Nigerians killed during strike

Nigerian security forces shot dead at least four people while four others were killed by a speeding vehicle during demonstrations to protest against a massive fuel price hike, police said on Tuesday.

    The strike entered its second day
    mainly in Abuja and Lagos

    Police spokesman Chris Olakpe said that the four who were shot dead in the suburbs of the capital Abuja on Monday could be criminals taking advantage of the protests.


    “They were killed in an encounter with security forces”, he said, describing them as “hoodlums”.


    Another 80 people were arrested, Olakpe said.


    The other four died in the commercial city of Lagos when a speeding vehicle ran over a group of protesters.


    A Lagos police spokesman described the killings as “accidental”.


    The demonstrations were part of a nation-wide general strike that began on Monday to protest against a 54 percent rise in fuel prices.


    The strike continued on Tuesday.


    Strikers gathered outside the government’s main administrative offices, defying policemen who fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.


    Nigeria’s main labour union, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC),  which called for the strike, distributed pamphlets calling on president Olusegun Obasanjo to resign.


    “The strike will be total and indefinite until the prices are reversed”, NLC President Adams Oshiomhole said on Sunday.


    The price hike, which was announced on 20 June, raised the retail price of petrol from 26 to 40 Naira (31 cents) per litre.


    No oil disruption


    Nigeria is the world’s eighth largest exporter of crude oil.


    But the country suffers from sharp shortages of refined products such as petrol and diesel.


    Despite the general strike, oil majors said production activities went on smoothly with no disruptions.


    "All our operational units -- oil fields, exports terminal -- are working. Nigeria's oil output is not threatened at all," said a spokesman for the state-run oil group Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ndu Nghamadu.


    Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell said its staff went about their daily work as normal at the oil fields.


    "Production is going on at the oil fields. There is no problem,"

    a Shell official said.


    An official of ExxonMobil, Nigeria's second largest oil operator, said: "So far so good. We have not had any disruptions on

    our rigs."


    The main oil sector workers' union, the National Union of

    Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), however insisted the strike did have an effect on production activities.


    "We have succeeded in paralysing the oil sector. There has not been any lifting of fuel since midnight," NUPENG general secretary Joseph Akinlaja said.


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