacuated airport staff. Customs then opened the crate with armed police watching. Inside the crate, they found Dikko unconscious, next to the doctor who had injected him. The doctor had accompanied Dikko in the box to top up his anaesthetics and ensure he did not die during transit.
Armed police surrounded the Nigerian cargo plane on the runway, arrested its crew and refused to allow the plane to take off. They also arrested the Nigerian officials and Israelis who drove the crate to Stansted, and several members of Nigeria’s High Commission in London.
The Nigerian and Israeli governments always denied any involvement in the affair. Foreign intelligence involvement became apparent only when the sophistication and daring of the Dikko kidnap was revealed.
The kidnap caused one of the worst-ever diplomatic crises between Britain and Nigeria. The Nigerian High Commissioner was declared persona non grata in London, and the head of Nigeria Airways narrowly escaped being arrested by British police. Diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Britain were suspended for two years. The controversy also weakened Nigeria’s war on corruption, as Britain rejected a subsequent formal request from Nigeria to extradite Dikko and other Nigerian politicians in the UK who were wanted in Nigeria on charges of corruption.
Four men were convicted of kidnapping Dikko (three Israelis and a Nigerian) in a trial at the Old Bailey, and were jailed. All were released and returned to their countries after serving their sentences. After regaining consciousness in hospital, Dikko remained in Britain for over a decade.
Max Siollun is a historian and the author of “Soldiers of Fortune: Nigerian Politics Under Buhari and Babangida“.
Ribadu claims Corruption Under Obasanjo was worse than under Abacha: http://allafrica.com/stories/201109050804.html
Yar’Adua allegedly bribed Supreme Court: http://allafrica.com/stories/201109090687.html
Alleged Corruption by Okonjo-Iweala and El-Rufai: http://www.punchng.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art20110910317779
According to Wikileaks, former President Yar’Adua has a kidney transplant as far back as 2002. The kidney donor was Sayyadi Abba Ruma, who later became his Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources.
The Wikileaks cable also claims that:
*Senior PDP members knew about Yar’Adua’s ill health but still picked him as their presidential candidate.
*Engineering company Julius Berger set up a dialysis clinic in Yar’Adua’s home and flew German doctors in and out of Nigeria to treat him.
*By 2008, Yar’Adua “appeared to weigh no more than 140 pounds, his skin was very taunt, his handshake was weak, voice was fainter than on previous meetings, his eyes were deep set with dark circles underneath, and his teeth were also very badly tarred,”.
*The discolourations on his skin were caused by steroids given to him by doctors to enable his body to accept the transplant.
*His aides stuffed his clothes to hide his weight loss and used make up to hide his skin discolouration.
Gosh, very hard to keep up with all the dramatic leaked info from the Wikileaks saga. So I have distilled some of the best leaks at the links below:
Leader of Burma’s Military Junta Tried to Buy Manchester United
Shell Oil’s Infiltration of Nigeria’s Government
Saudi Princes In Sex, Drugs and Alcohol Parties
Nigeria Feared Military Coup During Yar’Adua’s Illness
Saudi Arabian Funding of Al-Qaeda
Key Global Sites for Security/Terror
Al-Jazeera Used as Bargaining Chip by Qatar
US diplomats gathering intelligence and biomatric info on UN officials and foreign leaders:
US Referred to Russia as a “Mafia State”
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Urged America to Attack Iran
Gordon Brown an “Abysmal” Prime Minister
Interview with Julian Assange
Download key data on US Embassy cables
New British Conservative Party Government Offered “Pro American” Policies to Americans