Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger says his administration has instituted a panel to investigate the Pandogari religious disturbance.
Speaking with State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja, Bello described the incident as “unfortunate’’.
He said government would punish anyone found to have been involved in the riot.
“The situation in Pandogari was unfortunate.
“What happened was – I think someone posted blasphemous stories about the Prophet – and of course you know the sensitive nature of this kind of religious thing – and one person was killed.
“Later on, we heard that either the police or the army shot a civilian and three or four people lost their lives.
“I have since instituted an investigative panel to investigate what really happened so that we can address the situation.
“At the moment, the deputy governor and my team are there at the moment, the situation is calm now.
“We will await the outcome of the investigative panel so that we guard against a repeat of this kind of thing in future.
“This is unacceptable and anyone involved in this will be severely punished.”
Bello dismissed media reports that his administration was planning to reduce workers’ salaries by half.
He, however, said the state government was negotiating with labour on how best to address the state’s financial challenges.
“I read somewhere we are going to reduce salaries, but it’s not true.
“But we engaged labour and we are still talking to them. We have laid the cards on the table, we are not hiding anything we are very transparent as much as we can but the truth of the matter is that I cannot give what we don’t have.
“I wish I had, personally if I had I would have paid from my pocket, but I can’t.’’
The governor called on indigenes of state, particularly civil servants and political appointees’ to make sacrifices that would help move the state forward.
He said already the state government had cut government house expenditure by 70 per cent and expressed his readiness to make more sacrifices for the good of the state.
“We should all make sacrifices; I’m willing to make sacrifices; all my appointees are willing to make sacrifices.
“We have shown example by cutting down our expenditure; we have cut down the operational expenses of the government house from N150 million a week to between N20 and 25 million a week.
“So, we have cut down government house expenditure by over 70 per cent and I mean these are all sacrifices.
“We have saved some money; we are doing a bit of projects including the federal road.
“The Suleja-Minna road is motorable now and very soon we will start working on the Bida road,’’ he said. (NAN)