Thursday, March 4, 1999 Published at 11:31 GMT
Nigeria frees coup plotters
President-elect General Obansanjo was detained for three years
Nigeria's outgoing military government has granted state pardons to 95 people jailed for allegedly plotting coups against the former leader General Sani Abacha.
Vice-Admiral Mike Akhigbe said that all those involved were to be released "immediately".
After General Abacha's death in June 1998, the Nigerian military government - led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar - tried to ease political tensions by freeing many political detainees and embarked on moves to restore civil rule.
Mr Abasanjo had himself been convicted of coup plotting and was detained for three years. He always maintained his innocence. Some of those being released were jailed with him.
He told his party on Wednesday that "no Nigerian who should not go to prison will go to prison under my administration".
Abacha deputy included
The most prominent of the prisoners pardoned is General Abacha's former deputy, Lieutenant-General Oladipo Diya. He had been sentenced to death but that was later commuted to life imprisonment.
The 95 also include
The government said charges against one officer, Colonel Ibrahim Yakassai, were still being investigated.
Since the death of General Abacha, Nigerian newspapers have said the coup plots were faked by the dictator's security agents in order to get rid of his opponents.
Those detained at the time included not only army officers but also journalists from opposition media and pro-democracy activists.
Some of those imprisoned have since died in jail. They have now been pardoned posthumously.
Charges against people on a wanted list from a bloody coup attempt in 1990 have also been dropped.