Monday, August 20, 2018 4:36 pm
Col. Gabriel Ajayi, a former Quartermaster General, Lagos Garrison Command, is dead. He departed last night in his Lagos home at the age of 71. The retired colonel was ill, taken to the hospital and was well, even preparing for the burial of his late mother, when he succumbed to death.
After Ajayi left Secondary school in 1969, he worked briefly at the Nigerian Tribune after which he joined the Nigerian Army in 1971.
In 1974, the radical in him showed when he condemned the use of Hausa as language of communication at the Army Barracks, Ibadan. He was a guest for 15 days in the guardroom for that audacity!
The second radical step he took that earned him punishment was when, as Quartermaster General, Lagos Garrison Command, he was second-in-command to the then General Officer Commanding, GOC, Major Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi. Here because of Ajayi’s position that MKO Abiola’s mandate must be actualised, he was roped into a phantom coup in 1995 to overthrow General Sani Abacha. He was, according to a narrative by Yinka Odumakin, in Vanguard, “arrested after taking Holy communion in a church with Bamaiyi, tried and sentenced to death along side former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Major Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Colonel Lawan Gwadabe, among others.”
Ajayi was sentenced to death on 14 July 1995 by the Brigadier General Patrick Aziza’s Special Military Tribunal (SMT) before it was commuted to 25 years jail term. He spent four years in Minna prison before he was compulsorily retired in 1999 when co-convict Obasanjo became President.
Ajayi, according to Odumakin, “holds till date that his travail was over his insistence for justice and that he was roped into a coup because he objected to the annulment of June 12 elections and the murder of hundreds of protesters in Lagos on June 23rd 1993 when Abacha drove through protesters. He recalls vividly how his boss, Bamaiyi,once boasted in an army conference that he had only pity for Yoruba women and children whose husbands and fathers would be gone when the shooting would commence. The shootings indeed commenced and quite a number of Yoruba women became widows while a lot of children became either fatherless or motherless.”