The Dikko Affair


Photo by: Jessica Devnani

Have you heard of the Dikko affair? No? Well let me tell you.

So the Nigerian Government in 1984 carried out a real life action film, the likes of Jason Bourne. It is forever known as the Dikko affair.

The Dikko affair was a joint Nigerian-Israeli attempt to kidnap Umaru Dikko –

This Guy


–  a former Nigerian civilian government minister living in the United Kingdom, in 1984, and secretly transport him back to Nigeria in a diplomatic bag.

Yes, I’m, betting your jaw is on the floor now.

The kidnapping took place, but the transportation was unsuccessful. After it was foiled, the political fallout seriously damaged relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom for years.

Someone in Nollywood should consider making it into a movie. Seriously, I’ll even write the screenplay


See Dikko was an influential Transport Minister in the civilian administration of Shehu Shagari, his brother-in-law.


Everything was cool and all until the Nigerian Government was overthrown in a military coup – yet another one.

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari led this coup and a new military government led by him was established. You may recognise this name as belonging to our current MIA president.

For the record, we elected him in what was hailed as the country’s first free and fair election. Everyone in the country had temporary amnesia or they decided they didn’t care about the fact that this person killed a bunch of people to seize power. He also carried out some shady things like ridiculous laws to imprison journalist who step out of line or the very Dikko affair that I speak of today.

Rant Over.

On his second day in power, Buhari issued a list of former government officials accused of a variety of crimes. Dikko, who topped the list, was accused of embezzling several billion dollars (sources claim that the amount was around 6 billion US dollars) in oil profits from the national treasury.

If it ain’t broke why fix it is the mantra that people in authority still use till this day.

Despite tireless efforts to locate him, Dikko vanished without trace. In actual fact, Dikko moved to Britain and settled in London, and became a vocal critic of the regime in exile.


Though Israel at the time, did not have formal diplomatic relations with Nigeria, there were less visible ties between the two nations. In particular, Nigeria was an important source of oil for Israel, and Israel was a significant supplier of arms to Nigeria. The Israeli national intelligence agency Mossad was recruited to locate and bring Dikko back to Nigeria to stand trial.

Nigeria looked around the world for someone to help them with their illegal mission and Israel was like

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The Kidnapping

Mossad sources all across Europe were activated but they couldn’t find Dikko. However, Mossad Director-General Nahum Admoni decided that Dikko was probably in London, which had become a haven for Nigerian exiles critical of the new regime.

I don’t know why they didn’t just look there in the first place

Mossad katsas (officers), accompanied by Nigerian security service agents led by ex-Nigerian Army Major Mohammed Yusufu, traveled to London.

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The Nigerian team rented an apartment on Cromwell Road and posed as refugees from the new regime. The Mossad agents rented rooms in hotels catering to tourists from Africa, and posed as anti-apartheid activists.

That’s low brah

Working separately, the two teams moved among the Nigerian expat community in London, gradually narrowing their search to West London, to the area around Hyde Park, where many wealthy Nigerian exiles lived. They combed the electoral registers freely available in the area’s town halls, but found no trace of Dikko.

On 30 June 1984, a Mossad agent driving down Queensway in Bayswater, spotted Dikko. He parked his car and then tailed Dikko on foot to his house in Porchester Terrace.

Every time I’m walking, I get antsy because I need to watch my back but then maybe I’m just paranoid. What if I’m not though? What if someone really is tailing me? Then my inner snarky voice asks me why anyone will tail me and now I’m sad that I’m not important enough to get tailed. The thing is I want to be important enough to get tailed but not actually get tailed. It’s the circle of emotions.

Admoni, Mossad’s DG was immediately informed, and he ordered surveillance on the house. From then on, the house was constantly watched, while the Nigerians, using their London embassy as a base, prepared a kidnapping operation. Meanwhile, the Mossad recruited Dr. Levi-Arie Shapiro, an Israeli doctor who was a consultant anesthetist and director of the intensive care unit at Ha-Sharon hospital, to fly to London and participate in the operation.

