Nigerians defy order to end strike

2012-01-11 15:15
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Nigeria protests fuel hikes

Ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria has claimed 16 more victims as a fuel strike adds to the countries deadly tension.

Lagos - Tens of thousands protesting Nigerians defied an order to end a three-day-old strike on Wednesday as a union threatened oil production and deadly religious violence sparked talk of a looming civil war.

The double crisis of protests and spiralling violence in Africa's largest crude producer has left the global oil market watching anxiously and President Goodluck Jonathan facing his toughest challenge since he was elected last year.

Despite a government order late on Tuesday that labelled the strike over soaring petrol prices illegal and threatened to withhold pay, protesters took to the streets as gangs of youths burnt tyres and harassed drivers for cash.

Pockets of Lagos, the largest city in Africa's most populous nation, descended into chaos, including one upscale neighbourhood, with gangs attacking a police car with sticks and ripping down signposts.

The main groups of protesters in Lagos, however, remained peaceful, with some 10 000 people at one of the largest demonstrations dancing and singing anti-government songs.

Some vowed they would begin camping out there.

"I am here with my water and toothbrush because we are not leaving this arena until our demand for fuel at 65 naira is met," said Akinola Oyebode, a 23-year-old at the main protest in Lagos, referring to the price of a litre of petrol before government subsidies were scrapped from January 01.

"We shall not be intimidated by the police because our protest is legitimate and constitutional."

Massive crowd


Smaller protests took place in other parts of the city, including one calling itself "Occupy Nigeria" after the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

In Kano, the largest city in the north, a massive crowd thought to be in the tens of thousands marched through the streets.

Protesters and police clashed in Kano on Monday, leaving at least two people shot dead, but Wednesday's march started off peacefully.

Oil production has so far not been affected by the strike, but workers threatened action if the government does not respond to their demands.

"We are contemplating shutting down oil production," said Tokunbo Korodo, Lagos head for oil workers union NUPENG.

"We are just waiting for the outcome of discussions between labour and government today. The outcome of that meeting, if not favourable, will lead us to shutting down oil production."

Tens of thousands have turned out this week for protests nationwide over the government's move to end fuel subsidies, which caused petrol prices to more than double in a country where most people live on less than $2 per day.

At least six people were killed on the first day of protests, including one person allegedly shot by police in Lagos.

Local media reported that three others were killed in southwestern Ogun and Osun states on Tuesday, including one by a police officer, but authorities have not confirmed the deaths.

Spiralling violence

Meanwhile, spiralling ethnic and religious violence in various parts of the country has fuelled further chaos amid warnings of a wider conflict in a country roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

Sixteen people were killed in three separate incidents in the latest such violence.

An Islamic school was torched in the south on Tuesday and Islamist group Boko Haram was blamed for gunning down eight people, including five police officers, in a pub in Potiskum in the northeast.

Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of attacks, and in recent weeks has claimed responsibility for violence targeting Christians, who have through their leaders vowed to defend themselves.

Amid the sectarian and social turmoil, Nobel literature prize laureate Wole Soyinka, one of the country's most respected voices, warned the nation was heading toward civil war.

In addition, a statement signed by Nigerian writers, including renowned novelist Chinua Achebe, author of the novel "Things Fall Apart", warned that the attacks were "precursors to events that could destabilise the entire country".

"Clearly, the sophistication and deadly impact of the terrorist attacks suggest an agenda to create widespread fear and, possibly, to foment anarchy or war," it said.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  wole soyinka  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.