3 killed in Nigeria fuel protests

Jan. 9, 2012 at 12:26 PM
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RAW VIDEO: Nigerian Lawyers Protest High Fuel Prices
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ABUJA, Nigeria, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- At least three people have been killed in clashes with police in Nigeria as tens of thousands of people protested the end of a fuel subsidy, witnesses say.

One protester was fatally shot in Lagos, two others in the northern city of Kano, Voice of America reported.

The demonstrations over the end of the subsidy -- a move that has caused fuel prices to skyrocket -- crippled cities, including Abuja, the capital, VOA said Monday.

In Lagos, protesters blocked roads, burned tires and chanted slogans, while in Kano the Red Cross reported at least 14 people were injured, including seven who suffered gunshot wounds.

Major Nigerian labor unions called for the strikes to try to pressure the government to restore the subsidy after fuel prices doubled in one day.

Owe Lakemfa, a National Labor Congress spokesman, told VOA the government had refused unions' bids to resume talks on the subsidy.

The Nigerian government has pledged to spend $8 billion saved by discontinuing the subsidy on the impoverished country's infrastructure and social programs, and an adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan said ending the subsidy ultimately would help citizens.

VOA said citizens reap few benefits from Nigeria's oil wealth in a country where most live on less than $2 a day.

After organized labor declared the strike, the House of Representatives urged Jonathan to restore the subsidy, The (Lagos) Guardian reported.

In an emergency session, the House also called on organized labor and others not to strike and to instead take part in talks on the issue and urged Nigerians to show restraint.

The House also adopted a motion to establish a committee to mediate between the government and labor unions and another panel to determine subsidy requirements and monitor subsidy policy.

"Although deregulation as a policy may not be altogether objectionable, proper procedure and good timing of such policy is important in a democratic dispensation," said Tajudeen Yusuf, a House lawmaker representing Kogi State.

But Majority Leader Mulikat Adeola-Akande expressed support for removing the subsidy, saying it could prevent the collapse of the economy.

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