The Presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress, APC, went tragic in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital on Thursday as two persons were confirmed died and several who sustained injuries were ferried away in ambulances on standby following a stampede caused by overcrowding at the Jolly Nyame venue of the campaign.
But in a swift reaction, the Taraba government has blamed the incident on thugs it claimed were hired by the APC in the state.
According to Bala Dan Abu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Governor Dairus Ishaku, the said hired thugs also attacked the governors’ convoy on its way from the airport where the governor and members of this administration had gone to see off President Buhari at the end of the presidential visit.
He said: “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 People’s Democratic Party, PDP. In the process, several lives were lost. Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku’s convoy was also attacked on its way out of the airport where the Governor, his Deputy, Engineer Haruna Manu and other senior members of government had gone to see off President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of the Presidential visit.
“The Deputy Governor’s car and several other cars in the convoy including that of the State Commissioner of Police and a Special Adviser to the Governor, were damaged. The thugs, most of who 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 agencies who merely looked the other way. On the eve of President Buhari’s visit, thugs hired by the APC leadership in the state had gone round Jalingo metropolis and its environs and destroyed PDP posters and bill boards. They were given cover by security agencies who fired gunshots to scare away those that may dare to confront them. What happened today is a big contrast with the PDP presidential flag-off of February 5, 2019, in Jalingo, which attracted a larger crowd but recorded no incidence of crisis and deaths. ”
Meanwhile, Presdident Buhari has condoled with victims and families of the deceased over the incident.
According to Mallam Shehu Garba, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, overcrowding cause the event.
He said: 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.”
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.
Rival PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has also condoled with the APC, President Buhari and family of the decease.
The party in a statement said; “The All Progressives Congress (APC) mourns the death of some of our supporters following a stampede at our Next Level re-election campaign rally for our candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari held at the Jolly Nyame Stadium in the Taraba State capital, Jalingo.
“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.”