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Rights group condemns shooting of soldier during protest in Plateau

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Civil rights groups in Plateau State have condemned the shooting and wounding of an Army Lance Corporal attached to Operation Safe Haven of the Nigerian military at the state secretariat during a protest.

Reports say the soldier was allegedly wounded by gunshots from a crowd during a rally to protest the non-implementation of the federal government approved minimum wage at the local level by aggrieved local government staff in the state.

The groups under the aegis of the Coalition of Civil Rights Group of Nigeria insisted the resort to violence by some protesters, resulting in the wounding of a soldier, was against the spirit of civil agitation.

A statement by the groups National Coordinator, Dr Arin Izan and Secretary, Esther Pam, said the group is also worried that some local government staff have adamantly continued to protest despite ongoing efforts to resolve issues in contest by relevant stakeholders.

“This senseless act is a further confirmation that the protest has truly been hijacked and there is a need for government and security agencies to take drastic action, because this desperate and selfish act may plunge our state into another round of violence,” it said.

“We understand efforts are ongoing to resolve the issues involved with relevant stakeholders, however, some of the local government workers; obviously sponsored by some politicians have remained adamant and preferred to protest.

The coalition also condemned the local government workers for blocking state staff from gaining entrance into their offices and forcefully trying to access the secretariat.

“The protesters prevented state government workers from gaining access into their offices in the state secretariat since December 2020,” it said.

‘‘As at January 4, 2021, we saw protesters numbering about 3,000, trying to gain entrance into the state secretariat, but troops of Operation Safe Haven, men of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies already deployed to forestall the breakdown of law and order intervened, unfortunately, some of the protesters went violent, trying to forcefully gain entrance and harassing innocent citizens.”

“A shot from the crowd hit one soldier attached to Operation Safe Haven and he was wounded. It is obvious that hoodlums have infiltrated the group,” it added.

The Coalition noted with regret the disturbance of the peace and tranquillity in Jos, especially at the beginning of the year when most people are focused on plans to face the New Year.

The group urged the government and security agencies to investigate the incident and bring perpetrators of the violence to book.

“We further urge the security agencies to prosecute the protesters arrested today’’.

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