Emeutes de l’électricité à Zaria au Nigeria mai 2009

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Nigeria: Protest Against Power Blackout – 4 Die in Zaria Riots

Ibraheem Musa

26 May 2009

Yusuf Aliyu — A demonstration organized by city youth to protest incessant power outage turned violent in Zaria yesterday with four people reported dead while another 20 people sustained injuries and are receiving treatment at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika.

Daily Trust learnt that the fatalities occurred when the police fired at the demonstrators at Muchiya and Chikaji areas of Sabon Gari local government in Zaria city.

Witnesses told Daily Trust that the youth in the area mobilized in their hundreds to protest alleged extortion by PHCN officials and rampant disconnection of their power sources, which they said left them without electricity for about a week.

Daily Trust learnt that the mob went about harassing motorists and passers-by who refused to show solidarity with them. Matters soon got out of hand when Alhaji Kasimu Abubakar, the chairman of Sabon Gari local government, arrived at the scene and attempted to pacify the demonstrators.

Some of the angry youth smashed the windscreen of the chairman’s car and were about to mob him when policemen attached to Kaduna State’s anti-crime outfit « Operation Yaki’ stepped in and dispersed the crowd with tear gas.

According to another source, some of the protesters later regrouped at a distance and started hurling stones at the policemen. He said the policemen then opened fire at the rioters, killing four of them and injuring 20 people. Thereafter, the protesters crossed into the nearby Railway Staff Quarters and Chikaji village and unleashed more mayhem.

According to a witness, the policemen pursued the rioters into Chikaji and entered into « several households and arrested innocent people who had nothing to do with the protest. » Isa Alhaji Tsoho, Alhassan Saidu and Mamman Tsoho were amongst the 66 people who was arrested by the police, he added.

One Sirajo Musa, an 11 year old primary three pupil was allegedly killed during the incident, another eye witness said. Also, a five month-old baby choked to death while his mother was running helter skelter to avoid tear gas.

When contacted, Kaduna State police commissioner Tambari Yabo Muhammad confirmed that there was a riot but said he had not received reports of any casualties. He also confirmed that some people have been arrested, but said he did know the exact figure.

The commissioner said that there are conditions under which rioters can be dispersed by force. « If you have been formally warned as a rioter to desist, to disperse, there are conditions under which the law says that rioters can be dispersed by force, » he said.

He added, « When crowds become so riotous and destructive, you don’t expect the police to fold their arms and look at them destroying essential government establishments. »

General Manager, Public Affairs of the Power holding Company of Nigeria [PHCN] Mrs. Efuru Igbo told Daily Trust that she was not aware of the incident. She added that with the unbundling of the PHCN, Kaduna Distribution Zone was in a better position to comment on the issue.

The Kaduna Distribution Zone’s Public Relations Manager Baba Limmy Omar Ikaige claimed knowledge of the incident but refused to entertain any questions from our correspondent. Rather than offer any comments, Limmy switched off his phone.
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~ par Alain Bertho sur 27 mai 2009.

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