By Laleye Dipo in Minna
Niger State indigenes Wednesday embarked on a protest against the decision of the state House of Assembly asking the state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, to dissolve the 25 local government areas of the state.
The Assembly had on Tuesday advised the governor to dissolve the 25 local councils for their failure to operate according to the law establishing them.
Personnel from the state Police Command, who were heavily armed, had to deploy armoured carriers in order to disperse the crowd of protesters at the Assembly complex.
The Councillors Forum, which had also planned a protest and were meeting at the Abdulsalami Abubakar Youth Centre, a stone throw from the Assembly complex, were dispersed by the policemen with teargas thrown at them.
In the stampede that ensued, some of the councillors were injured as they scaled the fence to safety.
The House of Assembly on the other hand suspended plenary to avoid members being attacked.
A coalition of civil society groups, the state Joint Civil Right Societies of Nigeria, also joined in the protest with its leaders asking Governor Bello to “maintain the status quo” as far as the planned dissolution of local governments in the state was concerned.
The spokesman for the group, Mohammed Saidu Etsu, said: “The assembly acted in bad faith as their action is borne out of malice because they are using government institution to fight personal battle.”
Etsu accused the lawmakers of “leaving the issues and chasing the shadows”, insisting that the legislators should instead account for “tonnes of naira notes they have collected by way of constituency allowances in the last two years” before going after innocent councillors.