NIGERIA. Niger State: 35 years after his execution under the suspicion of being part of coup plotters to remove General Ibrahim Babangida from office, the family of late General Mamman Vatsa have appealed to the Nigerian Government to grant him a pardon.
The family said they never believed that the late Vatsa was involved in the coup-plotting as he was accused stating that if even if he did, the federal government and the President should grant him the pardon nevertheless.
The Family Spokesman, Jonathan Vatsa who spoke to Journalists including Transcontinental Times in Minna, Niger State Capital said that the family is sad that they have not been able to give their father a proper burial after his death.
“The pardon has been long overdue. For 35 years, the family have been unable to give our father a proper burial and we cannot do so without the pardon. This is why we are asking the President to grant him a pardon just the way he did for Chief Abiola and others.
“It is painful to us as a family that he was executed as a coup plotter even when he was not. Even if at all he had carried out the said offence, we are appealing to the Presidency to grant him pardon”, Jonathan said.
Setting Up a Foundation
The family of the late General Mamman Vatsa said that they want to set up a Foundation to cater for the needs of the less privileged, especially widows and orphans in the society but cannot do so without the pardon.
“As part of activities to mark 35 years after his execution, the family visited the orphanage home, old people’s home and reached out to widows and orphans in the state. As part of its intention to set up a Foundation to reach out to widows and orphans, the Vatsa family want to have a Foundation in his name.
“But we cannot set up this Foundation without the federal government granting him a pardon”, the Vatsa’s Spokesman said.
Impact of Vatsa’s Execution
Jonathan stated that the execution of General Mamman Vatsa impacted greatly the family and the Gulu Community of Lapai local government area of Niger State.
He said that the silence about the pardon by the federal government which will clear his name has continued to be a source of sadness to the family and community.
Jonathan observed that the late General is not being recognized in various places where he had made a great impact.
‘He was a Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) but yet when you go to the ministry, one would not see his pictures among the ministers of the FCT. If he is pardoned, his pictures would also be hung among those who were ministers of FCT.”
Call to Former Course mates and Friends
Jonathan called on former course mates and friends of the late Vatsa who are still alive to support the family and the Gulu Community in its bid to get a pardon for the late General.
He said that the family and Community would be happy if the pardon is granted saying, “if this pardon is granted, his soul can have eternal rest and he can rest properly. The family will also be very happy if this can be done”, Vatsa stated.
Letter to the President
The Vatsa family also disclosed that it has written a letter to the President and copied the Minister of Justice regarding the request for a pardon.
About Late General Mamman Vatsa
Late General Mamman Vatsa was born on the 3rd of December 1940. He attended the Government College Bida from 1957 to 1962 and started his career with the Nigerian Army by enrolling in the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) on 10 December 1962.
He was the Federal Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, a member of the AFRC, Federal Executive Council and occasionally, the National Council of States. He was the only military officer, other than the Commander-in-Chief, to be a member of all three ruling bodies.
Vatsa was also an accomplished poet and writer. Vatsa was a facilitator and patron of the arts in Nigeria, where he organized writing workshops for his fellow soldiers and their children and got their works published.
On 5 March 1986, he was executed by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida following a military tribunal conviction for treason associated with an abortive coup.