Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (CFR), often referred to as M. K. O. Abiola, was a popular Nigerian Yoruba businessman, publisher, politician and aristocrat of the Yoruba Egba clan. He contested for the popular June 12, 1993, elections under the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He is widely believed to be the winner of the election that was declared inconclusive by the then military administration of General Ibrahim Babaginda.
Abiola was born on August 24 1937, was arrested and detained in 1994, under the order of military President General Sani Abacha after he led several protests where he claimed he was the lawful president of Nigeria, following the annulment of the election regarded by many Nigerians as the freest and fairest in our nation’s history.
He died on this day in 1998 (July 7, 1998) under military detention after spending four years. Cause of death was said to be heart attack and natural. Many believe he was murdered.
Here is an account of how he spent his last few days :
His last days were spent in solitary confinement under detention. Apart from his medical doctor, Dr Ore Falomo who visited him, he entertained few visitors shortly before and on the day he died. Many believed some of them were sent to kill him.
Former United Nation secretary-general, Kofi Annan was among those that visited him. His mission in Nigeria at that time was too see the end of military dictatorship and to ensure a smooth transition to a civilian government.
After meeting with the then head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Kofi Annan alongside former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku proceeded to see Abiola in June 1998, to ask him to relinquish is mandate and change his stance about being the rightful president of Nigeria.
According to Koffi Annan, Abiola said he had no intention of claiming the presidency,all he wanted was go to Mecca to pray and give thanks. But he emphasised that he would make no commitment in writing. If he did so, he felt this would destroy his reputation. But he said he was willing to give the same assurance to President Abubakar.
Abiola died the following week.
United States of America Envoy
On the day of his death, July 7,1998, which was the scheduled day of release he was in a meeting with the then U.S Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, Assistant secretary of State Susan Rice and two other United States Officials were on similar mission to that of Kofi Annan. He was reported to have died after complaining of chest pain and fatigue after taking a cup of tea during the meeting.
Dr Falomo believed the American delegates were responsible for his death.