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Nigeria during the Abacha Years (1993-1998)

‘Kunle Amuwo
Daniel C. Bach
Yann Lebeau

Chronology of Major Political Events in the Abacha Era (1993-1998)

Enemaku Idachaba

Full text

1Nigeria’s default on the issues of democracy and/or good governance and human rights, strained, without a shadow of a doubt, the relationship between the country’s civil society, the international community and the Nigerian state under General Sani Abacha. This arose from the monumental annulment, by the Babangida military regime, of the June 12 1993, presidential election, adjudged by both international and national observers as ‘free and fair’. Sequel to this, the Abacha regime which succeeded the crisis-ridden regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, after the ‘illegal’ Interim National Government (ING), put Nigeria at the highest peak of human rights abuse in its political history.

2This chronological analysis highlights, essentially, the crisis of the democratic process and human rights in Nigeria during the Abacha years which subsequently led to an extremely tense relationship between the country and the international community. It also lays emphasis on issues of governance and civil-military relations.

3A word on the chronology: the flashback into the last lap of the Babangida regime is intended to demonstrate the linkage, in political terms, between the Babangida and Abacha regimes. If it seems that we have unduly highlighted the spate of bomb blasts that were a recurring decimal of the Abacha era, it is because that singular phenomenon contributed to heightening political and social insecurity nationwide. The latter would then be used by government, indeed provided a perfect alibi for Abacha, to run a personalist dictatorship, a muscular and authoritarian government, almost in all material particular. Worse still, cases of hired assassinations almost became a national routine. The Police, totally beholden, as it was, to successive juntas, was long on promises but short on delivery: neither the assassins nor their sponsors were apprehended. Mercifully, the Oputa Human Rights Violation and Investigation Commission in Nigeria (HRVIC) already regarded by many an analyst, as the Nigerian version of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), that began sitting in 2000, has started to unravel some of the most bizarre killings and attempted assassinations of that gruesome period.

4The Abubakar interregnum (June 1998 – May 1999) is included here principally to indicate how rapidly electoral democracy, even if pro-forma, was wound up with the inauguration of the Obasanjo government on 29 May 1999.

Events Preceeding the Abacha Era: A flashback

5August 30, 1990: Babangida reshuffles government, 9 ministers and 10 state governors replaced. Office of Chief of General Staff renamed Vice Presidency. Lt. General Abacha replaces Babangida as minister of Defence and retains his post as Chief of Defence Staff.

6March 27-31, 1993: Businessman, Alhaji Bashir Tofa secures National Republican Convention (NRC) presidential ticket while Chief Moshood Abiola, publisher of the Concord Group of Newspapers becomes Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential flag bearer.

7April 17, 1993: The National Assembly convenes for the first time and immediately resolves to oppose any effort to disrupt the transition to civil rule programme.

8June 4, 1993: The President dissolves the Armed Forces Ruling Council and replaces it with the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC). In the same vein, the Council of Ministers was supplanted by the Transitional Council (TC).

9June 10, 1993: The Abuja High Court, with Justice Bassey Ikpeme presiding, issues an order restraining NEC from conducting the presidential election on June 12, 1993. This follows a suit brought by a largely ‘shadowy organization’, the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), headed by Chief Arthur Nzeribe, a disqualified presidential aspirant. Michael O’Brien of the US Information Agency in Lagos issues a statement that postponement of the elections is ‘unacceptable’ to the US government.

10June 12, 1993: National Electoral Commission (NEC) conducts presidential elections in defiance of the Abuja High Court Order. Nigerians and foreign observers describe the elections as the freest and fairest the country has ever experienced.

11June 14, 1993: NEC publishes results from fifteen states on its billboard outside its headquarters at Abuja showing that M.K.O Abiola is leading in all regions of the country including Bashir Tofa’s home state, Kano.

12June 14, 1993: Government swears in a 7-member presidential election tribunal.

13June 15, 1993: Another interim Order by an Abuja Court restrains NEC from releasing the results of the presidential elections.

14June 16, 1993: NEC shelves the release of the final results of the election because of developments and actions pending in courts until further notice.

15June 22, 1993: NEC goes to the Court of Appeal to challenge the interim injunction by the Abuja High Court.

