Ex-Nigerian Leader Obasanjo Freed After Plea From Carter

From Reuters

Former Nigerian military leader Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has been released from detention in response to a plea by former President Jimmy Carter but is restricted to his hometown, Nigeria's information minister said Thursday.

"Because of the intervention of President Carter, Gen. Obasanjo has been allowed to stay at his hometown, but he is still restricted pending completion of investigation," Walter Ofonagoro said.

Obasanjo was arrested 10 days ago at his farm in Ota, 25 miles northwest of Lagos, after the government said it had uncovered a plot to topple Gen. Sani Abacha in a coup.

Carter, who was in Nigeria this week on a disease control program supported by his Global 2000 organization, met Abacha on Tuesday and said later that he had pleaded for the release of Obasanjo.

Many other people remain in detention over the coup plot, which the government said was hatched by officers and civilians. Among the detainees are retired Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, who was Obasanjo's No. 2 when they were in power in 1978, the year Carter visited Nigeria as U.S. President.

Obasanjo and Yar'Adua have been publicly associated with a campaign in Nigeria for an end to military rule. They themselves voluntarily handed over power to elected civilians in 1979, the only Nigerian military rulers to have done so.

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