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Curfew in Nigeria`s Port Harcourt Extended Indefinitely

Posted by Dow Jones on 2007/09/05 | Views: 2532 |

Curfew in Nigeria`s Port Harcourt Extended Indefinitely


The dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in Nigeria`s oil city of Port Harcourt two weeks ago by the Rivers state government, has been extended indefinitely, press reports said Saturday.

The dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in Nigeria`s oil city of Port Harcourt two weeks ago by the Rivers state government, has been extended indefinitely, press reports said Saturday.

The curfew became necessary in the city and other parts of the state following bloody clashes between rival armed cult gangs and militants that left several people dead and properties destroyed.

A Joint (Military) Task Force, or JTF, consisting of army troops and other service forces restored order after flushing out the cultists and militants.

Cult gangs and militants since January 2006 have kidnapped more than 200 local and foreign oil workers in Rivers state and other parts of Nigeria`s Niger Delta, where most of the nation`s crude oil is produced.

The curfew was imposed Aug. 17, covered the hours of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time (0900 GMT-0500 GMT) and initially was to last a week. It was extended for a second week on Aug. 23 by the state government following a review of the security situation in Port Harcourt and other parts of the state.

Okey Wali, Rivers state attorney general, was quoted by The Guardian as saying Friday in Port Harcourt that a review of the security in the city in the last two weeks prompted Friday`s indefinite extension of the curfew.

The hours of the restriction, however, have been reduced to nine hours - from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (1100 GMT-0500 GMT). The previous curfew covered 11 hours, Wali said.

He said the curfew had been reviewed and extended indefinitely, and "this will aid the consolidation of the success of the last two weeks. (The) Government regrets the difficult but necessary decision, as it is geared to ensure the safety of lives and property in the state,"

Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar`Adua on Thursday ruled out any emergency rule in Rivers state because the conditions weren`t ripe for such declaration.

Under an emergency rule in a Nigerian state, the elected governor and legislators would have to step aside and an administrator would then take charge of the state.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo declared emergency rule in a few Nigerian states during his eight year rule, from 1999-2007.

Militants and cult gangs in the restive Niger Delta have destroyed several oil and gas pipelines and other facilities in the past several months.

They have in the process succeeded in cutting Nigeria`s crude oil export by around 600,000 barrels per day, helping to send world oil prices skyrocketing.

Nigeria is the world`s eighth-largest crude oil exporter and is a major supplier to the U.S.

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