TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Four persons were confirmed dead while scores became unconscious as a result of a stampede at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Igwuruta, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, venue of the All Progressives Congress (APC), presidential rally.
Those who lost their lives in the stampede included three aged women and a man.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident occurred when the crowd surged towards the main pedestrian gate, but got suffocated and trampled upon.
Two ambulance vehicles from the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), were seen conveying the unconscious supporters out of the stadium premises for immediate medical attention.
Speaking at the venue, President Muhammadu Buhari promised that he would not allow any security agency to intimidate Nigerians during the elections.
He also warned various Federal government institutions to allow Nigerians to vote candidates of their choice across party lines without any form of intimidation, harassment, and coercion.
He expressed regret that APC in the state was yet to be allowed to participate in the electoral process, noting that although he was elected into office in 2015, he would respect the institution he inherited.
The president appealed to APC supporters 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.
President Buhari also assured 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.”
Buhari urged that Nigerians be “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.”
He, however, reiterated on 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 noted.
Meanwhile, the former governor of the state and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, said APC would give the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state a run for its money.
Amaechi declared: “Whatever PDP wants, we will give it to them. We are equal to the task. I will be here till after the election.”
Amaechi who is also the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, claimed that when he was governor, the then PDP government used federal and state institutions to intimidate 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 to the last. Today, we will sing like Igbo sing. On Saturday, they should get ready. We are ready for them.
“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,” Amaechi recalled.
Also speaking, the National Chairman of APC, 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.
Meanwhile, a mild drama ensued at the rally 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 the Amaechi’s governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, was recognised by the party leadership.