16June 23, 1993: The Government annuls the results of the June 12 elections in a most bizarre manner; nullifies all the relevant court decisions, suspends NEC through an unsigned terse statement.

17June 24-29, 1993: Abiola declares himself president-elect; individuals and groups protest the annulment of the elections.

18June 30, 1993: Campaign for Democracy (CD) an umbrella organization for no fewer than 40 NGOS/Human Rights Groups, calls for a one-week nationwide protest to begin on July 5.

19July 1, 1993: British Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, freezes new aids to Nigeria.

20July 31, 1993: The National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) announces that an Interim National Government comprising of representatives of the NRC, the SDP, and leading military officers will be formed.

21August 1, 1993: A group of thirty senators signs a joint motion asking the government to declare the winner of the June 12 election.

22August 4, 1993: Abiola leaves Nigeria unannounced.

23August 12, 1993: Government begins clamp down on activists all over the country.

The Abacha Period November 17, 1993:

24November 17, 1993: General Abacha takes over power following the ‘resignation’ of Chief Ernest Shonekan. However, this is seen in many quarters as a palace coup by General Abacha (the most senior secretary (minister) in the ING) amidst mixed reactions and feelings.

25January7, 1994: Abacha formally moves his administration to Abuja, ostensibly, like Babangida before him, with a view to escaping from the political radicalism and opposition in Lagos and consolidating his power.

26April 22, 1994: Federal Government releases its political programme in the aftermath of the controversy generated by Brigadier David Mark’s interview with the Newswatch magazine in which he alleged that the Abacha government has no political programme and plans to stay in power till 1999.

27May 15, 1994: National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) is formed to press for the revalidation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election and the reinstallation of all democratic structures.

28May 23, 1994: National Constitutional Conference elections begin but are massively boycotted by Nigerians heeding NADECO’s boycott call especially in the South-West.

29May 31, 1994: Ibrahim Coomasie, Inspector General of Police, declares NADECO illegal, signaling government’s decision to clamp down on pro-democracy activists.

30June 11, 1994: Chief M.K.O Abiola declares himself president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the eve of the first anniversary of June 12 in an attempt to claim his June 12, 1993 presidential mandate at Epetedo, Lagos Island. He goes into hiding after the declaration, for fear of being arrested.

31June 23, 1994: The Federal Military Government arrests Chief M.K.O Abiola on charges of treason.

32July 5, 1994: National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) begin the longest strike in Nigerian history to protest the annulled presidential elections. The nation is plunged into a monumental fuel crisis, causing untold hardship to citizens.

33July 8, 1994: Riots break out in the Southwestern states, especially Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, as well as Edo State.

34August 1, 1994: Abacha meets with the Armed Forces Consultative Assembly to discuss Nigeria’s political problems and their security implications.

35August 3, 1994: Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) calls for a general strike in solidarity with the oil workers’ strike.

36August 5, 1994: An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Abdullahi Mustapha grants Abiola a controversial and unsolicited conditional bail.

37August 6, 1994: Presiding judge over Abiola’s case withdraws, supposedly to keep his reputation intact and for the sake of justice or judicial integrity.

38August 8, 1994: Professor Wole Soyinka, nobel laureate and pro-democracy activist, goes to the Federal High Court in Lagos asking the Court to declare the Abacha government illegal.

39August 18, 1994: The crackdown finally begins: the Abacha government responds to the workers’ strike by sacking the Executive Council of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, and NLC, closes down three newspapers: the Punch, Concord group (owned by Abiola) and The Guardian. It announces a partial lifting of the ban on politics, allowing individuals to ‘canvass political ideas’ but not to ‘form political parties for now’.

40August 19, 1994: Chief Anthony Enahoro, elder-statesman, who moved the motion for Nigeria’s 348 Enemaku Idachaba independence, General Alani Akinrinade, former Chief of Defence Staff, Chief Cornelius Adebayo and other NADECO officials arrested at Sheraton Hotel and Towers. In Kaduna, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former Governor of Kaduna State, and others, attending a meeting in his house, arrested and later released.

41August 20, 1994: Chief Frank Kokori, General Secretary of NUPENG is arrested.

42August 24, 1994: The military government promulgates decrees which put its actions beyond legal challenge in the courts.

