At least five people lost their lives yesterday while several others sustained injuries in a stampede at the Jolly Nyame Stadium, Jalingo, Taraba State venue of President Muhammadu Buhari campaign rally. The five persons lost their lives as a result of the mammoth crowd that trooped to the stadium to take a glimpse of the President.
The stampede occurred shortly after the President finished his speech and was about leaving the stadium. The Jolly Nyame Stadium, which is about 30,000-capacity, was filled to the bream thereby resulting to a stampede which claimed five lives while several others were injured. The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP David Misal, confirmed the death of five persons. He said the relations of some of the victims had conveyed the bodies for burial while two corpses were deposited at the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Jalingo.
However, President Buhari expressed sadness over death of his supporters at the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign rally. Buhari expressed his pains in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu. He 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.”
The President appreciated the massive support he is receiving all over the country and called for restraint on the part of his supporters to avoid such tragic incidents and improved crowd management at rally grounds. He said: “I want them to stay alive and witness the dividends of purposeful governance that the APC administration will unfold when they renew our mandate.”
Commiserating with the families of the victims and the APC family, Buhari prayed Almighty God to grant peace to the souls of the departed and speedy recovery. Meanwhile, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State yesterday alleged that supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were killed by persons suspected to be the APC faithful during the presidential campaign rally in the state.
In a statement issued in Jalingo, Ishaku also condemned alleged attack on his convoy which resulted in the destruction of vehicles and warned that his government would no longer fold its arms and watch wanton destruction of lives by rampaging hoodlums in the name of politics.
He said: “Today’s presidential campaign flag-off of the APC ended on a very tragic note.
Thugs hired by the APC leaders in the state turned the event into an opportunity to launch violent attacks on members and supporters of the PDP, in the course of which several lives were lost. “A similar attack on the convoy of governor while on his way back from the airport after seeing the President off led to the destruction of vehicles.
This is very sad and the government would no longer sit back and watch this kind of carnage.” But in a swift reaction, the state APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Aaron Artimas, said it was most unfortunate that the state government was playing politics with the unfortunate stampede at the venue of the presidential campaign rally in Jalingo, which led to the death of about five persons.
He said: “The crowd at the Jolly Nyame Stadium was simply overwhelming as no one had anticipated such a massive turnout. In the course of trying to catch a glimpse of the President, there was stampede and about five persons died. “Granted that these were APC supporters, they were still citizens of this state and Governor Ishaku’s subjects.
The least one would expect from a leader is to sympathise with their families rather than playing cheap politics with their deaths. If he claims the persons are PDP members, then what were they doing at the APC rally?” The APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said in a statement that the party mourned the victims.
He said: “Our great party is deeply pained by this painful loss. We pray for the dearly departed and express our deep condolences to their family members, loved ones and the good people of Taraba State. “We also pray for the speedy and full recovery of our dear supporters who suffered injuries in the sad incident caused by overcrowding. “Going forward, we will ensure that improved crowd control measures are put in place to as much as possible prevent a reoccurrence of this sad incident.” A chieftain of the APC in the state, Alhaji Hassan Ardo Jika, described the death of five people at the presidential campaign rally as an act of God.
In a condolence message to the families of those who lost their loved ones in the stampede, Jika, who is Nigeria’s envoy to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, alleged that the PDP supporters were attacking members of the APC who were returning to their various places after witnessing the presidential rally in Jalingo. He called on APC members to remain calm and refrain from the tendency to take the law into their own hands and retaliate the unprovoked attacks but to allow the security agencies do their work.
The PDP presidential candidate and former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has condoled with the families and friends of those who lost their loved ones in the tragic incident at the APC presidential rally. “All Nigerian lives matter whether they are of the APC, PDP or any other party,” Atiku said in a statement issued by his Media, Adviser, Paul Ibe. Atiku, who was in Katsina where he was holding a rally, also expressed condolences to the APC and its presidential candidate and the government and people of Taraba State over the tragedy. Earlier at the rally, Buhari promised to open up Taraba State for investors so that the state enormous natural resources could be tapped for development. Buhari said that he would not only ensure the completion of the Mambilla Dam and Ibi Bridge, but he would ensure the construction of the Makurdi- Taraba-Borno rail project that would help to open up the state to other parts of the country for both local and foreign investors. He said: “Taraba State has a lot of potentials that remain untapped.
What we need to do is to open up the state for both local and foreign investors. We would complete the Mambilla Dam project that we started after it was ignored for several decades. We would also complete the bridge across the stretch of River Benue in Ibi Local Government Area. “We would also construct railway from Benue to Taraba and up to Borno State to ease the movement of goods and farm produce. We would ensure that the state is open for enormous development.”