*Niger Govt Orders Crack Down On Protesters
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
A long convoy of anti riot Police in motorcade had for hours patroled within and around Minna, the Niger State capital and environs blaring siren to scare off youth who were spoiled to attack offices and electrical installations belonging to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, (AEDC) over poor electricity supply to the state.
They were on Monday hurriedly dispatched to the streets and to offices of the power distribution company following a well planned onslaught by youths whose campaign under “#Bring Back Out Light” had by early Monday afternoon steamed up with support from across persons of all ages against the operations of the power distribution company.
The state government through the Deputy Governor, Ahmed Mohammed Ketso on Tuesday said on a local radio phone in programme monitored in Minna that the youth had no business taking to the streets to protest against the AEDC since the state government was doing everything possible to ensure adequate and sufficient power supply to the state.
He revealed that security agencies in the state have been ordered to protect all electrical installations belonging to the AEDC and guard them against willful damages by anybody.
But the position of the state government appeared to have irked not a few citizens who said the state government was being over protective of the AEDC and insensitive to the sufferings of citizens in the state who have had to live with poor services from the utility company.
The Deputy Governor had accused the principal convener of the #Bring Back Our Light”, Mohammed Sa’idu Etsu of floating an unregistered body in the state and vowed to invoke the relevant laws against the youth group.
Ketso disclosed in the programme that he had invited the convener of the mass protest to the Government House along with the Regional Manager of the AEDC and other selected persons but the youths leader refused to honour the invite.
He therefore warned citizens in the state particularly young persons not to allow themselves to be used to ferment trouble in the state.
But this position of the government as enunciated by Ketso appeared to be unpopular amongst the vast majority of the populace who believed their patience over the terrible service delivery by the company was being overstretched.
Business and commercial activities, mostly those that rely on power supply from the national grid have been badly affected as power had remained cut since Monday morning.
Residential homes across several areas have remained in darkness at nights prompting hues and cries over heat and humidity at nightfall which have been the lot since last week.
But the state’s Deputy Governor had assured citizens that power supply would ”be restored very soon” whereas the Minna Regional Office of the AEDC and it’s branch support offices in parts of the municipality have remained shut.
And following the crack down by security operatives, key figures of the #Bring Back Our Light ” are believed to have gone underground, out of public glare into hiding to avoid being hunted by state’s agents who have been combing the city centres, nooks and crannies in motorcade led by a huge armoured personnel carrier vehicle laminated in police colours and other utility vehicles bearing armed policemen in battle gears.