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Abiola's Demise Is Suspicious: Koffi Annan 1

In a most-revealing new memoir titled, “Interventions (A Life in War and Peace)”, former United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, has detailed the role he played in the aftermath of General Sani Abacha’s death in 1998 and his encounter with the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola a few days before the latter died.
He also revealed his delicate negotiations with the then Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, as well as his impressions of Nigeria and key actors at the time.

Annan, who had met with Abiola at his detention house shortly before his dramatic death, said: “On our return journey, everything seemed set for Abiola’s release. But tragedy struck a week later when Abiola collapsed and died during a meeting with U.S. Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering. Despite the earnest intentions we had detected in Abubakar, the timing could only be considered suspicious.”
Annan wrote:
“Moshood Abiola had been imprisoned and in solitary confinement since 1994. Previously he had been a millionaire businessman reveling in the most extravagant of lifestyles, acquired through a long-standing and close relationship with Nigeria’s military governments.
“But in 1993, there was a short-lived attempt to introduce democracy, and Abiola entered the presidential race. When Abiola looked entirely set to win, the final and full count was never allowed by the reigning military government of President Ibrahim Babangida, even though he had set up the elections in the first place.
“Abiola backed down quietly, but the vote changed his relationship with the government. He had acquired an unprecedented swell of support from many sides of the ethnic and religious divides that criss-crossed Africa’s most populous country.
“When President Babangida was ousted from power and replaced by General Sani Abacha later that year, in the midst of Nigeria’s deepening financial crisis, the new president dissolved the institutions that had been formed to move the country toward a semblance of democracy—the parliament, the thirty state governments, and every single local council—and declared all political parties illegal.
“But in the unfolding chaos of Abacha’s rule, Abiola stepped forward in 1994 and, on the basis of the thwarted 1993 elections, announced to a huge crowd of supporters in Lagos that he was the legitimate president of Nigeria.
“He was immediately arrested and charged with treason and spent the next four years in solitary confinement. During this time, he was denied access to even radio, saw no one from his family from 1995 onward, was unable to talk to anyone else, and was shown only one newspaper article: a report on the assassination of one of his wives in 1996. The only other reading materials he had were a Bible and a Koran.

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