Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

Chronology for Yoruba in Nigeria

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Yoruba in Nigeria, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f38c5c.html [accessed 20 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
1801 - 1900 The Fulani wars were fought. Missionary activities spread. Britain set up northern and southern protectorates and a colony in Lagos.
1914 Territories were combined to form Nigeria and administered through four provinces - Northern, Eastern, Western and the colony of Lagos.
1922 The Clifford Constitution stipulated that a Legislative Council administer the Eastern and Western regions. This was regarded as the first step toward autonomy from British rule. The Ibo and Yoruba regions were affected by this change, causing further animosities between the north, which continued to be ruled indirectly by the British, and the potentially autonomous south.
1945 - 1950 The "Jos" riots occurred in the North. They were minor riots in protest of the northern amalgamation with the southern regions. When oil was discovered in the Ibo dominated eastern region, the Emirs of Zaria and Katsina demanded fifty percent of the seats in the newly formed Central Legislature. The Emirs threatened to secede from Nigeria if their demands were not met. The acceptance of these demands signaled the beginning of northern domination of Nigerian national politics.
1953 Anti-Ibo riots broke out in the north in protest of Ibo domination of social, political, business and military institutions. Ibos were hunted down and attacked in Kano, 245 were injured and more than 52 were killed. The southern Yoruba did not participate in the fighting.
1954 The Federal Executive Council (FEC) was created to introduce the eastern and western regions to a system of greater autonomy. This caused further animosities between the northerners and their southern Ibo neighbors.
1959 A coalition between the Hausa-Fulani supported Northern People's Congress (NPC), the Ibo National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC) blocked the western Yoruba controlled Action Group (AG) party from gaining any significant share of central authority in the December elections. A northerner, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was named Prime Minister.
Oct 1, 1960 Nigeria gains independence. A referendum adds the territory of Northern Cameroon, called Gongola state, which was administered by Britain as part of Nigeria. Prior to independence, the Ibo dominated the political, social, military and business institutions of Nigeria. After independence, the Ibo lost their privileged status, while the Hausa/Fulani gained affluence and controlled the federal government.
1963 The Federal Republic of Nigeria was proclaimed and Nnamdi Azikiwe was named President.
1965 The Yoruba riot in protest against what they see as forced exclusion of the AG from the Federal government. Ibo attacks on AG followers in the west sparked off the violence. Federal troops had to intervene to bring calm to the areas affected.
Jan 15, 1966 A military coup d'etat led by lower and middle-ranking officers, some of them Ibo, overthrew the NPC-NCNC dominated government. Prime Minister Balewa along with other northern and western government officials were assassinated during the coup. The coup was widely considered an Ibo plot to consolidate power and overthrow the northern dominated government. General Johnson Ironsi, an Ibo, consolidated power in the military and used its power to restore order throughout Nigeria. Ironsi declared all political parties illegal and formed the Federal Military Government (FMG).
Jul 29, 1966 A counter-coup was launched by mostly northern troops. General Ironsi and many others, mostly Ibo, were killed. Between June and July there was a mass exodus of Ibo from the north and west. Over 1.3 million Ibo fled the neighboring regions in order to escape persecution as anti-Ibo riots increased. The military aided some Ibo in their flight but many of those unescorted were massacred. The FMG, now under the control of Major General Yakubu Gowon, a middle-belt tribe member and a Christian, restored calm to Nigeria. The anti-Ibo riots led many to believe that the only way they could live securely was to secede and form their own country.
Aug 1 - Sep 30, 1966 Anti-Ibo riots gained momentum and voracity. The exodus gained greater impetus as hundreds of thousands fled the riot torn north. Armed bands of civilians and militia slaughtered Ibos indiscriminately. Over 30,000, mostly Ibo, were said to have died in the north and west. The eastern region was now flooded with Ibo refugees.
1967 - 1970 The Biafra civil war, an effort by eastern Ibo people to secede, fails with the surrender of Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Between 1.5 million and 2.1 million were killed, including many who died in the famine following the war. The end result of the Ibo war of secession was the deaths of a large portion of their more educated male members and the almost total removal of Ibo from government. After the war, many Ibo were permanently removed from government service.
1975 General Gowon was removed from office during a bloodless coup. Many attributed his downfall to his indefinite postponement of a return to civilian rule. The coup was seen as an attempt by middle-belt tribes to consolidate power in the FMG. Gowon was replaced by Brigadier Murtala Ramat Muhammad, a northern Moslem. Under Muhammad, the Ibos continued to be marginalized.
Feb 13, 1976 Muhammed was assassinated in another counter-coup and General Olusegun Obasanjo was his successor. Under the new rule, seven more states were created to allow minority groups more say in the national political arena. After a brief period in power, Obasanjo became the first Nigerian military ruler to voluntarily give up power to a civilian.
1979 After elections that once again resulted in northern Moslem dominance of Nigerian politics, there were increased claims of "forced Islamization" of the southerners and middle-belt inhabitants. The new government, with President Alhaji Shehu Shagari, had little legitimacy in the eyes of in the middle-belt and southern peoples.
Aug 1983 Violence erupts in two Yoruba-speaking areas: Oyo and Ondo states. The violence occurred in response to alleged vote-rigging in the gubernatorial elections. The UPN (Unity Party of Niger) is the traditional party among the Yoruba, but the government reported that its party, the NPN (National Party of Nigeria) gained the governorship in Oyo. At least 48 people died in Oyo state and 40 in Ondo state.
Dec 31, 1983 President Shagari was overthrown in a coup d'etat and the military one again intervened to restore order across Nigeria. General Ibrahim Babangida, a northern Moslem, took over to end the corruption and ethnic and religious tension that engulfed the Shagari regime. The FMG was dissolved and the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) is created to rule Nigeria.
