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Niger police arrest 25 for protesting high cost of living

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The Niger State Police Command has arrested a 30-year-old woman, Aisha Jibrin, who led women and youths in a mass protest on Monday, over the high cost of living in Minna, the state capital.

Aisha was arrested alongside two other women: 57-year-old Fatima Aliyu, and 43-year-old Fatima Isyaku; and 22 others.

Youths and women of Niger State took to the streets of Minna on Monday, protesting over what they called the biting hardship and the rising cost of living in the country.

The protest started when a group of women led by Aisha, blocked Minna-Bida Road at the popular Kpakungu Roundabout to lament what they termed the suffering under the Bola Tinubu government.

They were later joined by men and youths stopping vehicles from moving.

A deployment of police operatives to the scene could not stop the youth from the protest as some of them could be heard saying that the police were the agents of the government and they could not do anything.

However, announcing the arrest of Aisha and two of her colleagues in a statement on Wednesday, the Niger State Police Command alleged that the protesters were violent.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Abiodun Wasiu, admitted that the police adopted minimum force to disperse the protesters.

He, however, alleged that following the admission of minimum force by the police, the protesters turned violent by “attacking the police with weapons such as stones, bottles, sticks, cutlasses and damaged police patrol vehicles and parts of the Kpakungu Division roof.”

The statement read, “It could be recalled that on February 5, 2024, at about 7am, a large number of women and miscreants mobilised and blocked Minna-Bida road and Kpakungu Roundabout claiming to be protesting against increase in foodstuff prices, causing major obstruction on the highway and deprived motorists, travellers and other road users from gaining access to attend to their lawful businesses.

“The command immediately drafted police patrol teams led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations – DCP Shehu Didango to the scene, and after much persuasion by the police, the protesters deliberately refused to clear the road for public use, while His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Niger State, Yakubu Garba, equally availed himself at the scene and addressed the group, yet they turned deaf ears and chose to be violent.

“However, the police adopted minimum force to disperse the protesters who turned violent by attacking the police with weapons such as stones, bottles, sticks, cutlasses and damaged Police patrol vehicles and parts of the Kpakungu Division roof.

“In the course of this, the police arrested the initiator of the protest, one Aisha Jibrin 30yrs, Fatima Aliyu 57yrs, Fatima Isyaku 43yrs all of Soje ‘A’ of Kpakungu area of Minna and 22 other miscreants with the following weapons:

“A bench and a stick used as barricade, three knives, one scissors, one cutlass, one saw blade, one iron pipe, four other sticks, two wraps of Indian hemp, charms, etc.

“During interrogation, the said Aisha claimed that she was not aware that her action was illegal by mobilising over 100 women and miscreants to block the highway for a violent protest. She claimed further that she informed one youth leader, Hassan, in the area, who promised to inform the police of their plan to protest, but did not do so.

“Meanwhile, all suspects were taken to SCID Minna for investigation and they will be charged to court for prosecution, as effort is ongoing to arrest other identified members of the violent protest.

“The Commissioner of Police, Niger State Command, Shawulu Danmamman, urges Nigerlites, members of the public to be law-abiding and should not resort to self-help, but rather approach appropriate authority to address issues whenever the need arises.”

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