Nigeria's independence from Britain in 1960, the country's political
life has been marked by debilitating cycles of corruption, instability
and military coups. This political volatility, spurred on by regional
violence, led to periods of rapid and at times bloody turnover
in the nation's top office. Since 1960, 12 different men have
ruled Nigeria -- nine of them military leaders and more than half
brought to power by coups. The following are profiles of the tumultuous
and often brief reigns of those 12 leaders.