Obasanjo dares judge, unveils controversial book

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has blasted Justice Valentine Ashi of the Federal High Court, Wuse, Abuja, for granting an injunction restraining him from publishing his three-part autobiography, “My Watch.”

Obasanjo said the presentation of the book in Lagos on Tuesday did not contravene any law.

“I had given the book to my editors and to the publisher. As far as I am concerned, my job is done. I had written the book and printed before the court injunction.

“In a normal judiciary, the judge should be sanctioned and I hope something will be done. We are here legally and lawfully and we will continue to act lawfully and legally,” Obasanjo said.

Justice Ashi, had following an ex parte application by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu, directed that the book should not be published pending the determination of the petitioner’s libel suit against him.

The judge agreed with Kashamu’s lawyer, Alex Iziyon (SAN), that part of the content of the book related to the N20bn libel suit instituted against Obasanjo.

The content of the book was said to be related to a letter dated December 2, 2013, written by Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan, claiming that Kashamu was wanted for a drug-related crime in the United States.

Iziyon had argued on Friday that since part of the content of the autobiography had to do with the December 2, 2013 letter, it was wrong for Obasanjo to be allowed to proceed to comment on, write books about or make publications on the issue yet to be decided by the court.

But the judge also directed Kashamu to enter into a bond with the Chief Registrar of the court for damages he would pay should the order restraining Obasanjo from publishing the book turn out to be something the court ought not to have granted.

The judge adjourned hearing in the main suit till Wednesday(today).

Initially, there was a mild apprehension at the venue as the launch which was scheduled to start by 10am did not begin until past 11am.

Some of the guests felt the event might be prevented from holding by security agents.

After a speech by the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, and the presentation of the book, Obasanjo fielded questions from the audience which included a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili.

Many of the audience members were eager to know whether or not the botched third term agenda at the twilight of his two-term presidency was his idea.

He was also asked, among others, why he chose to write an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan when he should have visited Aso Rock to express his feelings about the goings-on in the country.

On the third term, he said, “That (third term) was not my agenda or intention although I would not say I didn’t know about it. I didn’t mastermind third term. Those who were telling me to go on were the governors that were going to benefit from it.”

The former President also said he sought avenues to ventilate his observations and positions with Jonathan but had to resort to writing open letters because his efforts were frustrated.

“I opened communication channels with my predecessors. You will see a few letters I put in the book, how I described my frustrations,” he said.

The former President told the audience that he had no regrets helping late Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan to become Presidents, admitting that he was not infallible and advised that people should learn from his action.

“I don’t regret bringing in Yar’Adua and Jonathan. If they don’t do well, those coming from behind should learn from me and do better.

“Ezekwesili and some other young minds were in my cabinet. I want a genuine debate. Where I am guilty, I will apologise. I am not infallible.

“Our youths are feeling frustrated, they are feeling betrayed. They are feeling angry today.”

The book reviewer, Patrick Okigbo, described the work as thought-provoking and revealing.

Okigbo, who said he was part of Nigerians that thronged the White House in 2006 in protest against the third term agenda, maintained that the former President was a detribalised and candid Nigerian.

He said, “Do not be surprised if there are a few reverberating earthquakes after this book is in public circulation. Some personalities, who have presented themselves as leaders and reformists will have to present counter-evidence to defend their reputation.”

Okigbo said Obasanjo did not spare a former Vice-President, Abubakar Atiku; an ex- Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, and a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.

The reviewer said Obasanjo was kinder in his opinion of an All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), whom he said “would not be a good economic manager,” but a “strong, almost inflexible, courageous and firm leader.”

Okigbo however made references to Obasanjo’s foibles, saying it was surprising that he dismissed them as personal issues.

He said, “As is characteristic in the memoir, the author exonerates himself from any responsibility or blame for the failed leadership despite the fact that he was the principal architect of the Yar’Adua/Jonathan Presidency that resulted in the current administration.

“It is, however, instructive, that the more personal family scandals such as the allegations made by his first wife or daughter, are dismissed as personal issues that are being handled within the family.

“So, is Obasanjo a saint or a sinner? Readers of the book will have to decide themselves,” Okigbo asked.

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