Business, Finance & Economics

Nigeria: Deadly clashes as gas price strike shuts down country (UPDATES)



Motorists line up at a gas station on the eve of a strike launched by the labour and civil society to force the government to revert to old fuel pump price, on January 8, 2012 in Lagos.



Nigerian police clashed with protesters and at least three people were killed during the first day of a nationwide strike over gas prices, which have doubled since the government of President Goodluck Jonathan scrapped fuel subsidies Jan. 1.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets around the country in an indefinite strike to protest the fuel price hike.

The streets of Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, normally clogged with traffic, were empty, according to the Associated Press.

Trade unions set up informal roadblocks. Local gang members beat cars with fists and broke the windows of some cars that were still on the street.

A demonstrator was reportedly shot dead in Lagos in a clash with police.

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In the northern city of Kano, police fired tear gas at protesters who gathered outside the state governor's office, Agence France-Presse reported. Two vans and the office of the secretary of the state government were set ablaze.

At least 30 people were injured in the violence in Kano, and two died of gunshot wounds, hospital sources told AFP.

In the country's south, dozens of people were injured when protesters attacked a mosque in Benin city.

Gas prices have risen from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter) in Africa's largest oil producer and most populous nation. 

In an emergency session, Nigerian lawmakers urged the government to restore subsidies that cost the country about $8 billion a year, News 24 reported.

However, unions said they would proceed with the strike.

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Separately, Niger Delta leaders on Sunday alleged that some people were planning to assassinate Jonathan, along with several senior politicians and military figures, using hardship caused by the withdrawal of gas subsidies as their motivation.

The Nigerian Tribune printed excerpts from a statement by Miabiye Kuromiama, president of the Ijaw Youth Council, saying:

“Leaders of the Niger Delta involved in the long struggles to re-invent and revive the dire political and socio-economic conditions of this country Nigeria, draw the attention of all Nigerians and the global community to an advanced conspiracy and plot to destabilize and disintegrate the country in the coming days and weeks.

“The promoters of this plot seek to achieve their aims by assassinating the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and also eliminate very senior military and security officers from the South and Middle Belt of Nigeria, including and particularly the Chief of Army Staff General Ihejerika; the Senate President David Mark and the National Security Adviser General Owoye Azazi (retd)."

The statement identified the plot perpetrators as "certain disgruntled elements in Nigeria and their co-conspirators."

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