Major Seun Fadipe

Coup: How God saved me from being killed by Abacha-Major Fadipe

by Church Times

Major Philip Seun Fadipe was one of the army officers arrested by the government of the late General Sani Abacha for his alleged involvement in a failed attempt to overthrow the government in December 1997.

He was the Chief Security Officer of the Late General Oladipo Diya, the then second in command to Abacha. Both Diya and Fadipe with several other military men and civilians were arrested in connection with the botched coup. But they were saved by the whiskers when General Abacha died mysteriosly a day to signing their execution order.

Recently, Fadipe celebrated 25 years of being freed from that experience.

He shares his side of the story of the coup with Church Times and the way God saw him through all the stages of the trials and his eventual release.

It’s an intriguing account.

Find below:

From left: Late General Oladipo Diya, Major Fadipe, Gen Olanrewaju, and the rest of the arrested officers

Diya hinted about the coup

On December 9, 1997, my boss told me about the plan to topple the government of General Sani Abacha. When he told me about the plan, I did not take him seriously initially. But when he said all the service chiefs and GOCs were involved in the planned coup, I had a bit of respite.

But because I felt a nudge to seek spiritual counsel concerning the planned coup, I went to see my prayer partner who was a lady evangelist. She had a gift of prophecy. She just got married at that time. I went to her around 11 pm the same day General Diya told me about the planned coup.

I got to her house and she was surprised to see me that late. I told her I needed to seek counsel and prayers. I told her what my boss told me that morning about an impending coup. Without much ado, she held my hands and started praying.

The prophecy

Not quite about 10 minutes into the prayers, she said, she did not see my boss on the throne neither did she see General Abacha remaining on the throne.

She said however that God was telling her that whether I participated in the coup or not it would happen. She continued and said nobody would die in the coup but that six people would go down.

The implication of what she was saying was that the coup would not succeed. I became confused. I felt she was trying to dismiss me that night because it was already late.

But she insisted while delivering the message from the Lord that the whole thing about the coup would be sorted out on the 6th month of the following year.

When she was through with her message, I was more confused. I went there for a solution but I left there more confused. Since she said, that whether I took part or not I would be involved, that made me decide to go along with the planned coup.

Was it a setup?

The plot was real. But they just used my boss, General Diya as a decoy. The likes of Bamaiyi, Magaji, and Aziza were planning the coup. But they used my boss as a decoy. It was a coup within a coup. They were planning it. But they told Abacha that Diya asked them to plan it.

For reasons known to my boss, he agreed with them. When he told me, I said to him he should have allowed the boys to continue with the coup and leave them alone. But he said, Fadipe you can’t trust these boys so he fell for it.

The bomb blast

On December 13 1997 there was a bomb blast that affected the aircraft my boss was flying in. But he miraculously escaped. I was supposed to be with him in the aircraft. But somehow, I did not go with him. When the blast happened, I went back to extricate him and we went back home.

Because of his miraculous escape, I went to church for a thanksgiving and I was crying. People didn’t know why I was crying. I had been working with him for four years before that time. I was crying because it was just that day that I was not with him that the blast happened.

The Niger Pastor

There was also this pastor who came to minister in our church from Niger Republic. He mentioned my name during his ministration and he said God said God had seen my labour of love and service and it was time for me to be rewarded.

When I had the prophecy, I just discarded what my prayer partner said that the coup would fail. I said the new prophecy from this man of God concerning me was the correct one.

Major Fadipe as a young officer

I was arrested

But exactly a week after that prophecy, I was arrested for an attempted coup plot. I was the first to be arrested. I was put in the guard room.

When I got into the guard room, I was disturbed. Two things were going on in my mind: Was it that, the coup failed? I was also wondering if my arrest was the reward God had promised me through the pastor who came to minister in our church.  As I was thinking about the turn of events, I heard a voice say to me, Don’t worry I am in control.

I could not pray

At that point, I could not pray again. I was just murmuring. I tried to remind God, how I had served him and was wondering if that would be my reward for serving him. But the voice came again saying, don’t worry, I am in control.

I looked around I did not see the person talking. At that point, I said to myself, Seun Fadipe, you are running mad. At a point, I had to calm myself and say to myself again, don’t die before death comes.

So, I sat down waiting for the next thing that would happen. They arrested me around 9 am but they came to pick me up around 1 a.m and took me to the villa. They put me in handcuffs and leg chains.

Major Mustapha

I later saw that everybody linked with General Diya in the army had been arrested. At that time, I tried to see my boss, but I could not find him.

It now appeared as if I was the coup leader. That made me more confused. Just as I was confused, General Mustapha came to me and said, you bastard, you asked them to kill me. I said to him, I did not ask them to kill you. I only asked them to arrest you.

From nowhere one of his boys hit me with the butt of the riffle, and another one hit me by the side. But in fairness to Major Mustapha, he warned the boys immediately and said they should not touch me again; that if not for what happened, could they have ever been able to lay their hands on me?

