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FLASHBACK: How Abiola’s family complained of neglect to Buhari in 2015

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, surprised Nigerians when he declared June 12 as the country’s new Democracy Day, in honour of MKO Abiola.

The statement also said the government has decided to award Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi posthumously with a GCFR and GCON respectively, for their roles in the June 12 elections and in promoting democratic ideals.

Abiola’s family though have long expected this honour, some of them had expressed a desire for more than a mere symbolic recognition. Days after Buhari was sworn in as president in 2015, the family complained of neglect and cried to the Federal Government for help.

Muri Abiola, senior brother of the late politician and business mogul, lamented how poorly the government has treated the family following the death of their breadwinner in July, 1998, which led to great hardship. He said this at a prayer session held at the Abeokuta residence of Abiola to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the June 12 election.

“The federal government has neglected us and this is not good,” Abiola said. “When MKO died, many of us were arrested for no just cause. They said they are doing some findings,we were locked up in Panti and many other cells in the country.”

“After a while, we were asked to go home and nothing was given to us as compensation. We made several efforts to get our plight get across to them but nothing forthcoming till date. As I am speaking with you now, many of our children are out of job and we have nothing to keep bodies and souls together.

“This should have not happened to the family of MKO Abiola, who died because of this country. All what he stood for during his lifetime was enthronement of democracy and today, that is what many of those who were against it then are benefitting from.

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“They have not accorded him the due honour he deserved. We have been neglected by the past government and we strongly believe that our governor will pass our message to President Muhammmed Buhari.”

In reaction to his plea, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who was represented by Yetunde Onanuga, the Ogun state deputy governor, promised to deliver their grievances to the President. It is, however, not clear if this message was delivered or if Buhari eventually acted on it.

When contacted, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, asked the reporter to contact Amosun, “the person sent”. Told that the Ogun state governor cannot be made to speak for the Federal Government, he replied, “Amosun promised to deliver the message… that’s [what] you said. He should help you.”

Presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina did not answer a call by the ICIR, and a text sent to him was not replied.

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'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via aadebajo@icirnigeria.org or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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