Niger state governor Umaru Bago has ordered the release of 25 residents who were arrested for protesting against the high cost of living in the country.
The protesters, led by a 57-year-old woman, Aisha Jibrin, blocked the Kpakunku road, a major route connecting Minna to other parts of the country, demanding government action to alleviate the economic challenges facing the citizens.
According to the police, the protesters turned violent and attacked the officers with dangerous weapons, damaging patrol vehicles and parts of the Kpakungu police station roof.
The police spokesperson in the state, Wasiu Abiodun, said in a statement on Wednesday that Jibrin and 24 others, including two other women, were arrested and charged with “organising a violent protest”.
He also said the police recovered three knives, one pair of scissors, one cutlass, one saw blade, one iron pipe, four other sticks, two wraps of Indian hemp, and charms from the suspects.
However, on Thursday, February 8, the state commissioner for information and strategy, Binta Mamman, announced that the governor had directed the release of the protesters after a review of the case.
She said there was a mix-up in the arrest of the protesters and that they were exonerated of any wrongdoing.
“The state government has directed the release of Aisha Jibrin and 24 others arrested by the police for leading the protest. They have been released and reunited with their families,” she stated at a press conference in Minna, the state capital.
She added that the protesters did not seek the permission of the police before embarking on the demonstration and that the police had to intervene when the situation became chaotic.
She also said the government was aware of the current hardship in the country and that violent protest was not the solution.
“We are part of the society; so we know what is happening and how the people feel. We know that our people are hungry and there is hardship in the land and that is why the government is working hard to provide palliatives to cushion the hardship,” she said.