Abacha, Sani, 1943–98, Nigerian military officer and political leader, b. Kano. He received military training in Nigeria and England, joining the Nigerian army in 1963. Abacha participated in several coups, and under President Ibrahim Babangida he was appointed chief of army staff (1985) and minister of defense (1990). In Aug., 1993, following a crisis in which President Babangida annulled the results of the June presidential election, Ernest Shonekan was installed as interim head of state. Abacha, who had remained defense minister, seized power in November. Abacha suppressed political activity and press freedoms and jailed leading political figures, and he and his family were accused after his death of defrauding the country of billions of dollars (some of which was ultimately recovered). Abacha died in office and was succeeded by General Abdulsalam Abubakar.
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