Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 21:28 GMT 22:28 UK
Timeline: Abiola's detention years
Chief Abiola campaigns for the presidency in 1993
1993: Democratic elections annulled
The military government annuls the election. Extensive rioting in Lagos is quelled by the army but Chief Abiola refuses to co-operate with the military. He campaigns vociferously for the restoration of the election result.
Within a couple of months General Sani Abacha assumes power.
June 1994: Abiola declares himself president
He asked supporters: "If I committed treason by upholding the mandate of the Nigerian people, what did Abacha commit by continuing with the government which the court has declared illegal?"
1995: Transition to civilian rule announced
A three-year programme for the swap to civilian rule is declared. The announcement allows for a new president to be inaugurated in October 1998 with elections at local, state and national level.
In November a military tribunal orders the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and nine other activists prompting world outrage. Nigeria is suspended from the Commonwealth. The economy continues to deteriorate.
1997: Abacha approves political parties
The Nigerian commission responsible for the transition to democracy announces that Presidential elections will be held on August 1, 1998. The handover to civilian rule is to occur by the beginning of October.
1998: Abacha dies
As the election approaches the five approved political parties announce they will all adopt General Abacha as their candidate for the presidential elections.
On June 8, the general dies of a heart attack aged 54. He is replaced by General Abdulsalam Abubakar. His first days in power hint at a more conciliatory regime and is followed by the release of prominent political prisoners but not Chief Abiola.
July 2, 1998: Abiola release nears
The secretaries-general of the United Nations and the Commonwealth, Kofi Annan and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, hold private talks with Mr Abiola. The Nigerian Foreign Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, indicates the chief will be released soon.
July 7, 1998: Abiola dies
Chief Abiola collapses and dies of an apparent heart attack during a meeting with Nigerian and United States officials in the capital, Abuja. He was 60.