History that deserves to be REMEMBERED.
October 25, 1993. Four disgruntled Nigerian teenagers hijacked a Nigeria Airways plane flying from Lagos to Abuja and diverted the plane to Niamey, Niger Republic.
Disgruntled by the annulled June 12 elections, the young men, Richard Ogunderu, Kabir Adenuga, Benneth Oluwadaisi and Kenny Rasaq Lawal unassumingly boarded the flight and waited till the pilot announced that passengers could unfasten their seat belts.
The next thing the passengers heard was
“Ladies and gentlemen, this plane has been taken over by the Movement for the Advancement of Democracy. Remain calm, we will not harm you. You will be told where the plane will land you. You do not move or you die”
A passenger who was in the toilet was said to have remained indoors until one of the hijackers came to pull him.
The leader of the hijackers, Richard Ogunderu walked into the cockpit and seized the process, and then the others followed. Two remained to watch over the passengers
He then asked the pilot to head for another Germany. The pilot convinced them the plane did not carry sufficient fuel to cross the Atlantic and suggested they divert to Niamey, Niger or crash and everybody dies.
Upon landing the hijackers found themselves surrounded by hundreds of armed Nigeriène soldiers at the airport. They had earlier distributed their demands among the passengers
calling on the Nigerian government to overturn the annulment of the June 12 election
They gave the government 72 hours to meet their demands or else they would set the plane ablaze.
As a gesture of goodwill, they released 34 of the 193 passengers, among whom were top Nigerian government officials
The Nigerian soldiers did not storm the plane because
..the hijackers claimed to have rigged the plane with explosives, and so began negotiations, keeping the remaining passengers hostage.
The Nigeriène soldiers eventually made the determination the hijackers were not armed, and under cover of darkness stormed the plane.
The soldiers were unprofessional in their approach, firing indiscriminately and killing one passenger.
The four teenagers have cuffed hands behind their backs and taken straight to a prison cell. The hijackers spoke neither Hausa nor French and nobody made any attempt to
..question them in English. They were denied food. The magnitude of what they had done finally began to settle in. They represented the generation of Nigerian youths in 1993. Intelligent, patriotic and courageous. They courageously believed they could save Nigeria from
..the tyrannical steel claws of the military Junta.
They were on their own.
The Nigerian government didn’t even bother requesting for them to be extradited. They wanted them away from Nigerian soil lest they become a symbol of resistance to Nigeria’s youths.
Remember this was a period Abacha was putting finishing touches on his plan to take over the government.
For some bizarre reason, the hijackers were taken to Chad, where they were sentenced to 9 years in prison.
For nine years they were denied contact with their families and loved ones. While in prison in Ndjamena they learnt how to speak French fluently.
Both were later transferred to the Niger Republic where their knowledge of French and their professions now earn them a fair living.