A local man in Goa has been arrested as a suspect in the killing of a Nigerian man in the scenic state, Indian police officials said on Wednesday.
Reports citing a senior police official have revealed that the suspect, a man in his mid-30s, was detained on Tuesday night and is believed to be a member of the gang that stabbed the Nigerian to death last week on October 30.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that further arrests are expected soon.
Tensions rose in the western resort state following the murder of the Nigerian. The killing sparked protests from Nigerians who believe they are being unfairly targeted.
According to earlier reports, some 200 protesters chased the police hearse carrying the body of the victim to recover the hearse and lay it on the street. Police arrested 53 protesters, which only served to further strain relations between India and Nigeria.
Following the disruptive protest, Goa’s Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar asked police to track down and flush out all Nigerians living in the state illegally. A minister in the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party government, Dayanand Mandrekar, stirred more controversy by saying: “Nigerians are like cancer”.
Spokesman for the Nigeria High Commission, Mr. Tokunbo Falohun, has expressed concern for the safety of Nigerians living in India.
In a diplomatic note issued on Tuesday, Falohun said: “We have lost one of our nationals in a cold-blooded murder.”
He called for justice and demanded compensation for the family of the victim.
Asked if there would be any “repercussions” from the murder, Falohun said on Tuesday there would be none if Indian authorities dealt properly with the matter.
Meanwhile, Indian officials said on Wednesday that they are in “diplomatic dialogue” with Nigeria.
“We are in diplomatic dialogue with them (Nigerian High Commission) since yesterday when the matter was brought to us,” the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said, adding that they expect a report as early as Thursday.
The ministry says it has explained the circumstance of the situation and has ordered a thorough probe in to the killing, Outlook India reports.
Asked if the incident will have any “repercussion” for Indians in Nigeria as was being indicated by a Nigerian diplomat on Tuesday, the Spokesperson said, “In our diplomatic dialogue we did not hear the words mentioned.”
On whether the murder was the result of a turf war between Indian and Nigerian drug traffickers, as was mentioned by Goan local media, the ministry spokesperson said it will be “premature” to say anything definitive at this point.