President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday conferred the country's highest honors on individuals reputed for their roles in the June 12, 1993, presidential ballot, which was later annulled by the military junta, Anadolu Agency reports.
Buhari had last week declared that every June 12 would be a national holiday in honor of the heroes and heroines of democracy, including the winner of the historic election, Moshood Abiola, who died in detention in 1998 in pursuit of a revalidation of the mandate.
Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, the country's highest national honor reserved for presidents, was conferred on Abiola while the Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON), the second highest honor for vice presidents, was given to his running mate Babagana Kingibe.
Buhari also conferred the title of GCON on the late human rights campaigner, Gani Fawehinmi, who spent several years in a military gulag fighting for democratic rights.
“This event is not to open old wounds, but to put light on the nation,” the president said in a speech at an event in capital Abuja, which was attended by top June 12 activists, senior politicians and family members of the late awardees.