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SANI ABACHA


Full Name: Sani Abacha
Title/Job: Ex Military Ruler of Nigeria
Profile:

General Sani Abacha (20 September 1943 in Kano 8 June 1998 in Abuja) was a Nigerian military leader and politician. He was the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. He is noted for being a monumental kleptocrat and a notorious dictator whose regime executed political opponents, notably Ken Saro-Wiwa. The Abacha family is regarded as organised crime by the Swiss authorities.

Political life
Abacha was a Muslim of Kanuri extraction. He was commissioned in 1963, after he had attended the Mons Defence Officers cadet Training College in Aldershot, England. Before then, he had attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna. He took part in the countercoup of July 1966, from the conceptual stage, and may have been a participant in the Lagos or Abeokuta phases of the January 1966 coup. He was also a prominent figure in three coup d\'etats of later decades, the first two of which brought and removed General Muhammadu Buhari from power in 1983. When General Ibrahim Babangida was named President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1985, Abacha was named Chief of Army Staff. He was later appointed Minister of Defence in 1990.

Abacha took over power from the caretaker government of Chief Ernest Shonekan, who was put into place by General Ibrahim Babangida after his annulment of the 12 June 1993 elections (won by Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola) caused a massive popular uproar causing untold hardship to millions of Nigerians.

Human rights abuses
Abacha's government was accused of human rights abuses, especially after the hanging of Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Oputa Commission (only one of several executions of Ogoni activists opposed to the exploitation of Nigerian resources by multinational petroleum companies); Abiola and Olusegun Obasanjo were jailed for treason, and Wole Soyinka charged in absentia with treason. His regime suffered stiff opposition internally and externally by pro-democracy activists who made the regime unpopular, and responded by banning political activity in general and by controlling the press in particular; a significant fraction of the military was purged. Abacha surrounded himself with approximately 3,000 armed men loyal to himself. His government compared to other Nigerian governments was characterised by an inconsistent foreign policy. He supported the Economic Community of West African States and sent Nigerian troops to Liberia and Sierra Leone to restore democracy to those countries while denying it at home. Abacha scoffed at the threat of economic sanctions on account of the world's dependence on petroleum, of which Nigeria is a major producer.

Corruption allegations
During Abacha's regime, a total of 3 billion was reported siphoned out of the country's coffers by the head of state and members of his family. At that time Abacha was listed as the world's fourth most corrupt leader in recent history.

Death
General Abacha died in June 1998 while at the presidential villa in Abuja in the company of Jeremiah Useni who was Chief of Staff from 1997 to 1998 and one Musa Abdullahi who sources close to the military junta claimed was the unofficial strategist and mastermind of Abacha's plan to transform himself into a democratically elected dictator. He was 54. He was buried on the same day, according to Muslim religion, without an autopsy, fuelling speculations that he may have been poisoned by political rivals (via prostitutes). There was an allegation that the prostitutes were imported from either India or Egypt

After his death, Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Nigeria's defence chief of staff, was sworn in as the country's head of state. Abubakar had never before held public office and was quick to announce a transition to democratic civilian rule which led to the election of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Abacha was married to Maryam Abacha and had seven sons and three daughters.

Recovery of stolen billions
The government of Obasanjo has implicated the deceased general and his family in a wholesale looting of Nigeria's coffers. According to post-Abacha governmental sources, some $3 or $4 billion USD in foreign assets have been traced to Abacha, his family and their representatives, $2.1 billion of which the Nigerian government tentatively came to an agreement with the Abacha family to return, with the quid pro quo being that the Abachas would be allowed to keep the rest of the money. Although this proposal caused a massive outcry at the time for seeming to reward the theft of public funds, it was subsequently rejected by the late dictator's son, Mohammed Abacha, who continues to maintain that all the assets in question were legitimately acquired. In 2002, Abacha's family agreed to return $1.2 billion that was taken from the central bank.





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