General Sani Abacha (20 September 1943 in Kano – 8 June 1998 in Abuja) was a Nigerian military leader and politician. A Kanuri from Borno by tribe, he was born and brought up in Kano, Nigeria. He was the de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. He is noted for being a monumental kleptocrat and a notorious dictator whose regime executed political opponents, notably Ken Saro-Wiwa. The Abacha family is considered a criminal organization by the Swiss authorities.
Abacha was commissioned in 1963, after he had attended the Mons Defence Officers cadet Training College in Aldershot, England. Before then, he had attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna. He took part in the countercoup of July 1966, from the conceptual stage, and may have been a participant in the Lagos or Abeokuta phases of the January 1966 coup. He was also a prominent figure in three coup d'etats of later decades, the first two of which brought and removed General Muhammadu Buhari from power in 1983. When General Ibrahim Babangida was named President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1985, Abacha was named Chief of Army Staff. He was later appointed Minister of Defence in 1990.
Abacha took over power from the caretaker government of Chief Ernest Shonekan, who was put into place by General Ibrahim Babangida after his annulment of the 12 June 1993 elections (won by Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola), this caused a massive popular uproar, which in turn caused untold hardship for millions of Nigerians.