© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Rowdy Crowd Disrupts Buhari’s Borno Rally
By Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
The campaign rally of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital was yesterday disrupted by a rowdy crowd which gathered to receive him at the Ramat Square.
The state government had earlier declared a public holiday to give the presidential candidate a rousing welcome to the state, and encouraged the people to show their love for the former military Head of State who was once governor of defunct Northeast state.
The large turnout of excited spectators clogged up the motorways, making it impossible for many to drive freely in town and impeding access to the Ramat Square venue of the rally.
The rowdiness of the crowd made it necessary for military and security personnel to intervene, as they had to drive many people back from the venue of the rally as they were becoming uncontrollable.
The security personnel eventually resorted to using tear gas to disperse the crowd resulting in a stampede that left many people injured, even before the APC candidate arrived Ramat Square.
On arrival at the airport at about 10am, the huge crowd of supporters that thronged the highways impeded movement such that it took the campaign train over an hour to reach the palace of the Shehu of Borno, which is located just about 5 kilometres away from the airport
Speaking at the Shehu’s palace, Buhari expressed joy at the warm and befitting welcome he received and promised to tackle the problem of insecurity in the state. The APC candidate also recalled his stint as governor of the defunct North-east state during which he operated from Maiduguri.
“I was here in 1975 as governor of the defunct north-east states, I’m happy that I received befitting welcome, if elected I will focus on tackling the persistent insecurity affecting north-east, it is not easy as the damage has been done.
“Your royal highness God willing, if APC government is elected, all towns under Boko Haram control will be liberated and rebuilt. It is unfortunate that commercial activities have been paralysed following the insecurity,’ he stated.
Buhari stated that the Boko Haram ideology is a contradiction of Islamic principles, adding that true Islam condemns senseless killings of innocent people and that the pervasive killing of innocent persons in mosques, churches and their homes was ungodly.
He promised to restore the electorate’s confidence in government if the APC is elected to lead the nation.
In his remarks, the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Ibn El-Kanemi advised the presidential candidate to focus on restoration of peace, massive investment, re-construction of federal roads, revamping of Lake Chad and ensure the success of oil exploration in the Lake Chad region, if elected.
It was an equally hectic drive from the Shehu’s palace to the venue of the rally as it took the convoy about 20 minutes to cover the 1 kilometre distance due to the massive crowd that thronged the roads to welcome the APC candidate.
Chants of “Sai Buhari, Sai Baba” by the rowdy and uncontrollable crowd interrupted the presidential candidate’s speech when he mounted the podium to address the people.
Defying all attempts at maintaining order, the crowd moved to the podium to touch Buhari and dismantled the steel barrier.
With the situation deteriorating as the crowd got even more rowdy, vandalizing everything in sight including the television installation for the live coverage of the campaign which forced the transmission off the air, the presidential candidate was whisked away by security men to ensure his safety.
Party stalwarts in attendance at the rally included APC National Chairman, John Oyegun, Rivers State governor Rotimi Amaechi, former PDP National Chairman, Audu Ogbe, Lawal Sha’aibu, and Umar Farouk Aliyu. Others were Hadi Sirika, APC Secretary, Mai Mala Bunu, and former Chief of Army Staff, Lawan Dambazau.
The irate crowd which gathered was allegedly responsible for setting ablaze the campaign office of the senatorial candidate of PDP Borno Central, Ali Modu Sheriff, a former governor of the state.