There was pandemonium at the Minna Trade Fair Complex on Saturday morning as the venue’s VIP seating area collapsed during a political rally organized by the Transformation Ambassador of Nigeria [TAN] to campaign for the reelection of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Dignitaries were seated and the venue was packed to the brim when the platform constructed to sit top government officials and chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party suddenly caved in, trapping a few of those already seated.
The development sparked panic across the venue with several people scampering for safety. Some people were so scared that they began to hurry out of the venue in droves.
PREMIUM TIMES later learnt that a number of people, including top government officials, were injured and rushed to hospital.
When the exodus from the venue threatened to truncate the rally, the host governor, Babangida Aliyu, rushed to the microphone to appeal to the crowd not to leave as the situation had been brought under control.
Mr. Aliyu later urged the people of the state and participants at the rally “to consider what happened in one of the stands as a sacrifice for success”.
The Senator representing the Federal Capital Territory, Gabriel Aduda, also rushed to the stage to blame the incidence on the devil and opponents of Mr. Jonathan’s administration.
Mr. Aduda said, “Whatever happened here, the devil is a liar. No weapon fashioned against us and Jonathan shall succeed. What happened was because the crowd was too much.”
TAN officials later said those injured in the stand collapse were being treated in hospital.
After a short break, the rally however continued after an alternative seating area was found for important dignitaries.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said the rally was organized to celebrate Mr. Jonathan, who he described as one of Nigeria’s best presidents.
Mr. Maku said it was only after the President completes another four-year tenure that the presidency of the country would switch back to the North of Nigeria in line with the power rotation arrangement between the North and the South.
He said his home state, Nasarawa, would give Mr. Jonathan 95 per cent of its votes in the 2015 presidential election.
TAN has been staging rallies across the country in support of Mr. Jonathan’s reelection bid despite the president personally advising political, religious and other groups to desist from convening large gatherings as a way of curtailing the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease.
President Jonathan has declined to halt the rallies despite widespread calls on him to do so.