10 Killed, 21 Injured As Blasts Rock PDP Niger Guber Rally
Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Thursday had a close shave with death at the flag-off of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Niger East senatorial campaign in Suleja.
Hand-held explosives were thrown into the venue of the campaign by yet-to-be-identified persons, leading to twin explosions which killed 10 persons and injured 21 others.
The first explosive was thrown over the fence of Government Secondary School, the venue of the campaign rally, at about 1.30 pm immediately after the national anthem had been rendered to end the event.
The second went off 20 minutes after the governor’s convoy had passed the same spot.
The devices, which were thrown into the venue of the event by a group of men in a white 18-seater moving bus, exploded immediately they landed.
Eighteen persons, mostly members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), were unconscious and were taken to the General Hospital.
Some with broken limbs were taken to the Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital for treatment.
No sooner had the explosion occurred than the police cordoned off the entire area thereby forcing travellers into the city to divert through Maje and Diko to enter Suleja town.
The incident threw the town into a state of pandemonium as parents rushed to pick their children from schools.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mr. Richard Oguche, said the Niger State Command was aware of the incident and had requested that the Commanding Officer of Suleja commence investigation immediately to ascertain what happened.
The bodies of the victims were deposited at the Suleja General Hospital mortuary.
The governor sympathised with the families of those who lost their lives and the injured.
Among the dignitaries who attended the event were Minister of Agriculture, Shiek Abdallah; the wife of the Niger State Governor Hajiya Jummai Babangida Aliyu; Senator Dahiru Awaisu; Senator Kanti Bello; Senator Zaynab Kure; Senator Nuhu Aliyu, among others.
Reacting to the blasts, President Goodluck Jonathan, last night directed all national security agencies to step up intelligence and surveillance operations across the country to thwart any further attempts by enemies of democracy to unleash politically-motivated violence on innocent Nigerians.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, said in a statement that Jonathan “strongly condemns as most deplorable, callous, cowardly and wicked the attack which claimed some lives and injured several persons.
“The President condoles the families of those who lost their lives in the dastardly attack and commiserates with all those who are currently receiving treatment for the injuries inflicted on them.”
Former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said the explosions had once again brought a sad commentary on the nation and its march towards entrenching democracy that is rooted in issue-based campaigns. Babangida, who disclosed this in a statement signed by his media spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said: “Bomb explosions are gradually removing the beauty and attraction of political campaigns from being a
platform where issues are presented to the electorate to being one that is dominated with fear, apprehension, suspicion, intimidation and threat to humanity.”
The presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, in a statement, said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of an explosion that has so far claimed 10 lives in the rally of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Suleja, Niger State.
“I wish to extend my condolences to the families of the victims of the blast. Without doubt they are heroes of our democracy and we must not allow them to die in vain.
“However, I want to call on the PDP-led government to take adequate measures to safeguard the lives of Nigerians that attend political rallies. We cannot afford to lose more lives on account of security lapses.”