The Senate President, Senator David Mark would have been long dead during Gen. Sanni Abacha’s military regime; but for the timely intervention of former Ghanaian President, Jerry John Rawlings, the Senate President was saved. Rawlings, as President in 1995, ensured adequate security protection for Mark when he and his bosom friend and colleague, Tunde Ogbeha, fled Nigeria when the killer squad of former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, came after them.
Mark disclosed this on Monday while thanking Rawlings for honouring the invitation of the National Assembly to be guest speaker at the just-concluded two-day International Conference on Emerging Democracies in Africa.
The conference was organised by the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), in collaboration with some African and European parliamentarians in Abuja.
Mark, in his moving story, revealed how he was forced to flee the country at the time, when an angry Abacha sought to eliminate him for daring to expose his (Abacha’s) hidden intention of prolonging his stay in power after overthrowing the Ernest Shonekan-led Interim National Government (ING).
Mark, who was then a Brigadier General and Director of Signals Corps of the Nigerian Army, said he managed to sneak out of the country, obviously through the famous “NADECO route” to Accra, Ghana, en-route London, where he spent three years on exile as a political fugitive, to escape being killed. He disclosed that on his arrival in Ghana, he had to desperately and urgently make contacts, even at great risk to his person, to inform Rawlings that he was in Accra as a fugitive, and needed his help.
Rawlings, he said, rather than report to the military government of General Abacha, chose to offer protection to Mark until he finally escaped to England. “President Rawlings could have informed the Nigerian government about my presence in Ghana, and even go ahead to deport me back to Nigeria.”