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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 13:23 GMT
Nigeria militant on hunger strike
Militia leader Mujahid Dokubu-Asari
Mr Asari has accused the government of being a dictatorship
A militant leader from Nigeria's oil-region has begun a hunger strike in protest at police treatment in custody.

Mujahid Dokubu-Asari's lawyer said he was not even taking water and was unhappy at being kept in solitary confinement and often moved.

A police spokesman denied ill-treatment and said he was in a three-star chalet.

Mr Asari was arrested in September after an interview in which he vowed to fight to break up Nigeria, the world's eighth largest oil exporter.

"He started the hunger strike yesterday [Sunday]. He is not taking anything, not even water. He is demanding to be kept in prison custody where he can have access to facilities and other inmates, " defence council Festus Keyamo told Reuters news agency.

Militia in boats

Police spokesman Haz Iwendi denied he was on a hunger strike saying they had a monthly budget of $1,500 just to feed him.

"We have given him VIP treatment. That means he is not in a normal cell, but in a chalet, in a suite of his own. He is not in solitary confinement."

Last year, Mr Asari's Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force contributed to a sharp rise in world oil prices when it threatened war against oil companies.

They want more control of oil resources for the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta, where most of Nigeria's oil is produced.

The Niger Delta remains one of Nigeria's poorest and least developed regions.


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