Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, says the day a tribunal under late General Sani Abacha tried him over alleged role in a coup to topple that government was the worst day in his life.
The former president made this revelation on Tuesday when he led a morning devotion to mark Valentine’s Day at his Abeokuta, Ogun State Presidential Hilltop home.
He said, “My saddest day was when I sat in front of a military panel set up by late former Head of State, Sani Abacha to try me over a phantom coup, and sentenced me to death and later commuted me to 30 years imprisonment.”
Recalling he read the book of Isaiah 45:1-4, he said after reading that part of the Bible, he asked himself if he truly deserved the punishment he was given and committed everything into the hand of God.
He then said, “God has always been giving me immense favour beyond my own expectations and what I deserve from Him. And I used to tell people that God has been partial to me from childhood.”
The 30-year sentence handed to him was later reduced to 15 years after some international community leaders like former American president, Jimmy Carter, pressured the regime, Obasanjo further disclosed to his guests.
However, the death of Abacha according to Obasanjo had him only spend three years in prison and upon release, agitation for him to become the president by many Nigerian began, “and the rest is history” he said.
Obasanjo also said that he was born in a village “and anybody born in that village would have concluded that the popularity of those born there would go beyond the next village. My parents were complete illiterates.”
The tribunal under the regime of late Abacha tried Obasanjo in 1996 alongside his former deputy when he was head of state, Shehu Yar’adua.
Yar’adua later died in 1997 serving his prison sentence while Obasanjo, on the other hand, was released following the sudden death of Abacha in 1998.
Obasanjo, a year after his release, was voted president under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was the first to lead Nigeria twice, having ruled as a military head of state.
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