Carrington offered me US asylum to escape Abacha’s arrest – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the late former American Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, leaked to him the plan by the regime of the late military dictator, Sani Abacha, to arrest him in 1995.

Obasanjo said he was in Copenhagen, attending the World Social Summit as a Human Development Ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme when Carrington got in touch with him and warned him about the planned arrest.

He said Carrington even offered him political asylum in the United States to avoid being arrested but he turned down it, despite its “tempting and assuring nature.”

Obasanjo said this in a condolence letter to the wife of the late envoy, Mrs Arese Carrington, a copy was obtained from his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, in Abeokuta on Tuesday.

Obasanjo said he recalled that Carrington was posted to Nigeria at a time the country was under the military rule, which had run uninterrupted for over a decade “and bred a culture of arbitrariness, flagrant abuse of human rights and disdain for the rule of law, all of which relegated our dear country, Nigeria, to the unenviable league of pariah states in the comity of nations.”

He said, “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.”

While expressing sadness over Carrington’s death, 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.”

An ally of former President Olusehun Obasanjo, Chief Femi Majekudunmi, in an interview on Tuesday, said Obasanjo had told him how Carrington informed his of his arrest.

He said, “I was aware of that ; what former president Obasanjo said is true as far as I can recollect. He has said it exactly the way it is.”

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