Tuesday, February 12, 2019 11:20 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
No less than 15 persons were feared dead from stampede at Amaseimaka stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Tuesday after a presidential campaign rally held by the All Progressives Congress, APC.
It was learnt that the stempede occured as some party supporters tried to force one of exit gates at the stadium open as soon as President Muhammadu Buhari finished his speech at the rally.
Unconfirmed number of persons were also injured from the stampede.
The party supporters who had earlier trooped to the stadium in their thousands were obviously disappointed that their choice candidates were barred from contesting elections in the state due the Supreme Court judgment earlier in the morning started leaving the stadium enmass immediately the President finished his speech at the time the exit gates were not opened.
As they tried to force the gates opened, there was stampede leading to the fall of some of the party faithfuls. Those who fell were trampled upon by others trying to force their way out of the stadium and this resulted into more casualties.
It was gathered that security agents and most of the ambulances brought to take care of possible casualties had also left the stadium at time of the incidents.
Members of the public and few security agents remaining tried to rescue those they could, while lifeless one were carried away.
Our Correspondent who was at the stadium reports that the rally went smoothly until the National Chairman of APC,Adams Oshiomole, in his speech announced regrettably that “the enemies within and those in the party played major roles in ensuring that our candidates didn’t contest the elections.”
The rally thus ended on a disappointing note as candidates and party supporters were not handed party flags to contest in upcoming elections due to the Supreme Court judgment.
The Supreme Court judgment had in the judgment affirmed the Federal High Court judgment nullifying the primaries that produced all the candidates of APC at the state level.
Buhari in his speech had expressed regrets that the Court has not allowed the APC candidates to participate in the elections.
He thanked Rivers APC members for their resilience and support for the party.
On his part, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi lamented those he had helped politically turned round to betray and fight him including Senators.
“Your Excellency, Mr.President, as a sitting Governor, the Army was sent to arrest me. We are ready for the Presidential Election on Saturday. I will not be leaving for Abuja again until Saturday.”
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has told President Muhammadu Buhari that Rivers people will never support violence as being orchestrated by leaders of Rivers APC.
Speaking during an interactive session between President Buhari and traditional rulers of Rivers State in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, Governor Wike said leaders who have ‘imported’ war songs will not succeed.
The Minister of Transportation had at the APC Presidential Campaign Rally, sang a war song in Igbo Language, threatening to unleash violence on Rivers State during the forthcoming elections.
“Rivers State does not believe in violence and we will not support any dance for violence.
“Those who sing other people’s song for violence, they know what they achieve. They know what they gain”, he said.
“I want to assure the President that Rivers State is a peaceful state . It will never be a violent state. I will not support violence and Rivers people will not support violence”, he said.
In his address, Chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that security agencies act professionally during the forthcoming elections. He said that security agencies should not join the fray and complicate the issues of electoral violence.
The Rivers traditional rulers lamented the closure of the seaports in Rivers State which have negatively affected the economy of the area.
They called for restructuring of the country so that all parts of the Federation will grow at their own pace and control their resources.
The Traditional Rulers called for free, fair and credible polls in Rivers State. They appealed to the President to check the tide of violence in the country.
President Buhari stated that law enforcement agencies would be asked to respect Nigerians and that elections will be free and fair.
He added that nobody will be allowed to intimidate people. He added that the snatching of ballot boxes will be discouraged.
Buhari said that his administration has achieved the three cardinal points of his 2015 campaign. He said that security, economy and fight against corruption have witnessed improvements.