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How I saved Obasanjo from attack by Kirikiri prison inmates – Shehu Sani

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How I saved Obasanjo from attack by Kirikiri prison inmates – Shehu Sani

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Former Kaduna Central Senatorial District lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, has recounted how he saved former President Olusegun Obasanjo from being attacked by inmates of the Kirikiri Maximum Security prison in 1995.

Sani, who is also civil rights activist and social critic, stated this in Abuja at the second edition of This Nigeria newspaper lecture and award event themed, “25 Years of Unbroken Democracy: Challenges, Prospects, and Possibilities.”

Sani was among the pro-democracy activists and dissidents who were arrested and jailed by the military junta led by General Sani Abacha, who was head of state from 1993 to 1998.

Obasanjo, who was Nigeria’s military head of state from 1976 to 1979 and returned as civilian president in 1999–2007, was arrested in 1995 for allegedly plotting a coup and jailed.

Sani, while recounting events from the era, said he, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Obasanjo were moved to Kirikiri prison after their arrests.

He recalled that armed robbers in prison began shouting and insulting the former president when they saw him.

But Sani added that he “talked to the inmates to calm down, that no matter their grievances with Obasanjo, he was now an inmate”.

He said, “In 1995, a team of soldiers, policemen and DSS visited my house in Kaduna. It was a journey that began and lasted for four years.

“I was picked up from Kaduna and brought to Lagos with the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. From the airport, we were led to the DSS headquarters, where we met President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“Unfairly from the soldiers, they handcuffed me but did not do so for Obasanjo or Yar’Adua. Obasanjo looked at me and asked me who I was and if I had stolen something for them to have handcuffed me. I told him I was an activist.

“I was then the deputy chairman of the Campaign for Democracy. We were taken to Kirikiri Maximum Prison. We stayed there without anybody saying anything to us. When we arrived at Kirikiri, we were given a blanket and a plate of food.

“We were then allocated our cells. When the armed robbers there saw Obasanjo, they started shouting and insulting him. Naturally, for those of us who were human rights activists, we were popular with inmates. I told him, ‘You are a commander outside, but this is where I command’. I then talked to the inmates to calm down, that no matter their grievances with Obasanjo, he was now an inmate.

“I got 15 years, Obasanjo got 15 years, Yar’Adua got life imprisonment. Those of us from the North were sent to Southern prisons and those from the south were sent to Northern prisons. That was how I found myself in Port Harcourt prison.

“I was in Port Harcourt prison when Ken Saro-Wiwa was brought in and hanged. I could see them from the window.”

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