43August 26, 1994: Government dissolves boards of state-owned corporations and agencies.

44August 27, 1994: The military government inaugurates the National Constitutional Conference. A team of American officials led by Rev. Jesse Jackson visits Abuja to discuss the political logjam with Abacha and Abiola.

45August 31, 1994: A pan-Yoruba Conference holds at Premier Hotel Ibadan. Though divided, it nevertheless manages to ask Yoruba ministers and other appointees in government to resign.

46September 4, 1994: Oil workers call off strike.

47September 12, 1994: Olu Onagoruwa, a well-known pro-democracy activist, is sacked as Attorney General and Minister of Justice for disowning eight decrees promulgated by the Government.

48September 27, 1994: Government enlarges Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) to 25 and excludes civilian Council members.

49October 1, 1994: Federal Government arrests and detains Chief Gani Fawehinmi for launching a political party, the National Conscience Party, in Lagos.

50October 5, 1994: Constitutional Conference agrees on rotational presidency between the North and the South.

51October 6, 1994: Constitutional Conference okays multiparty system for the Fourth Republic.

52November 1994: Professor Soyinka flees into exile for ‘political reasons’, on grounds that his life is being threatened.

53November 3, 1994: Olusegun Obasanjo, military head of state(1976-1979), announces the formation of a political organization, the National Unity Organization (NUO).

54November 10, 1994: Constitutional Conference okays three vice presidents for Nigeria.

55November 16, 1994: Constitutional Conference approves the establishment of a Constitutional Matters Court to deal with constitutional issues and other matters relating to elections.

56November 28, 1994: Abacha hosts President Nelson Mandela of South Africa who has repeatedly asked for the release of Abiola from detention.

57December 6, 1994: The terminal date of the Abacha government is fixed for January 1, 1996 by the Constitutional Conference. Attempts to reverse the decision were overwhelmingly rejected the following day.

58December 17, 1994: Abacha releases Chief Enahoro after four months in detention.

59February 28, 1995: Brigadier Lawan Gwadabe, the longest serving governor during the Babangida regime, General Obasanjo (rtd), his former deputy, General Musa Yar’Adua, and others arrested over an alleged coup plot against the Abacha government.

60March 10, 1995: Government announces ‘details’ of the failed coup attempt on National television.

61May 15, 1995: The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) emerges as a protest movement for the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential elections, eventually assuming the unofficial status of an opposition group.

62May 31, 1995: Bomb blast at the launching of the Family Support Programme (FSP) at the Ilorin Stadium kills two. This causes a lot of anxiety and insecurity throughout the country.

63June 27, 1995: The Constitutional Conference presents final report; recommends multiparty system, rotational presidency, rejects the 1991 census and resolves that the military should hand over on January 1, 1996.

64June 30, 1995: A military tribunal under the chairmanship of Major General Aziza pronounces judgement on the March 10, 1995 coup plotters.

65October 1, 1995: Government shows video clips of alleged coup plotters to a limited audience of traditional rulers from across the country.

66October 31, 1995: A Special Military Court sentences Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists to death.

67November 10, 1995: Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) confirms sentence and proceeds to hang Saro-Wiwa and eight others. The Common Wealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) would immediately suspend Nigeria from the body until reasonable progress towards democracy is made.

68December 12, 1995: Government inaugurates a new eight-member National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON).

69December 13, 1995: Government sets up a Transition Implementation Committee (TIC) to supervise the transition-to-civil rule process.

70December 28, 1995: Inauguration by Abacha of a National Reconciliation Committee (NARECO) headed by Chief Alex Akinyele a former Information minister.

71January 1, 1996: Government frees four political detainees including former leader of NUPENG Wariebe Agamene.

72January 18, 1996: Bomb blast at Durba Hotel Kaduna kills one, and injures another.

73January 19, 1996: Bomb explodes at Malam Aminu Kano Airport, Kano.

74February 2, 1996: Alex Ibru, publisher of The Guardian titles and Abacha’s first Minister of Internal Affairs is shot and wounded by gunmen suspected to be hired assassins.

75February 3, 1996: Bomb explodes at the main Police station in Zaria.

