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      Military intervention is a common characteristic in developing countries, it remain a controversial when it happens as well as when it fails.  It can also be said that it is vast among Africa countries.

Military interventions can be defined as when the military wants to control the policy process largely. Hence, the military uses either legislative or executive power or in some cases judiciary power. With military interventions, the military not only changes the executive or legislative powers of government but also tries to exert strict control over other interest groups or society. Military intervention is a common characteristic in developing countries, it can also be said that it is vast among Africa countries but this work will focus on Nigeria (1993-1998).

In most developing countries,  there is a disruption of the civil-military equilibrium usually assumed in liberal democracies, in developing countries like Nigeria however, the military has not only intervened in the political process but has overpowered the elected civilian authority, but it has also established its supremacy over elected politicians. Even in those countries where the military has become almost a permanent feature of politics, military rule is still considered a symptomatic of a malfunctioning political system. In Nigeria, which typifies the scenario just presented, military rule was usually seen as a “rescue” operation necessary to save the country from civilian ineptitude like corruption. Military rule was not expected to last long; once the rescue operation was complete, the military should return to the barracks where they belonged and leave the governing to civilian politicians. The problem was that although military officers accepted this agreement, military rule became selfsustaining. 

After Nigeria gained her independence in 1960 till the end of 1990 the military rule has ruled Nigeria for twenty one years. It came to power by

January 15 1966 in a coup that was described as igbo master-minded (Dudley 1973)

This was because of the corruption in Tafawa Balewa‟s government, law and orders were broken especially in the west region and also because of the 1965 regional election rigging by the then Nigeria National Alliance (NNA). This political disorder precipitated this first military takeover of power. There was a counter-coup on July 29, 1966, which was regarded as a retaliation by northern soldiers, who were still emotionally deranged by the sudden loss of their political and military leaders (patrons) in the January 1966 coup (Dudley, 1973), was intended to restore this status quo. The regimes of military intervention in politics includes: the first military government of General Ironsi did not last long this was because he was accused of having advise that were his kinsmen, the second military government was Yakuba gowon‟s government, this government witness the civil war and it was at this regime the oil in Nigeria was discovered and also expanded Nigeria into the economic and social sectors.

This government was terminated on July 29, 1975 in a bloodless coup led by Murtala Muhammad. Muhammad himself was a product of the political patronage of the First Republic and Gowon’s regime. Murtala Muhammad regime however lasted for just six months His successor, General Olusegun Obasanjo continued with the policies of the Murtala Muhammad regime and for this reason the administration came to be known as “Muhammad-Obasanjo regime”. The regime after this was the Babangida regime in 1985, the regime can be described aptly as patrimonialism par excellence. This regime had an annulment which was on June 12 which gave Chief M.K.O. Abiola of the SDP, a Southerner, and an undisputed lead, forcefully demonstrates this commitment.

Every available evidence indicate that any power shift from the North to the South was unaccepted- able to the Northern military by Babangida, and political elites who have dominated power since I960.

Abacha came to power after overthrowing the Interim Government set up by Babangida before his exit. The Abacha regime could be said to have been more patrimonial than Babangida’s. His regime closely fitted Sandbrooks description of a typical patrimonial rule. He was surrounded by trusted people, this regime‟s major project was the accumulation of wealth for Sani abacha and for members of his immediate family and closest associates. Several major state contracts were awarded to his children and other relatives who reaped huge incomes when, in most cases, they did not execute the contracts (Adekanmbi, 1998). He indiscriminately transferred state funds into private accounts (Muhammad, 1998), acquired extensive property, and had business interests in virtually all the states of the federation (Fraud Incorporated, 1998: 3-7, Tempo, Oct. 15, 1998). His close friends were not left out of this game of looting public coffers. The most notable are General Jerry Useni, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, who is allegedly worth more than 3 billion US dollars in cash with several billion naira worth of property in the country. Another close ally is Alhaji Ismaili Gwarzo, Abacha’s Security Adviser whose fortune is valued at more than 4 billion US dollars (Fraud Incorporated, 1998: 13-14; Dare, S., 1998: 16-21). Millions of dollars were recovered from some of such associates after the death of Abacha. Very large sums of money were also discovered at the presidential villa. Like a typical patrimonial ruler, Abacha did not tolerate any manner of opposition to his regime including activities that could affect the regular inflow of revenue into the state coffers. This paper is however focuses on this regime, its military intervention and human abuses in Nigeria.

According to the Ameze Guouadia in his book title “Human Rights in Nigeria: A Historical Perspective on Human Rights” said that; there was the jettisoning of previously held notions following the overthrowing and diminishing of the authority of the papacy. The papacy with its overbearing presence had used the fear of hell to deprive kings and peasants alike of their rights over a long period of time spanning centuries. He also emphasis that the universal declaration of the rights of man of 4th august 1789 and the American declaration of independence of 4th July 1776 emphasized the fundamental belief that every man is created equal. These and many others were the guiding principles which guide and protected people‟s rights in the early 17th and 18th century. 

More recently the universal declaration on human rights of 1948 is important emanating as it did soon after the end of the Second World War. The scale of human rights violation during the war which was perpetuated by Natzi Germany under Adolf Hitler against the Jews and other races made it imperative that such occurrences of human rights violation should never be witnessed ever again. It is important to note that in the charter of the United Nations the protection of the rights and freedom of people regardless of ethnic racial and cultural differences is fundamental and non-contentious. In Nigeria there have existed human rights violations since the military came to power in 1966 but it came to a crescendo during the Abacha regime. The period between 1993 to 1998 witnessed a rapid degeneration of human rights in Nigeria. This was after the establishment of the interim government led by Chief Ernest Shonekan after the former military dictator General Ibrahim Babangida stepped aside, in 1993. The increase in human rights violations was correspondingly followed by a high rate of adoption of Guerilla tactics by both the press and human rights activists.

