Nigerian oil union leaders banned

LAGOS (AP) - Nigeria's military ruler said yesterday he was firing the leaders of the nation's three key labour groups, including the two oil unions that have waged a devastating strike aimed at toppling him.

The move by General Sanni Abacha, who seized power from a civilian head of state in November, is the latest escalation in a showdown between the military dictatorship and a growing opposition movement.

General Abacha said he was sacking the executive councils of the two national oil unions - Nupeng and Pengassan - and of the Nigerian Labour Congress, the trade association that represents 5 million industrial workers. He is to replace them with military-appointed administrators. The rare speech to the nation was broadcast on national television and radio.

Union leaders who have been expecting such a ban have warned they would organise an underground resistance to the government. Frank Korkori, head of Nupeng (the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers), denounced the speech. General Abacha had jailed Mr Korkori at the outset of the strike then was pressured to free him. 'It is our intention to fight this arbitrary dictatorship,' he said. 'The government has no right to dissolve us. We have sent signals to all our branches to ignore it.'

Nigeria has been in crisis ever since the military annulled the 12 June 1993 presidential election apparently won by Moshood Abiola. The election was aimed at ending a decade of military rule. Chief Abiola was arrested after declaring himself president to mark the first anniversary of the election. Oil workers went on strike in protest on 4 July, crippling the country's main industry.

'It is a selfish motive, ruthless in execution and sadistic in expectations,' General Abacha said of the oil strikes. He also said he would not free Chief Abiola, who is on trial for treason, claiming it was up to the government-controlled court system to determine whether he should be freed.

Since toppling a civilian figurehead in November, General Abacha has dissolved all elected legislatures, closed respected newspapers and jailed human rights activists and politicians critical of his regime. But he has not been able to contain the oil strike, which has cut Nigeria's vital oil production in half and triggered fuel shortages across the country.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea