Abiola rejects plan for 'proxy military rule' in Nigeria: Officers fear investigations of human rights abuses and charges of corruption

CONFRONTATION loomed between Nigeria's military government and the unofficial winner of last month's aborted presidential election as Moshood Abiola yesterday rejected plans by the military and members of his own party to set up an interim civilian government.

Mr Abiola accused the President, General Ibrahim Babangida, of attempting to establish 'military rule by proxy' and accused senior members of his Social Democratic Party of 'splitting from the people' for agreeing to the interim government. His statement came a day before senior armed forces commanders were to meet General Babangida in the capital, Abuja, to debate the compromise deal which is an attempt by the military to negotiate a safe exit after ruling the country for the past 10 years.

Declaring that 'the people's vote is not negotiable', Mr Abiola told reporters and a delegation of state party chairmen yesterday that the army's reasons for cancelling the polls and attempting to set up a new government without him were bogus.

'There cannot be two sunrises in one day,' he said. 'It never happens, even in Africa.'

Today's meeting will discuss a compromise worked out with the two parties General Babangida created that would see a hand-picked interim civilian government take power on 27 August, the day the military has pledged to return to the barracks, in an attempt to halt a worsening political crisis over the cancellation of the 12 June presidential elections.

Key officers who support the cancellation of the election were said by Nigerian and foreign military sources to fear that Mr Abiola would succumb to public pressure and launch investigations into the charges of corruption and human rights abuses by the army.

Senior executives of Mr Abiola's Social Democratic Party had agreed last week effectively to abandon him in return for saving their jobs. The deal came after General Babangida threatened to dismiss all elected officers, including the House of Assembly and Senate members, governors and local councillors, if they did not agree to the options on offer: new elections or an interim government.

General Babangida has promised to end military rule on 27 August.

Cries of sell-out by Abiola backers have split the fragile party, however, with a number of top officials demanding an Abiola presidency in an administration that would assign a junior role to the rival National Republican Convention.

Core opposition to Mr Abiola comes from General Babangida's inner circle - the Security Adviser, Lieutenant-General Aliyu Mohammed, the Security Co-ordinator, Brigadier-General Halilu Akilu, and the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Salihu Ibrahim. They are backed by powerful division commanders, many of whom have held political office.

But other close aides, reportedly including the Defence Minister, Sani Abacha, believe the latest manoeuvres could threaten their plans to retire comfortably and have done irreparable harm to the image of the armed forces. Most junior officers and the ranks, whose morale is low and service conditions poor, are believed to have voted heavily for Mr Abiola and to oppose any extension of General Babangida's rule. Mr Abiola's campaign to gain the presidency has support from unlikely quarters, such as Sokoto, seat of the Islamic Caliphate and home of the Sultan, symbol of northern power and the spiritual leader of the nation's Muslims.

Leading article, page 19

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world