Nigerian Youth Group Sets Fire to NNPC Offices

The Youth Democratic Movement of Nigeria has claimed responsibility for a fire that ripped through the main Lagos office of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria's state oil company.

The group made a statement on Tuesday evening that it had burned down the office in protest against high-level corruption, and warned of future attacks throughout the country. The man identified himself simply as Nwokobia.

The fire was started on Monday night and was still blazing Tuesday evening, as poorly equipped firefighters tried to extinguish it. There were no casualties and neighboring buildings, including an adjoining gas station, were unaffected.

The building housed important NNPC operations, including the management of its joint ventures with oil multinationals.

Little is known of the YDM. In a report by Nigerian magazine Newswatch last September, Nwokobia was cited as strongly criticizing a fellow southwestern ethnic Yoruba politician for joining the ruling party. Nwokobia said the politician, Anthony Enahoro, appeared to be abandoning the "years of principled struggle against the oligarchy" and the fight against corruption.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Tuesday that he would set up a commission of inquiry into the NNPC fire. Nigerian media reports said five people had been picked up for questioning by police in connection to the fire: three security personnel at the building and two firefighters.


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