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Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Horrors of the Abacha regime
Nigeria's former military ruler, the late Sani Abacha
Abacha left behind a legacy of bitterness and unanswered questions
An army officer has told a Nigerian human rights inquiry commission that he was chained by his hands and legs for a year by agents of late dictator Sani Abacha.

Observers at the inquiry sobbed as Captain Sadiq Usman Suleiman testified on his detention and imprisonment over an alleged 1995 coup plot.

Mr Suleiman was one of two former officers who testified before the first full session of the commission set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo to investigate abuses committed during the country's 15 years of military rule.

Scores of officers and prominent personalities including Mr Obasanjo himself, were jailed for the alleged coup attempt.

Inhuman acts

Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo
Obasanjo was also a victim of the Abacha regime
"I have undergone torture, inhuman acts and been detained in jail with my legs and my hands chained at night for one year," Mr Suleiman told the commission.

Mr Suleiman said he was jailed for four years in a hut without ventilation in the northeastern town of Jalingo.

One of the officers he named as a torturer sat among observers at the hearing as Mr Suleiman narrated his ordeal.

Another officer, Colonel Martins Azuka Igwe said he was also a victim of "callous acts of inhumanity".

Both Mr Igwe and Mr Suleiman were among people sentenced to summary execution by the coup plot tribunal.

But their sentences were commuted to 25 years in jail following international apeals.


The commission led by retired supreme court judge Chukwudifu Oputa received over 10,000 petitions during a nationwide tour but has decided to concentrate on 200 cases involving most grievious abuses.

Ken Saro Wiwa - spokesman of the Ogoni people

The late General Abacha left behind him a huge legacy of bitterness, and many unanswered questions.

Among them are the hanging of the activist Ken Saro-Wira in 1995, and the detention and death in prison of the tycoon Moshood Abiola, the man widely believed to have won presidential elections in 1993.

The panel, modelled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the apartheid era, was set up by President Obasanjo soon after he took office in 1999, ending 15 years of military rule.

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See also:

03 Sep 99 | Africa
Nigeria: A history of coups
20 Oct 00 | Business
London implicated in Abacha probe
24 Oct 00 | Africa
Nigeria examines abuses
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