76March 16 – 25, 1996: Local government election holding in phases, begins.

77April 13, 1996: Bomb explosions at Ikeja Military Cantonment; one person killed and two injured.

78April 20, 1996: Government deposes Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, the 18th Sultan of Sokoto on alleged grounds of insubordination and poor leadership and replaces him with Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido.

79April 25, 1996: Bomb explosion occurs at the Ikeja Air force base, injuring two.

80June 4, 1996: Alhaja Kudirat Abiola senior wife to the president-elect and a fierce fighter for the validation of the mandate, is murdered by unknown assassins in Lagos.

81August 6, 1996: Presiding judge over Abiola’s case withdraws, supposedly to keep his reputation intact and for the sake of justice or judicial integrity.

82September 30, 1996: NECON registers five political parties. These are: Committee for National Consensus (CNC), United Nigeria People’s Convention (UNPC), National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN), Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN), and Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM).

83October 1, 1996: Government announces the creation of six states. This brings the total to thirty-six. Additional local government areas are to be announced later.

84November 14, 1996: NECON releases very stiff guidelines for party registration. Some describe the parties that are registered as ‘Abacha parties’ – perhaps because political formations of only non acolytes and sympathizers are recognized.

85November 14, 1996: Car bomb explosion at Murtala Mohammed International Airport kills 3 persons including the Chief Security Officer of the Federal Airport Authority (FAA), Dr. Shola Omasola.

86November 27, 1996: Government inaugurates a 172- member Vision 2010 committee, a product of the September 1996 Nigerian Economic Summit III in Abuja, which envisages economic prosperity for the country by the year 2010.

87December 16, 1996: Col. Marwa, Lagos State Administrator escapes death from a bomb explosion that apparently targets his convoy; three injured.

88December 18, 1996: Bomb explodes at Lagos State Secretariat, hits Lagos State Transport Corporation bus, critically injuring two.

89January 7, 1997: Bomb explodes at Lagos mainland, kills two soldiers, injures many.

90February 19, 1997: Registration of voters commences with apparently very low turn out.

91March 12, 1997: Government charges Chief Enahoro, Chief Falae, Prof. Soyinka, General Akinrinade and others with treason.

92March 15, 1997: Election of Local Government chairmen holds on party basis.

93March 16, 1997: Government arrests Chief Don Etiebet, former petroleum minister and chieftain of CNC, in connection with the local government elections.

94March 17, 1997: Warri indigenes riot over local election results.

95March 25, 1997: Lagos State obas and leading chiefs, rather infamously, declare support for Abacha government at a public rally.

96May 7, 1997: Bomb explosion kills one woman and injures two in Lagos.

97May 12, 1997: Bomb explosion hits police truck, injures two soldiers and a policeman in Ibadan.

98July 2, 1997: Transition Implementation Committee (TIC) announces new polls dates: National Assembly, April 25, 1998; Governorship and Presidential elections, August 1, 1998.

99September 3, 1997: Lt. Col. M. Bawa, Military Administrator of Ekiti State escapes bomb blast.

100September 25, 1997: Bomb explosion rocks the country home of Akinyele, NARECO, in Ondo, Ondo State.

101November 23, 1997: Government adopts the Vision 2010 Committee’s Report.

102December 6, 1997: Nigerians vote for members of the Houses of Assembly.

103December 12, 1997: Government announces a coup plot involving Generals Oladipo Diya Abacha’s deputy; Adisa and Olanrewaju former ministers of Works/Housing and Communications respectively and an array of both military and civilian personnel.

104March 3-4, 1998: A million-man march organized by Daniel Kanu in support of Abacha’s transmutation plan to become civilian president in October, 1998 holds in Abuja.

105April 15, 1998: Chief Lamidi Adedibu, popularly regarded as the ‘strongman’ of Ibadan politics organizes a pro-Abacha rally in Ibadan. The rally is countered by United Action for Democracy (UAD); five vehicles are razed and three persons killed in the confrontation.

106April 16-20, 1998: All but one of the five registered parties adopt Abacha as consensus candidate for the presidential elections.

107April 22, 1998: Bomb explosion at Evans Square, Ebutte-Metta in Lagos injures many.

108April 23, 1998: Bomb explosion kills five in Sabo area in Ile-Ife.

