‘Abacha died a day before shutting Punch newspapers’


A former chairman of The Punch newspapers, Ajibola Ogunshola, has revealed that Nigeria’s late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, died a day before carrying out his plan to close down the newspaper.

He spoke in Lagos while giving an introductory remark at a public lecture delivered by a former United States ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington. The lecture also marked the launch of “Defend the Defenseless”, a book written by Arese Carrington, wife of the former diplomat.

Recounting the role played by the press during the struggles for democratic rule, Ogunshola said, “During the years of military rule, the press as a whole suffered. The National Concord and The PUNCH bore the brunt of the fate that befell newspapers and some magazines.

“One of the journalists in detention then, Mr. Babafemi Ojudu, after his release, said that when under incarceration, he got information from some soldiers on June 7, 1998 that Abacha had concluded plans to close down The Punch again.

“But the day after, that was on June 8, Abacha died,” he narrated.

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