A former Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, has relived his experience on the day he was released from Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Lagos.
In an interview with Daily Sun published on Saturday, the PDP chieftain, who recently clocked 70 years, also attributed his ordeal to a conspiracy between former Lagos State governor and National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Farida Waziri.
According to George, his political opponents were afraid of his soaring popularity and were jittery, hence they conspired to jail him on phantom corruption charges, which the Supreme Court later quashed and declared him innocent, in a bid to clip his wings.
Recalling the night prior to his release from Kirikiri where he served term, the septuagenarian said the whole security apparatus of Lagos State visited the facility to convince him to leave the prison at night, but he resisted.
“I said no. I insisted that we will leave the prison the following morning in broad daylight. This security team was led by the state commissioner of police and his area commanders”, he said.
He claimed to have told the commissioner of police at the time that since he was brought to the prison in broad daylight, he would leave the same way he came, not under the cloak of darkness.
“Major Hamza Al-Mustapha also told me that I should not leave the prison in the night with these security men. The following morning, I was surprised when I saw a mammoth crowd of my supporters and well-wishers who had come to the prison to accompany me home.
“The crowd was huge. They were singing, and dancing, rejoicing and celebrating my release. From the prison, we went straight to the church. But you know what, some people were not happy seeing my supporters dancing and celebrating my release”, Mr. George said.
He particularly felt betrayed by the comments attributed to former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he was released from prison.
Recall that when the former president was asked why he did not attend the thanksgiving Church service of his former political associate, he reportedly said it was a celebration of criminality and he would not want to be found in such a gathering.
Pained by the comment from a man he said he served loyally and committedly, Mr. George said the former president’s reaction to his release from prison opened his eyes to the reality that “human beings can’t be trusted”.
“I was shocked to my bone by Obasanjo’s comments. When Obasanjo came out of prison, where did he go to thank God? He went to church. Why must he say that I was celebrating criminality, is it because of the crowd in the church he saw? What Obasanjo did to me was an experience I can’t forget. It was a betrayal. I was very close to him. I was like his viceroy, for him to utter such a statement was very shocking and unbelievable to me. The relationship between us before was like that of father and son, but I doubt it, things can be the same again”, he said.
On the role played by Tinubu and Waziri in sending him to prison, Mr. George said he was jailed using the criminal laws of Lagos State while he worked as chairman of a federal government agency – Nigeria Ports Authority.
“Bola Tinubu, who was then Lagos State governor and his then Attorney-General, Yemi Osinbajo, who is now the Vice-President, used the Lagos State Criminal Law which they revised and reworked to put me on trial. They gave the EFCC chairman, Farida Waziri a fiat to prosecute Bode George who was working for a federal agency and not Lagos State government.
“I pray for Farida Waziri that during her lifetime that she would meet God before she dies. She and those judges at the lower court, I pray that they will purge themselves so that God can forgive them”, he said.