Lagos strike carries to second day: Nigerian military accuses democracy supporters of planning to carry out bomb attacks

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The Independent Online
MOST of south-western Nigeria was shut down yesterday for a second day as a strike called by the Campaign for Democracy to pressure the military government to leave office gripped the political stronghold of the winner of the aborted 12 June presidential elections, Chief Moshood Abiola.

General Ibrahim Babangida's eight- year-old military government accused supporters of a 'disgruntled politician', believed to be Chief Abiola, of planning bomb attacks next week in Lagos, Abuja, the capital, and the northern city of Kaduna. A statement by the Information Secretary, Uche Chukwumerije, said the plotters aimed to blow up an oil pipeline and to distribute about pounds 250,000 'to step up the acts of incitement'.

The pro-democracy strike, which began on Thursday and was scheduled to continue today, was ignored in the rest of the country. Some government offices in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial centre, opened yesterday after the Secretary to the Federal Government, Aliyu Mohammed, threatened to sack civil servants who failed to report for work.

Most shops, banks and markets remained closed, although residents began venturing out into the streets as fears receded that the protests could spark violence. Police and national guard units were stationed throughout the city and police helicopters continued to patrol the skies.

The Campaign for Democracy, a coalition of human rights, women's and student groups, described the stayaway as a start of actions designed to force the military out of office and to inaugurate Chief Abiola as president on 27 August, the day Gen Babangida has promised to hand over power to an elected government.

Gen Babangida held a series of meetings this week with his senior officers and security commanders to discuss a proposal for an interim government made up of soldiers and politicians from the country's two army- backed parties - the National Republican Convention (NRC) and a faction of the Social Democratic Party. Many analysts believe he will unveil his plans at a joint session of the National Assembly on Monday.

A military-appointed committee last week recommended an interim government comprising two bodies, a governing council and an executive council, to run the country until elections and a handover to a civilian administration late next year. The security forces would have at least seven seats on the 18-member governing council, with the remainder held by civilians approved by the armed forces.

The committee also suggested a civilian head the new administration. But several NRC governors and NRC- controlled state assemblies, as well as the pro-military lobby group, the Association for a Better Nigeria, have called on Gen Babangida to remain.