Independence anniversary: Remember unsung heroes that helped restore Nigeria’s democracy – Obono-Obla to FG

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As the country is about to mark her 62nd national independence day on 1st October 2022, a human rights activist and lawyer, Comrade Okoi Obono-Obla, has called on the Federal Government to remember the little efforts and sacrifices of people who fought for the restoration of democracy, especially the unsung heroes.

He made the call in a statement released Wednesday where he recalled the efforts of a one-time tennis champion, late Edem Selong, who reportedly scuttled a plot in 1994 to assassinate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu during the dreaded days of General Sani Abacha’s rule in the country.

Tinubu was one of the renowned voices that denounced the military regime and had to go underground with like-minded fellows, fighting the junta at the risk of their lives.

Obono-Obla recalled that “Edem Selong was an ordinary Nigerian who put his life on the line to save Senator Bola Tinubu. Such a heroic and selfless endeavour should be documented. He is also a hero of the fight to end military dictatorship.

“We also appreciate all those who made sacrifices and those who paid the supreme price to end military dictatorship.

“The federal government should build a memorial to honour all those who died during the protracted struggle.”

Selong, an indigene of Oron in Akwa Ibom State but in the Cross River State athletic team, attended the famous Hope Waddel Training Institute Calabar. He was the young man that smuggled Tinubu, who is today’s presidential candidate of the national ruling party, APC, inside his car boot and passed through the thick security of the then dreaded Gestapo police of the era.

The story is that the then military administration had directed its strike squad to take out Asiwaju Tinubu because of his spirited opposition to the military administration.

The Gestapo police stormed the NICON Noga Hilton Hotel (now Transcorp), Abuja, where Tinubu was staying at the time, but unfortunately, Tinubu had been tipped off of the plan to have him killed.

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On learning about this, Edem Selong, who was handy at that moment with his rickety car used for ‘kabu kabu’ around Abuja, offered to assist, saying they would not suspect the boot of his jalopy. And it worked out!

The rickety car did not attract the prying eyes of the security. And so, he successfully drove Senator Tinubu to the border town where he escaped into exile abroad.

Selong later died unsung, Obono-Obla said.

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