The University of PH Teaching Hospital (UPTH) has confirmed 15 persons dead in the stampede that occured at the Muhammadu Buhari (APC) rally in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. The number is usually not important, but the tragedy of the loss of lives and pains to loved ones, plus the fact of it. Details are scanty at this point but sources said a crowd had surged forward the moment President Muhammadu Buhari’s vehicles zoomed out of the stadium.
This has evoked the echoes of the 2011 tragedy at the Liberation Stadium when then Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, came for a rally and 15 persons lost their lives in a stampede. Nothing has been learnt.
People come in trickles to rallies but want to leave in a flood or surge. The security operatives and so called professional event managers hardly take note of this recurring ragedy. As soon as an event is over, the security system seems to stand down as if its all over.
The rally was advertised for Monday, February 11, 2019, but was moved, some say to Wednesday, and later Tuesday. The masses were asked to come by 8am. By this, people would need to wake up early to dress and get to their take off points about 7am so as to get to PH and stadium by 8am.
It is obvious that by noon, people would be hungry, thirsty and tired. In our society, nobody cares about refreshment.
Its obvious that people thought departure would be early, especially in a state where people are waylaid on the highways and on their way from rallies. A top PDP chieftain was killed on his way from a rally at Ahoada. So, many would want to rush out to access their buses; stampede.
The fact that the rally dragged from the advertised time (8am) to 2pm when Buhari arrived and 4pm when he left meant that people stayed hungry from 6 a.m when they woke up to 4pm.
Details of the deaths and stampede would unveil soon.