Daily Independent (Lagos)
Chinwendu Nnadozie Senkor
3 March 2011
Minna — Ten people died on Thursday and dozens more were injured in Suleja, Niger State, where an explosion ripped through the campaign rally of Governor Babangida Aliyu.
The rally was the flag off of the Niger East Senatorial campaign of Dahiru Kuta. Eight died on the spot, 18 lay unconscious, and at least 16 were seriously injured at the rally organised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The blast occurred as the convoy of Aliyu was about taking off from the venue of the rally, Government Secondary School, Suleja.
Aliyu and his Deputy, Ahmed Ibeto, escaped unhurt.
The explosion left residents of the commercial city closing shops and scampering for safety. Vehicular movement came to a halt.
Eyewitness said a man broke through security cordon at about 1.30 p.m. and threw a bomb into the crowded venue, which hit an 18-seater bus.
Those injured or left unconscious included members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
Sports Commissioner Muhammed Garba said some individuals scaled through the school’s fence to detonate the bomb as the rally was drawing to a close.
Police Public Relations Officer, Richard Adamu Oguche confirmed that anti-riot policemen were deployed in the area to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
Aliyu expressed sympathy for the families of the victims, some of whom he visited at the Suleja General Hospital and Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja.
He prayed God to grant the souls of the departed eternal rest.
The government has declared three free working days to mourn the dead, according to a statement issued by the Media Director (Publicity and Public Affairs), Bala Abdulkadir, who also said the government will pay the medical bills of all the victims receiving medical treatment.
Citing security fears, Police Commissioner Mike Zuokumor had on Wednesday issued an order restraining the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) from hosting its Presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in Minna.
The order, which came less than 24 hours to the flag off of the North Central campaign of the CPC, also advised the party to shift the rally where flags were expected to be handed to its Governorship candidates in the six states in the zone.
Zuokumor explained at a press conference in Minna that the PDP zone ‘A’ Senatorial campaign in Suleja would coincide with the CPC event in Minna on the same day.
“We have advised the CPC to postpone its presidential rally from March 3 to a convenient date because there is security information that a possible conflict between the supporters of both parties could arise if they are allowed to hold on the same date due to proximity of their venues,” he said.
However, state CPC Chairman, Umaru Shuaibu, countered that the rally would hold “with or without police permit.”
He accused the police of bias against opposition parties in the state and should be held responsible for any breach of law and order.
Shuaibu said the CPC had earlier booked for the Minna Trade Fair complex but was denied its use by the government.
A PDP woman leader was counted among about 15 people who died in a stampede at a campaign rally President Goodluck Jonathan held at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt on February 12.
About 25 others were placed on danger list, after they were plucked from the stadium, where pandemonium broke out when policemen fired gunshots into the air to disperse the crowd at the end of the rally.
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