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Dictator Abacha jailed me for 25 years but I got miraculous freedom -Retired Colonel

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A former Army officer, Col. Bello Fadile Rtd., who was sentenced to life imprisonment during the regime of the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, has recounted his experience 25 years after.

Fadile, who observed his prison term at the then-Argungu prison now known as the Kebbi State custodial centre, recalled he was court-martialled for advocating a non-violent composition of an interim government to replace the military junta of his-then friend and boss, Abacha.

Speaking with select journalists on Saturday, Fadile, an ex-intelligence military officer described his freedom from the prison on March 4, 1999, as unexpected.

Fadile noted that the news of his freedom got to him while on a three-day dry fasting and prayer.

He said, “I was court-martialled to life sentence for advocating a non-violent composition of an interim government to replace the military junta of a friend and boss, Abacha.

“25 years ago, in the wee hours of March 4, 1999, I had a tap on my cell window. I got up and went closer. Then I saw the warder on duty, a retired Warrant Officer of the Nigerian Army now working for the Nigeria Prison Services. He said, “Oga you don free, congratulations sir, start packing your things, you are going home.

“I asked him, what did you just say? ” He said, “Yes sir you are to be released today, sir.” I did not say anything. I just believed him and rushed to the general open cell opposite my cell to tell the two other inmates who were on a three-day dry fasting with me, seeking the face of God in my situation.

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“It was the beginning of the third day. I told them the good news and they shouted, “Hallelujah!” and we stood up and joined hands to sing out a sing-song chorus; God is able, abundantly able, to deliver and to save; The Lord is able, abundantly able, to deliver those who trust in him. Hallelujah!”

Fadile said he was preparing to leave when the Officer-In-Charge of the prison intimated to him that former Head of State, (retd.) Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar granted him pardon.

He said, “Thereafter I went to my cell, packed my stuff, and went to take a shower. At about 5.30 am, March 4, 1999, the Officer-In-Charge came to my cell and as usual, said, Doctor, you are free to go and you have to go out of my yard before 6 am today. The Head of State and Commander-In-Chief, General Abdusalami Abubakar has granted you and your colleagues a state pardon. Congratulations sir.

“And so it was 25 years ago that I breathed the air of freedom. To God be the honour and glory and of course gratitude to Gen. A A Abubakar (GCON) former Head of State. Special thanks to all others on whichever sides of the divide they were during the struggle to establish a truly democratic government in our dear motherland – Nigeria. God bless the Nigerian Military, my first love, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria”

Abacha

Former military leader, Abacha, seized power in 1993 and served as the military head of state until he died in 1998.

His regime was characterized by high profile assassination of army and political figures, incarceration and non-tolerance of dissent.

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