On January first, the president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan ended what many considered to be an 8 billion dollar fuel subsidy program. Many people in Nigeria considered the subsidy their share of the oil wealth as well as one of the few effective welfare programs present in Nigeria. President Jonathan states that it is a good idea to end the fuel subsidies because Nigeria’s economy will benefit from the austerity measures. He has stated that some of the money saved would be transfered to infrastructure building which could eventually offset commuting costs.
quote:When subsidies on imports of motor fuel were scrapped on January 1, many citizens saw what they regard as their only welfare benefit disappear and the price of petrol more than doubled to 150 naira ($0.93) a liter.
By January second, people were gathering.
quote:Young activists have begun a series of protests against the withdrawal of gasoline subsidies announced by the Nigerian government on New Year’s day. Activists marched to the Eagles Square to hold a demonstration but were turned by back by fierce-looking soldiers and police teams.
The action of the police did not stop the groups from staging symbolic actions around the Eagle Square.
There are reports of sporadic protests in other cities around Nigeria as activists vow to shut down Nigeria over the increase in prices of gasoline prices they said is bound to make life more unbearable for a country where most of citizens live on less than $3 a day.
Within several days, the gatherings exploded into nationwide protests and union strikes demanding the reinstatement of the oil subsidies. Various reports of police firing on protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets abound.
On January 10th, thousands of protesters converged on the governors office in Kano.
quote:KANO (AFP) – At least five people were shot dead Monday during protests over an oil price hike while a nine-year boy was reportedly trampled to death by a crowd, officials and medical sources said.
Sixteen others suffered gunshot wounds, with most of the violence in the northern city of Kano, where police clashed with demonstrators.
The head of Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, said three people were shot dead in the economic capital Lagos while another was shot in Kano, where a boy also crushed to death in a stampede.
“My understanding is that the nine-year-old appears to have been trampled in what looks like a stampede in Kano,” he told AFP.
Earlier, a hospital source in Kano reported at least two dead — a 25-year-old and 27-year-old — from gunshot wounds, bringing the nationwide toll to up to six.
A union leader accused police of shooting dead a protester in Lagos. Police spokesman Samuel Jinadu confirmed the death and said an officer had been arrested.
Police fired tear gas and shot into the air as thousands of protesters converged on the governor’s office in Kano, the largest city in the north.
Trade unions stated yesterday that they will be shutting down Nigeria’s oil industry on Sunday if the subsidy is not reinstated. In response to both the strikes/protests as well as a surge in acts of violence linked to Boko Haram, President Jonathan has ordered the closing of Nigeria’s borders.
Over 25 people have been killed during protests.
quote:Since 9 January, tens of thousands of Nigerians throughout the country went on strike to protest against the removal of fuel subsidy and to demand good governance. The protests are generally peaceful, however in some instances violence has been reported.
In Kaduna, on 10 January a man was seriously injured after he was shot in his head by the police. The state government subsequently imposed a 24 hour curfew and the police have threatened to arrest anyone who would protest.
In Benin City, the capital of Edo State, according to unconfirmed reports three people were injured on 10 January after the police shot in the air. Some of the leaders of the protests in the state are currently in hiding and fear for their safety.
In Kano, on 9 January at least one person was killed and 22 people were injured when the police fired live ammunition at demonstrators in an attempt to disperse the crowd near the gates of Government House. Unconfirmed reports suggest another two persons may have been killed. The police issued no warning before using lethal force, but opened fire and used teargas simultaneously. At least one bystander who was not participating in the protest was shot and injured. According to eyewitnesses, the protesters were unarmed. Following the incident, the union in Kano state halted further public protests and asked people to strike by staying at home. The government has put in place a curfew from 6 pm till 8 am.
On 9 January, at least five people were shot; three were reportedly injured and two were killed in Lagos. The police announced the arrest of one police officer suspected to have fired at demonstrators.
Intentional use of lethal force against people in a public order situation violates the right to life as guaranteed by Nigeria’s Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In January 2006, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said that the force order (referring to Force Order 237) provided “carte blanche to shoot and kill at will.” He recommended the amendment of the force order to meet with international standards. The government took no action.
Some pictures of the protests in Nigeria.