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Nigeria Masterweb News Report
    BBC News Online
    Friday, 20 July, 2001, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
    'No evidence' against Babangida
    General Babangida
    Babangida's rule ended in 1993

    Government officials in Nigeria say no investigation into the affairs of former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida is possible because there is no evidence against him.

    A statement issued by the office of President Olusegun Obasanjo says the government cannot launch a blind probe.

    The multi-millionaire General Babangida - who ruled Nigeria from 1985 to 1993 - has been accused of crimes ranging from stealing state assets to widespread human rights abuses, including involvement in murder.

    The presidential statement was prompted by comments by a former Nigerian bishop, Bolanle Gbonigithe, that no prosecution of General Babangida would be forthcoming because he was President Obasanjo's business partner.

    General Babangida has twice failed to appear before the government's Human Rights Investigation Commission to answer charges against him.

    Comeback?

    General Babangida's eight year rule ended in controversy in 1993 when he ignored the results of a democratic election that businessman Moshood Abiola is believed to have won.

    He was ousted in the popular outcry that followed. Taking advantage of the confusion another military man, Sani Abacha, seized power.

    In April, colleagues began laying the ground for his political comeback with the formation of a new party.

    At the launch of the National Solidarity Association in the capital Abuja, former ministers, generals, and other officials defended General Babangida's right to contest the presidency in 2003.

    General Babangida has not joined the new party and he has not made his intentions public.

    When democracy returned to Nigeria in 1999, General Babangida and other former military officers supported the candidacy of current President Olusegun Obasanjo.

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