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Tuesday, 6 June, 2000, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Fuel protests spread to Abuja
Lagos skyline
Lagos has been badly hit by recent fuel price hikes
Demonstrations over a 50% fuel price rise in Nigeria have continued for a second day running and spread to the capital, Abuja.

Portesting workers in the capital blocked the main access road to the presidential villa and barred government workers from entering their offices.

In Lagos, militant workers and students put up barricades, burned tyres and turned motorist away.

Riots also resumed in Abeoukuta, north of Lagos and the home town of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Major protest areas in Nigeria
Protest in major cities raises the tension

"Police are battling very hard to disperse demonstrators," a police officer in Abeoukuta told reporters.

"We want to be very careful about this as we don't want any serious consequences" he said.

Many people were stranded as vehicle owners withdrew for fear of being attacked by angry demonstrators. Long queues of motorists were noticed in most filling stations in Lagos.

The riots began on Monday across south-western Nigeria ahead of a planned protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress on Thursday over the issue.

President Obasanjo has defended last Thursday's rise in price of petrol from 20 to 30 naira per litre ($0.20-$0.30). Kerosene and diesel prices also rose by similar margins.

The rioters have called on the government to withdraw the increases and restore fuel subsidies.

Crisis meeting

Protests in the capital came as President Olusegun Obasanjo held talks with leaders of the umbrella movement the Nigerian Labour Congress.

President Olusegun Obasanjo
President Obasanjo warned that prices would go up

At an impromptu rally the leader of the congress Adams Oshiomhole told supporters a nationwide protest on Thursday would go ahead.

"Workers will only go back to work if the government rescinds the decision on the increases in petroleum prices," he said.

On Monday, Mr Oshiomhole directed filling stations to close down in readiness for strikes, adding that any fuel service station that failed to heed the directive would do so "at its own risk".

Nigeria's fuel has been a source of conflict in the country's troubled history.

There have been several riots in the Delta region over the unequal distribution of oil wealth amongst local communities.

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