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Concerns grow over Nigerian fuel subsidy

LAGOS, Nigeria, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- There are growing concerns about the effects that a decision to end subsidies on petroleum products in Nigeria is having, a lawmaker said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan opted to remove a subsidy on petroleum products, including fuels. Gasoline prices in the country had doubled by Monday after the subsidy ended last weekend. It had been in place for 38 years.

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Labor unions in the country called for national strikes and mass protests in retaliation for the move on subsidies.

Rotimi Abiru, a lawmaker in the Lagos state House of Assembly, said the fuel measure could spell major economic problems for the country.

"On a day Nigerians were celebrating the New Year, the government decided to spoil the good mood by removing the subsidy," he told The Nation newspaper. "This is an unwelcome development that Nigerians must stand against."

The Nation claimed that almost as soon as the government made the announcement, service stations stopped selling gasoline.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Lagos to protest rising fuel prices. Nigerians attacked soldiers and formed human chains along national roadways. Al-Jazeera reports at least one person was killed during demonstrations.

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The demonstrations come as the country, split along Muslim and Christian lines, is coping with a growing threat from Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

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