Why Abacha sentenced me to 30yrs in prison – Obasanjo
By Gabriel Olawale
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has revealed why the ex-Head of state, General Sani Abacha, jailed him for 30 years, though, later reduced it to 15 years.
On 17 November 1993, Abacha overthrew the short-lived transitional government of Chief Ernest Shonekan. In September 1994, he issued a decree that placed his government above the jurisdiction of the courts, effectively giving him absolute power. Another decree gave him the right to detain anyone for up to three months without trial.
However, Chief Obasanjo said, despite his ordeals in the hands of Abacha, he never wished the then head of state anything bad. Chief Obasanjo said, in fact, he wrote a condolence letter to Abacha when the son of the head of state died and equally wrote another condolence letter to Abacha’s wife when Abacha died.
Obasanjo said he was even surprised when he came out of the prison to hear that his oppressor was dead.
Chief Obasanjo also gave reasons why General Gowon was overthrown in a coup that brought him (Obasanjo) and Muritala to government.
He said, “That later brought about what was termed as Muritala/Obasanjo regime. But we were careless as regard security in which Muritala was killed like chicken and I would have been killed but God’s grace preserved me and I was later persuaded to take over.
“We stabilized the country, conducted election and handed over. But when there was incessant coup in different parts of the country, I spoke against Military in general and Abacha’s in particular.
“The consequence was that I was arrested, tried and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment which Abacha later reduced to 15 years but God in his mercy, I only spent 3 years, three months and three days.
He pointed out that the person who sent him to prison was not alive by the time he came out.
“But when I was in prison in Jos, Abacha’s son died and I wrote a condolence letter to him and also when he died, I also wrote a letter of condolence to his wife of which the prison authority found unbelievable but delivered all my letters.
Obasanjo who spoke on the topic, “God in my Life” under the auspices of Torchbearers Society termed his educational career as God’s destiny.
He disclosed that the respect he has for his biological father made him slap his teacher on his first day in school after his teacher asked him the name of his father.
“I do follow my father to farm but one day, he asked me what I wished to do and I told him I would prefer to be a mechanic. But he suggested education and I bought into it.
“We both went to Abeokuta and visited five different schools of which they rejected me because the school season was already in the middle.
“Later, I was taken to another school in the beginning of a new season. But, on my first day in school, they asked of my name and I gave them but when they asked of my father’s name, I found it irritating.
“By my own training in the village, to mention your father’s name is an insult and for him to ask for my father’s name is an insult. So, I slapped him and I was punished for that.
He said that would have been the end of his educational career but God’s plan made him rise to his present level.
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