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Authorities Round up Suspects in Hijacking

October 30, 1993

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ The head of an extremist democracy movement and two other people were arrested on charges stemming from last week’s hijacking of a Nigerian Airways jet, a newspaper said Saturday.

Mallam Jerry Yusuf, self-proclaimed leader of Movement for the Advancement of Democracy, which claimed responsibility for the hijacking, was arrested Thursday in Lagos, the newspaper said. The other two were arrested Friday in the northern city of Ilorin.

The Airbus 310, carrying 159 people, was commandeered Monday by hijackers armed with guns and knives and diverted to Niamey, the capital of neighboring Niger.

Most of the passengers were released there. The hijackers - and Yusuf’s group in Lagos - demanded Nigeria’s military-backed government resign and threatened to blow the aircraft up.

A flight attendant was killed when Niger commandos raided the jet early Friday, freeing 22 remaining people. Four hijackers and a suspected accomplice among the passengers were arrested.

Nigeria fell into political turmoil when the former dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the June elections that were to return the nation of 90 million people to democracy after a decade of military rule.

He instead appointed businessman Ernest Shonekan as his successor.

Update hourly