NIGER State government has banned all forms of horse riding during and immediately after the forthcoming of Ed-el-fitri festivities as part of a move to forestall any acts of terrorism and violence during the festival to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting month.
Next week, Muslims across Nigeria will be celebrating the end of the 30-day fasting period and traditionally, it has been marked with durbars that involve the riding of ceremonial horses. However, things will be different this year as the Niger State government is no longer on control of large swathes of territory after Boko Haram terrorists recently took over the town of Kaure in Shiroro Local Government Area and hoisted their flag there.
Governor Abubakar Bello recently said Boko Haram are trying to use these areas as their home just like they did in Sambisa Forest in Borno State. In a bid to prevent this, the riding of horses has been banned across all the eight emirate councils in Niger State, according to Alhaji Ahmed Matane, the secretary to the state government.
Alhaji Matane said: “The decision to ban the traditional horse riding followed several complaints received by the government where some unscrupulous elements hiding under these celebrations wreak havoc and carry out nefarious activities on law-abiding citizens of the state. Anyone found involved in such acts shall be arrested and the horse confiscated.”
He, however, did not say if the ban affects traditional rulers across the state who usually celebrate Muslim festivals with durbars during which they pay Sallah homage to the state governor. Alhaji Matane said the government will not succumb to any security threat in whatever form and will therefore deal decisively in responding to such threats
Calling on the general public to comply fully with the directive, Alhaji Matane said that horse owners and parents should warn their wards against non-compliance. He also warned online bloggers using social media for mischief-making, peddling falsehood and inflicting fear, that their activities shall no longer be tolerated by the state government.