Richard Ginika Izuora
Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday, August 18, revealed how late former American Ambassador in Nigeria; Walter Carrington, informed him of an impending arrest by late head of state; Gen. Sani Abacha (retd.), in 1995.
Obasanjo, also disclosed that he was offered political asylum in the United States of America.
According to him, this was during his trip to Copenhagen to attend the World Social Summit; as Human Development Ambassador of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.
Obasanjo, said he however turned down the asylum offer despite its assuring nature.
This was contained in a condolence letter to the wife of the late Ambassador, Mrs Arese Carrington; which was made public by his Special Assistant (Media), Kehinde Akinyemi, in Abeokuta on Tuesday.
Obasanjo remarked that during his tenure as Ambassador; Carrington helped in easing the move to democratic rule in the country.
“Carrington was one of the responsible, matured and respected voices to take Nigeria out of the unwholesome situation it had found itself – permanently in crisis, regularly threatened with disintegration, prolongingly devoid of democracy, and economically plundered and mismanaged.
“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.
“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 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.”