Lives remembered: Chief Anthony Enahoro

Geoffrey Rutter writes: I read with interest and some sadness your obituary for Chief Anthony Enahoro (Jan 4). Please allow me to expand on the UK political scene that existed in 1962 when the Chief was imprisoned at Brixton Prison pending his return to Nigeria on an extradition warrant. At the time I was a young solicitor acting with my late father on the Chief’s behalf. His request for political asylum was turned down notwithstanding the Chief’s fear of execution if he returned to Nigeria.

The political and press furore that ensued following his refusal of political asylum was substantial. At the time Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister and Henry Brooke was the Home Secretary. Your obituary refers to vigorous debates in Parliament — I can recall these clearly. As a last hope for the Chief to remain in the UK, a petition was lodged at the eleventh hour in the House of Lords and a vote of no confidence in the Government was debated in the House of Commons on the eve of his return to Nigeria. The motion of no confidence was backed by George Brown, MP, who was very close to the leader of the Opposition at the time (Harold Wilson) and a very colourful character. The motion was only relatively narrowly defeated and the petition to the House of Lords for leave to appeal was rejected. As a consequence the Chief was returned to Nigeria.

Happily, his fear of potential execution proved to be without foundation since, as we know, he lived to a good age and was released from prison four years after his extradition.

Tony Smith writes: I first met Chief Anthony Enahoro as a seven-year-old, new to Nigeria. I introduced myself with: “How do you do Sir, my name is Tony.” To which he replied in his deep, booming voice: “My name is Tony too. I shall call you Tony and you shall call me Tony too.” After that, whenever we met we greeted each other as “Tony”, much to the chagrin of his entourage and the shock of those not in the know.

SOURCE: The Times, London

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