When, in 2016, Ibrahim Coomassie escaped assassination, it was no guarantee that he would live forever. The former inspector-general of police (IGP) joined the marathon sleep at an Orthopaedic hospital in Katsina state on Thursday. He was aged 76.
The son of Ahmadu Coomassie, an educationist, the retired policeman had the best of education. From Provincial Secondary School, Zaria, Barewa College, Zaria, he proceeded to Detective Training College, Wakefield, UK. His late father rose to the rank of a permanent secretary in the ministry of education in the northern region.
His pedigree could have influenced his choice by the military regime of Sani Abacha in 1993. When Abacha died in 1998, Coomassie still served under Abdulsalami Abubakar.
In his condolence message to the family of the deceased, President Muhammadu Buhari said: “Nigeria will never forget the excellent leadership the late Coomassie gave to the Nigeria Police Force during the many years he served as IG.”
He was lucky to have escaped the 2016 attack but the same could not be said of Musa Ibrahim, an officer attached to 27 police mobile squadron, Katsina, who was killed and Shittu Maikudi, a police inspector who sustained injuries.
“But for the gallantry displayed by the policemen on duty at the residence of the former inspector general of police, the suspected hoodlums would have gained entry into the house and wreaked havoc,” Besen Dapiya Gwana, the state commissioner of police, said after the incident.
Another encounter where he escaped death was in September 2008 when he sustained severe injuries in an accident involving his car at Dokawa village along Katsina/Daura road. Back then, he spent some days at the intensive care unit at Katsina Federal Medical Centre.
‘ARRESTED’ OVER KUDIRAT ABIOLA’S DEATH
In October 1999, investigations into abuses by the Abacha regime, including the assassination of Kudirat Abiola, wife of MKO Abiola, and the suspected murder of Shehu Musa Yar’Adua in detention in December 1997, resulted in the arrest of Coomassie and other figures, including Mohammed, Abacha’s son. Coomassie was placed under house arrest.
It was under him that Abiola was arrested and detained but Commassie refused to accept playing any role in the ordeal of Abiola.
CONFRONTED AMERICA OVER NADECO
In 1996, Coomassie launched an investigation into bomb explosions during the military rule of Abacha. On November 17, 1994, the first anniversary of Abacha’s coup, a bomb exploded at Lagos airport. Later that month, another bomb explosion occurred in Ilorin, capital of Kwara state.
The government, which accused the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) of responsibility for the bombings, had said publicly that they suspected American diplomats knew about the bombings in advance.
Coomassie had said he wanted to question the American ambassador and members of the US embassy staff about the attacks.
ASKED JONATHAN TO STEP DOWN
Coomassie was a strong critic of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. He never ceased to fault the effort of the Jonathan administration in securing the release of the Chibok girls. He also said it was expected of Jonathan to have stepped down after completing the term of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua.
“I think at that stage when he completed the first tenure of the Umaru Yar’Adua-Jonathan ticket, what some stakeholders in the North thought he would do was to step aside and allow another northerner to come and complete the two terms of the presidency, because that was an agreement, whether written or not written, to concede power to the South and, eight years later, the north will also get it,” Commassie told Vanguard in an interview then.
“Obasanjo got it. Umaru later got it but he didn’t finish the eight years; so why not allow him and the North to complete the eight years? If Jonathan had stepped down, he would have become a hero in this country.”
FIRED SHOTS AT OBASANJO
His razor blade tongue was not just for Jonathan; he also came down on Obasanjo whom he accused of dividing the north and south.
He traced the disunity in the country to the former president.
“In spite of everything, we have remained united. At least, we recently celebrated 100 years of our existence as a nation and we are hoping to have another 100 years, better one for that matter, as a nation. All along, the Northern Nigeria has been an example as it remained one inspite of the differences in religion,” he said.
“There are many of our people in Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Nasarawa and Niger state who are Christians and they have all along gone under one umbrella and this continued until Obasanjo came. He is the one who divided the North and also increased the hatred between the North and the South. He used the Christian Association of Nigeria.”
‘NO NORTH, NO NIGERIA’
Until his death, Coomassie was chairman of the board of trustees of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).
Coomassie was a staunch advocate for northern Nigeria. In the build up to the 2015 election, he said power would shift to the region Addressing the leadership of the northern women socio-cultural organisation, Jam’iyya Matan Arewa (JMA), in March, Coomassie said there would be no Nigeria without the north.
“We all know that without the North, Nigeria can never survive. We still stand by it. But now is the time to walk the talk in the interest of our people,” he said.
However, in one of his last interviews, he told Daily Trust: “The future of Nigeria depends on all of us. It can be bright and it can continue to be gloomy. It depends on us.”