Nigerian troops deploy after minister's murder

By Alex Duval Smith,Africa Correspondent
Wednesday 26 December 2001 01:00

Troops were deployed in south-western Nigeria yesterday to try to prevent a violent reaction to the murder of Bola Ige, the Justice Minister.

Mr Ige, also the Attorney General and one of President Olusegun Obasanjo's closest advisers, was shot in the chest on Sunday evening in his home city, Ibadan.

The killing of the popular and respected democrat, who recently said he would intervene to save the life of a woman sentenced to death under Sharia law, will be widely interpreted as a warning signal to the two-year-old government– either from the old military regime or from the traditionally Muslim, and increasingly Islamist, elders in the north of the country.

Troops patrolled towns and villages in Oyo and the neighbouring Osun state and enforced a dusk-to-dawn curfew to prevent revenge attacks, officials said.

President Obasanjo paid his respects to Mr Ige's grieving family. He spent Monday meeting army, navy, air force and police chiefs and ministers to discuss the murder and its links to a crisis in south-west Osun state, which has led to the deaths of two other politicians in the past week.

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