Key events in the history of Nigeria since independence from Britain in 1960:
– First coup –
In January 1966 the first in a series of military coups takes place amid dissatisfaction with progress after colonial rule.
Significantly, it is also triggered by the fact that most high government office holders are Hausa-speaking Muslims from Nigeria’s north.
The main figures behind the coup are ethnic Igbo officers, from the mainly Christian south.
In a counter-coup the same July, Igbo officers are killed and a brutal pogrom of Igbo civilians occurs in the north, forcing thousands to flee to their southeastern heartland.
– Biafra war –
For 30 months between 1967 and 1970, civil war rages in the southeast after Igbo separatists declare an independent republic of Biafra.
More than one million die, most of them Igbos, from the effects of war, famine and disease.
– Succession of generals –
In 1975 General Yakubu Gowon is overthrown by General Murtala Mohammed, who is assassinated the following year.
General Olusegun Obasanjo takes charge and rules until 1979, when he becomes Africa’s first military leader to hand over power voluntarily to an elected president.
President Shehu Shagari holds on until 1983, when he is toppled by General Muhammadu Buhari — the current civilian president seeking a second term.
Buhari is himself ousted in 1985 by General Ibrahim Babangida, who resigns in 1993.
READ ALSO: Mass retirements looms in Armed Forces
– Activist executed –
Plans for civilian rule are shelved after the military cancels elections widely seen to have been won by businessman Moshood “MKO” Abiola. General Sani Abacha takes over.
In 1995 writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who fought for a fairer share of the oil wealth for the people of Niger delta region, is executed after an internationally condemned trial.
After Abacha dies in office, Obasanjo returns as civilian president in 1999 and is re-elected in 2003.
– Islamic law in north –
In 2000, a year after civilian rule is restored, 12 states in the mainly Muslim north opt to reintroduce Islamic Sharia law in parallel to the state and federal legal system.
Over the next few years, ethnic and religious tensions mount, particularly in the central states, leading to violence that leaves thousands dead.
– Boko Haram emerges –
In 2009 a group known as Boko Haram launches an uprising in northeastern Nigeria, sparking days of clashes with the military in which some 800 people are killed.
The radical Islamist group begins an insurgency with dozens of attacks targeting schools, churches, mosques and symbols of the secular state.
– Deadly post-poll unrest –
In 2011 Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south, wins presidential elections against Buhari, the former military ruler from the Muslim north.
Rioting breaks out in mainly northern states, leaving nearly 1,000 people dead in days.
– Boko Haram escalation –
In 2014 Boko Haram kidnaps 276 schoolgirls at Chibok in Borno state, sparking international outrage.
In August the group proclaims a “caliphate” in areas in the northeast under its control.
– Buhari elected president –
Buhari beats Jonathan in 2015 elections on pledges to defeat Boko Haram and corruption. It is the first time in Nigeria’s history the opposition has defeated an incumbent president at the ballot box.
In 2015 an offensive by armies of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger drives the jihadists out of captured territory.
– Boko Haram split –
Boko Haram splits into two rival factions — one led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, the other by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi, whose father, Muhammad Yusuf, founded the group.
Both pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group but IS only recognises Barnawi, whose group steps up attacks on military bases in 2018.