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Sunday, July 12, 1998 Published at 06:03 GMT 07:03 UK


World: Africa

Calm after the storm

It's time for prayers now

Calm has returned to the streets of Lagos after the burial of Chief Moshood Abiola, Nigeria's most prominent political prisoner.

But political activity remains frenetic with renewed calls for the military leadership to step down in favour of civilian rule.

And Chief Abiola's relatives and supporters, who initially accused the government of poisoning him, continue to blame the military for his death.


The preliminary findings of a post mortem concluded the chief died of a heart attack. His supporters say that if it was natural causes medical neglect during his four years in detention was a contributory factor.

Chief Abiola died on Tuesday - the day before his expected release from detention. His death sparked riots in which up to 60 people were killed.


Dr John Young: "preliminary findings."
At the 60-year-old Muslim's funeral on Saturday hundreds of supporters clamoured around his grave hoping to get a glimpse of the man they wanted as Nigeria's leader.


[ image: Student supporters show their respect]
Student supporters show their respect
On Sunday, the streets of Lagos were calm with some shops opening for business. Public transport, which had stopped services during the, riots was also operating again.

Chief Abiola was widely thought to have won presidential elections in 1993 before the military annulled them.

Abiola was imprisoned when, on the first anniversary of the election, he declared himself the victor.

The chairman of the National Democratic Coalition, Abraham Adesanya, used a newspaper interview on Sunday to call for a civilian government made up of representatives of all six Nigerian regions.

He said: "Once they do that every part of the country will satisfy itself that they have their own members there.

"The best thing is for the military to go _ and hand over the governance of this country."


BBC correspondent Sola Odunfa: Supporters unconvinced by autopsy results
Mr Adesanya said the national unity government would rule for up to five years and set up a new electoral commission that would call for the creation of new political parties.

"It is a transition government. But it is a transition managed by civilians, not military," he said.

Olisa Agbakoba, the national co-ordinator of the United Action for Democracy, said Chief Abiola's death should be a catalyst for change.

And he supported claims made by Chief Abiola's family that neglect had contributed towards the chief's death.

He said: "It was medical neglect that led to Chief Abiola's death while in four years of detention under the junta."

Chief Abiola's oldest son, Kola, said: "You don't have to poison a man, don't have to spike his tea, to kill him.

"My father was locked up for four years without proper medical treatment and that is what leads to death. We know who is responsible for that."

A post mortem performed by pathologists from Britain, the US and Canada showed Chief Abiola died of a long-standing heart disease.

They said concerns over his medical treatment during detention "are understandable and deserve further consideration," but added that the issue was beyond the scope of their investigation.





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