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Buhari honours MKO Abiola, declares June 12 Democracy Day

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FILES, NIGERIA –  Nigerian main opposition leader and presidential candidate Moshood Abiola vote in Lagos in a 12 June 1993 file photo. Abiola, the presumed winner of the elections, was placed under house arrest by police on 11 June, one day before setting up a government of national unity. The 1993 vote was annulled by then military leader Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. PHOTO: FRANCOIS ROJON/AFP/Getty Images)

Instead of May 29 every year, Democracy Day will now be celebrated in Nigerian on June 12, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday.

“I am delighted to announce that, after due consultations, the Federal Government has decided that henceforth, June 12 will be celebrated as Democracy Day,” Buhari said in a statement.

Nigeria had its, arguably, freest and fairest presidential elections on June 12, 1993. Deemed to have been won by late Moshood Abiola, the election was annulled by the then military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida.

Buhari also announced the conferment of Nigeria’s highest national honour on Abiola while his running mate, Babagana Kingibe and late lawyer and human rights activist Gani Fawehinmi were conferred with the second highest national honour.

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

“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.”

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

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


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