Nigeria. Unrest characterized the oil-rich Niger Delta
throughout the year. Many foreign oil workers were taken
hostage by armed movements but were usually released after a
few days or weeks. It remained unclear whether the oil
companies paid ransom. It was sometimes about purely
criminal acts, but more often the kidnappings had clear
political signs. According to
CountryAAH, a guerrilla movement called the Movement
for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) appeared
demanding that half of the oil revenues go to the region.
Despite many production disruptions and sabotage against
oil pipelines, N's revenues increased thanks to the sharply
rising oil price. China's march on the African oil market
was also favorable for Nigeria. Chinese companies bought into five
oil blocks and also undertook to refurbish and operate a
refinery in Kaduna, to build power plants and new railways,
and to refurbish the old railway network. These were
transactions for tens of billions of SEK.
There were also unrest in other parts of the country.
Dozens of people were killed in connection with protests in
the north against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten's
publication of cartoons by the prophet Muhammad. Religious
riots in the city of Onitsha in the south cost well over 100
people, most of them Muslims killed by Christian mobs.
Ahead of the 2007 presidential election, a public debate
began about whether the constitution would be amended to
allow Olusegun Obasanjo to run for a third term in office.
Vice President Atiku Abubakar, himself interested in taking
over, was among those who openly criticized Obasanjo's
ambitions to be re-elected. He was suspended from the
People's Democratic Party (PDP), formally for corruption
suspicions, and was excluded in December after being elected
presidential candidate for an opposition party. Then i.a.
the influential national organization NLC also criticized
Obasanjo's re-election foundations, the Senate voted down
the draft constitutional amendment, which means Obasanjo
must resign in 2007. It will be the first time in N's
history that a democratically elected leader surrenders
The think tank International Crisis Group (ICG) in a
report in October drew a depressing picture of N's political
system and its leaders' incompetence and corruption. The
fight for the oil riches, unequal distribution of power and
the political failure's "failure at all levels" risks
leading to a serious internal crisis, the ICG estimated. The
anti-corruption authority announced in September that 31
governors out of 36 were under investigation. In half a
dozen states, governors were ousted by the parliaments or
brought before the national court. The processes were
usually carried out with questionable legal support and were
interpreted as an element of the growing power struggle
ahead of the 2007 general election.
After several years of delay, Nigeria in August resigned to
the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in accordance with a
decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
In November, 200 and 600 dead were injured in clashes
between Christians and Muslims in Kaduna. The clashes took
place in the midst of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan
and in preparation for the Miss World competition in
Nigeria. They were triggered by an article published in the
newspaper This Day which suggested that Prophet Muhammad
would have welcomed the competition and could have chosen a
wife from among the girls. The organizers then decided to
move the competition to London.
Even before the clashes, criticism had been raised of
competition from a number of countries that had even called
for a boycott, as a result of a Nigerian woman being
convicted of stoning for adultery. Amina Lawal had been
sentenced in August by an Islamic court for having a child
out of wedlock. In September 2003, she was acquitted, but
other similar cases are pending before the Islamic courts.
In April 2003, Olusegun Obasanjo was re-elected as the
country's president. The election campaign had been violent
and was scammed by EU observers, while the opposition
characterized the result as "unacceptable".
After 9 days of nationwide general strike in July 2003,
the government bowed down and lowered the price of gasoline
- soon after raising it. Oluyemi Adeniji took over the post
of Foreign Minister.
In January 2004, Nigeria and Cameroon agreed to deploy
troops along the conflict zone of the Bakassi Peninsula.
In March 2004, a series of political murders and various
armed assaults marked the start of the campaign up to local
elections in the country.
In a new report, Amnesty International criticized women's
discrimination in Nigeria and the use of the death penalty.
In July 2003, 487 people in Nigerian prisons were waiting to
In May 2004, Plateau State in the central part of the
country was declared in a state of emergency following
violent religious clashes. Previously, over 200 Muslims had
been killed by Christian militias in the city of Yelwa in
the state of Kebbi in the country's northwestern part. As
revenge, Muslims had attacked the state of Kano in the north
by the Jakara River.
In August-September, serious clashes took place between
various ethnic groups in Port Harcourt, quickly involving
government forces. Acc. Amnesty International killed about
500 people during various attacks. Official sources spoke of
only 20 killed. Amnesty stated that the Nigerian army had
been ordered to use "maximum force" against the rebels.
On September 29, Dokubo Asari, leader of the rebel group
Volunteer Force for the People of the Niger River Delta,
announced that he was ready to negotiate with President
Obasanjo to stop the violence in the area. Asari had
previously stated that he would wage "war against the state
of Nigeria" and against the foreign oil companies in the
Niger River delta. The leader of the rebellion provided a
condition for putting the weapons "in control of natural
resources and self-determination" for the Ijaw people who
otherwise live in deep poverty. Asari stated that the
purpose of the rebel group was to defend the Ijaw people's
economic and political interests.