1985 An attempted coup was thwarted and over 300 people were arrested. Many of those arrested were summarily executed.
1986 General Babangida allows the country to join the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). This sparks widespread rioting in universities throughout Nigeria and in many southern cities. At this point, the country is thought to be less than 50% Moslem. Clashes between Moslem and Christian students in the north last over a week in Kaduna state. The government declared a dusk to dawn curfew to restore calm. A decrease in the price of oil devastates the Nigerian economy which had become dependent on oil sales.
1987 Religious tensions increase as northern Moslems call for the imposition of Islamic law and courts for Nigeria.
1988 General Babangida announces that Nigeria will remain a secular state. However, to reduce religious tensions, he allows Shari'a courts in Moslem dominated areas.
May 1 - Jun 30, 1989 More than 100 people were killed during widespread rioting which was sparked by student protests against strict economic austerity measures. The rioting spread through several cities and the army was called in to restore order in Lagos and Benin. The government announced that political activity would be temporarily banned in those cities. Eight universities were closed.
May 3, 1989 President Babangida announced the promulgation of a new draft constitution. He also announced, in line with the 1987 timetable for a return to democracy in 1992, the lifting of the ban on political parties.
Jun 22, 1989 The ban on political activity was lifted.
Oct 7, 1989 President Babangida announced the dissolution of all 13 political parties which had applied for registration. He announced the creation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC). The members of the 13 parties were to merge with the newly created parties. The original members of the 13 groups were prohibited from recruiting new individuals to either party. Local elections were postponed.
Dec 1989 A wide-ranging reshuffle of the government left northern Moslems in the offices of the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army and police chiefs, and the Ministers of External Affairs, Petroleum Resources, and Budget.
Jan 1, 1990 President Babangida, in an attempt to polish Nigeria's poor human rights record, ordered a general amnesty for those held in prisons for light offenses who had not yet been tried.
Jan 1990 In early January, Adamu M. Fika and Stephen B. Agodo were appointed to head the two national parties, the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) respectively.
Jan 8, 1990 In the wake of the Cabinet reshuffle, Christians demonstrated in the predominantly Moslem towns of Ondo on 8 January. On 11 January they demonstrated in Kaduna, Jos, Yola and Buachi.
Apr 22, 1990 Dissident middle-ranking Army officers led by Maj. Gideon Orkar attempted to overthrow President Babangida. The mutineers implied that their motives were religious and regional (the mutineers being mainly from the south and Christian). Maj. Orkar stated that he had the backing of the Nigerian Labor Congress, the Bar Association and the unions of journalists and students. Heavy fighting was reported and 10 people were killed. General Sani Abacha, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chief of Army Staff, reaffirmed the military's loyalty to the President and to the continuation of the transition to a multi-party, democratic, civilian ruled state. Major Orkar and 200 lower ranking soldiers were arrested in the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup.
Jul 27, 1990 Forty-two soldiers were executed by firing squad after being found guilty of staging the coup in April. Major Orkar, the organizer of the failed coup, was among those executed. Altogether over 800 people stood trial.
Sep 5, 1990 Several senior government appointees were retired from the armed forces in a major restructuring of the military. The move was in alignment with the process of drastically downsizing the armed forces for the move to civilian rule.
Sep 13, 1990 Twenty-seven soldiers involved in April's coup attempt were executed. The total coup related executions stood at sixty-nine.
Dec 8, 1990 Local elections were held for the first time since the military coup of 1983. A low voter turnout was cited in the south of the country. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 232 chairmanships of local government and had a total of 2,934 councilors elected. The National Republican Convention (NRC) won 206 chairmanships and had 2,558 councilors elected.
Apr 1991 Several weeks of riots in the northern state of Katsina by a group loyal to the local Shi'ite Moslem leader, Mallam Yakubu Yahaya, came to a head in April. The sect was rioting in protest of an article published in a local magazine in December 1990, which they considered blasphemous. Up to 246 people were killed.
Sep 2 - 3, 1991 Mallam Yakubu Yahaya, a Shi'ite Moslem leader, and 65 members of his sect were convicted following religious rioting in April. Yahaya was among 160 people arrested during the riots. Most received prison sentences between six and nine months.
Oct 14, 1991 A curfew was declared and all religious gatherings were banned after a major outbreak of religious rioting began in Kano, a principal Moslem center in northern Nigeria. Over 200 were killed. The riots began when 10,000 Moslems marched in the town center, protesting that permission had been granted for a five-day Christian revivalist rally, whereas some weeks previously permission had been refused for a Moslem imam to speak in Kano.
Dec 12, 1991 Abuja, a more politically neutral city in central Nigeria, formally became Nigeria's federal capital.
Dec 14, 1991 State elections took place peacefully. The NRC, right wing party, won 16 of the 30 state governorships and gained control of 13 state assemblies. The SDP won control of 16 assemblies, including those in three states- Lagos, Katsina and Cross River, where the NRC won the gubernatorial poll. The results were thought to hail the end of the regionalization of Nigeria.
Dec 19, 1991 The government, in a surprise move, lifted the ban on former politicians taking part in the transition to democracy. On 20 December, eleven former politicians, earlier detained for contravening the ban, were released.
Jan 8, 1992 At least 10 people were killed in rioting by Shi'ite Moslems in Katsina state. The rioting was linked to the arrest of 263 Moslems described by the state governor as "fundamentalists".
Mar 1992 Over 200 are killed in Taraba state in a dispute between Muslims and Christians over the use of two fishing ponds for a fishing festival.
May 16 - 18, 1992 Clashes occurred between Christians and Moslems in Kaduna state, which is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. What began as a land dispute between the minority Christian Datafs and the mainly Moslem Hausa people quickly turned into a religious conflict. Churches were destroyed and thousands of Christians converged on a military academy and police stations in the town to seek protection. As many as 800 people were killed in the violence. Christian and Muslim leaders blamed the government for fomenting ethnic violence as a means of retaining power in the region. On 18 May, state authorities imposed a curfew on the affected areas.
