How Abacha died a day before effecting plans to shut Punch newspaper

Former Head of State, Sani Abacha

The late military dictator, Sanni Abacha, died a day before effecting his plans to shut down The Punch newspapers, a former chair of the paper, Ajibola Ogunshola, has said.

Mr. Ogunshola made this known in his introductory remarks at a public lecture delivered by a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington.

The lecture, which also marked the launch of “Defend the Defenseless”, a book written by Arese Carrington, wife of the former diplomat, held in Lagos.

Mr. Ogunshola, who was the chairman on the occasion, regaled the audience with tales of the role played by the press during the struggles for democratic rule under Mr. Abacha.

He also explained how The Punch was shut down by the military when he was the company’s chairman, adding that the first was shortly after Mr. Carrington was accredited on November 9, 1993.

“During the years of military rule,” he said, “the press as a whole suffered. The National Concord and The PUNCH bore the brunt of the fate that befell newspapers and some magazines.

“One of the journalists in detention then, Mr. Babafemi Ojudu, after his release, said that when under incarceration, he got information from some soldiers on June 7, 1998 that Abacha had concluded plans to close down The Punch again.

“But the day after, that was on June 8, Abacha died,” he narrated.

Mr. Ogunsola explained that Mr. Carrington, in what was against the norm, stood fearlessly against the military junta and joined in the struggle for democracy.

The former diplomat was U.S. ambassador to Nigeria between 1993 to 1997 and he is renown for his fearless stance on issues of human rights and democratic freedom.

The late Mr. Abacha ruled Nigeria as a dictator between 1993 and 1998, after taking over power from the interim government of Ernest Shonekan in a bloodless coup. He was notorious for his clampdown on pro-democracy activists and the press.


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  • emmanuel

    How Abacha died or ‘how he was killed by poison’?… the way that fraud star, MKO Abiola was killed.

    • abodes_124

      I thought thy said it was forbidden fruits imported from Egypt that did him in ?

      • emmanuel

        I dont know how old u are but it is like someone telling you that Fulani Herdsmen who kill all over Nigeria have no names and are unidentifiable (just like the suicide bombers) and that they (the Herdsmen) are non Nigerians from Mali. Yet some Governor (El-Ruffia) tells Nigerians that he pays them to reduce the killings

        • abodes_124

          Allegory with tongue in cheek perhaps not fully appreciated. There was also suspicion of erectile dysfuction pill overdose thrown in.

    • OGK

      If MKO was a fraudster, then what would you call your forebears?

  • Apostel

    Abacha had a heart problem, and certain drugs for people with heart disease do not tolerate Viagra. When he wanted to snack on an Indian prostitute in Abuja’s guesthouse that day, he had taken Viagra as a potency boost, as so often. That was the end of him.

    • abodes_124

      Emmanuel this post is in plainer language. Perhaps better respond to such and not mine

  • forestgee

    It is important to read and remember History…but we should be concerned with the lessons of history and think of how best to deal with the current despot and his herdsmen

  • Otile

    Of late Ajibola has become a scarecrow, he is now saying this because Gen Abacha is no longer with us. Similarly when Imam Buhari checks out Asiwaju Ebola Ahmed and others will voice out in strong languages how Mohamed Buhari killed Shiites and Igbo Christians. None of these people will tell you how much we miss Gen Abacha for if the Genteral was alive today our people would not suffer indignities in Bakassi.