109April 25, 1998: Elections into the National Assembly hold.

110April 28, 1998: A special military tribunal headed by Major General Victor Malu, tries and finds some alleged coup plotters guilty of treason and conspiracy. Generals Diya, Adisa and Olanrewaju, and four others are sentenced to death; while others receive various jail terms.

111May 1, 1998: United Action for Democracy (UAD) organizes a public protest against the adoption of Abacha as consensus presidential candidate by the parties; protesting youths take to the sheets, attacking the homes of Abacha’s leading supporters in the South West, (the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola Alao and Adedibu). Seven die.

112May 5, 1998: The European Union officially declares Nigeria’s transition to civil rule programme a failure.

113May 7, 1998: Oyo State Administrator, Colonel Ahmed Usman, says all suspects arrested in connection with the May Day 1998 violent protest in Ibadan are to be treated as ‘prisoners of war’ (POWs).

114May 7, 1998: G-34, a multi-ethnic coalition of eminent Nigerians led by Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former vice president, sends a letter to Abacha, adducing eight grounds on which the latter’s adoption as sole presidential candidate by the five political parties breached all relevant laws. It urges him to decline the purported nomination.

115May 13, 1998: Comrade Ola Oni, a legendary radical lecturer-activist, Bola Ige, Lam Adesina and other activists, arrested over the May Day riots in Ibadan, arraigned before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Iyaganku, Ibadan.

116May 18, 1998: Abacha raises objection to the suit filed by Chief Gani Fawehinmi challenging his adoption as the sole presidential flag bearer of the five political parties, at the Federal High Court.

117June 1, 1998: Appeal Court declines jurisdiction to adjudicate in the cases brought before it by Dr. Tunji Braithwaite and Alhaji Mohammed Dikko Yusuf to stop Abacha, from contesting in the presidential election.

118June 3, 1998: Constitutional Lawyer, Dr. Chimezie Ikeazor (SAN) files a suit at the Court of Appeal, Abuja seeking to invoke legal power to protect the presumed ambition of Abacha, and to the legal propriety of emerging opposers of Abacha’s adoption as sole presidential challenge candidate of the five political parties.

119June 8, 1998: Abacha dies, to all appearances of cardiac arrest, in the early hours of the morning.

120June 8, 1998: General Abdulsalami Abubakar emerges as the country’s new head of state.

121June 9, 1998: Abubakar announces that the socio-political programme of the Abacha Administration will be faithfully pursued in order to transfer power to a democratic government on October 1, 1998; declares 30-day national mourning for the late leader.

122June 15, 1998: Abubakar orders the release of some high profile political detainees: Obasanjo; Dasuki, Bola Ige, Beko Ransome Kuti, Chris Anyanwu, Frank Ovie-Kokori, as well as journalists and pro-democracy activists.

123June 19, 1998: Government sends delegations comprising of all the military service chiefs to the geo-political zones for the purpose of having a meaningful dialogue with various interest groups on how to resolve the country’s festering political impasse.

124June 30, 1998: Government raises a panel to study and aggregate the views of various interest groups sounded out during the nationwide consultation.

125July 2, 1998: Kofi Annan, the UN scribe, on a visit to Abuja reports that Abiola longs for freedom and may have dumped his mandate.

126July 7, 1998: Chief M.K.O. Abiola dies ‘apparently of cardiac arrest’ after taking ill during a meeting which Nigerian and United States officials had with him. Complicity of the two governments is alleged by civil society groups.

127July 8-9, 1998: Widespread highway riots break out in response to the news of Abiola’s death; curfew imposed in Ogun State, Abiola’s home state.

128July 9, 1998: PRC commutes death sentences passed on Diya, Olanrewaju and Adisa over the alleged coup plot of December 1997 to jail terms.

129July 11, 1998: Dr. James Young (a cardiac pathologist) reaffirms that Abiola died of natural causes, of long standing disease of the heart, of a type and severity that can cause unexpected death.

130July 20, 1998: Abubakar unveils his political transition programme, declares May 29, 1999 as handover date, cancels all elections, dissolves NECON and the five political parties, frees all detainees, drops charges against exiles, and makes commitment to respect human rights.

