Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed that some of his foreign friends had offered to bring him out of Yola Prison where he was detained by the late General Sani Abacha.
Obasanjo said though he rejected the offer from the onset, the foreign friends still went ahead to conclude the plans, saying the feared he would die in prison like his former deputy, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.
Yar’Adua, who was arrested alongside Obasanjo and others like Colonel Lawan Gwadabe, died in the Abakaliki Prison.
They were arrested on a trumped up charge of plotting to overthrow the Abacha government.
Yar’Adua died in prison on December 8, 1997, raising fears that others arrested along with him, especially Obasanjo, could also be eliminated.
Speaking at the 20th memorial anniversary of Yar’Adua’s death in Abuja on Friday, Obasanjo said he was in South Africa when he received news of Yar’Adua’s first arrest by the Abacha junta.
He said on return, he confronted Abacha, who denied that he ordered Yar’Adua’s arrest and was not even aware of it.
Obasanjo said: “I asked the man (Abacha) who arrested him (Yar’Adua) and the man who arrested him said to me that he did not know that Shehu had been arrested and I said: ‘Mr. Head of State, tell that to the marines. There is no way the number two man of a country at one time would be arrested without your knowledge.’”
Obasanjo said it was shortly after his encounter with Abacha that Yar’Adua was released, only for him to be re-arrested.
He said: “Soon after that, Shehu was released, but he was released only for a short time.
“When he was arrested for the second time, I was arrested along with him and we were in separate locations thereafter.
“Our destiny, the verdict had been given of what would happen to us.
“We met in Kirikiri Prison and I believed that was a mistake.
“That was the last time we actually stayed together.
“We had about three nights together.
“We were able to talk, think and work together.”
Speaking on the incident on Friday, Obasanjo said it was unfortunate that the strategy he and his former deputy (Yar’Adua) worked on did not work out.
He said: “When Shehu died in prison, my international friends decided that they would use a commando plan to get me out of prison and they actually did.
“They made the plan, they raised the money and their plan was to get a helicopter to take me out of Yola prison and take me into Cameroon and they sent a message to me.
“But I told them that if you did, I would not come out of prison and that was when they dropped the idea of using commando effort to get me out because that would have defeated what we stood for, and we stood to face whatever consequences standing for Nigeria would cost us.
“It cost Shehu Yar’Adua his life.
“Those of us who believed in what Shehu Yar’Adua believed in are still alive.
“I think the only thing we can do is to allow the struggle to continue and we are not at the end of the struggle.
“If anything, we are in the middle of the struggle.”