Nigerian leaderDied when: 54 years 261 days (656 months)
Star Sign: Virgo
Sani Abacha GCFR (; 20 September 1943 – 8 June 1998) was a Nigerian dictator who ruled the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 17 November 1993 until his death on 8 June 1998.
He served as Chief of Army Staff from 1985 to 1990, Chief of Defence Staff from 1990 to 1993;Minister of Defence under the Interim National Government, going on to become the first officer of the Nigerian Army to attain the rank of a four-star military general without skipping a single rank.
His near 5 year rule, is considered one of the most authoritarian and bloodiest eras of military rule in the country, with the regime accused of perpetrating many deaths, including the infamous Ogoni Nine.
Abacha was alleged worth at least 3 billion dollars (4.79 billion dollars today) at the time of his death.During his rule, Abacha extended the policy of regime security.
With notorious examples of Abacha's consolidation of power include the establishment of foreign trained elite death squads, assassination in Lagos of Kudirat Abiola (1996), the abduction and subsequent incarceration of several prominent military and political leaders including Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Musa Yar'Adua (1995) who later died in prison, the subsequent disappearance and murder of journalist Bagauda Kaltho in Kaduna, and an unprecedented crackdown on crime across the country.
On 8 June 1998, Abacha died under mysterious circumstances with several versions of his death including poison and alleged involvement of foreign governments.
His cause of death was officially announced as a heart attack.In the immediate aftermath, Abacha's security chief al-Mustapha, oversaw the military transition to General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
By the advent of the Fourth Nigerian Republic, Abacha's cronies and relatives, like Mohammed Abacha, his eldest surviving son, were in prison and forced to return stolen public funds, to Nigerians known as the Abacha loot.
The Abacha era unfolded during a time that was particularly fertile for dictatorial regimes.In the countries of the Chad Basin alone, his dictatorship was concurrent, in whole or in part, with those in Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Sudan, Algeria, and the Central African Republic.
In retrospect, the Abacha dictatorship was characterized as more prominent and more brutal than those that rose and fell around it.
Abacha remains a polarizing figure in Nigerian history, the sheer brutality of his rule makes a detached evaluation difficult.While his supporters credit him for bringing stability and prosperity to the country, others criticize his heavy-handed rule and disregard for civil rights and freedoms.