Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK

World: Africa

Nigeria awaits Abiola post mortem

Soldiers patrol the streets of Lagos in case of more unrest

Listen to a 30 minute special programme from the BBC African Service

Violence has broken out again in Nigeria as supporters of the jailed opposition leader Chief Moshood Abiola wait to find out what caused his sudden death.

Reports are coming in of further trouble on the outskirts of Lagos after two days of riots which left at least 19 protesters dead.

Local radio has reported more serious violence on the streets and has appealed for police not to use live ammunition.

The renewed unrest comes as an international team of pathologists gathers in Lagos to help establish exactly what killed the man widely believed to have been the winner of the 1993 elections.

[ image: Chief Abiola: died aged 60]
Chief Abiola: died aged 60
Chief Abiola died on Tuesday, apparently from a heart attack, just hours before he was due to be released.

Since the death a month ago of the military ruler General Sani Abacha who imprisoned him, Abiola's release has been one of the central reforms demanded from the new government.

As news of his death spread, many of Abiola's supporters accused the government of killing him, either by poison or neglect.

Hilary Andersson: "a moment of respite while Nigerians watched their leader speak"
In a televised address, Nigeria's new military leader, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, appealed for calm, and offered his "heartfelt condolences" to Chief Abiola's family.

Muslims are traditionally buried as soon as possible after their death, often on the same day they die.

But Chief Abiola's funeral has been delayed to allow for the post mortem, being attended by British, American and Canadian pathologists on the request of Chief Abiola's family.

Ethnic clashes

Nigerian democracy activist Ola Soyinka: "It is a hypocritical and distasteful speech."
The death of Chief Abiola unleashed a wave of ethnic violence.

Lagos and the rest of ethnic Yoruba formed the political stronghold of Abiola, himself a Yoruba.

Antony Goldman of The Economist: Abukabar has shown a desire to be more inclusive
The Hausa-speaking north has been the traditional home to the military leaders, including Gen Abubakar, who have ruled Nigeria since independence in 1960.

The people reported to have died so far were mainly protesters from the Yoruba tribe. Rioting broke out in Lagos, Ibadan and Abeokuta, Chief Abiola's home town.

Nigerian state radio said a dusk-to-dawn curfew had been imposed on Abeokuta after buildings were set ablaze and streets blockaded in nine hours of rioting.

Many Yorubas are reported to have taken their anger out on Hausas, who they accuse of robbing them of jobs and power, and now of causing Chief Abiola's death.

The three main ethnic groups in Africa's most populous country are the Yorubas in the South West, the Hausa Fulani in the North, and the South-Eastern Ibos. The Ibos fought a secessionist war for an independent Biafra in 1967, which then collapsed in 1970.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

09 Jul 98 | Africa
Nigeria's ethnic divisions

09 Jul 98 | Africa
Abubakar appeals for calm

08 Jul 98 | Africa
Analysis: What next for Nigeria?

07 Jul 98 | Africa
Abiola's death - an eyewitness account

Internet Links

Nigeria Human Rights

Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC

Nigeria on the Net

Nigeria Media Monitor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

Sudan power struggle denied

Animal airlift planned for Congo

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Zimbabwe constitution: Just a bit of paper?

South African gays take centre stage

Nigeria's ruling party's convention

UN to return to Burundi

Bissau military hold fire

Nile basin agreement on water cooperation

Congo Brazzaville defends peace initiative

African Media Watch

Liberia names new army chief