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Friday, 14 January, 2000, 14:05 GMT
Obasanjo hints at Lagos emergency

Aftermath of riots Ethnic riots have swept Nigeria in the past year

By Nigeria correspondent Barnaby Phillips

Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo has hinted he may impose a state of emergency in the country's largest city, Lagos, following the recent deterioration of the law and order situation there.

Mr Obasanjo said the situation in Lagos was intolerable and that the Governor Bola Tinubu, had lost control.

In an angry public reaction, Governor Tinubu said he was appalled by President Obasanjo's criticisms.

The governor admitted that the police in Lagos are under-manned, ill equipped, poorly motivated and completely demoralised, but said this was not his fault.


The embarrassing and bad-tempered public exchange between the president and the governor is being played out in all the national daily newspapers, and is proving diverting reading for the Nigerian public.

President Obasanjo President Obasanjo: Says governor is soft on militants
But at stake is the serious issue of how law and order can be maintained in the new democracy.

The Yoruba militant organisation, the Odua People's Congress (OPC), has not only killed dozens of suspected criminals in vigilante actions - it is also accused of launching a series of attacks on police stations and killing several policemen.

While the OPC enjoys some public support in south-western Nigeria, in other parts of the country it is feared and distrusted.

Many Nigerians believe it is responsible for the recent upsurge in ethnic tensions.

Call for more police

President Obasanjo accuses Governor Tinubu of failing to take sufficient action to deal with the OPC and implies that the governor may even sympathise with the organisation.

Governor Tinubu argues that under the present centralised system, he does not have sufficient powers to restore law and order.

He also says that Lagos requires a further 20,000 new police recruits if the situation is to improve.

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See also:
05 Jan 00 |  Africa
Ethnic clashes flare in Nigeria
27 Nov 99 |  Africa
Curfew for Lagos trouble spot
26 Nov 99 |  Africa
Nigeria: More divided than united?
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Fatal clashes at Lagos port
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Ethnic violence returns to Kano
31 May 99 |  Africa
Nigerian ethnic fighting erupts

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