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, major public holidays in Nigeria include Independence Day (October 1) and New Year (January 1). 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.e. 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 power democratically,
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 be executed.
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.