- Chief Olusegun Obasanjo revealed how he was arrested by Abacha
- The former president said he was strongly against Abacha's government style
- He said he also refused to beg the former head of state when he was asked to do so
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has revealed how the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade Okunade asked him to beg General Sani Abacha but he refused.
The Guardian reports that the former president said he stood up to Abacha over his manner and governance which led to his being accused of coup plot.
Obasanjo spoke during a programme organised by Christ The Redeemer’s Friend International (CRFI), a body in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Lagos Province 39 chapter.
He said: “My crime before Abacha was that I stood my ground he should put down his uniform and join a political party to context election if he is interested in ruling. This did not go down well with the late Head of State and he decided I must be silenced.”
“I was scheduled to deliver a speech at the Arewa House in Kaduna that time but Abacha invited me to Abuja and demanded to see the copy of the speech but I refused to give him. He also offered me a plane that will take me to Kaduna, if I surrendered the speech but I also refused and I went to Kaduna and said what he didn’t like. He actually planned to terminate my life but unfortunately left God out in his plans and he failed.
“He arrested Yar’Adua but in my efforts to plead on behalf of the former Chief of Staff, Abacha told me he wasn’t aware of the arrest but I replied he should tell that to the marines, that it was not possible for a former number two man and a retired four-star general to be arrested and you the sitting Head of State would claim ignorance.
“After that I travelled out of the country and it was then that people all over the world started informing me that the government was planning to arrest me for planning a coup. The American ambassador to the country specifically informed me about my planned arrest and said his home government has offered to grant me asylum but I rejected on the premise that I had done nothing to warrant my arrest.
“I planned to travel to Paris from where I was then and the government was actually waiting for me to return to the country on Tuesday after my Paris trip but I cancelled my trip and returned to Nigeria on Sunday. The government seized my passport but I went to my farm in Otta, after all, the passport is Federal Government’s property.
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“Few days after, I received a message that the Ooni of Ife wanted to see me. We met and the late Oba Sijuwade was panicked saying to me that we needed to go and see and beg Abacha. I refused because I didn’t do anything wrong. But by the time I returned to my farm, security personnel had surrounded the place. Some people suggested that I should run away but I rejected the advice.
“In the process, the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came to me wanting to narrate to me what has been happening while I was away and the ordeal of Yar’Adua but while we were discussing an officer came in, he was on mufti, to inform me that the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) wanted to see and advise me. But I said to him, I do not know your rank but if you know whom you are talking to you would know that it is the AIG that needed to come to me for advise and not otherwise."
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com earlier reported that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Aare Afe Babalola, described Obasanjo as the best President Nigeria ever had.
He said the Obasanjo, who had a rare opportunity to lead the nation three times, first as Military Head of State in the late 70s and twice elected president from 1999 to 2007, was known to him to be “a very energetic, strong-willed, and stubborn person.”
Babalola said: “He is difficult to persuade but he is a progressive man. He never became a professor but he knows better than most professors. He is a highly talented man and he is the best president Nigeria ever had.”
Watch a NAIJ.com TV video below of Obasanjo speaking about he issue of Biafra: