One Nigeria Historical Diary Episode X (Biography/LifeTime Of Gen. Sani Abacha )

Sani Abacha was born on the 20th of September 1943, He was a Nigerian Army general and politician who served as the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. Abacha's regime is controversial; although it saw dramatic economic growth, there was widespread human-rights abuse.


A Kanuri from Borno by tribe, Abacha was born and brought up in Kano, Nigeria. From 1957 to 1962 he was a student, first in the City Senior Primary School of Kano and then in the Provincial Secondary School (later renamed Government College). During the years immediately following its independence, from 1960 to 1966, Nigeria was governed by a civilian regime, the First Republic. In these years Abacha trained for the military and received his first appointment in the Nigerian Army. He attended the Nigerian Military Training College in the northern city of Kaduna from 1962 to 1963 and received his appointment as second lieutenant in 1963. Following was a series of promotions within the Nigerian military. He attended the Nigerian Military Training College and Mons Officer Cadet School before being commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 1963.


Abacha's military career is distinguished by a string of successful coups. He is by some records the most successful coup plotter in the history of Nigeria's military. Abacha, then a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion in Kaduna, took part in the July 1966 Nigerian counter-coup from the conceptual stage. He may have been a participant in the Lagos or Abeokuta phases of the coup the previous January as well
He was also a prominent figure in the 1983 Nigerian coup d'état which brought General Muhammadu Buhari to power in 1983, and the August 1985 coup which removed Buhari from power.[citation needed] 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 appointed Minister of Defence in 1990.
In 1990, Abacha became the first Nigerian soldier to attain the rank of a full General without skipping a single rank.


It is quite interesting to know that despite the fact that he wielded incredibly vast powers, Abacha operated a complicated style of leadership, and he gave a free hand to all those working under him. He allowed them to carry out their duties without interfering (he was a master at delegating duties), he allowed them to disagree with one another and even debate during meetings (at a time, the Finance Minister, Anthony Ani and the Petroleum Resources counterpart, Dan Etete (who also argued and tussled with Buba Marwa, Lagos State Military Administrator) would blast themselves and argue in the cabinet meeting but Abacha let it all slide, or obviously enjoyed all the drama and all three served him till the very end).

Abacha himself very rarely spoke during the meetings, and when he did, it was almost in whispers, and aides said you had to strain your ears to pick his words.

He was also described as a very attentive listener who enjoyed listening to others rant. At times, he dozed off during cabinet meetings or as his best friend Lt. General Jeremiah Timbut Useni put it: he seemed to sleep off during meetings but he was not asleep, he was listening. It was said:

Abacha spoke softly, almost inaudibly, like in a whisper and you have to strain your ears to hear him. Perhaps this was a strategy, the strategy of a consummate wielder of power to get his listeners to truly listen…Some who know Abacha think he is a shy man but that may not be the reason for his near-whisper level of discussion. They think he is not a man of emotion, that he never really raises his voice even when he is angry but that he lets actions, not thunderous words, speak for him. Which is why some who don’t know him well, but who have listened to him talk softly are surprised by his tough guy actions.
Abacha was said to have gone into convulsions while in the midst of two (some say six) imported Indian (others say Egyptian) prostitutes (some reports indicate they were actually trained undercover agents) flown in from Dubai, United Arab Emirates in one of the Nigerian presidential jets, the identity of whom has never been established giving credence to news of a well-orchestrated murder

Sani Abacha never told anyone that he had the intellectual capacity to solve Nigeria’s problems. He was, first and last, a soldier. A crude one for that matter. His hold on Nigerians was unquestionably colossal, brutal and maximum.

During Abacha's regime, he and his family reportedly stole a total of £5 billion from the country's coffers.In 2004, Abacha was listed as the fourth most corrupt leader in history. Interestingly, during a service marking the 10th year anniversary of the death of the dictator, several former Nigerian heads of state, including Gen. M Buhari(rtd.), refuted claims that Abacha looted the country, claiming such accusations are "baseless". Abacha's national security adviser, Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, played a central role in the looting and transfer of money to overseas accounts. His son Mohammed Abacha was also involved.
A preliminary report published by the Abdulsalam Abubakar transitional government in November 1998 described the process. Sani Abacha told Ismaila Gwarzo to provide fake funding requests, which Abacha approved. The funds were usually sent in cash or travellers' cheques by the Central Bank of Nigeria to Gwarzo, who took them to Abacha's house. Mohammed Abacha then arranged to launder the money to offshore accounts. An estimated $1.4 billion in cash was delivered in this way.

In March 2014, the United States Department of Justice revealed that it had frozen more than $458 million believed to have been illegally obtained by Abacha and other corrupt officials.

Early in 1998, Abacha announced that elections would be held that August, with a view toward handing power to a civilian government on 1 October. It soon became apparent, though, that Abacha had no intention of permitting an honest election; by April he had strong-armed the country's five parties into endorsing him as the sole presidential candidate.
Abacha died in June 1998 while at the presidential villa in Abuja. He was buried on the same day, according to Muslim tradition, without an autopsy. This fueled speculation that he may have been executed extrajudicially by way of being poisoned by political rivals via prostitutes. The government identified the cause of death as a sudden heart attack It is reported that he was in the company of two Indian prostitutes imported from Dubai. It is thought that the prostitutes laced his drink with a poisonous substance, making Abacha feel unwell around 4:30am. He retired to his bed and was dead by 6:15am.
After Abacha's death, Maj. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Nigeria's Chief of Defence 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 democracy, which led to the election of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Abacha was married to Maryam Abacha and had seven sons and three daughters. He left fifteen grandchildren: eight girls and seven boys.


After Abacha's death, the Obasanjo government implicated Abacha and his family in a wholesale looting of Nigeria's coffers. The late dictator's son, Mohammed Abacha, continues to maintain that all the assets in question were legitimately acquired. In 2002, Abacha's family purportedly agreed to return $1.2 billion that was taken from the central bank

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