Nigeria

Nigeria's oil workers demand justice for murdered colleagues

A crude oil distillation unit.
A crude oil distillation unit. Reuters / Oleg Popov

Nigeria's main oil workers' union has given the government two weeks to find the killers of two colleagues kidnapped in the restive oil hub of the Niger Delta ten days ago. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (Pengassan) says the government faces grave consequences if it fails to meet their demands.

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In a statement on Tuesday, Pengassan called for full investigation of the murders and the prosecution of those responsible within 14 days, failing which the group threatened "to take whatever action deemed appropriate to oblige government to fish out the culprits".

This was one murder too many, says Pengassan representative Peter Essene, a former president of the association, who now heads the umbrella Nigeria Trade Union Congress.

Interview: Peter Essene, former Pengassan president

He has called on Nigerian police to change the way they conduct criminal investigations.

"We need to have data and fingerprints from people," he told RFI, adding that "we need to move beyond from just fighting criminals to preventive measures".

Such measures are currently seriously lacking, Essene says, adding that "a serious reform" is needed.

Two employees of a subsidiary of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum (NNPC) were seized by unknown men on 13 March. Their bodies were discovered on Saturday in southern Delta state.

The oil-rich Niger Delta has been rocked by three years of violent attacks by militants and ransom seekers targeting oil workers and their families.

The violence has pushed down crude production in the world's eighth largest producer to 1.5 million barrels a day, from a peak of 2.6 million barrels at the start of 2006.

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