Alhaja Kudirat Abiola became an activist when the government of Nigeria shattered
her life. Her husband, Chief Moshood Abiola, is widely believed to have won the
annulled June 1993 presidential election and has been detained on a treason charge
since June. 1994. From the time of his arrest, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola courageously
called for her husband's release despite constant and vindictive harassment of
her family and supporters by the government.
When the Nigerian government allows their forces to abduct, kill or imprison
political opponents, it hopes that these acts of violence and its victims will
be quickly forgotten. But Nigerian authorities have not reckoned on the determination
and courage of the victim's relatives-often the wives, sister or mothers whose
lives have been completely disrupted by Nigeria's arbitrary use of its powers.
These women frequently transform their lives overnight to become crusaders for
justice. They will not let the authorities get away with their crimes unchallenged.
Kudirat Abiola gave interviews on several occasions to the foreign and Nigerian
press in which she called for her husband's release and accused the government
of destroying her family financially. On May 8, 1996. the Lagos High Court acquitted
her of charges of conspiracy and making false statements. She was charged again
with these oflcnses on May 28, 1996 and the Lagos High Court ordered her release
on bail to await trial on July 17. Despite this harassment, Kudirat Abiola continued
her outspoken campaign on behalf of her husband.
On June 4, 1996, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, a persistent and courageous critic,
was violently silenced. She and her driver were shot at point-blank range by
unknown assailants near her home in Lagos. Kudirat Abiola died later in the
hospital. The driver was wounded. The military head of state, General Sani Abacha,
expressed his condolences to the family, describing the killing as the work
of armed bandits. He later arrested senior members of the National Democratic
Coalition and accused them of her murder (Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, Chief Ayo Adebanjo,
Senator Abraham Adesanya). However, other reports suggest that this was a political
killing carried out by govemment agents. On October 14, 1996 the three NADECO
officials were released.
The Nigerian government has failed .to initiate a thorough and impartial investigation
into the assassination of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, which Amnesty International
believes may have been carried out by government agents. The police inquiry
which has been set up does not meet international standards for the investigation
of possible extrajudicial executions.