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Nigerian troops pull out of Lagos after public outcry

The military authority in Nigeria approved that the soldiers leave Lagos

AFP , Wednesday 25 Jan 2012

Nigerian troops have withdrawn from the streets of the commercial capital Lagos following a public outcry over their deployment in the wake of mass fuel protests, a spokesman said Wednesday.

"The soldiers have left Lagos. Their withdrawal was approved by the military authorities," military spokesman Colonel Mohammed Yerima told AFP, adding that the pullback took place on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, armoured tanks and hundreds of soldiers had deployed to trouble spots in Lagos, the country's largest city with a population of around 15 million, to quell week-long protests over the removal of fuel subsidies.

On the deployment's first day, more than 100 soldiers cordoned off the main protest venue in downtown Lagos' Ojota neighbourhood.

Police also fired tear gas to disperse protesters while in one incident soldiers drove armoured cars into a surging crowd.

The move drew harsh criticism from prominent Nigerians, including Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, who demanded the army immediately withdraw from central Lagos.

President Goodluck Jonathan set off a wave of protests when he abolished fuel subsidies on January 1, causing petrol prices to more than double.

A subsequent general strike locked the country down for several days and cost the regional powerhouse an estimated $1.3 billion (one billion euros). The government eventually agreed to a lesser price hike.

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