Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has informed of how his “international friends” were ready to free him from the Yola prisons in commando-style, after he was locked up by the late maximum ruler, General Sani Abacha.
Newsworth recalls that the Abacha military junta had jailed Obasanjo and his deputy as military head of state from 1976-1979, Maj-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (retd), from 1995 for allegedly plotting a phantom coup to oust the dark-goggled General, who died in office in 1998.
Obasanjo and Yar’Adua were handed the death penalty but their sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment. While Yar’Adua was allegedly poisoned to death in Abakaliki, Obasanjo was released in 1998 by the Abdulsalami Abubakar regime and he proceeded to be elected twice as president from 1999 to 2007.
Speaking on Friday at the 20th anniversary of Yar’Adua’s death, the ex-president disclosed that when he was jailed, “some of my international friends sent a message that they were ready to storm the Yola prisons and rescue me in a helicopter and take me to safety in Cameroon, but I said no, if you do that I will not leave the prison”.
“When I learnt that Shehu was first arrested I asked Abacha. He said he was not aware. I said it is not possible for a former No 2 to be arrested without the knowledge of the current No 1. Thereafter, Shehu was released.
“Later, Shehu was arrested again. I was also arrested. We were detained at different locations and we never got to see again until we were sentenced. We thereafter met at Kirikiri maximum prisons.
”It was a mistake to allow us to be together again. There at Kirikiri, we discussed at length. We strategised on Nigeria. Unfortunately, he died in prison and he could not fulfill his dreams for the country in his lifetime,” Obasanjo said.