Abiola's judge quits treason trial

ABUJA - The judge presiding over the treason trial of opposition politician Moshood Abiola walked out of the case yesterday, dashing union expectations he would be freed and prolonging Nigeria's crippling political crisis.

The oil workers unions Nupeng and Pengassan, whose six-week- old strike has paralysed industry and transport, said they would continue their action. 'We are going to intensify the strike until Chief Abiola and other political detainees are unconditionally released,' said Ken Narebor, deputy general secretary of Pengassan.

The blue collar oil union Nupeng said it would not attend talks with the military government scheduled for Wednesday. Nupeng president Wariebe Agamene said: 'The government has not shown the sincerity needed to move this country forward . . . Abiola has to be released before we resume talks with the government'.

Judge Mohammed Mustapha told a packed court in the capital, Abuja, before walking out: 'It has been my desire to see that the accused gets unhindered justice. Now it is clear from all the utterances that they have no confidence in me. I wish to excuse myself from further hearing the case.' His abrupt withdrawal is bound to delay the trial as a new judge will have to be appointed.

Chief Abiola, wearing a traditional white gown, waved as he entered the court. He embraced his wives, family and friends and laughed when the judge read out the charges of attempting to overthrow military ruler General Sani Abacha. Police later led him away.

There was no sign that the authorities were ready to drop charges against the multi-millionaire media magnate, who is widely believed to have won last year's annulled presidential election and proclaimed himself president in June, prompting his arrest which touched off strikes and riots.

'We were expecting a nolle prosequi (application to discontinue the case),' said the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) president, Pascal Bafyau. 'What has happened is a surprise to us, and the central working committee of the NLC will meet immediately to decide what will happen next,' he added. The NLC called off a two-day general strike to negotiate Chief Abiola's release and is under pressure to resume the stoppage.

people And here is why...
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teacher of English

£121 - £140 per day + AWR: Randstad Education Luton: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIREDW...

Senior Infrastructure Engineer - Server, Networks

£40000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Infrastructure En...

Primary Supply Teacher

£115 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...

Teaching Assistant

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Luton: We are currently looking for pass...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?