The presidency has blamed overcrowding for the deaths recorded at President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign rally in Jalingo, Taraba state on Thursday.
Newsworth recalls that no fewer than five persons died with many left injured, following a stampede at the Jolly Nyame Stadium in Taraba State. Thousands of APC members converged on the Jolly Nyame Stadium in Jalingo.
Trouble began as hoodlums attacked the convoy of the Governor, unleashing mayhem on the Deputy Governor’s car, as well as that of the state Commissioner of Police and a Special Adviser.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, Bala Dan Abu, confirmed the incident when he addressed reporters on Thursday.
He said, “The Deputy Governor’s car and several other cars in the convoy, including that of the Commissioner of Police and a Special Adviser to the Governor, were damaged.
“The thugs, most of whom were imported from neighbouring states to create the false impression that APC enjoys a large following in the state, came heavily armed.
“They carried guns, cutlasses and sticks, which they displayed openly and in the full glare of security agents who merely looked the other way. They were given cover by the security agencies who fired gunshots to scare away those who may dare to confront them.
“What happened today is a big contrast to the PDP presidential flag-off of February 5 in Jalingo, which attracted a large crowd, but recorded no incident of crisis and deaths. Residents of Wukari are still licking the wounds of the APC violent visitation of January 29, during which PDP posters and bill boards were torn and a member of the PDP killed.
“The Taraba State government will no longer fold its arms while innocent people are being killed and maimed.”
Reacting to the deaths, Buhari, in a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, “expressed profound sadness over of loss of lives at the All Progressives Congress, APC Presidential Campaign Rally in Jalingo, Taraba State on Thursday.”
The statement reads in full: “President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed profound sadness over of loss of lives at the All Progressives Congress, APC Presidential Campaign Rally in Jalingo, Taraba State on Thursday.
“Reacting to reports of the tragic death of some APC supporters due to the overwhelming crowd at the Jolly Nyame Stadium, the President said:
“I always feel very sad and distressed when ordinary Nigerians who love me and our party because of what we stand for and have done, make personal sacrifices by taking the pains to show their support, end their lives tragically.”
“While appreciating the massive support he is receiving all over the country, President Buhari calls for restraint on the part of his supporters to avoid such tragic incidences, and improved crowd management at rally grounds.
“I want them to stay alive and witness the dividends of purposeful governance that the APC administration will unfold when they renew our mandate,” he said.
“Commiserating with the families of the victims and the APC family, the President prays Almighty God to grant peace to the souls of the departed and speedy recovery to the injured.”