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Vol 39 No 2

Published 23rd January 1998


Nigeria

Plots, lies and videotapes

Amid general discontent and military nervousness, the Abacha regime's latest claim of a coup plot is unlikely to be its last

General Sani Abacha is pulling out all the stops to gain maximum political advantage from the latest alleged coup plot. Videotaped scenes from interrogations of the accused, including Abacha's former Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant Gen. Oladipo Diya, have been shown to carefully selected retired military officers, traditional rulers, journalists and other prominent figures. So have audiotapes of alleged meetings between the suspects and other senior officers, in which the plan to assassinate Abacha and hand over power to Diya were apparently discussed. The regime has also orchestrated mobs of demonstrators to march singing Abacha's praises and heap abuse on the 'coup plotters'. All this seems to be intended to portray Abacha as a national saviour who must stand (probably alone) in August's scheduled presidential election. But the evidence of a plot disclosed so far remains highly ambiguous.

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