Millions of Nigerians stayed out of work in response to labor unions' call for a general strike to protest the rising prices of fuel. The strike is taking place despite a court order to call it off.

The largest trade union, Nigeria Labor Congress, called for the strike even though a federal high court ruled that the strike should not take place. The court also called on the government to enforce a mandatory rollback of fuel prices to February levels.

Millions of workers have stayed home, offices and stores were closed. There were no reports of violence.

The president of the Nigeria Labor Congress, Adams Oshiomole, says the strike would be called off when the government succeeds in reducing the prices of gasoline.

"For now the strike is on," he said. "In Abuja, the federal civil service is deserted and it is quite effective, but we are meeting later to look at government response to see whether they have complied with the court order and if there is evidence that they have complied then we will take steps to suspend the action."

The union had threatened a strike earlier this year to protest the government decision to impose a tax on fuel. But a court order, which banned both the strike and the tax, averted the industrial action.

Since then the prices of fuel have continued to rise, and are currently more than a third higher than they were in February. But gasoline prices have been on the rise since last year when the government removed price controls.

The chairman for the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency in Nigeria, Rasheed Gbadamosi, says prices should return to the previous rates.

"PPPRA is complying with the statement of that ruling as of today and we are releasing directives to all marketers and all our partners in the distribution process to suspend price increases, so revert back to what it was prior to this recent increase," he said.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil-producing country, but it has a limited refining capacity, and must import gasoline to satisfy domestic consumption.