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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nigerian Ruler Sacks Military Chiefs

LAGOS -- Military ruler General Sani Abacha, who has been under pressure to cede power to presidential claimant Moshood Abiola, has appointed new army and navy chiefs, according to an official statement.

It was the first change in his 10-month-old government and officials said Tuesday it may herald a cabinet reshuffle.

The statement, issued in the inland capital Abuja, said that Brigadier-General Alwali Kazir, commander of the First Division, would become chief of army staff and Commodore Mike Akhigbe, flag officer commanding the eastern naval command would be the new chief of naval staff.

The appointments took immediate effect, it said. There was no word on what would happen to the incumbents, Brigadier-General Chris Alli and Commodore Allison Madueke.

Oil workers have been on strike for more than six weeks to press for the release of Abiola, a wealthy businessman widely believed to have won last year's voided poll. He is on trial for treason for proclaiming himself president.

Oil minister Don Etiebet said he had received reports that significant numbers of oil workers had returned to work after being ordered back to their jobs by Abacha. But oil officials said it was too early to say if the strike had been broken.

Nigeria's vital oil industry has been severely disrupted by the strike.

The dismissed oil union leaders say the strike goes on.

The government, trying to break the strike, has detained five of its opponents in the past few days including Frank Kokori, general secretary of the main oil union NUPENG.