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Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 11:52 GMT
Nigerian senator suspended over coup remarks

Military inspection Nigeria's army has a history of coups


A Nigerian senator has been suspended from office after allegedly saying that a military coup would be good for the country.

The magazine Tell, quoted Senator Joseph Kennedy Waku as saying that President Olusegun Obasanjo's government was the worst Nigeria had ever produced.

The senator is quoted as saying that the way President Obasanjo has been spending money without the National Assembly's approval, is criminal.

According to the magazine, the senator said that if the government behave like a dictatorial regime it would be better for what he calls the professional coupists to take over.

Senator Waku says his remarks were misinterpreted, and that Tell deliberately sensationalised the contents of his interview in order to sell more copies.

Investigation

But a large majority in the Senate decided that Senator Waku, a representative of the ruling People's Democratic Party, should be suspended indefinitely while the Senate's ethics committee investigates the affair.

The remarks attributed to Senator Waku - an outspoken politician from the centre of the country - have caused an uproar in Nigeria.

Since independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, Nigerian soldiers have staged at least eight coups or attempted coups and have forcibly overthrown the previous two democratic governments.

The return to democracy last year, following the death of military ruler Sani Abacha, was welcomed by most Nigerians.

Our Lagos correspondent Barnaby Phillips says any suggestion of a return to military rule is bound to meet with popular disapproval.
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See also:
28 Nov 99 |  Africa
Nigerian president warns militants
26 Nov 99 |  Africa
Nigeria: More divided than united?
28 Dec 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Neighbours wary over Ivory Coast coup

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