May 19, 1992 The federal government announced an immediate ban on all associations with "religious, ethnic, tribal, cultural, social group, or individual interests".
May 21, 1992 Fresh rioting was reported in Lagos after the 18 May arrest of Beko Ransome Kuti, Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), and of other leading CD activists. The CD, an umbrella organization of 25 opposition groups, had called for the resignation of the government on 10 May. Kuti accused the government of instigating the violence to delay the transition to civilian rule.
Jul 4, 1992 The SDP won 52 seats and the NRC won 37 seats in the Senate elections. The SDP won 314 seats, the NRC 275 seats in the House of Representative elections. SDP support came from Lagos, the Yoruba-speaking region of the south-west and the middle-belt states. NRC support came mainly from Moslem Hausa and Fulani-speaking states in the north. Fighting was reported at polling stations in several states, mainly in the southeast, and a few elections were postponed in other areas for various reasons.
Sep 1992 Primary elections were held and appeared to be bedeviled by corruption, in spite of a decree which imposed severe penalties on anyone found guilty of electoral corruption.
Oct 16, 1992 President Babangida announced the cancellation of the presidential primary election and the dissolution of the leadership of the two government-created political parties, the NRC and SDP.
Nov 16, 1992 President Babangida announced a delay in the transfer from military to civilian rule. Presidential elections were to be held on June 12, 1993 instead of December 5, 1992. The 23 prospective presidential candidates who had contested the discredited primaries would not be permitted to run again and were prohibited from joining the political parties.
Dec 15, 1992 A civilian Transitional Council was appointed to form a temporary administration until the return to civilian rule currently scheduled for August 1993. Power still resided with the president and National Defence and Security Council.
Jan 22, 1993 At least 60 people were reported killed in three days of clashes between rival Muslim sects in Funtua, in the northern state of Katsina.
Apr 1993 In the past three years, 3000 people have been killed in the north in Christian/Muslim clashes. Christian Ibo live in the Muslim-dominated north as traders.
Jun 12, 1993 Presidential elections took place as scheduled. The voting went smoothly but there was a low voter turnout.
Jun 15, 1993 The Association for a Better Nigeria (ABN) won a ruling in the Abuja High Court directing the NEC to halt the publication of election results. The NEC complied on June 16. Both political parties issued demands for the release of election results. As tensions increased the military tightened security in the main cities.
Jun 18, 1993 Defying the Court ruling, the Lagos-based Campaign for Democracy (CD) released what it claimed to be the final banned election results. According to them, SDP candidate, Moshood Dashimawo Olawale "MKO" Abiola, who is a Muslim Yoruba, had easily defeated NRC candidate, Bashir Othma Tofa, a Moslem from the north, winning outright in 19 of the 30 states. About one-third of northerners voted for Abiola, seeing him as being more independent of the military than Tofa. After the following months of Yoruba protests, however, Abiola loses support in the north as the Hausa/Fulani began to fear southern domination.
Jun 19, 1993 After three high courts and the elected Federal Parliament demanded that the junta publish election results, the SDP candidate, Moshood Abiola, declared himself the winner of the election and demanded the publication of the results by the NEC. Supporters of the more conservative NRC held peaceful protests in northern towns. A high court in Lagos restrained the ABN from further campaigning for an extension of military rule.
Jun 23, 1993 Two days after the NEC had lodged an appeal against the Abuja High Court ruling with the Federal Court for Appeal in Kaduna, the NDSC announced that the presidential elections had been annulled.
Jun 24, 1993 Moshood Abiola, a Muslim Yoruba and member of the SDP, proclaimed himself President of Nigeria and urged the international community to support him against the military. The CD called for mass disobedience until the NDSC rescinded their annulment.
Jun 25, 1993 President Babangida promised that the transfer to civilian rule would occur as scheduled but a new poll would be held and new rules written so that Abiola and Tofa would be banned from the new election. Also in June, outbreaks of unrest, in which over 100 were killed in northern and western states, were reported.
Jul 5, 1993 Political unrest brought Lagos to a halt as thousands heeded a strike and civil disobedience call. Protesters cordoned off the business district with burning barricades and called for the immediate installation of SDP candidate Abiola as president.
Jul 7, 1993 Tanks were dispatched to quell the violence in Lagos, calm was reportedly restored.
Jul 13, 1993 The NDSC formally withdrew its offer of setting up an interim government and called for new elections. The new election date of August 14, was announced a few days later. The SDP repeated its refusal to participate in the new elections stating that the June elections were free and fair. The NRC accepted the new dates.
Jul 27, 1993 Hundreds of northern and eastern Nigerians began to flee their villages after rumors of war began to circulate. The Hausa, Kanuri and Ibos feared that despite Lagos' calm, a new wave of unrest could explode if Babangida reneged on his promise to relinquish power. Within the next few weeks, 10,000 will have fled Lagos.
Jul 31, 1993 President Babangida resurrected the idea of an Interim National Government (ING), that would consist of members of both parties and military personnel. The proposal was rejected by Abiola.
Aug 4, 1993 Abiola fled Nigeria after receiving death threats. He began a trip to seek international support.
Aug 9, 1993 Security forces arrested several leading members of the CD (Campaign for Democracy), and the government threatened to impose a state of emergency in an attempt to thwart civil disobedience.
Aug 12 - 14, 1993 A three day strike was called by the CD and was heeded in Yoruba areas. Lagos, the country's main economic area, was once again deserted and idle. The government put tight restrictions on the publishing of papers and tougher penalties on those papers that print "false statement, rumors, or reports".
Aug 20, 1993 After visiting Washington and Paris, Abiola spoke from London promising to return to Nigeria to install his new Cabinet. However, Justice Minister Clement Akpamgbo warned that such a move would be regarded as "insurrection".
