Despite a 24- hour curfew in place, police and protesters in Lambata, Niger State, clashed this morning leaving two people dead.
Yahaya Abubakar Adamu, 25, was killed almost immediately as mobile policemen opened fire on angry youth who were pelting them with stones, determined to drive them from the area.
The second youth, Rabiu Abubakar, who was reportedly shot in the stomach, was immediately rushed to the Suleja General Hospital where he was denied treatment as a result of the strike and had to be brought back home. Eye witnesses say his guts were hanging out and he died moments ago as this correspondent was filling this report.
The villagers were on their way to bury Adamu when the news that Rabiu had also died was relayed to them. Our reporter who was on the phone with one of the people going to the burial ground, could hear the loud wailing that attended this announcement.
Mobile policemen had converged on Lambata and Gawu Babangida, to enforce the curfew as youths in the area continued to occupy a part of the Minna-Suleja expressway this morning, thus hindering motorists, especially those going to or from Abuja, from getting any access to the other side. The local government is some 60 kilometres away from the federal capital territory.
One of the villagers, Ahmed Attahiru, told our reporter that the mobile policemen forcefully took away people’s handsets, and seized meat and groceries from shops. ”They were just looting and beating us,” he said.
He also denied that the policemen were merely enforcing the stay at home order. ”People vacated the roads when they saw them. But they were now going into people’s homes claiming they were looking for ring leaders and forcefully arresting the people. That was when our youths came out to stop this illegal house arrests and then they opened fire.”
Our reporter however learned that in resisting the arrest of their fellow protesters, the youth attacked the policemen with stones and sticks, shouting that their demonstrations have been peaceful and did not justify what they termed ”police invasion.”
The officers, who had reportedly expended a number of teargas canisters to disperse the villagers, finally opened fire, first shooting into the air and when that didn’t stop the surge, aimed at the pressing crowd, hitting three people.
The previous day, a policeman had been killed in Minna, the state capital by rioters who also destroyed properties, including the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the cars and houses of some PDP stalwarts.
Spokesperson for the Niger State Command of the police, Ogwuche Richard, said he was yet to receive report that officers killed anyone.
He however confirmed that the police tried to “maximally enforce” the curfew slammed on the state by government, and that 50 people who violated the directive were arrested.
The state government had immediately declared a 24-hour curfew and although calm had been restored in the state capital, youth in Gawu local government had defied the curfew to continue their occupation.