Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed how the late former American Ambassador in Nigeria, Walter Carrington offered him political asylum in the United States during the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha in 1995.
Obasanjo said Carrington offered him political asylum in the United States to avoid being arrested by Abacha but he it turned down, despite its “tempting and assuring nature.”
This was contained in a condolence letter to the wife of the late envoy, Mrs Arese Carrington, a copy was obtained from Obasanjo’s media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, in Abeokuta on Tuesday.
The former president said Carrington helped in easing the move to democratic rule in the country, having met Nigeria under the military rule, which had run consecutively for over a decade and bred a culture of arbitrariness, flagrant abuse of human rights and disdain for the rule of law.
“He came to Nigeria with love, ate and drank Nigerian delicacies and drinks, showed a significant demonstration of oneness by walking the aisle to tie the nuptial knot outside nationality bounds with one of our illustrious daughters and that is you (Arese), and he was loved and appreciated by the people through giving him a Yoruba name “Omowale” and naming a street after him in Victoria Island, Lagos.
“Indeed, I recall, sometime in 1995, that on one of my trips to Copenhagen to attend the 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 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.”
The former President added that Carrington devoted his life to humanity “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”.
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