Aug 25 - 27, 1993 The CD organized another round of strikes and the country's economic heartland came to a standstill.
Aug 26, 1993 President Babangida stepped down, handing over power to a non-elected Interim National Government (ING). Two advisory bodies were created, the National Defence Council (NDC) and the National Security Council (NSC). The NDSC became obsolete, but several of its members joined the new Cabinet and Councils.
Aug 27, 1993 The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), a federation of 42 main unions, rejected the ING and demanded the installation of a constitutional administration headed by Abiola. An indefinite strike began the following day. They were joined by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (Nupeng), which said its 50,000 workers would bring production to a halt.
Sep 19, 1993 The NEC announced that presidential elections would be held on February 19, 1994. Following the announcement, the CD called for a national strike between September 29-October 1. There were mixed reports on the success of the strikes. Nigerian radio reported that the strike call had gone largely unheeded. However, Pan-African News Agency (PANA), reported that the streets of Lagos were empty and that most businesses and banks were closed.
Sep 24, 1993 SDP leader, Abiola, returned to Nigeria and was greeted by over 100,000 supporters.
Oct 3, 1993 The SDP, previously divided over support for Abiola, reconciled and announced that they would boycott any new elections. They viewed the June 12 elections as free and fair and demanded the installment of Abiola as president. In contrast, the NRC, on 19 October, rejected the June 12 elections and embraced the idea of new elections.
Nov 10, 1993 The Lagos High Court declared the ING unconstitutional and illegal in a ruling of a case filed by Moshood Abiola.
Nov 15, 1993 Shonekan's plans to hold new elections appeared non-viable after a voter registration campaign met with a complete boycott in the south-west, a stronghold of Abiola.
Nov 17, 1993 Nigeria came once again under the control of the military. The Defence Minister, Gen. Sani Abacha, took over as Head of State after forcing the resignation of Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan, head of the Interim National Government. Abacha took over the positions of Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
Nov 18, 1993 General Abacha announced the dissolution of the main organs of the state and established the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC). Almost every political appointment or governmental structure created under Babangida was dismissed and dissolved. Abacha called on the unions to return to work immediately. He lifted the bans on the media and promised to establish a constitutional conference with full constitutional powers.
Nov 20, 1993 The NLC agreed to call off the general strike after the new regime agreed to reduce the scale of the fuel price increase. Most pro-democracy demonstrations were limited to Abiola's home region. This move further solidified Abacha's power.
Nov 21, 1993 Abacha reinstated the 1979 Constitution (of the Second Republic) and formally establishing the PRC. The government included several prominent supporters of Abiola in its Cabinet.
Nov 23, 1993 Moshood Abiola met with Abacha but no details of their discussion were made public.
Feb 1, 1994 Traditional rulers from the five Yoruba states of the 30-state confederation announced that any future election would fail if the "injustice done to Yoruba through the annulment of the June 12 election" was not corrected.
Apr 14, 1994 In the central Nigerian city of Jos, a dusk to dawn curfew was imposed in reaction to several days of tensions between the Hausa-Fulani minority and the Berom majority. Tensions arose over the appointment of the local government chair. First, a Hausa was appointed, sparking the initial Berom demonstrations. Later, the government caved in to the pressure and appointed a Berom, which ignited Hausa-Fulani demonstrations.
May 15, 1994 A newly formed political organization, the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, issued a statement asking Abacha to invite Moshood Abiola to form a government of national unity. NADECO gave the head of state until May 31 to effect its order. NADECO also called for the formation of a national government which would restructure the Nigerian polity in order to establish true federalism, introduce more power sharing and revenue allocation, as well as encourage respect for the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians.
May 23, 1994 Nigerians were given the day off to vote on a new Constitutional Conference to sit from June to October to debate how to convert the state to civilian rule. There were neither parties nor issues. Only 10% of the voters turned out. The 273 delegates elected to the constitutional conference were mainly Hausa-Fulani from the north and some Ibo from the southeast. Yoruba politicians did not take part in the conference. In addition to the elected delegates, the military reserved the right to name 96 delegates to the conference.
Jun 6, 1994 Notable politicians and many regional organizations boycotted the ward election. Instead they asked Abacha to release the result of the June 12, 1993 elections and swear in the winner as president. The government was further jolted when Abiodun Adetiloye, archbishop of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, called on Abacha to "bow out honorably". The National Unity Promoters (NUP) formed which, like the Association for Democracy and Good Governance (ADGG), is a proponent of the June 12, 1993 election. The NUP is headed by Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's former head of state. In a surprise move, the Catholic Church also gave its support for the release of the June 12 election results.
Jun 23, 1994 Moshood Abiola was arrested on charges of sedition.
Aug 1994 The crisis facing Nigeria after the failed elections was the worst since the Ibo attempted to secede in the Biafra war. Over 100 have been killed in pro-democracy protests, which have been concentrated in Abiola's home region. There were some reports of clashes between Yoruba youth and Ibo shopkeepers as the Yoruba attempted to force the Ibo to comply with anti-government strikes. The past year of protests in the Yoruba region has crippled the economy. Abiola's trial was put on hold, and he was reportedly suffering from ill-health. Yoruba leaders including politicians, religious leaders, traditional rulers, retired military officers, and human rights activists announced their withdrawal from government services in protest over Abiola's continued detention. There are fears that this withdrawal is the first step towards secession by the Yoruba.
Jan 1995 Clashes were reported again in Kano between students and Muslim fundamentalists. Fundamentalists, including a radical group known as the Muslim Brotherhood, are funded by Iran and are gaining support in the north. Ibo leaders renewed charges of discrimination and victimization.
Mar 1995 Former president Obasanjo, a Yoruba, was arrested in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the government. Obasanjo played a role in forming the National Unity Organization of Nigeria, an opposition movement. His arrest drew angry responses from Western states.
