BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ Switzerland has ordered the freezing of bank accounts in the name of the former Nigerian dictator Gen. Sani Abacha and his relatives, the Federal Office for Police Affairs said today.

The accounts were provisionally frozen Wednesday after Nigeria on Sept. 30 asked Switzerland to block all accounts and seize bank records relating to the Abachas.

The request, made via a Swiss lawyer, also covered Abacha's former security adviser, Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, a former minister, Abubakar Attiku Bagudu, four unidentified Nigerian businessmen and ``a certain number'' of companies, the Swiss police office said.

They are suspected by Nigeria of ``systematically pillaging'' the Nigerian central bank over a period of years, a police statement said.

Swiss authorities said they do not at present have information on the amount of money in four banks in Geneva and one in Zurich.

Abacha's five-year rule ended suddenly in June 1998 after the former dictator died of an apparent heart attack.

Under his police state, a tiny circle of business partners, aides and friends earned hundreds of millions of dollars though extensive graft and kickback schemes.

Nigeria's new civilian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was elected in February and took office in May, ending 15 years of military rule.