Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya GCON, BL, PSC, FSS, mni ((Listen); 3 April 1944 – 26 March 2023)[1] was a Nigerian general and lawyer who served as Chief of General Staff (de facto vice president of Nigeria) under military head of state General Sani Abacha from 1994 until his arrest for treason in 1997.[2][3] He also served as Chief of Defence Staff and as military governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985.[4]

Oladipo Diya
9th Chief of General Staff
In office
17 November 1993 – 21 December 1997
Head of stateSani Abacha
Preceded byAugustus Aikhomu
Succeeded byMike Akhigbe
Chief of Defence Staff
In office
17 November 1993 – 21 December 1997
Preceded bySani Abacha
Succeeded byAbdulsalami Abubakar
Governor of Ogun State
In office
January 1984 – August 1985
Preceded byOlabisi Onabanjo
Succeeded byOladayo Popoola
Personal details
Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya

(1944-04-03)3 April 1944
Odogbolu, Southern Region, British Nigeria (now in Ogun State, Nigeria)
Died26 March 2023(2023-03-26) (aged 78)
Lagos, Nigeria
Deborah Folashade Diya
(died 2020)
  • Military officer
  • lawyer
Military service
Allegiance Nigeria
Branch/service Nigerian Army
Years of service1964–1997
Rank Lieutenant general
Battles/warsNigerian Civil War

Early life Edit

Donaldson Oladipo Diya was born on 3 April 1944 in Odogbolu,[3] Ogun State, then Western Region, Nigeria. He had his primary education at Yaba Methodist Primary School, Lagos and Odogbolu Grammar School.[5]

Military career Edit

Diya joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna[6] and fought during the Nigerian Civil War.[7] He later attended the US Army School of Infantry, the Command and Staff College, Jaji (1980–1981) and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.[8] While serving in the military, Diya studied law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained an LLB degree, and then at the Nigerian Law School, where he was called to bar as Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.[2]

Diya was Commander 31, Airborne Brigade. He was appointed Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985. He became General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigeria Army in 1985. Diya was Commandant, National War College (1991–1993) and then was appointed Chief of Defence Staff.[4]

Chief of General Staff Edit

Diya was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1993 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994.[2] As Chief of the General Staff, he was the de facto Vice President of Nigeria during the Sani Abacha military junta from 1994 until he was arrested for treason in 1997.[2] His Principal Staff Officer during this period was Bode George.[9]

1997 coup plot Edit

In 1997 Diya and dissident soldiers in the military allegedly planned to overthrow the regime of Sani Abacha. The alleged coup was uncovered by forces loyal to Abacha, and Diya and his cohorts were jailed. Diya was tried in a military tribunal and was given the death penalty. Upon the untimely death of Abacha in 1998, Diya was pardoned by the late Head of State's successor, Abdusalami Abubakar.[10]

Most people believed that the much-hyped coup was, in fact, a ploy by Abacha to do away with Diya, who was increasingly becoming popular among the elite and opposition parties, for his moderate views on the situation in Nigeria. Earlier on, Abacha's loyalists had twice attempted to assassinate Diya, once at the airport and then in the streets, using bombs. But most analysts said that whether motivated by a real coup plot or not, the arrest of General Diya signalled deep divisions within the Nigerian military and reflected rising tensions over General Abacha's apparent intention to remain in office by engineering his own election as President.[11]

The fact that General Diya and almost all of the others arrested were ethnic Yoruba from the already deeply disaffected southwest was seen by some as a virtual provocation at a time when a country of powerful regional rivalries was entering into a period of renewed civilian politicking. General Abacha, like his inner core of senior officers and much of the army's rank and file, was a Hausa-speaking northerner of Kanuri origin.[12]

Death sentence Edit

After his arrest, a military tribunal sitting in the Nigerian town of Jos sentenced six people including Lieutenant General Oladipo Diya to death by firing squad in April 1998. The accused were brought to the main military barracks in Jos for the trial. Security was tight, and the men on trial were chained at their ankles during the proceedings. In a dramatic statement at the outset of the trial, General Diya asserted that he had been entrapped by another officer close to General Abacha, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, who approached him with the idea of mounting a coup. Given the explosive nature of the charge, the government then closed the trial to the public.[4]

The head of the military tribunal, General Victor Malu,[13] the former commander of the West African regional peacekeeping force ECOMOG, responding to Lieutenant General Diya's defence that people at the very top framed him, said it was not necessary to know who had initiated the conspiracy. He noted that all Lieutenant General Diya had to do was prove that he had not been part of the plot at any stage. General Malu assured the defendants that they would be given a fair trial and unlimited access to information they needed to defend themselves. "This tribunal will not conduct or tolerate a trial by ambush", he said.[14]

The South African government questioned the secrecy surrounding the trial and warned of the probability that there could be an unfavorable reaction, both in Nigeria and internationally, to a carrying out of the sentences. The sentence was later commuted by the head of state, Abdusalami Abubakar, who succeeded General Abacha.[15]

Lieutenant General Diya was not only released but also discharged from the army, stripped of his rank, and barred from using his military title.[16]

Later career Edit

Following his release, General Diya refused to co-operate with any investigations by Oputa Panel into his activities while he was vice president. He spent most of his time attempting to recover possession of various properties seized by the government on his arrest. He made no attempt to explain how he purchased these lavish properties on the salary of a lieutenant general.[15]

On 18 May 2020, General Diya's second wife Folashade Diya died a few days prior to her 65th birthday.[17] It was reported that she died from COVID-19 complications.[18][19]

He died in March 2023.

References Edit

  1. ^ Oladipo Diya, Abacha's ex-chief of staff, is dead
  2. ^ a b c d "Lt. General Oladipo Diya Chief of General Staff (1993–1997)". Federal Ministry of Information and Communications. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Oladipo Diya biography, net worth, age, family, contact & picture". Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "All Governors of Ogun State". Glimpse Nigeria. 25 June 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  5. ^ "Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, deputy to Gen. Sani Abacha, is dead". Premium Times. 26 March 2023. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Biography Of Oyewole Diya". Media Nigeria. 6 June 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Buhari salutes Oladipo Diya at 75". 2 April 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  8. ^ "Photos: Osinbajo at Oladipo Diya's 75th birthday anniversary – P.M. News". Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  9. ^ Jide Ajani (27 October 2009). "Night of long knife for Bode George...a news analysis". Vanguard News. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  10. ^ "Abacha's henchman al-Mustapha sings briefly about "Abubakar-Diya Coup" plot, the killing of Abiola, NADECO and other issues". USAfricaonline. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  11. ^ French, Howard W. (24 December 1997). "The Enemy Within". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  12. ^ Kaulman, Micheal (9 June 1998). "New Chapter in Nigeria: The Obituary – Sani Abacha, 54, a Beacon of Brutality In an Era When Brutality Was Standard". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Gen Malu and his unconfirmed verdict on Gen Oladipo Diya and others". Vanguard News. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  14. ^ "Abacha's Former Deputy, Oladipo Diya, Turns 76 Today". 3 April 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Nigeria Arrests General Accused in a Coup Plot". The New York Times. Associated Press. 22 December 1997. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  16. ^ "On This Day: Lieutenant General Oladipo Diya Sentenced for Treason". cmonionline. 28 April 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Nigeria's Ex-Chief Of General Staff, Oladipo Diya, Loses Wife". Sahara Reporters. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Diya's younger wife, Shade, dies of COVID-19 as second wife down with virus". Businessday NG. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Nigeria: Oladipo Diya's Wife, Folashade, Is Dead". 21 May 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2022.