May 1995 Religious riots erupted in Kano and at least 30 people were killed. Kano is the town in which an Ibo was beheaded by Muslim extremists for supposedly demeaning the Koran. More than 50 people are standing trial before a special federal government tribunal on civil disturbances.
Jun 1995 An Ibo man in Kano was beheaded for supposedly defaming the Koran by Muslims who took him out of the local police station. Christians and Muslims fight, and 30 were reported killed. It was widely thought that the man was unjustly accused. Leaders of the main opposition groups and six other prominent Yoruba politicians were arrested. No reason was given for their arrests. Also in June, a bomb blast in Ilorin in the northern state of Kwara killed three people. The blast was blamed on government opponents and 53 people were held in connection to it. Most of those held are members of the National Democratic Coalition which is campaigning for the military's exit from Nigerian politics. All arrested are from the Yoruba-speaking southwest. Workers also staged a one-day strike in Lagos on 12 June on the second anniversary of the annulled presidential election. In the run-up to the protest, police arrested scores of opposition activists in the southwest. In the rest of the country, the anniversary went largely unheeded.
Aug 1995 Sporadic outbreaks of ethnic and religious violence were reported in Kano.
Sep 1995 Sani Abacha dispatched an emissary to Europe for meetings with Washington officials to discuss the return to democracy in Nigeria. Abacha proposed a transition period of four years and the U.S. representatives responded that 18 months should be enough.
Oct 1, 1995 In a speech, Sani Abacha pledged to institute a program under which the country's top six political positions would be rotated among six regions in an effort to minimize ethnic tensions. He also commuted the death sentences of 14 people convicted of plotting a coup against him. Others given life imprisonment sentences had their sentences reduced to fifteen years' imprisonment. The human rights group Campaign for Democracy's leader Beko Ransome-Kuti and former president Obasanjo were among those whose sentences were reduced to 15 years. Since coming to power in November 1993, Sani Abacha had jailed Moshood Abiola, a Yoruba and winner of the 1993 presidential election which was nullified by the military government, General Olusengu Obasanjo, a Yoruba and the only military leader to voluntarily give up power to a civilian, Beko Ransome-Kuti, a Yoruba and leader of a pro-democracy movement, and northern politician General Sehu Musa Yar'Adua. Other senior members of the military have been arrested for allegedly plotting coups against Abacha. The military has been transformed into a political movement presided over by a small group of officers. During Ibrahim Babangida's 1985-1993 rule, $12 billion in oil revenues could not be accounted for. After 25 years of exporting oil worth more the $200 billion, Nigerians enjoy a per capita income of only about $300 which is unchanged from before the discovery of oil in the country.
Nov 17, 1995 NADECO (National Democratic Coalition, a pro-democracy umbrella group) stated that the international community's isolation of Nigeria was not enough to bring real change to the military-ruled country.
Jan 25, 1996 The 15 member European Union has accepted Nigeria's three-year transition to democracy plan in a sudden change of policy from its former demand that the period be shortened.
Jun 12, 1996 The Nigerian government reformed two decrees, including the one under which nine Ogoni were executed in November 1995. Effective immediately, no military person would sit on special tribunals such as the one that convicted the Ogoni nine. Further, verdicts from these tribunals would from now on be open to appeal. The other decree to be amended deals with detention without trial. The amendment provides hope that some of the dozens of detainees under the decree will be released through the courts which are now allowed to hear their suits against the detention.
Aug 1996 Sani Abacha has reportedly dismissed all 30 State Administrators in a purge of regional bureaucrats, and replaced them with middle-ranking military officers. Eighty people have been killed in ethnic clashes between the Karimjo and Fulani in eastern Nigeria. More than 400 Karimjo houses have been razed and over 6000 people have fled their homes in the violence which was reportedly started by an attempted rape of a Karimjo woman by a Fulani man.
Sep 1996 The leader of the Muslim Brothers, a group of young Islamic fanatics from the minority Shiite sect in Nigeria, Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, was arrested for questioning about his organization's activities.
Sep 16, 1996 There was a new outbreak of violence between Muslim fundamentalists and Christians which left two dead and several wounded at Kafachan in Kaduna state in northern Nigeria. Two similar incidents occurred in June in Kaduna and Niger states in which at least four people were killed. Fifty Muslim fundamentalists were arrested following these incidents.
Feb 1997 The Nigerian government said it had uncovered fresh plans by pro-democracy groups to destabilize the country using university students. The government alleged the plot to disrupt local governmental elections slated for March involved the National Liberation Council of Nigeria (NALICON), led by exiled writer Wole Soyinka, MOSOP, NADECO and the United Democratic Association (UDA).
Apr 1997 Ethnic violence has erupted in Warri in southwestern Nigeria. The Urhobo (a subgroup of the Edo ethnic group), Itsekiri (a sub-group of the Yoruba), and Ijaw (an ethnic group unrelated to any other) have been fighting since March when a local government headquarters was moved from the Ijaw town of Ogbe-ijoh to the Itsekiri area of Ogidigben. More than 100 have been killed and hundreds injured. Warri is the headquarters of a number of oil companies, and Shell has pulled out some of its staff, cut production by 20%, and delayed exports. The distribution of wealth from the oil revenues appears to flow unevenly among the three groups. The Urhobos and Ijaws complain that oil royalties are paid to the Olu of Warri, the traditional ruler of the Itsekiris. Ijaws are a relatively large ethnic group (>5 million) in Nigeria, but they are spread out over six states and are not the majority in any of them. Over the past couple of years while the Ogoni in the region protested, the Ijaws were quietly arming themselves. Similar protests have taken place all over Nigeria since the restructuring of local councils took place in March.