The funniest part of all this horribleness is that there is always an evil doctor that is willing to first do harm and get paid. This just proves that the cartoonish villain doctor character is not a cliche, it’s just true.

The evil doctor’s job would be to drug Dikko, and insert an endotracheal tube (used to permit air to pass freely to and from the lungs in order to ventilate the lungs) to keep him from choking on his own vomit whilst being transported in a crate.

Don’t you just love thoughtful kidnappers

Late in the evening of 3 July 1984, a Nigerian Airways Boeing 707 – remember when that was a thing –  arrived at London’s Stansted Airport from Lagos. The aircraft had arrived empty, and the pilot notified the authorities that the plane had arrived to pick up diplomatic baggage from the Nigerian embassy.

How many people were in on it though? What other shady things are they doing?

On board were several Nigerian security guards, who openly identified themselves as such and stated that they were there to protect the baggage.


Their presence was reported to Scotland Yard’s Special Branch. The following day, Dikko was kidnapped in front of his home while he was out for a walk and taken away in a van driven by Yusufu. He was then drugged into unconsciousness by Shapiro. However, the abduction was witnessed by Dikko’s secretary, Elizabeth Hayes, who quickly notified the authorities.

Lmao. This entire plot was foiled because they didn’t look before they crossed the road. You’d think people who spent a lot of time surveilling the area will at least check to see if there are any witnesses to the kidnap,

Dikko and Shapiro were placed in one crate (dimensions 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.5 meters), while Mossad agents Alexander Barak and Felix Abithol occupied a second.

As one should

However, proper documentation that would have ensured that the cargo could not be inspected was not provided. The crates were also not labeled as diplomatic bags, as required by Article 27(4) of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relationships.

It’s like they wanted to get caught. I know it was the 80s but come on people it literally just needed a label “Diplomatic Relationships” and you’d be fine. Dikko’s village juju must be strong sha, mistakes upon mistakes.

Customs officials had received an all ports warning (circulates a suspect’s description to airports, ports and international railway stations to detect an offender or suspect leaving the country) alerting them to the kidnapping.  The secretary had probably reported it by now. So while the crates were being processed at the airport, were able to open the crates without violating the convention because, no label.


I’d give anything to see the look on their faces when they opened the crate and saw an unconscious Dikko. Nothing illegal, just maybe time travel? I refuse to believe that can’t happen, laws of physics be damned.

Dikko was taken to a hospital; he was uninjured. Probably because of the tube

Seventeen men were arrested; four were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of 10 to 14 years: Shapiro, Barak, Abithol, and Yusufu.

Oyo is your case

All four were released after serving between six and eight and a half years, and were quietly deported.

In retaliation, two British engineers in Nigeria were arrested and given fourteen-year prison sentences.

Ooh! You showed them


The Nigerian and Israeli governments never admitted any connection to the incident. Nonetheless, the British government immediately expelled two members of the Nigerian High Commission in Nigeria, including the High Commissioner.

Diplomatic relations with Nigeria were broken off for two years. The CEO of Nigerian Airways was at one point almost arrested by British police. In the aftermath of the affair, Nigeria filed a formal extradition request for Dikko, but it was refused.

Wait, they could do that, uh, why didn’t they just do that in the first place!!! The time, the effort, the RESOURCES and they could have just asked. Seriously?! I’m sure the same people that came up with this elaborate plot could come up with a sufficient enough for an “enemy” of the state to get extradited back to the country.

The Nigerian government’s war against the previous government’s corruption was also weakened, as the British government also rejected Nigerian requests to extradite other politicians wanted in Nigeria on corruption charges and living in exile in Britain.

Gee shocker.

Dikko was eventually asked to return to Nigeria. He accepted the invitation and set up a political party.

Of course he did

A stricter migration policy was adopted by Great Britain against Nigeria and Nigerians required visas to visit the Britain.

See, dear government, you ruined everything for everyone!! But then again that is the mantra isn’t it?

I applaud as I leave the cinema having gotten my money’s worth.

The Crate Used To Kidnap Umaru Dikko
Related image
Umaru Dikko in 1987


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Umaru Dikko Called To Bar at Middle Temple in 1991