A top Nigerian diplomat claims General Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s universally loathed dictator, was assassinated, despite contradicting accounts about his demise on the 8th of June 1998.
A diplomat with intimate ties to the Nigerian military told The Irish Times, “I know for a fact he was poisoned.” “This has been confirmed by my army sources. The only answer, according to a tiny handful of officers, was to poison him, which they did.”
However, a Nigerian newspaper stated that Gen Abacha died of natural causes, according to autopsy reports.
“Blood, urine, and tissue samples” gathered and analyzed in Germany shortly after his death, according to the independent Thisday, discovered no signs of poisoning. “This…might assuage worries in some quarters that General Abacha died of unnatural causes,” the publication speculated.
General Abacha died of a heart attack on June 8th, according to the Nigerian government. However, there is widespread conjecture that he was poisoned while with prostitutes with tainted apple juice.
“I can tell you that Abacha left the presidential mansion early in the morning to go to one of two guest houses in Abuja [the capital],” the diplomat, who did not want to be identified, said. “He did this on a regular basis. On the morning of June 8th, he went there to see two Indian girls, and it was there that he was poisoned.”
According to the diplomat, the assassination was prompted by growing discontent among younger officials. After the arrests of high-ranking commanders for alleged coup plotting in 1995 and 1997, he believes there was a growing sense of uneasiness in the army.
“A coup d’etat in Nigeria is basically inconceivable,” adds the diplomat. “All of the barracks are located outside of Abuja. There were rumors that another coup was on the way, but in the end, certain officers decided that getting rid of him was the best option.”
The US administration claims it has received indications that Gen Abacha has been poisoned, but the evidence is inconclusive.
The death of General Sani Abacha and the subsequent appointment of General Abdusalam Abubakar as his successor fueled optimism that Nigeria would move closer to democracy.
There was also talk that Chief Moshood Abiola, who had been imprisoned after allegedly winning the annulled 1993 presidential election, would be released. On July 7th, however, Nigeria’s senior opposition figure died while meeting with US authorities in Abuja.
Reuters adds from Bonn: One of Gen Abiola’s widows was mentioned in a German publication yesterday as alleging he was poisoned.
The Tageszeitung quoted Ms Dupe Onitiri-Abiola, one of Abiola’s dozens of reputed spouses, as alleging that there was a “plot” against him. □