May 1997 Elections in Nigeria were scheduled for 1998. Moshood Abiola remained jailed for a third year. The United Congress party is growing in power and has been lobbying for Sani Abacha to be its presidential candidate. Abacha has indicated he may step down from power in order to run for president with a political party. The main umbrella opposition group the National Democratic Coalition is thought to be behind a recent spate of bombings in the country, many of which were aimed at military targets. Nigeria pumps about $40 million worth of oil per day and the most politically explosive question is what has become of the money? Partly because the north has been hardest hit by economic troubles, religious strife is beginning to spread, and Muslim militants have been verbally attacking the government with charges of corruption.
May 7, 1997 A bomb exploded on an army bus in Lagos wounding several people. A second blast followed. It was the fifth bomb attack in Lagos targeting the military since December 1996. Police have blamed the blasts on NADECO, the pro-democracy movement of Nigeria. NADECO denies involvement.
Jun 1997 Violence that has been taking place in Warri since March has claimed the lives of over 100 people. Twice that number have been injured in the clashes between Ijaw and Itsekiri communities. The Ijaw have complained that soldiers have begun targeting their youths; the military denies this charge. The Itsekiri recently withdrew from a commission set up to investigate the clashes.
Jun 17, 1997 Washington officials launched informal discussions about reviewing U.S. policy on Nigeria. Human rights and environmental groups have been pressuring the U.S. government to take stronger action against the Abacha regime because current sanctions have had no noticeable effect on the Nigerian government. Almost half of Nigeria's oil exports are shipped to the United States which provides Nigeria with 90% of its export earnings.
Jul 11, 1997 NADECO chair Abraham Adesanya said he was denied permission to travel to London to attend a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on Nigeria. His passport was seized by the authorities, and returned to him after the meeting took place. The Committee meeting was to make recommendation on whether to expel Nigeria from the Commonwealth or continue its suspension.
Aug 1997 Violence erupted in Osun State between Ife and Modekeke (both Yoruba sub-groups) over the government's relocation of a council head-quarters from Modekeke to an Ife- dominated area. In addition to over 70 houses being burnt, over 70 people died and 160 were hospitalized in clashes between the two communities. Nationally, there are 776 local councils in 36 states, and disputes over their location have sprung up in several parts of the country.
Sep 29, 1997 Four boatloads of soldiers reportedly attacked the ethnic Ijaw village of Ekermor Zion, Delta State, killing one man, arresting 58 others, and destroying 10 homes. The attack was an apparent reprisal against the town for the earlier disappearance and presumed killing of four soldiers who were reportedly involved in extorting money from the community.
Oct 22, 1997 Pro-democracy groups, including NADECO, have called on the Commonwealth to impose tougher and more comprehensive sanctions against the military regime of Abacha. Nigeria is to be a top priority for the 31st Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting beginning 24 October.
Nov 6, 1997 Thousands of people from 23 local government areas in Kaduna State held a solidarity rally in support of the federal government. The rally was organized by the Committee for the Defence of Nigeria's Interests and Integrity. It chairman, Malam Hamze Mohamed, condemned NADECO and Nigerians abroad who are critical of Abacha's government.
Dec 6, 1997 Local elections took place across Nigeria. In Osun State, Administrator Lt. Col. Anthony Obi ordered voting suspended in Ife East and Ife Central council areas because of fighting between the Ife and Modekeke. Four days of violence have left a dozen people dead. Sporadic violence has occurred since October.
Dec 21, 1997 The government announced an alleged coup plot involving second in command General Donaldson Oladipu Diya and 11 others. Most analysts say Diya's arrest signals deep divisions within the military and reflects mounting tensions over Abacha's intention to remain in office.
Feb 20, 1998 Hundreds of students in Lagos held a demonstration against Abacha's government. They were protesting as the Lagos State Military Administrator, Col. Mohammed Marwa, visited the university. Few organized demonstrations have taken place in recent months as opposition activities are effectively banned by the government.
Mar 1998 Eighteen prominent northern figures wrote an open letter urging Abacha to resign.
Apr 25, 1998 Five people were killed in an explosion in the southwest city of Ile-Ife the day before national assembly elections were to take place. A bomb also exploded in a market in Lagos. The opposition boycotted the elections to protest Abacha's rule, and polling stations reported few voters. Less than 8% of voters turned out in Lagos.
Apr 29, 1998 Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya and 11 others were sentenced to death for their alleged participation in a coup plot against Abacha. All 12, and most of the 24 other defendants are Yoruba. Diya was not popular in the Yoruba community because of his close ties to Abacha, yet the sentences handed down has exacerbated tensions between the Yoruba community and the government.
May 1, 1998 Police in Ibaden, an opposition stronghold, opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators after and anti-government rally escalated into a riot. An estimated 5000 protestors, mostly Yoruba, were marching through the city when some began setting fire to cars and buildings. At least seven people were killed and at least 20 arrested.
May 4, 1998 Pro-democracy and human rights groups met in secret to form an umbrella opposition organization-Joint Action Committee of Nigeria (Jacon).
May 6, 1998 Authorities arrested Ayo Opadokunm Secretary-General of NADECO. He was the 11th known opposition leader to have been jailed in less than a week. He was previously imprisoned for three years without charge or trial. The recent arrests have followed riots in Ibadan and growing tension in the country since Abacha was adopted by five political parties as the sole candidate for president. Other prominent figures arrested included opposition leaders Chief Bola Ige and Lam Adesina, Olusegun Marygum of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, and Olisa Agbakoba of United Action for Democracy.
May 29, 1998 NADECO Secretary-General Opadokun has obtained permission from a Lagos court to pursue a lawsuit over his unlawful imprisonment. NADECO members are pursuing his release through the courts.
Jun 8, 1998 Military leader Sani Abacha died of a heart attack. Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar became the new head of state.
Jun 16, 1998 Gen. Abubakar released nine prominent political prisoners including Gen. Obasanjo and NADECO chief Otumba Olabiyi Durojayi.
