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Niger orders release of 25 protesters of economic hardship

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Gov. Umaru Bago of Niger on Thursday ordered the release of 22 male and three female protesters who protested against nationwide economic hardship on Monday in Minna, but were arrested by the police.


Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hajiya Binta Mamman, told a news conference in Minna that a mix-up led to the arrest of the protesters.


“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 said.


The commissioner apologised to the suspects, their families and the people of the state over the arrest.


Mamman explained that the police clamped down on the protesters when their protest turned violent, resulting in the destruction of public and private property.


“They did not seek the permission of the police before embarking on the protest,’’ Mamman noted.


She explained that the release of the suspects was based on thorough review of the circumstances surrounding their arrest.


“It was determined that there was a misunderstanding, and they have been exonerated of any wrong doing,’’ she said.


The commissioner assured the people of the state that government remained committed to upholding the rights and freedom of all citizens.


“We understand the importance of ensuring that justice is served and we are dedicated to maintain the highest standard of fairness and transparency in all legal matters,’’ she stressed.


The commissioner noted that government was aware of the current hardship of the people occasioned by the economic downturn.


She admonished that violent protests were not the solution, but meaningful discussion that would ameliorate the suffering of the people was the way to go.


“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,’’ the commissioner said.


Minna residents trooped out in large numbers on Monday to protest the hardship caused by the rising cost of living.


They blocked the popular Kpakungu Roundabout in Minna to express their grievances.


They urged the federal and state governments to do something urgently to tackle the hardship across the country.


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