Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha’s former Chief of General Staff and Deputy, died at 78. Diya died at 1:05 a.m. on Sunday at a Lagos hospital. Olawale Adekoya, his media adviser, issued a statement on behalf of the family confirming his death.
“On behalf of the entire Diya family, home and abroad, we announce the passing to glory of our dear husband, father, grandfather, brother, Lt-General Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya (Rtd) GCON, LLB, BL, PSC, FSS, mni,” the statement said. Our loving daddy died away in the early hours of March 26th, 2023. Please keep us in your prayers during this difficult time as we grieve his passing. Additional announcements will be made in due course.”
Diya was born on April 3, 1944, in Odogbolu, Ogun State, South-west Nigeria. From 1950 to 1956, he attended Yaba Methodist School in Lagos, and from 1957 to 1962, he attended Odogbolu Grammar School. He joined the Nigerian Defence Academy and fought during the Nigerian Civil War. He attended the US Army School of Infantry, Jaji Command and Staff College (1980-1981), and Kuru’s National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.
From January 1984 until August 1985, Diya was the Chief of Defence Staff and the military governor of Ogun State. In 1994, he was appointed Chief of General Staff and de facto Vice President of Nigeria, a position he held until 1997.
He was suspected of preparing a coup to depose Abacha while serving as his deputy, and was arrested, prosecuted, and convicted by a military tribunal appointed by the late dictator. The panel sentenced him to death, but before the judgement could be carried out, Abacha died unexpectedly, and Diya was later liberated by the administration of General Abdusalami Abubakar, who followed Abacha.
Nigerians have expressed their condolences to Diya’s family and loved ones after his death. His death signals the end of an era and the loss of a magnificent military leader and jurist who dedicated his life to serving his country.