More than 40 die as ethnic riots hit Lagos

IN THE biggest test so far of Nigeria's transition to democracy, paramilitary police with orders to shoot rioters on sight rushed to suppress a new outbreak of violence in Lagos yesterday after clashes between Nigeria's biggest ethnic groups killed more than 40 people. The alert was issued in the Ogba district of Nigeria's commercial capital.

In another Lagos suburb, Ketu, more than 16 bodies, most charred after being set ablaze with petrol and many hacked with machetes, lay on the streets following the deaths of at least 27 people on Thursday. Residents said 15 children and their teachers were butchered at a nursery school.

Police feared copycat flare-ups between Hausas and Yorubas - Nigeria's biggest and most influential ethnic groups - elsewhere in the country and asked Nigerian broadcasters to refrain from using pictures of the Lagos clashes.

Separately, as reporters were barred from entering areas of ethnic tension in the Niger Delta, embassies were told to stop issuing automatic visas to foreign journalists. The Lagos security clampdown, ordered by President Olusegun Obasanjo, was centred on Ketu. Local journalists said the official death toll, 27, was probably a vast under-estimate.

Ketu, near Lagos airport, is a flashpoint because it has a large market and traders - whose specialisms are often determined by their tribe - meet there. The area has a considerable Hausa population, the northern tribe which is a minority in Lagos and the rest of the south-west. Nigerian democrats view an ethnic crisis as the biggest threat to President Obasanjo, who has proved himself a reformer since his election in February ended 15 years of military rule.

During their years in power, successive juntas argued that only they could keep Nigeria from splitting along tribal lines. The military remains sufficiently powerful to stoke ethnic frictions if it wishes to destabilise the civilian government.

Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous country and one of the world's top oil producers, has witnessed widespread bloodshed since Mr Obasanjo's inauguration at the end of May. From the time of independence from Britain in 1960 until his election this year, the country had known mainly Hausa- dominated, military rule.

President Obasanjo is a Yoruba. But, when he was elected, he was seen as an acceptable candidate for the Hausas because he is a former general. But despite an economic upturn, the population remains restive. Life for the ordinary Nigerian has not improved. Government institutions, such as the Senate, are widely seen as places where the corrupt military have re-invented themselves as democrats.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls