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Fears for Nigerian 'plotters'

Lagos (AFP) - International concern over the fate of the detained former Nigerian ruler General Olusegun Obasanjo remained yesterday, after a seven-man tribunal trying suspected coup-plotters failed to submit its report to the authorities by yesterday's deadline. "We have not heard anything from the tribunal," Colonel Godwin Ugbo, a defence ministry spokesman, said. "Since we have not heard anything, it means it is not winding up."

The tribunal, in session since 5 June, has been trying at least 23 military officers and civilians accused of plotting to overthrow the Nigerian leader, General Sani Abacha, on 1 March this year.

They have been charged with treason and conspiracy. But according to the local press, two of the defendants - General Obasanjo, who was head of state from 1976-79 and his former deputy, General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua - publicly accused by authorities of being involved in the failed coup, have already been sentenced.