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32 nabbed over Niger religious crisis


No fewer than 32 persons have been arrested by law enforcement agents following the curfew imposed on in Pandogari, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

Recall that about four lives were lost on Saturday night after the breakout of a religious violence in the community necessitating the imposition of curfew in the area.

A police source who craved anonymity, told Daily Times that the arrested persons were linked with the violence.

The 31 Artillery Brigade of Nigeria Army, Minna, had on Tuesday, confirmed the four lives that were lost during the violence.

Assistant Director, Army Public Relations Officer (APRO), Major Njideka Agwu, who disclosed this to journalists   in Minna said that the army, police and civil defence have restored peace in the area.

According to Agwu, “At about 6.00pm on Sunday, May 29, one Mr. Methodus Emmanuel, a 24 year old trader based in Pandogari, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State was attacked and killed by a mob in the town on allegation of posting a blasphemous statement about Prophet Muhammad on social media.

“Also three other persons including personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) also lost their lives.

“Troops of the 31 Artillery Brigade of One Division, Nigeria Army quickly intervened and restored law and order while a dusk to dawn curfew was imposed in the town., she said.

She also confirmed  that a Church, one house and a shop were burnt while 25 other shops were looted following the violence.

She said that the hoodlums embarked on further violence on Monday morning looting shops and blocking the Lagos – Kaduna road, a major highway connecting Northern and Southern parts of the country.

The APRO said that the army has made some arrests in connection with the incidence and suspects handed over to the police, adding that the army and other security agencies have commenced confidence building patrols in all the nooks and crannies of the area toward restoring peace.

“As part of measures to de-escalate tensions and ensure a lasting peace in the town, the military is working with the local government council authorities and community leaders including the Kagara Emirate Council to pacify all aggrieved parties and build on the peace so far established,’’ she said.

Agwu said that the army would continue with its non-violence approach to maintaining peace in the area and warned that the army would not take it kindly with any unscrupulous person who would attempt to visit violence on law abiding citizens.

The army APRO urged members of the public to adhere to the conditions of the curfew in place in order not attract punitive measures from security agencies.

Also speaking, an indigene of the area who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that the situation was calm.

“We cannot go out of our houses for our normal businesses but if this measure will bring peace to the entire community it is a welcome development.”

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