Panic buying as Niger relaxes curfew

Protests followed Benue governorship elections in 2011.

There was frenzied buying of foodstuff in Minna, the Niger State capital, today as government relaxed a 24-hour curfew to enable Moslems attend the Jumm’at prayers.

People who have been locked up in their homes since Wednesday, when the ongoing strike action first turned ugly, leading to arson and killings, rushed out of their houses by 11 a.m. when the curfew was lifted for four hours.

Supermarkets and shops made brisk sales and many sellers were so overwhelmed by the multitude of buyers that they couldn’t attend to all their customers so people were forced to serve themselves.

Although the prices of foodstuffs were generally high, there was little haggling as people desperate to beat the 3 p.m. deadline set for the curfew to resume just paid for goods and dashed off.

Indeed, when one market stall ran out of polythene bags, one woman removed her hijab and laid it on the floor for the seller to pour in her beans.

At the Minna main market itself, the traffic was more than a mile long and people were forced to abandon their vehicles for the long trek to the market. ”We werent ready for this curfew and people suffered massively,” said Ismaila Dairo, a self employed graduate.”Many people were so hungry and people are stocking up in case this curfew goes on for much longer.”

Yesterday, the AIG in charge of zone 7, Atiku Karfur, told newsmen that over 200 people have so far been arrested for violating the curfew and for their alleged role in Wednesday’s violence and yesterday’s clash between police and protesters in Lambata which left two people dead.

He however said there were plans to review the curfew as things gradually returned to normal in the state.  The state commissioner for information,Danladi Abdulhameed, said government would be guided by the advice of the police over the possible relaxation of the curfew. 

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