Jun 19, 1998 NADECO has declared its wish to enter into dialogue with Gen. Abubakar. They continue to demand the release of Moshood Abiola, the termination of the current transition program, the formation of a government of national unity led by Abiola, the setting up of an independent electoral commission, and the holding of free and fair elections.
Jun 30, 1998 As part of the efforts to ease tension in Nigeria and more so to promote calm, General Abdusalam Abubakar released seventeen more political prisoners imprisoned by the late President Sani Abacha.
Jul 8, 1998 The death of the suspected heart attack of Chief Moshood Abiola caused a stir in the Yoruba communities of Nigeria as eruption of violence has become the order of the day. In Lagos, Abeokuta and Ibadan the outbreak of violence was so serious that about twelve people were reported dead and properties running into millions of naira were destroyed.
Jul 10, 1998 Further violence broke out in Ibadan as people awaited a post mortem investigation into the death of Chief Moshood Abiola. Supporters of Abiola clashed with some Northern Nigerians. However, the military, opposition and religious leaders have tried to maintain peace to some extent. In another move to promote peace, the Military rulers, commuted the death sentence against six former officials who were accused of trying to overthrow the late Abacha regime.
Jul 12, 1998 The opposition, National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) called for the military to step aside and make way for a democratic government of regional representations.
Jul 17, 1998 In a nation wide television broadcast, General Abdusalam Abubakar announced plans to transfer power to a civilian government.
Aug 6, 1998 Clashes between Ife and Modakeke communities renewed with exchange of gun fire spreading from the Lagere and Akarabata areas. Five people were feared dead and ten people wounded in the clashes.
Sep 15, 1998 Warring residents of Nigeria's Western city of Ife have agreed to embrace peace following a meeting held with the local traditional chiefs of the city. Ife, the spiritual seat of the Yoruba people has been torn by crisis since last year as the two sub-groups battled over territorial space. The death toll in the crisis was over two hundred.
Sep 24, 1998 A group of political leaders from the south has threatened to boycott the country's local government elections unless the government of General Abdusalam Abubakar reformed the army and scraped a set of draconian laws used to silence political opponents. Adesanya, who is the chairman of NADECO and leader of the Pan Yoruba Group said in support of their claim that, the structures that were used to annul the June 1993 elections widely believed to have been won by Abiola were still in place. A communique, issued by the group and made available to IPS, also demanded the restructuring of the army and the notorious secret service before holding the elections.
Sep 28, 1998 Efforts were made to put things in order for the impending state elections. The Independent Electoral Commission(INEC) has met with all the political associations and approved of their participation in the elections.
Oct 12, 1998 Key northern figures support a power shift to the south but would like to see General Olusegun Obasajo win the presidency.
Oct 21, 1998 The Pan Yoruba Action Committee (PYAC) has rejected military option in the resolution of the debilitating crisis in the Niger-Delta. The group in a statement by its secretary, Popoola Ajayi called on the military junta not to use military solution to quell the socio-political protests by Ijaw in the Niger-Delta as that would aggravate the situation. Irregularities of the voter registration process portends a great danger for the success of the transition program. When the exercise came to an end, pages of the national newspapers were awash with criticisms by party chieftains, political pundits and prospective voters who were calling for either a suspension or an outright cancellation of the exercise. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body vested with the responsibility of carrying out the exercise, was accused of incompetence.
Oct 26, 1998 Fighting, pitting the Itsekiris against the Ijaws, began in the south-eastern town of Warri last week. Police said at least ten people were killed during the disturbances, and more than 90 houses were set on fire. Media reports in Lagos said "a number of buses" belonging to the Shell and Texaco oil companies in the town have also been attacked, with the youths pulling out the passengers and forcing them to identify their ethnic group. A village of 4,000 people nearby has also been torched. A number of oil installation workers, detained three weeks ago, were still being held by Ijaw youths. Diplomats have warned that the clashes will affect foreign investment. (Inter Press News)
Oct 30, 1998 There has once again been an outbreak of violence in the Delta region. About ten people are reported dead with about ninety houses set on fire. Media reports in Lagos said a number of buses belonging to Shell and Texaco in the town have been attacked with the youths pulling out passengers and forcing them to identify their ethnic group. They also refused to release the oil installation workers who were detained.
Dec 16, 1998 Violence erupted in Gboko, Benue State on 9 December as some Tiv youths attacked Igbo over the killing of a Tiv man. (Africa News Service Inc)
Dec 30, 1998 Dr. Godson Nnaka, one of the major speakers at the World Pan- Igbo Conference held in Enugu, warned the old generation of Nigerian political leaders to ensure the success of the current transition program or face a generational war from the country's youth who hold the elders responsible for the failure of Nigeria since independence. (Africa News Service Inc, Africa News)
Jan 15, 1999 Nigerians were concerned over the state of health of former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya who was convicted of an attempted coup in 1997 to overthrow the regime of the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.(Africa News Service Inc, Africa News)
Feb 10, 1999 Nigeria's political parties face problems of choosing their presidential candidates for the presidential elections as each party wanted to hold it's congress after its rival. The Chief of General Staff Admiral Akhigbe said that the regime was not going to allow the derailment of the transition program. He announced that the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie had been mandated to forestall any breakdown in law and order during the period. (Africa News Service Inc, Africa News)
Feb 17, 1999 The People's Democratic Party held its convention to nominate a candidate for the presidential elections. General Olusegun Obasanjo was elected as the presidential candidate of the party. However, his election was interpreted by some Ibo political leaders as a rejection of an Ibo, Dr. Alex Ekueme. Some Ibo leaders urged their kinsmen not to support General Olusegun Obasanjo candidacy. (Africa News Service Inc, Africa News.)
