Jackson warns of Nigeria sanctions

LAGOS (AFP) - Jesse Jackson, the United States special envoy to Nigeria, said yesterday Washington was considering freezing Nigeria's assets and imposing sanctions. The US was considering 'moving towards sanctions and freezing assets as long as the military remains in power,' Mr Jackson said after a visit.

Mr Jackson met the military ruler, General Sani Abacha, in the federal capital, Abuja, and told him Washington wanted to see Nigeria returned to civil rule as soon as possible. The US politician had also met jailed opposition leader Moshood Abiola, who went on trial yesterday, charged with five treason.

Witnesses outside the courthouse said three people were shot dead in clashes with the police when hundreds of pro-democracy supporters turned up to call for Mr Abiola's release and installation as president. Mr Abiola, the presumed winner of June 1993 presidential elections, was arrested on 23 June.

The trial of Mr Abiola was adjourned until Tuesday after the court agreed to a government request to refile the treason charges under different legislation.