Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger on Wednesday in Abuja said an investigative panel had been instituted by the State Government to investigate the Pandogari religious riot.
Speaking to State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Bello described the incident as “unfortunate’’.
According to him, anyone found involved in the social unrest will be severely punished.
“The situation was unfortunate in Pandogari.
“I think someone posted some blasphemous stories about the Prophet and of course you know the sensitive nature when it comes to religion and one person was killed.
“Later on, we heard that either police or the army shot a civilian and three or four people lost their lives.
“We have instituted an investigative panel to investigate what happened so that we can address the situation.
“The deputy governor and my team are there at the moment, the situation is calm now.
“We will await the outcome of the investigative panel so that we guard against this happening next time.
“This is unacceptable and whoever is involved will be severely punished,’’ said the governor.
Bello dismissed report in some quarters that his administration was planning to reduce workers’ salaries by half.
He, however, stated that the state government was negotiating with the state labour union on how best to address the state’s financial challenges.
“I read somewhere we are going to reduce salaries but it is not true.
“But we engaged labour and we are still talking to them. We have laid the cards on the table, we are not hiding anything; we are very transparent as much as we can but the truth of the matter is that I cannot give what we don’t have.
“I wish I had, personally if I had I would have paid from my pocket but I can’t.’’
The governor called on all indigenes of the state, particularly civil servants and political appointees, to make sacrifice so as to move the state forward.
He said already the state government had cut Government House expenditure by 70 per cent and expressed his readiness to make more sacrifice for the general good of the state.
“But we should all make sacrifices, I’m willing to make sacrifices, all my appointees are willing to make sacrifices.
“We have shown example by cutting down our expenditure, we have cut down the operation of the expenses of the Government House from N150 million a week to between N20 and 25 million a week.
“So, we have cut down government house expenditure by over 70 per cent and I mean these are all sacrifices.
“We have saved some money, we are doing a bit of projects including federal roads, the Suleja-Minna Road is motorable now and very soon we will start working on Bida,’’ he said.