Feb 19, 1999 Ibos were urged to reject General Olusegun Obasanjo by voting massively for the APP/AD alliance led by former finance minister, Chief Olu Falae. Chief Falae urged the Igbos to reject General Olusegun Obasanjo whom he described as a representative of the military. He said that support for AD/APP coalition will adequately address the Igbo agenda of restructuring the federation and devolution of power. (Africa News Service Inc)
Feb 22, 1999 Nigeria's Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) scored an overwhelming victory in the national assembly elections. Preliminary results gave the PDP, which had swept the local council, state assemblies and governor elections, more than 50 percent success in the federal legislative contest. The Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the All People's Party (APP) won 36 of a total 109 senatorial seats contested Saturday. (Africa News Service Inc, Africa News)
Feb 22, 1999 The Ohana-Eze Ndi- Igbo, a pan- Igbo cultural association comprising a highly influential conservative Igbo, adopted Chief Olu Falae as the association's president to lead Nigeria into the next millennium. After the rejection of Dr. Ekwueme as the PDP presidential candidate, the PDP is said to be grossly splintered in the South-East, giving room for the Alliance for Democracy to make in-roads into the South-East. (Africa News Service)
Feb 22, 1999 The Igbo community in Abuja, said they deliberately boycotted last week's legislative elections to protest what they described an "injustice against the Ndi- Igbo" during the convention of the People Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries in which Obasanjo was given the presidential candidacy for the party. While the F.C.T. recorded a low turnout of electorate in some areas during the elections, it was a total boycott in some areas mostly dominated by the Ndi-Igbo. One trader said the Ibo decided not to waste their time voting as they were convinced that Igbo interest is not being taken into consideration in the on-going transition program. (Africa News Service Inc, Africa News)
Feb 25, 1999 Intelligence reports have revealed the arrest of 40 persons suspected to be "area boys" who allegedly unleashed mayhem early yesterday on Igbo traders at Oyingbo, Lagos. Police have confirmed mounting ethnic tensions in the area. Commercial shops owned by Igbo traders were said to have been violently attacked by "area boys while the traders were beaten and injured and their goods were looted and destroyed by the area boys. (Africa News Service Inc, Africa News)
Feb 26, 1999 The Igbo Solidarity Movement (ISM) called on all Igbo across the country to rebuff the choice of Gen. Obasanjo as president in order to protest against their perceived lack of consultation in the national transition process. (Africa News Service Inc, Africa News)
Mar 1, 1999 General Olusegun Obasanjo won the presidential election, after his PDP crushed Chief Olu Falae of the AD/APP alliance in every zone except the West. (Africa News Inc, Africa News)
Mar 17, 1999 Chief Oluyemi Falae, the defeated presidential candidate went to court to challenge the victory of General Obasanjo in the presidential elections. (Tempo, (Lagos) in Africa News)
Apr 22, 1999 Dr. Fredrick Fasheun, chairman of the Oodua People Congress (OPC) said that the Yoruba will not keep quiet and watch their continuous marginalization by the few in government. Dr. Fasheun insisted that the OPC was not a violent organisation but that people in government should know that "violence begets violence." (Africa News)
Jun 9, 1999 Lagos - Over 400 angry Igbo watch and jewelry dealers who ply their trade at Mile One, Diobu in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, stormed the Government House in Port Harcourt protesting against the looting of their property and their wares by Ikwere youths.(Africa News)
Jun 11, 1999 Ethnic tension in the Niger Delta Region has led to heavy clashes among three main ethnic groups in the are a leaving over two hundred people dead. The immediate spark for the latest clashes were demands by Ijaw for the return to their area of a local council headquarters that then military ruler General Sani Abacha relocated in 1997 to an Itsekiri settlement. Since then, the two groups have fought intermittently. Behind the restiveness in the region fester deep-seated feelings of neglect and rivalry for power among impoverished local communities. (Africa News)
Jun 23, 1999 A trend of violent communal conflict spreading throughout Nigeria in recent years has intensified in the past months, leaving hundreds of people dead and thousands displaced. From Warri in the south to Kafanchan in the north and from Aguleri-Umuleri in the east to Ife-Modakeke in the west, communal contenders have engaged in violent conflict in order to settle old rivalries or obtain advantages within the community. (Africa News)
Jul 26, 1999 Authorities in Nigeria's northern state of Kano have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the ancient state capital following ethnic clashes that reportedly killed some 30 people at the weekend. State governor Rabiu Kwankwaso announced the restriction of movement in a special broadcast in the aftermath of riots involving the Hausa and Yoruba people. (PANA in Africa News)
Jul 30, 1999 Calm is gradually returning to the Nigerian cities of Sagamu and Kano, where more than 130 people have been killed in ethnic violence following clashes between the Yoruba and Hausa. (Interpress Service)
Aug 2, 1999 The Nigerian Navy warned militant Ijaw youths in the Niger-Delta to steer clear of military establishments in order to avoid a bloody clash with military personnel. Out-going Commanding Officer of the Naval Base Warri. Navy Captain Ekpeyong Ita gave the warning at the weekend. (Africa News)
Aug 10, 1999 Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo appealed for an end to the ethnic violence raging in parts of the country, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives since last month. Obasanjo was touring Sagamu, a strife-torn town located some 40 kilometers north of the commercial hub of Lagos. ( Inter Press Service). The Igbo National Council of Chiefs threatened yesterday that the Igbos would pull out of Nigeria should the Obasanjo administration fail to correct what they called the present imbalance in ministerial and other political appointments. An Igbo leader, Chief Philip Umeadi speaking in London, accused President Obasanjo of harbouring hatred for the Igbos. (Africa News).
Sep 9, 1999 Chief Debo Akande, former secretary of the defunct National Constitutional Conference Committee (NCCC), said the first hundred days of Nigeria's democratic rule has been successful. ( Africa News Services Inc)
Sep 19, 1999 Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Ahmed Sani Yarima, announced the introduction of Shari'a law. Many residents have been apprehensive over how the government decision would have on their lives. (Africa News Services Inc, 10/18/1999)

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