He gave a stern warning that nobody should touch me.  Around 4 am we were taken back to the cell and straight to the guardroom.

I became confused, where are the others? As I was complaining, the voice came again, don’t worry I am in control.

The Gideon test

While that was going on, I remembered what happened between Gideon and the angel according to the Bible account. I said, God if indeed you are in control, let Major Mustapha send for me. But the Lord kept saying He was in control. I later began to think of what happened to Paul and Silas in the prison and how their chains were broken. I thought such a miracle could happen to me.

I was imagining my chains being broken and being set free. But unfortunately, it was the pain of the chains in my legs that woke me up the following morning. I told myself, Oh, boy, you still dey here o!.

Major Mustapha called me

But God manifested himself around noon the following day which was a Sunday morning. One of Major Mustapha’s boys came to me and said Major Mustapha wanted to see me. I shouted and said God was in control because that was my request before I slept. I now had the confidence that God was indeed in control.

But as I was being taken to the villa, I heard in my spirit Man, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Those were the words ringing in my ears until I was brought before Major Mustapha. However, I did not know the relevance of the scripture in my circumstances at that time.

Major Fadipe being decorated by General Diya and General Bakut when he was promoted Major in 1994


Nothing but the truth

The scripture became clearer to me when I got to Major Mustapha and I discovered they were trying to implicate more people in the coup saga. And I told Major Mustapha point blank that, Oga, no need to beat about the bush.

All these people you mentioned including the Yoruba leaders were not involved. But I promised to tell him all the people involved. I made up my mind, to tell the truth and nothing but the truth so that those who were not involved would not be implicated.

I left him and went back to the cell still waiting for how God would vindicate me.

The Jos experience

God never intervened until they took us to Jos the following year. We were taken to Jos. When we got to Jos, we were there for the investigation and the rest of the procedure until we were arranged on February 14 for the trial.

On the first day of the trial, the tribunal chairman said we should say something before we leave. I told the tribunal chairman that if friends and families forsake me, the only person who would not forsake me is the Lord. And I requested that they should give me a Bible. The man approved that they should give us the Bible and Quaran.

Before we were arraigned, I had a dream that night. I saw that we were in a courtroom and out of all the accused persons I was the only one without a lawyer. I shouted in the dream saying, have you people agreed to kill me, how come I am the only one without a lawyer?

And the judge’s advocate said, look Fadipe, you don’t need a lawyer. You just come forward, tell the tribunal chairman that you are guilty and I will know how to plead your case.

I woke up and was pondering over the dream. I was asking myself how could I plead guilty. I had never heard of anybody pleading guilty before a military tribunal in such a case.

Reality of the dream

As I was pondering about the dream in real life, Major Mumuni came in and said, Oga, we need the name of your lawyer. As I was thinking of who to mention, I remembered the dream and I said, I don’t need a lawyer. He insisted I needed a lawyer because of the kind of situation I found myself in.

And I said, if you insist, give me Major Wiwa and Major Bamgbose. These two officers were activists. I knew they would not approve them. Major Wiwa was the brother of Ken Saro Wiwa the environmental rights activists

Asked to plead guilty

Major Mumuni came back later in the day and said I could not have any of the people I mentioned. But they ended up giving me one Lieutenant Shalangwu.

The man came forward and asked us to talk. He said he had gone through my profile. As he was talking, he was stammering. He was trying to advise me on how we could do the case. He told me to plead guilty and that would make him know how to plead for me.

I started laughing because the dream I had just replayed in real life. I said to him that the Holy Spirit had already told me in my dream to plead guilty.

That assured me that God was really with me. The officer said he too was a believer. But that listening to me had increased his faith and that he now believes in God more.


On the day the prosecution started, I pleaded guilty. Many people were surprised I pleaded guilty. They did not know the holy spirit had already told me to plead guilty. After that day, I began to have a daily revelation of what would happen. Before anything happens, God would tell me in the dream.

My boss became afraid of me because they were wondering how I got to know some things before they happened. At one point, my boss said they should be careful of me because it was like I was working with the government of Abacha.

Message to Gen Adisa

But to vindicate me, God now sent me to General Adisa and General Olanrewaju just to prove to them that he was the one talking to me. First, it was General Adisa. I saw that Chief Alao Arisekola of Ibadan was running around to make sure that Adisa was freed. When I woke up in the morning I needed to tell General Adisa to encourage him.

I walked to the restroom close to where he was. I spoke to him in Yoruba and told him what God told me to tell him. I narrated my dream to him and he affirmed that I was truly a pastor. He said the dream I told him was the same dream he had and had not told anybody.

Message to Gen. Olanrewaju

About a week or two later God sent me to General Olanrewaju. He asked me to tell him if he did not stop the kind of prayers he was making, he would be killed. I was wondering how I would narrate such a message. I did not know how to tell him. I was a major, he was a major general. For some time, I could not tell him.

