‘Four’ killed in stampede at election rally for Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari | World News
Several people have been killed in a stampede at an election rally for Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.
The current Nigeria leader, who is running for re-election in Saturday’s presidential poll, had already finished speaking at the rally, according to reports.
Up to four people died, according to Nigerian media.
Video footage purporting to be of the scene showed at least five people on the ground before ambulances arrived.
The Daily Post news website said thousands of supporters of Mr Buhari’s APC party were trying to leave a stadium in Igwuruta, near the southern city of Port Harcourt, when the incident happened.
The website said the APC supporters were in a “hurry to leave” over fears of being attacked by a rival faction within their own party.
Other reports said the crowd was trying to force its way through a locked gate to follow Mr Buhari.
Nigeria’s election campaign has been dogged by allegations of violence and interference.
Mr Buhari is seeking a second term and trying to face down a challenge from Atiku Abubakar, a businessman and former vice president, who is from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In a statement, Judith Amaechi, who runs the women and youth team in support of Mr Buhari in the Rivers State region for APC, expressed “deep shock over the death of APC members who were in a stampede”.
The Nigerian Tribune newspaper said, according to a statement issued by the president’s media and publicity assistant, that Mr Buhari was deeply saddened by the loss of life and extended his condolences to the friends and family of the victims.
Accidents occasionally happen at political rallies in Nigeria, which are often crowded.
Last week, Mr Buhari offered his condolences after supporters were killed in a stampede at a rally in the eastern state of Taraba.
But the run-up to Saturday’s presidential vote is also taking place amid considerable insecurity, which is rampant across Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer.
In the northeast, a surge in attacks by militant group Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), has thrown election plans into chaos.
The threat of violence has forced thousands of people from their homes and election observers worry that people streaming into displacement camps could exacerbate vote-rigging.
Vote-buying was widespread in such camps at the last presidential poll in 2015.
A decision by Mr Buhari to suspend Nigeria’s most senior judge, who would have adjudicated in the event of a contested election result, was criticised by a UN expert last week for breaking international human rights standards.
The Nigerian Observer newspaper reported on Tuesday that six people had lost their lives in pre-election violence in Warri, another Niger River delta town.
The UK and US governments were forced a few weeks ago to threaten retaliatory action against anyone found attempting to intervene in Nigeria’s electoral process.
The Foreign Office said in a statement: “We continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections.
“We also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm.
“We will be deploying an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the EU’s Election Observation Mission.
“Our monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media.
“We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals.
“These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.”
A few days after the statement was released, a key ally of Mr Buhari said people from overseas who sought to intervene in the country’s election would go back in body bags.
Nigeria’s population is rapidly increasing.
The UN expects it to be the world’s third most populous country by 2050 with 400 million inhabitants.