No fewer than twenty-five people have been apprehended by the Niger State Police Command in respect to a mass protest in Minna, the state capital, on Monday.
Naija News recalls that there was a mass demonstration in Minna, reportedly led by women and youths who were discontented with the exorbitant cost of living in the area.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, however, the police command in the state said it arrested one Aisha Jibrin, 30, and two other women, Fatima Aliyu (57 years old) and Fatima Isyaku (43 years old), who allegedly led the demonstration.
Twenty-two other persons were also arrested.
According to the police, the protest commenced when Aisha and a group of women blocked the Minna-Bida Road at the well-known Kpakungu Roundabout, voicing their frustrations with what they perceived as the suffering inflicted by the Bola Tinubu government.
Subsequently, men and youths reportedly joined the demonstration, obstructing the movement of vehicles.
Naija News reports that despite the deployment of police operatives to the scene, the youth continued their protest, claiming that the police were mere puppets of the government and incapable of taking action.
Nevertheless, the Niger State Police Command released a statement on Wednesday, announcing the arrest of Aisha and her colleagues and accusing the protesters of engaging in violent behaviour.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Abiodun Wasiu, acknowledged that the police used minimum force to disperse the protesters.
However, he further alleged that after the police resorted to minimum force, the protesters retaliated by attacking the police with various weapons such as stones, bottles, sticks, and cutlasses. They also caused damage to police patrol vehicles and parts of the Kpakungu Division roof.
The statement read, “It could be recalled that on February 5, 2024, at about 7 am, 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 a 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.”