General Sani Abacha (born 20 September 1943 – 8 June 1998) was a former Nigerian military president and head of state who ruled from November 1993 till his death in June 1998.
A career military officer, he served as the Chief Of Army Staff from 1985 to 1990, Chief Of Defense Staff from 1990 to 1993, and Minister Of Defence.
Sani Abacha is the Nigerian military officer to attain the rank of a full military General without skipping any rank. He became Nigeria’s Head Of State on the 17th of November 1993 after seizing power via a coup.
|Sani Abacha: History ‧ Bio ‧ Photo|
|Full Name:||Sani Abacha|
|Stage Name:||Sani Abacha GCFR|
|Born:||20 September 1943 (age 54 years old)|
|Died:||8 June 1998, Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja (age 24 years old)|
|Place of Birth:||Kano, Nigeria|
|State Of Origin:||Borno State|
|Parents:||The Abacha Family|
|Wife • Spouse:||Maryam Abacha (m. 1965–1998)|
|Girlfriend • Partner:||N/A|
|Children:||Mohammed Abacha, Zainab Abacha, Ibrahim Abacha, Mahmud Sani Abacha, Al Mustapha Abacha, Rakiya Abacha, Sadiq Abacha, Abba Abacha, Abdullahi Abacha, Fatima Gumsu Sani Abacha|
|Occupation:||Politician • Businessman|
|Net Worth:||$1 billion-$5 billion|
Early Life & Education
Sani Abacha was born to the Abacha family on the 20th of September 1943. Although his ancestral home is in Borno State, he was born and raised in Kano, Northern Nigeria. His brother happens to be Abdulkadir Abacha, even though his parents’ identities have never been disclosed.
After his high school education, he gained admission into the prestigious Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) in Kaduna. He was trained to be a soldier at the college, which is now known as the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).
Sani Abacha graduated from college in 1963 and was commissioned as a soldier in the Nigerian Army. After that, he was sent abroad for further studies to be trained at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot, England.
Sani Abacha was a successful military officer. He participated in almost all the military coups that occurred in Nigeria. He was among the military officers who staged the July 1966 counter-coup that ousted Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi from office. At the time of the coup, he was a second lieutenant serving at the 3rd Battalion in Kaduna.
During the Nigerian Civil War, Sani Abacha served as a platoon and battalion commander on the federal side. By 1975, he had been promoted to commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. He was one of the ringleaders of the 1983 coup that ousted the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and brought Major General Muhammadu Buhari into power.
Thereafter, he was appointed as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 2nd Mechanized Division (Ibadan) in 1983 and became a member of the Supreme Military Council. In 1985, he played a prominent role in the palace coup that removed General Muhammadu Buhari from office and led to the emergence of Major General Ibrahim Babangida as Head Of State.
In recognition of his role in the coup d’etat, Ibrahim Babaginda appointed Sani Abacha as the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS). He served as COAS from 1985 to 1990 before being promoted to Minister Of Defence. He stayed in the latter office from 1990 to 1993.
When Ibrahim Babaginda left office and set up an Interim National Government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan, Sani Abacha was the most senior military officer in the military hierarchy and government. Three months into Ernest Shonekan‘s rule as Interim President, Sani Abacha staged a coup that ousted Ernest Shonekan from office. He assumed the position of Head Of State on the 17th Of November 1993.
Sani Abacha‘s rule was characterized by economic growth and several human rights abuse. The latter pitched him against the international community. In 1994, he promulgated a decree that placed his government above the courts’ jurisdiction, giving him absolute power.
He ordered the arrest of Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the winner of the annulled June 12 presidential elections. The arrest came after Moshood Abiola declared himself the president of the country. Moshood Abiola was incarcerated in prison throughout Sani Abacha‘s regime and died in custody.
Sani Abacha‘s government is responsible for reorganizing Nigeria into six geopolitical zones: North Central, North East, North West, South East, South-South, and South West. The decision reflected the region’s cultural, economic, and political realities.
Sani Abacha‘s regime came to an end on the 8th of June 1998 after his death. He was succeeded by General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who returned the country to civilian rule and ushered in the Fourth Republic.
General Sani Abacha was married to Maryam Abacha, the country’s First Lady, from November 17, 1993, to June 8, 1998. They had ten children together. Their union was blessed with seven sons and three daughters. He became a grandfather posthumously, and as of 2018, he had thirty-three grandchildren.
Sani Abacha‘s children are Mohammed Abacha, Zainab Abacha, Ibrahim Abacha, Mahmud Sani Abacha, Al Mustapha Abacha, Rakiya Abacha, Sadiq Abacha, Abba Abacha, Abdullahi Abacha, and Fatima Gumsu Sani Abacha.
Although Nigeria experienced rapid economic growth while Sani Abacha was in power, his regime was characterized by corruption. There was serious embezzlement of state funds during his regime, and this affair is widely known as the “Abacha Loot.”
It is estimated that the Abacha family looted and transferred $1 billion – $5 billion (USD) to offshore accounts. The Olusegun Obasanjo administration accused Sani Abacha‘s National Security Adviser, Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, and Sani Abacha‘s second son, Mohammed Abacha, of playing a central role in the looting of state funds.
Sani Abacha passed away on the 8th of June 1998 at the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja. He was buried on the same day in line with Muslim tradition. His body was flown from the State House in Abuja to Kano, where he was buried. No autopsy was carried out on his body, which fueled speculation that he was assassinated. While the Nigerian government identified the cause of death as a heart attack, foreign diplomats think he may have been poisoned.
Sani Abacha was estimated have a net worth of $1 billion to $5 billion (USD) at the time of his death.