131July 25, 1998: Babangida admits, in a New York Times interview that the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections was wrong.

132August 3, 1998: A Pan-Yoruba conference holds at the Premier Hotel Ibadan; calls for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation and the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) to promote hue federalism. It also affirms the right to self-determination, saying that people prefer to be ruled only by leaders of their choice, freely chosen in free and fair polls based on universal adult suffrage. Finally, it enjoins all Yoruba to participate in the Abubakar transition programme.

133August 11, 1998: Abubakar inaugurates a 14-member Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headed by Justice Ephraim Akpata (rtd) to evolve fresh electoral guidelines and a schedule for party registration and elections within two weeks.

134August 11, 1998: Government abrogates Decrees 9 and 10 of 1994 which outlaw the executive councils of the NLC, NUPENG and PENGASSAN.

135August 12, 1998: Dr. James G. Young, Coroner of the province of Ontario Canada and head of the team of pathologists who carried out the autopsy on the late Bashorun M.K.O Abiola declares to newsmen at a press briefing in Ontario that Abiola died of ‘severe long-standing disease of the heart’

136August 25, 1998: INEC announces election timetable: voters registration, October 5-19, 1998; Local Government elections, December 5, 1998; Governorship/State House of Assembly, January 9, 1999; National Assembly elections, February 20, 1999, and Presidential elections, February 27, 1999.

137October 9, 1998: Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Bola Tinubu and other self-exile NADECO chieftains return to Nigeria.

138October 10, 1998: The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London announces the lifting of sanctions imposed on Nigeria in 1995; ties the readmission of Nigeria into the Commonwealth to the successful implementation of the new transition to civil rule programme.

139October 19, 1998: INEC gives provisional registration to nine political associations. The associations will have to score 10 % in at least 24 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the council polls to qualify for permanent registration. The parties are: People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), People’s Consultative Forum (PF), All People Congress (APC), Democratic Advance Party (DAP), Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJ), National Solidarity Movement (NSM), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), Social Progressive Party (SPP) and the United People’s Party (UPP).

140December 14, 1998: Constitutional Debate Co-ordinating Committee (CDCC) headed by Justice Niki Tobi submits a draft constitution to government

141February 27, 1999: Nigerians vote in presidential elections, Obasanjo wins.

142March 4, 1999: Government frees persons implicated in the alleged coup plots of 1995 and 1997. These include Gwadabe, some military officers as well as civilians.

143March 23, 1999: Government frees eight officers convicted for their roles in the 1990 coup attempt; says they are granted clemency, not pardon.

144April 5, 1999: Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja dismisses Chief Falae’s suit; confirms Obasanjo as president-elect following the election of February 27, 1999.

145May 4, 1999: The Provisional Ruling Council (PRC), under Abubakar’s leadership, approves the new constitution for the Fourth Republic.

146May 29, 1999: Obasanjo is sworn in as Nigeria’s second Executive President

Justification for Selecting the above Events in Particular and the Abacha Era in General, for Analysis

147First and foremost, the flashback into the last lap of the Babangida era above was to establish the fact that what happened then continued into and was connected with the subsequent chain of events in the Abacha era.

148On the spate of bomb blasts or explosions witnessed during the Abacha years, in Nigeria, such terrorist bombings heightened insecurity in the country. The police often insisted that most of them (the victims) were NADECO agents. Cases of hired killings often with a political undertone, were also on the rise in Nigeria during this period. Often the killers (assassins) or the brains behind such killings were not found by the police.

149The political scene witnessed confusing signals and frustrating moments, for politicians and the civil society. Other issues included, a bad human rights record, a regime whose image was dented, and whose sincerity to democratize was doubted.

150Teachers and students were equally frustrated. For a period spanning March to October 1996, university teachers were on strike to demand for adequate and increased salaries. In return the military government banned their association – the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

151For most Nigerians, the Abacha years were years of general suffering occasioned by the Abacha administration’s economic measures. It should however, be noted that a little bit of General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s supplementary regime (no doubt, an extension of late General Abacha’s regime) is included in this analysis because the two are not mutually exclusive but interwoven, and it is convenient, for maintaining the order of events and/or chronology as far as what happened during this period are concerned.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 2001

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