How Raila Got Ex-Nigerian President Sentenced To Prison

  • Raila Odinga, National Super Alliance (NASA) leader File
  • Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was arrested on March 13, 1995, and sentenced to 15 years in jail for visiting Raila Odinga in Kenya. Olusegun was against the then Nigerian President Sani Abacha dictatorial government, marred by a high level of abuse of human rights.

    The former Prime Minister in his book Flames of Freedom revealed that he had invited Obasanjo to join him in celebrating the first anniversary of his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who had passed away on January 20, 1994.

    There were ongoing plans to mark that day with the official opening of the Jaramogi mausoleum and museum in Bondo - a national memorial to Jaramogi and Raila had invited the former Nigerian President to the function.

    Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (L), with Raila Odinga at the launching of Raila's book, Flames of Freedom

    I invited Obasanjo to preside at this function. We had informed the Kenya government and the Nigerian High Commission of his imminent arrival, but they were obviously intent of ignoring his presence in the country if they could. There was no security detail made available for him, contrary to normal custom in dealing with a visit by a former president,” Raila elaborates.

    At the time of his visit to Kenya, Raila was an opposition leader against Former President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi’s government.

    Raila narrates that Obasanjo had a wonderful time in Kisumu. He even drank traditional porridge from a calabash which made him become a legend among the women of the town’s Jubilee Market.

    The daytime event function in Bondo, attended by all Ford-Kenya leadership – Michael Wamalwa and others was well underway till the party was disrupted by a contingent of police from Siaya. The police exploded teargas canisters and attacked guests with batons.

    The police offered a lame excuse for the interruption terming that there was an outbreak of cholera and people had to disperse.

    According to Raila, the following day, Obasanjo flew to Nairobi and then to Lagos, where he spent two days before flying out again to a meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.

    While there, he received information that the Nigerian government intended to arrest him. Obasanjo assumed the information, believing he had done nothing to warrant his arrest.

    However, when he returned to Nigeria, he was promptly arrested and charged with treason. One of the reasons for his arrest was that he had visited Kenya to plan with Kenyan opposition leaders the overthrow of the government. Obasanjo was tried, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

    Raila with Obasanjo in a past event