Religious riots broke out in Pandogari, a town in Rafi Local government area in Niger State over an alleged Facebook post by an Igbo trader, 24-year-old Methodus Chimaije Emmanuel allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Emmanuel was lynched on Sunday, May 29, 2016 by a Muslim crowd and the religious riots spread to other parts of the city. Nigerian soldiers and other security agencies moved in to prevent the riots from spreading and imposed a curfew on the town.
A search on Facebook reveals the only one Methodus Chimaije Emmanuel to be a dormant account, however. Nobody has presented the alleged offending Facebook comment or revealed its contents.
Monday morning, however, renewed violence broke and three more people were killed by the Muslim mob, including a security personnel. Also, a church, one house and a shop were burnt while 25 other shops were looted.
Initial reports on social media say that Nigerian soldiers joined in the rioting and were aiding the Muslim mob in attacking Igbos and Christians. But the army spokesman, Colonel Usman Sani told The Trent that the reports are not true.
The Nigerian Army has issued a press statement on the incident which says that some persons have been arrested in connection with the religious riots. The statement, signed by Major N. C. Agwu, army spokesperson for Division 1 of the Nigerian Army was issued on Monday, May 30, 2016.
In the statement, we were made to know that apart from Emmanuel,
“Three other persons including a personnel of the NSCDC also lost their lives. Some arrests have been made in connection with the violence and the suspects handed over to the the police. The military and other security agencies are currently embarking on confidence building patrols in all nooks and crannies of the town. As part of the measures to de-escalate tensions and ensure a lasting peace in the town, the military is working with the Local Government Council authorities and community leaders, including the Kagara Emirate Council to pacify all aggrieved parties and build on the peace so far established.
However, while the military will continue with its current non-violent approach to maintaining peace in Pandogari town, it will not take kindly to any unscrupulous element who would attempt to visit violence on innocent and law abiding Nigerians. The general public is therefore warned to abide by the conditions of the curfew so far emplaced. All law abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their legitimate businesses without any fear of intimidation. They are to be rest assured that the security forces will remain fully present to guarantee their safety and security across the length and breadth of the town, within their rules of engagement.”