Nigeria starts new year with state of emergency, ethnic conflict, oil spill

At least 52 people, including women and children, have been killed in clashes over a land conflict between the Ezza and Ezilo ethnic groups in southeastern Nigeria’s Ebonyi state over the weekend. The fighting came just a state of emergency was declared by President Jonathan in the north-central states of Plateau, Niger, Yobe and parts of Borno, in response to a wave of attacks by Islamist group Boko Haram. (PTI, The Telegraph, Jan. 1) The country’s worst oil spill in a decade has meanwhile struck southern Delta state, with over a million gallons of crude washing up on local beaches. Villagers and fishermen say the oil is coming from a loading accident at Royal Dutch Shell’s offshore Bonga facility last month—a claim the company denies. Shell says five ships were used to disperse and contain the spill, preventing the crude from washing ashore. (Reuters, Jan. 1; FSRN, Dec. 30) Ironically, the spill comes as the Nigerian government has dropped fuel subsidies as an austerity measure—prompting trade unions to call for a repeat of the strikes and street protests that thwarted previous attempts to end the subsidy program. (Reuters, Jan. 1)

See our last post on the struggle in Nigeria.

  1. Nigeria: Christians flee North
    Some 20 people were killed by masked gunmen who targeted the town hall in Mubi, Adamawa state, on Jan. 6. Those killed were Christian Igbo, who were targeted by followers of the Boko Haram sect. Presumed Boko Haram militants also attacked a church in Gombe the previous day, killing at least six. Hundreds of Christians have fled their homes since the attacks. (Nigeria Tribune, Reuters, Jan. 7)

    The unrest comes as trade unions have called for strikes and protests over fuel prices. In Abeokuta Jan. 5, police fired tear gas to break up a “sleep-in” occupation of a traffic roundabout. (AP, Jan. 7)

  2. Sectarian violence continues in Nigeria
    In Nigeria’s northern city of Gombe, a curfew has been imposed after multiple bombs attacks on police headquarters and other targets Feb. 24. In Kano, gunmen on a motorcycle killed five worshippers at a mosque during Friday prayers. Later, presumed Boko Haram militants stormed a mosque in Kumbotso district of Kano state and killed five worshippers. (Leadership, Abuza, via AllAfrica, Vanguard, Lagos, Feb. 25)

  3. Sectarian spiral in Nigeria
    A suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into a church in the Nigerian city of Jos on Dec. 26, killing two people and wounding 38. Christian youths beat two Muslims to death in revenge. (Reuters, Feb. 27)