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Violence erupted shortly after campaign for the Presidential election kick started in Rivers state Port-Harcourt on Tuesday. It was a mild drama at first but eventually got serious, leading to loss of life some individual present. It all began when the factional candidate of the APC in the state, Senator Magnus Abe, and his teeming supporters were barred from entering the venue of the rally.
Abe was also cut off from the protocols as only Amaechi’s choice of governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, was recognized by the party leadership.
At least 14 persons were confirmed dead while several were wounded as a result of a stampede at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports Stadium in Port Harcourt, venue of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential rally on Tuesday. When people start scampering for safety, the crowd surged towards the main pedestrian gate but got suffocated and were trampled upon.
According to University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), fourteen persons have been confirmed dead while some survivors are still under intensive medical attention.
Kem Daniel-Elebiga, UPTH Public Relations Officer, said, “I can confirm 14 persons dead as I speak. Initially, it was six, but the figures can change as they bring them and are being examined. There are others under medical attention at the Emergency Unit, so we can’t force a clear figure beyond what the situation is at the moment”.
Two ambulances from UPTH were seen conveying many unconscious supporters out of the stadium for immediate medical attention.
Apparently responding to pressure from the international community for free and fair election, President Muhammadu Buhari – at the presidential campaign rally – promised not to allow any security agencies intimidate Nigerians during the elections.
The president also warned all institutions to allow Nigerians to vote any candidate of their choice across party lines without any form of intimidation, harassment, and coercion.
Buhari, who expressed regret that APC in Rivers State was yet to be allowed to participate in the electoral process, noted that though he was elected into office in 2015, he would no doubt, respect the (electoral) institution that he inherited.
He appealed to the teeming supporters of the APC in the state to remain patient and resolute, adding that the leadership of the party would ensure that justice was done in the country irrespective of party and ethnic coloration.
The president assured residents of the state that he would not preside over a government that would abuse the trust of Nigerians.
“I will be accountable to you (Nigerians). I ask you to please bear with me that I am going to be steadfast and I am going to do justice to all Nigerians. Nigeria is one and we will remain one,” he said.
President Buhari assured that, through the armed forces, all Nigerians would be respected and that “they are allowed to vote who they like across (all the political) parties; please, have faith that I am going to be fair to all – I will not allow any institution to intimidate any constituency or anybody,” the president promised.
He, however, reiterated the achievements recorded so far by his government which included the sustained fight against corruption, tackling of insecurity in the North East, and improvement in food security in the country.
“People of the North East are witnesses to our improvement in the security of this country.
“The millions of dollars that we used to spend on rice (importation), we now save it for infrastructure. On corruption, we are going to remain consistent and resolute,” Buhari said.
Meanwhile, the former governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said APC would give the PDP in the state a run for its money.
“Whatever PDP wants, we will give it to them. We are equal to the task. I will be here (Rivers State) till after the election.”
Amaechi, who is also the Director General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, alleged that when he was governor, the then PDP government used federal and state institutions to intimidate him.
He expressed regrets that after making Wike his Chief of Staff during his first term in office and a minister in his second term, Wike betrayed him.
“Whatever Wike wants on Saturday, we will give him. Whatever the PDP wants in Rivers, we will give them. Your Excellency, I am not going to Abuja again from here. In 2015, the army attempted to arrest me, a sitting governor.
“We will battle him (Governor Wike) to the last. Today, we will sing like the Igbo sings.”
Ameachi then went on to sing a war song in Igbo. It said, “On Saturday, they should get ready. We are ready for them.”
Amaechi added that in 2015, “They used federal and state institutions against us; they killed and maimed our leaders.
“They killed our supporters and beheaded them. They used the courts against us.”
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, asked Nigerians not to vote the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, because of his promise to devalue the naira and give amnesty to looters instead of jailing them.
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