A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, revealed on Saturday that the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha wanted him, the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and the June 12 hero, the late Moshood Abiola, dead while in prison.
He stated this at a dinner programme organised by an inter-denominational Christian organisation, Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 39 Chapter.
The former president alleged that Yar’Adua was poisoned by Abacha’s killer squad, adding that he was to be next victim, but that he was saved by God’s divine grace.
Obasanjo said, “Two people had earlier told me Abacha promised that three of us would not come out of prison or detention alive; myself. Shehu Yar Adua and MKO Abiola. And two of them did not come out alive. So, that I came out alive, maybe God has a purpose. And therefore if the purpose is for me to serve the people and by so doing, serve God, then so be it.
“Abacha claimed that I was plotting a coup. I wasn’t the first to be arrested. When Shehu (Yar’Adua) was arrested, I tried to plead for his release. When Abacha said he didn’t know about Shehu’s arrest, I said to him, ‘the number two man in this country cannot be arrested without you knowing.’ He then said he would go and find out.
“In Abacha’s plan, he left God out of it and because he left God out of his plan, it (his government) eventually failed. There is God’s hand in the life of each and every one of us and every institution. I believe that very well.
“When I was arrested, they took me to a house in Ikoyi (Lagos) and that became my abode (I was) in isolation, for three months.
“In the meantime, there were national and international pressures for my release, (former US) President Jimmy Carter was one of the world leaders that came to ask for my release. Some African leaders like Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe came. I believe it was because of those pressures that I was released from isolation in Ikoyi where I was under house arrest.”
Obasanjo described the day he was court-martialled and sentenced as one of the ‘worst days in his life.’
He said, “I must say that, that day, in a split second, it felt like the worst day in my life. What flashed through my mind was that I was forever ruined. I asked myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this? Is this what I get for serving Nigeria?’ But then, I told myself again that this was not done to me by Nigeria, but that one man did it for me.”
Obasanjo said he and Yar’Adua were detained in Jos and Port Harcourt prisons because they were the best prisons in the country at the time.
He said, “I was to go to Jos (prison) and Yar’Adua was to go to Port Harcourt (prison). In Jos, I was visited by my colleagues, including Yakubu Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, many of our colleagues, and then family members and friends.
“Then a decision was made that I was becoming too popular in Jos prison and I had to be transferred to. Yola prison which is a native authority prison and I don’t need to tell you what life was there.
“In Jos prison, before I was transferred to Yola prison, they had decided that Shehu Yar’Adua and myself should be poisoned. So, they took him from Port Harcourt prison to Abakaliki. In the process, he was injected with the virus that killed him. The same was supposed to be done to me. The man who came took me from the prison to a guest house in the GRA in Jos, said, ‘We know you have problem with cholesterol so I have to take your blood for a test.’ Then I said, ‘Not on your life, I don’t have any problem of cholesterol.’
“I was slightly diabetic. But God had taken care of it because I was checking my blood sugar almost on a daily basis and it had become better than normal. So, I refused him (the man) touching me with anything. So, they took me to Yola and he said, ‘when you get to where you are going, we will come again.’”
The former president said he was saved from being poisoned by a doctor and specialist in the prison.
“The doctor was a professional man in charge of the General Hospital in Yola. He listened to my case that I needed special food because I was diabetic. He said the specialist would come to see me. The specialist turned out to be somebody from Okeogun in Oyo State. Two, he was a Baptist, and three, he had heard about me and knew me. So, he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t let anybody touch you with anything.’
“Within three weeks the man that came to me earlier returned again and said he wanted to take my blood. I said, ‘No, you have to get my doctor to come and take my blood for you.’ That was the arrangement between me and the doctor. And my doctor came and he brought a syringe and he took my blood and gave it to him. He now asked the man, ‘When would we have the result?’The man said, ‘Within 24 hours of my getting to Abuja.’I haven’t heard the result till today.”
Obasanjo said after his release from prison, he gave into pressure to contest for the presidency and he ended up becoming president for two terms by the grace of God. “Nigeria that was a pariah state became a darling (of the world).
“What is the lesson for me? I developed in prison but unfortunately I was not able to sustain it. Maybe because there was nothing else to do in prison except to pray and fast. I used to fast a lot. On three occasions, I fasted for seven days, no water, no food… a unique power was given to me by God.
“In all these, God did not leave me alone, and I know that. I say to people that God has never let me alone nor disappointed me in spite of all. I am a sinner. It is not because of my goodness, but because of the grace of God, and the grace of God continues to abound.”Punch