HISTORY (Facts)  


In 1472 when Portuguese explorers visited the shores of what would become Nigeria, old kingdoms were flourishing in the area. By 1914 they would be merged in one British colony and, 46 years later, on 1 October 1960 Nigeria gained its independence. As a result of political upheavals, corruption, and the first coup that was carried out on 15 January 1966, the subsequent 40 years were plagued by a series of coups and a major civil war. The Nigeria-Biafra War broke out in May 1967 when the Ibo-controlled East proclaimed its independence and took up arms to defend itself against a much larger federal side that had come into power by way of a bloody countercoup. After hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives in the struggle, the East (Biafra) capitulated in January 1970. Following another abortive attempt at instituting a democratically elected government in 1993, General Sani Abacha, through a military coup, took charge. Because of his record of human rights abuse, especially with his execution of nine political prisoners in 1995 (including renowned writer Ken Saro-Wiwa), Nigeria was temporary suspended from the Commonwealth and imposed with sanctions. Following Abacha’s death in 1998, elections were carried out in 1999, witnessing the emergence of civilian rule and a new democratic era in Nigeria’s history.