At least eight people have been confirmed dead from a presidential rally held on Thursday in Taraba.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the stampede at the rally due to what the presidency called overcrowding at the Jolly Nyame Stadium in the state capital, Jalingo.
Three people were initially thought to have died from the stampede. The presidency in a statement on Sunday, however, put the death toll at eight.
According to the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, the president dispatched a team to Jalingo to condole with the government and people of the state over the deaths.
The team, led by Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), included Governor of Adamawa (a neighbouring state to Taraba) Mohammed Jibrilla (Bindow); a Borno senator, Ali Ndume; Mohammed Bello, Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Ali Pantami, Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); and Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.
At the Taraba Government House, where the team was reportedly received by Governor Darius Ishaku, Mr Mustapha, speaking on behalf of the president, lamented the sad loss of eight people during and after the rally, promising that they would not die in vain.
“President Buhari will continue to focus on public good and welfare of the people. The eight people would then not have died in vain,” the SGF said.
“They represent the good of our people and country. They wanted good governance as symbolized by President Buhari, so they turned out to welcome him at the rally. As we go to the polls, let’s exercise the civic responsibility with zeal, but also with decency and restraint. The country is our own, and we must preserve its oneness,” he said.
Responding, Governor Ishaku expressed “sincere gratitude and thanks to Mr President for promptly sending a delegation to condole with us,” adding that the people of Taraba were grateful for the show of concern.
He prayed that the souls of the dead would rest in peace, stressing: “Peace is my mantra. I stand by it any day. I am thankful that Mr President, who is firstly my elder brother before being my president, came to Taraba in peace, and left in peace.”
An official letter of condolence personally signed by the president was presented to the governor by the SGF.
Mr Ishaku is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on whose platform he is seeking re-election. The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is the main challenger to Mr Buhari.
At the palace of the Emir of Muri, Abbas Tafida, the leader of the delegation condoled with the monarch and the people on behalf of the president, praying that God will give them the fortitude to bear the loss.
In response, the emir said it was President Buhari that needed to be condoled since he lost his supporters, who loved him dearly.
Promising not to forget the relations of the dead, Mr Tafida said he would do his best to cater for them. He also urged Nigerians to emulate President Buhari and copy his integrity and transparency.
At the family home of one of the dead, where the relations of other victims had congregated, the names of the deceased were read out.
Haruna Kawuwa, who lost his wife, Safiya, at the overcrowding that attended the rally, thanked President Buhari for remembering and condoling with them at their time of sorrow.
The delegation also visited the Federal Medical Centre, Jalingo, where prayers were said for the quick recovery of the injured on admission.
On hand during the visit, among many others, were Taraba APC chairman, Ibrahim El-Sudi, who also got a condolence letter from the president; the APC gubernatorial candidate, Sani Danladi, his running mate, and other party chieftains.