But one day, I walked to him and said to him, Sir, I don’t know the kind of prayers you were making, but God said you will be killed if you do not stop that prayer. He was just staring at me as I gave him the message.

He called me about two weeks later and reminded me of the message I delivered to him. He said he did not give a reply to the message because he did not know how I got to know he was making the prayer he was making. It was a particular kind of prayer in Islam.

He said he has been saying that prayer consistently. He said the moment he stopped the prayer in obedience to my message, God restored his health which had been failing before then.

The judgement

God vindicated me with the two messages I delivered to General Adisa and General Olanrewaju. I kept telling all the officers that we would not die.

On April 28 1998 when the judgement was delivered, they convicted six of us of treason and conspiracy. And we were to die by firing squad confirming what the prophetess said to me from day one when  General Diya, (may his soul rest in peace) told me about the planned coup.

At that point I was downcast. It was like God was going to fail me. I was worried. But then, I recalled that all that God told me throughout our stay in detention had come to pass. So, I had assurance that we would not be killed.

But then, I knew if we were taken away from there, we would die. Two of those with us, one was given life imprisonment and he was complaining to me that was given a death sentence.

The other one who was discharged and acquitted came to thank me for what I had done for him and the rest of the people in prison. And he asked, what he should tell my wife when he gets home.

Major Fadipe and his wife

Tell my wife I am coming home

I didn’t know where the confidence came from. I said to him, tell my wife I am coming back home. Everybody was looking at me and was wondering what I was saying.

They shook their heads. That was when my faith was shaken. But I was resolute. The other guy that was given life imprisonment was taken to Birnin Kirbi and I was taken to Minna Prison. But we both got to Minna prison first before they took him to Birnin Kirbi.

He came to me and apologised. He said he came to complain to me because he did not see me as somebody who was given a death sentence but that he saw me as somebody who had been released.

Moved to Kano

Somehow there was a rumour that General Abacha was planning to release us as a way of getting the applause of Nigerians. It was around the time he was planning to turn himself into a civilian president. But we could not confirm how true that story was. But he did not sign the execution order immediately.

He put the execution order on his table that he would sign it the following Monday. But he died the morning of that day.

We did not know he had died. But the very day he died we were taken to a place in Kano. It was there we saw soldiers on parade. We heard he was going to declare himself president so we thought they were making preparations for the declaration.

News of Abacha’s death

So, we were just discussing among ourselves that he was going to use us for the campaign and was not going to kill us. One of the soldiers that took us to the room however came to break the news that Abacha had died.

Initially, we wanted to jubilate, but we had to curtail our emotions. He went out and smuggled in the Tribune Newspapers that had reported: General Abacha dead. And we were wondering what we were now doing in prison.

The same person came to tell us General Abdusalami Abubakar was now the head of state. My boss was happy. But I told him we were going to prison according to what God showed me in the dream. I told him that Abdusalami would want to consolidate his position first.

Later we heard Chief Moshood Abiola too had died. We remained in Kano. That day they came to pick us to different prisons. We were not sure what had happened. They came with a coaster bus to pick us and it was like we were going to be released. But Sergeant Roger came to the room and told us to pack our belongings because we were being relocated.

God was with me

They took us to different prisons. While I was in prison, God was with me. When I heard experiences of other prisoners, I saw that God was faithful to me. I told God I wanted the Joseph kind of favour in prison. And that was what happened. The warders were there to help me. Until the day they released us.

Major Fadipe


My freedom

I was released on March 4, 1999. I won’t say I was a fervent believer. God was just faithful to me. I was still a young man and I had stumbled severally. I was not perfect.

But I had grown enough to understand God. I knew God would keep his word. I never believed the whole experience would last for 16 months.

There was a particular day I was in the prison fellowship and I told them in the fellowship that God was not bothered about our physical imprisonment but that our spiritual imprisonment was the real problem.

One of the inmates at the meeting said, in his case, he had no hope of being set free because his imprisonment was just because he committed the offense he was arrested for. But that same guy was the only person that was released when his case came up in court.

I had always been a Christian but I was always fumbling and wobbling.

My wife

My wife died 15 years after I came out of prison. She died on March 8, 2014. My wife was a giver, but you must convince her to be able to give. She had a way of controlling my giving.

If we agreed to give an amount to the church, I would give what we agreed and still give more to the church without her knowledge. We had one anniversary in church and agreed on a certain amount to give. But I now wrote another cheque to the church. After service, she quarreled with me that I was doing more than what we agreed.

But when I was in prison, she kept telling God, this man was a giver, he did not joke with your work and she said, for this reason, Lord save him.

So, when I was released from prison we went for Thanksgiving. She was the one who increased the amount we agreed to give. My wife visited me in Minna Prison every month to bring everything I needed.

Still a Major

The moment you are convicted as a military man you lose your commission. But President Goodluck Jonathan gave us a presidential pardon I can draw pension. I still retain my title. Presently I am a security consultant among several other things to keep body and soul together.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment