Niger Govt Sets up Investigative Panel on Religious Crisis

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Laleye Dipo in Minna

The Niger State Government has set up an investigative panel to establish the immediate and remote causes of the crisis which hit Pandogari town in the Rafi Local Government Area of the state last Sunday.

In the crisis, two churches, five persons and 20 shops mostly property of non-indigenes in the community were lost and destroyed.

The crisis was said to have been cause by a post on the social media which portrayed Prophet Mohammed in bad light.

A government statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Jibrin Ndace, did not name members of the panel or their terms of reference.

It was learnt that the names of members of the panel were being kept under wraps for security reasons.

However, the statement said Governor Bello had directed top government officials to visit the scene of the disturbance and report back to him.

The governor, the statement said, had “directed Deputy Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Ketso, Secretary to State Government (SSG), Alhaji Umar Shehu Danyaya, Commissioner of Finance, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, Commissioner for Local Government, Alhaji Kabir Abbas, member representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Danlami Bako, to visit Pandogari today (yesterday)”

Also to be part of the visit according to the statement are Special Adviser Security, Brigadier General Imam (rtd), Director General state Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Alhaji Ibrahim Inga, Chairman, Rafi Local Government, Alhaji Gambo Abubakar Bojo, representative of Emir of Kagara, Galadima Kagara, Alhaji Abubakar Katako, representative of the Brigade Commander, representative of Police Commissioner and other security agencies.
The statement advised the public not to attempt to “overheat the polity by the giving the incident at Pandogari religious or tribal coloration.

“We must exercise restraint in our actions as well as comments on traditional and online media. It is neither a religious or tribal crisis.”

The governor, according to the statement, expressed displeasure over the incident saying that it was always better for various stakeholders to pursue the path of dialogue, consultation and peaceful resolution of any conflict, than resulting to violence.