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Release political prisoners now, new Nigerian leadership is told

"The new political leadership of Nigeria should move quickly to release the political prisoners whose detention has been such a blot on their country's reputation," the Chairman of the Berlin-based global anti-corruption movement, Transparency International (TI) said today.

Eigen was reacting to the news that General Sani Abacha, the dictator who had led Nigeria since 1993, died yesterday of a heart attack.

"The transition to democracy must proceed," Dr Eigen continued. "The prompt release of the political prisoners, including the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, would be a clear and encouraging signal to all Nigerians and to the international community that the democratisation programme is back on track and that they can all look forward to a brighter future."

Olusegun Obasanjo, who steered Nigeria to democracy in 1979, is Chair of the Advisory council of Transparency International. General Obasanjo's imprisonment in 1995 has been described by Transparency International as being the result of "trumped-up charges and concocted evidence heard at a secret trial alleging an offence being committed in Nigeria at a time when he was shown to be in New York attending a board meeting of the trustees of the Ford Foundation".

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