Abdulsalami Abubakar was born on 13 June 1942 in Minna, Nigeria. He was educated at the Technical Institute in Kaduna and later joined the military and became member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council in 1993. Abubakar is married to Fati Lami Abubakar with whom he had six children.
Abubakar became Major General and Chief of Staff to General Sani Abacha in November 1993 and President of Nigeria between November 1998 and May 1999.
Since 1983, Nigeria had been ruled my military rulers, gaining and losing power through bloody coups. This cycle continued when, in 1993, General Sani Abacha cancelled the presidential elections and seized control declaring himself President. Abacha’s regime has been marred with claims of torture and the suppression and assassination of opposition activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa and Chief MKO Abiola is recognised as winning the 1993 election.
Major General Abukabar was Chief of Defence Staff during Abacha’s rule. On June 1998, after Abacha’s unexpected death, Abubakar became president of Nigeria. Abubakar led the military junta until May 1999 when he handed power to the first democratically elected President in 15 years. Whilst President, Abubakar released political prisoners, began a programme of reform and adopted a new constitution.
However, the military junta which Abubakar enjoyed a prominent role in and then presided over has been linked to claims of the torture, inhuman treatment, false imprisonment and wrongful death of opposition activists.
The case brought against Abubakar centres on his position as Chief of Defence Staff under Abacha’s military rule from November 1993, and his Presidency between November 1998 and May 1999. Abacha is accused of wrongfully imprisoning hundreds of opposition activists and critics and stealing millions of dollars from the rich oil reserves in Nigeria. Kudirat Abiola and Chief MKO Abiola’s daughter Hafsat claims that Abubakar is responsible for the deaths of her parents. She argues that the military junta which Abubakar enjoyed a prominent position in between 1993 and 1999 was responsible for keeping her father in inhume conditions, denying him access to lawyers and his family and torturing him. Chief MKO Abiola’s death occurred shortly after Abubakar assumed control of the military regime. Hafsat Abiola Costello accuses the military regime for the assisination of her mother, Kudirat Abiola, who was shot in her car in Lagos in the middle of the day. She contends Kudirat was threatened with phone calls when she started campaigning for her husband’s release.
In 2001, whilst Abubakar was in the US touring a lecture series, he was served with summons from Illinois Federal for his culpability for the crimes carried out by military junta.