By January 1998 what was known as human rights had virtually disappeared in Nigeria. The experience of journalists whose rights were blatantly violated was a sad affair, both for the journalists and the ordinary citizens alike while the powers that be went on implementing ad-hoc obnoxious decrease promulgated by the junta. However, since the independence of Nigeria on October 1st 1960 and becoming a republic in 1963, Nigerians have never gone through what they went through at the hands of General Sani Abacha junta.

Nigerians were like never before exposed to mechanisms that oppressed them and public participation in government was no longer allowed; individuals were exposed to the hazards of arrest and intimidations by various organs of government like the police. However, changes in the countries fortunes coupled with events that took place immediately preceding the death of General Sani Abacha in particular the freedom of political detainees journalists, prodemocratic and human rights activists and the introduction of probes panel of enquiry to look through acts of human rights violation during the regime of general Abacha by president olusegun Obasanjo followed by the introduction of structures to check any attempt to tamper with rights of Nigerians and the bringing of human rights perpetrators to book.

The consequent shift from military dictatorship to democracy called for the dismantling of all the structures which mitigated against the rights of Nigeria seen to be inhibiting the effective attempt by a click from a certain part of the country to hold on to power. The underlying assumption of this is that some are not happy that the structures that inhibited the rights of Nigerians are being dismantled.

However, Dudley, B.J. said in his book title “Instability and Political order (1974)” a right consequently, has been given a pride of place once again and the various organs of government equipped to meet up with the demands of safeguarding human rights and ensuring the rule of law. The number of N.G.Os, human rights bodies like C.E.D.A.W. The convention on the elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, A.C.H.P.R. The African commission on human and people rights and Amnesty International among others have increased significantly.

 Human rights are also protected by the 1979 constitution.  According to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria in chapter 4 section 30 to 40. It guarantees every Nigeria citizen basic and fundamental human rights. This include the rights to life, dignity of the human person, fair hearing, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, expression, peaceful assembly and association as well as freedom from discrimination and the rights against compulsory acquisition of property without compensation. In promotion of these rights, the constitution makes no distinction between the rights of men and women but envisages the rights of every human being- man and child in Nigeria. Also the United Nations distinction should be made on the basis of race, color, sex, language or other status. “This declaration states that all individuals are entitled to freedom of speech, association notwithstanding their color, sex, race, language or religion they should be given equal opportunity. The Nigerian state has been under the burden of obnoxious decrees like decree 2 and decree 7 respectively.


There is no doubt that there exist military intervention in politics and human rights violations.  Nigeria has gone through a harrowing experience in the hands of the military. It is important to safeguard fundamental rights of Nigerians as we move into the next millennium and in view of the ever present threat of the country slipping back to dictatorship and autocracy. Here are some of the problems:

•      There is the inordinate ambition of some political leaders to remain in office as long as they could

•      There is also the ambition of some military officers who wants to taste power by all means Election rigging.


The general objective of this study is to evaluate the effect human rights violations under the military had on the individual and Nigerians as a whole and ways or means of minimizing such incidents in the future.

 The specific objectives of this study are as follows:

I.                            To examine if military intervention in politics was a great impact on Nigeria.

II.                         To examine the cases of human rights that was violation in 1993-1998.

III.                      To examine cases of military intervention and human rights abuses

in Nigeria politics.

VI.   To evaluate the effects of human rights violation on the society.


v What was impact of military intervention on politics?

v Were there many cases of human rights violation in the society?

v Do you think human rights were violated under this regime?

v Do you think military intervention in politics was needed in Nigeria?

v Did this regime create a negative impact on Nigeria?


  H0: Military intervention is not a blessing to Nigeria politics.

  H1: Military intervention is a blessing to Nigeria Politics.

H0: 1993 regime did not violate Human rights.

H1: 1993 regime violated human rights.

H0: military intervention had no impact on Nigeria politics.

H1: Military intervention had an impact on Nigeria politics


This study is undertaken with the motive of looking at military intervention in politics and human rights abuses under the military with particular emphasis on the regime of General Sani Abacha. It is very evident and a known fact that there were human rights abuses which occurred not only during the Abacha era but within regime like Buhari and IBB had a far reaching implication both on the individual and the country as a whole. This led to a militarized psyche in the citizen and intolerance for the views of others and also the brutal suppression by the military government of the opposition which it termed as its enemies. This study is intended to broaden our knowledge and focus our attention on military intervention in politics and human rights abuses to the extent that court orders were openly disregarded and how this rights of individuals and the society were flagrantly violated and how this trend could be stemmed.


The paper will be written in five chapters, this five chapter‟s will consists of: Chapter one: This contains the introduction, justification, aims and objective for the study, scope of the study, method of analysis, statement of the problem and theoretical framework, Chapter 2 entails the review of relevant literature.

Definition of human rights by people such as Harold J. Laski, Rosseau and many other cases. Chapter 3 this chapter will examine the methodology showing the designs used, instruments, population size, sampling, method of obtaining data, Chapter 4: This chapter is the analysis of data obtained in the course of the research, Chapter5 will be the conclusion, summary of project work, recommendation and References.


This covers the military intervention in politics and human rights abuses in Nigeria under Abacha regime. The scope of the study is identifying the impact of military intervention in politics human rights abuses between 1993 to 1998. The various structures like civil society. Human rights bodies; their functions, activities and the various problems they face in society especially under military regimes and also the military intervention in politics. Extensive case studies, conclusion and recommendation.


Military Intervention: this is the deliberate act of a nation or a group of nations to introduce its military forces into the course of an existing controversy.

Human rights: This are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behavior, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law

Politics: This are ideas and activities related to how a place is governed and who has power

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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