A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Tuesday, revealed that he was arrested and imprisoned in 1995 by the regime of late Head of State, General Sani Abacha (retd), shortly after he ignored a hint from the former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington.
Carrington died last week Tuesday at the age of 90.
Obasanjo, in a condolence addressed to his wife, Mrs. Arese Carrington, recalled how the former US Ambassador offered him a political asylum in the US during his trip to Copenhagen to attend World Social Summit as Human Development Ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme.
The political asylum, which he described as “tempting and assuring”, was meant to save him from incarceration by the Abacha regime.
Obasanjo paid a glowing tribute to Carrington, describing him as “one of the responsible, matured and respected voices to take Nigeria out of the unwholesome situation it had found itself.”
The former President, in condolence letter, a copy of which was made available to Daily Trust by his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi on Tuesday, said he would forever be indebted to the late diplomat over the assistance rendered to his family when he (Obasanjo) was in political prisoner.
“Indeed, I recall, sometime in 1995, that on one of my trips to Copenhagen to attend World Social Summit as Human Development Ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme, I received the most touching of the warnings, pieces of advice and offers to me from Amb. Carrington.
“He called me in Copenhagen and told me categorically that I was going to be arrested on returning home and, therefore, advised me not to return home.
“But he did not stop it there, he offered me political asylum by his government in the US.
“That was both touching and assuring, but I decided that, tempting and assuring as the offer was, I would not take it.
“I came back and was arrested and imprisoned by Abacha.
“No doubt, his generous assistance to my family while I was a political prisoner makes me forever indebted to him.
“When I was in prison, he was one of the few foreign Ambassadors who regularly visited my wife to encourage her and to find out how I was doing in prison.
“I can proudly say he was a true friend and brother,” he said.
While expressing sadness over the death of Carrington, Obasanjo said: “I write to convey, on behalf of my family and on my own behalf, our profound sympathy and solidarity with you over the death of your beloved husband and one of the most outstanding diplomats of our time in the world, Amb. Walter Carrington.”
He added: “I must say I received the news of the demise of this great brother and friend with mixed feelings of sadness and gratitude to God.
“I was sad because we will miss his contribution to the building of a new world of his dream and an Africa of our joint dream but I am grateful to God for his life well spent in the service of God and humanity.
“Throughout his spectacular life, Amb. Carrington was devoted to something greater than he was.
“He was committed to improving humankind through the fairness, kindness, optimism and intelligence he brought to bear on all his undertakings, and through the righteousness, humanness and harmony he promoted in the US as a human rights activist and indeed across the world.”he entire members of his family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.”