Scores of Nigerians lost their lives at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt on Saturday in a stampede which occurred at a Goodluck Jonathan campaign rally.
Police sources at the venue of the rally confirmed to Saharareporters that no fewer than 12 persons have died as a result of the stampede, which was caused by police shooting.
But eyewitness accounts contradicted the police figure, calling it an ‘understatement’ calculated to avoid embarrassing the President in his home state.
The incident began as policemen attached to the president shot sporadically into the air. In addition to the dead, the stampede also left some 50 people injured.
The identity of the dead and injured could not immediately be ascertained. Those who suffered injuries were said to be receiving treatment at several hospitals within the city of Port Harcourt.
An estimated 250,000 supporters, including tens of thousands from Akwa Ibom State, had besieged the Liberation Stadium, which has a capacity of less than 100,000, for the flagging-off of the Jonathan/Sambo rally in the South-South region.
Present at the rally were the Governors of Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States, each of whom was more interested in receiving party flags for their re-election bid than the human casualties that resulted from the rally.
Before the stampede today, Jonathan’s convoy was also engaged in a ghastly auto accident on Aba Road that left two people dead.
Our reporters noted that contractors to the federal government distributed money to youths in the area to attend Jonathan's rally in Port Harcourt following his unimpressive outing in the North.