Moshood Abiola, Nigerian Chief of the people
Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola was born on this date in 1937 in Nigeria. He was an African entrepreneur and politician.
Abiola graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland with a degree in accounting. From 1969 to 1988 he worked for the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT), meanwhile amassing a fortune from transportation, publishing, and other businesses. He also maintained close ties with Nigeria's military rulers. In 1993, Abiola ran for president and was believed to be winning when the military halted the election and annulled the vote.
A year later, Abiola claimed the presidency. Accused of treason, he was imprisoned, reportedly under harsh conditions. Abiola had been reported to be in ill health during his time in prison. In June, the U. S. delegation was also meeting with the head of Nigeria's military government, Major General Abdulsalam Abubakar, who took over following the death of General Sani Abacha in June 1998. According to United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan, who visited Nigeria in late June and early July, Abiola's release from prison had been imminent.
He died on July 7, 1998, in Abuja, Nigeria. He was 60 years old. Many Nigerians suspected foul play and refused to believe an official government statement declaring that Abiola died of cardiac arrest. According to the U. S. Department of State, however, there was “no evidence that Chief Abiola died of anything other than natural causes.” Officials planned a complete autopsy conducted in the presence of physicians from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in order to deflect any lingering suspicions. On July 11 the autopsy team reported Abiola had died of heart disease.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Twenty-fourth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.