FLASH: Judge who annulled June 12 election dies

Justice Dahiru Saleh annulled the June 12 election won by MKO Abiola
Justice Dahiru Saleh annulled the June 12 election won by MKO Abiola

Justice Dahiru Saleh who annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election, widely believed to be the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history has died.

He was buried in Azare, his hometown, in Bauchi on Thursday evening, TheCable reports.

Until his death, he held the title of “Mutawallen” of Katagum emirate in Bauchi.

He was the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.

Chief MKO Abiola, who was recognised as an elected President posthumously by President Muhammadu Buhari on 6 June 2018.

Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was leading Bashir Tofa, his National Republican Convention rival, by wide margin before Saleh ruled to cancel the final announcement.

Announcing the decision to recognise Abiola, President Buhari said, “Dear Nigerians, I am delighted to announce that, after due consultations, the Federal Govt has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day.

“We have also decided to award posthumously the highest Honour in the land, GCFR, to the late Chief MKO Abiola.

“Chief Abiola’s running mate, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, is also to be awarded a GCON.

“Furthermore, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, tireless fighter for human rights and democracy, and for the actualization of the June 12, 1993 elections,will be posthumously awarded a GCON.

“In the view of Nigerians, as shared by this administration, June 12, 1993 was and is far more symbolic of Democracy in the Nigerian context than May 29, or even October 1.

“June 12, 1993 was the day millions of Nigerians expressed their Democratic will in the freest, fairest & most peaceful elections since our independence.

“That the outcome of that election was not upheld by the then military Govt does not detract from its democratic credentials.

Widespread protest had greeted the cancellation of the June 12 election by Justice Saleh.

The protests which lingered for months and sometimes became uncontrollable forced military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, to finally “step aside”.

Babangida’s decision to step aside led to an interim government led by Ernest Shonekan.

Shonekan subsequently handed power over to military dictator General Sani Abacha.

Abacha imprisoned Abiola who later died in detention on July 7, 1998.