Nigeria’s ex-deputy military president Diya dies

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Eight days to his 79th birthday, Gen Oladipo Diya, who was Nigeria’s former number two citizen, ex-Chief of General Staff, and deputy to the late dictator, Gen Sani Abacha, has died. He was 78.

He reportedly died around 1:05 a.m. on Sunday at a hospital in Lagos.

His death was confirmed by his son, Prince Oyesinmilola Diya, according to Freedom Online.

Also, Premium Times quoted a terse statement shared by the late military general’s media adviser, Olawale Adekoya, and signed on behalf of the family by Oyesinmilola Diya, a lawyer, and the deceased’s first son, announcing the death.

It quoted the statement saying: “On behalf of the entire Diya family home and abroad; We announce the passing on to glory of our dear husband, father, grandfather, brother, Lt- General Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya (Rtd) GCON, LLB, BL, PSC, FSS, mni.

“Our dear daddy passed onto glory in the early hours of 26th March 2023.

“Please keep us in your prayers as we mourn his demise in this period. Further announcements will be made public in due course.”

The late military general who was also a lawyer was born on Monday, April 3, 1944, in Odogbolu, Ogun State, South-west Nigeria.

Born on April 3, 1944 at Odogbolu in Ogun State, the former Chief of General Staff joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and fought during the Nigerian Civil War.

Diya was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1993 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994. He was second in command and the de facto vice president of Nigeria under Abacha from 1994 as the Chief of the General Staff.

He lost his wife, Folashade, in 2020.

He attended Yaba Methodist School, Lagos from 1950 to 1956 and thereafter became a pioneer student of Odogbolu Grammar School, which he attended from 1957 to 1962.

The deceased served as the Chief of General Staff, the de facto Vice President of Nigeria under the military head of state, the late Gen Sani Abacha, from 1994 to 1997. He previously served as Chief of Defence Staff and was military governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985.

While serving as his deputy,  Abacha accused Diya of plotting a coup to oust him. Diya was then arrested, tried, and convicted by a military tribunal set up by the late dictator.

The panel sentenced him to death but before the verdict would be implemented, Abacha suddenly died. Diya was later released by the General Abdusalami Abubakar regime which succeeded Abacha’s.

Diya would go down in the history of Nigeria as one of the famous military generals and vice presidents.

He later attended the United States Army School of Infantry, the Command and Staff College, Jaji 1980 to 1981) and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.

He was the Sole Administrator/Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985, during the military regime of Gen Muhammadu Buhari, the incumbent civilian president.

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.

He emerged as the deputy military president to Abacha from 1993 to 1997.

His office as the second-in-command was truncated when he was arrested and accused of treason for allegedly plotting a coup against his principal, Abacha.

On 21 December 1997, Abacha accused and arrested him and other top military officials including Maj-Gen Tajudeen Olanrewaju, and Maj-Gen Abdulkarim Adisa, among others.

Prior to his arrest, Diya had escaped death by allegedly missing a bomb explosion at Abuja International Airport.

In 1997 Diya and his colleagues were tried in a military tribunal and initially sentenced to death, but later commuted to a 25-year jail term.

Upon the untimely death of Abacha in 1998, Diya was pardoned by the late Head of State’s successor, Abdusalami Abubakar.

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