Former president Olusegun Obasanjo gave a major disclosure at the weekend. He said his international friends planned a commando move to break into late military president Sanni Abacha gulag and take him out.
The president disclosed this on Friday, December 8, 2017, while speaking at the 20th anniversary of the death of his former deputy, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, when he was military president from 1976 t0 1979.
Obasanjo and Yar’Adua were arrested and imprisoned in 1995 by the regime of then-military head of state, Sani Abacha, on allegations of plotting a coup.
They were both initially sentenced to death before the sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment; but Yar’Adua died in custody after a suspected poisoning in 1997, a year before Obasanjo’s release.
Recounting the time he spent in captivity, Obasanjo said: “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.”
The president also discussed the events that led to his imprisonment.
He said, “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.”
After his release from prison by the government of Abdulsalami Abubakar, Obasanjo was granted a pardon to contest as Peoples Democratic Party candidate and went on to become Nigeria’s president in 1999, 20 years he left power. He won reelection in 2007.