At least one person died while over 50 people were injured on Monday after a platform at President Muhammadu Buhari’s election campaign venue in Maiduguri, Borno State, collapsed, witnesses said.
President Buhari campaigned for his reelection in the state capital and the All Progressives Congress event at the Ramat Square was attended by thousands of people.
The huge crowd almost overfilled the expansive square, with some of the spectators climbing on top of metal pavilion constructed to provide shade at the venue.
Midway into the event and shortly before Mr Buhari delivered his speech, a section of the platform crumbled under the weight of people on top of its roof.
The collapsed roof and the people on top of it crashed on those beneath, causing a commotion as many scampered for safety.
Local officials and witnesses said that at least one person died and 50 sustained injuries.
An official of Civillian-JTF who helped in evacuating victims said, “We had one case of death while many of them only sustained injuries, some not very serious.”
The spokesman of the APC in Borno state, Makinta Zarami, said that most of those affected were APC members from Marte Local Government Area.
“I was aware that most of those affected were from Marte and they were about 50 in number,” he said.
“Most of them were taken to Umaru Shehu General Hospital and Nursing Home where they were treated. As at this evening I was informed that most of them were discharged except for two that had a bit serious injury.
“But I am not aware of any case of death. If I know I will honestly tell you.”
One of the media aides of the governor, Usman Kumo, also denied knowledge of any case of death.
Somehow, reports of the incident filtered out of Maiduguri late, only after President Buhari’s office released statements several hours after sympathising with the victims and their families.
In an earlier statement, presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu quoted the president as condoling with families of the victims, suggesting there were deaths.
“I am shocked to hear about the loss of lives following the tragic incident at the stadium this afternoon in Maiduguri. May Allah repose the souls of the deceased,” the president was quoted as saying.
“I understand that the Borno State government, the Red Cross and other aid agencies are taking steps to help affected people.May Allah repose the souls of the deceased and heal the injured,” he said.
An updated statement sent by Mr Shehu minutes later said there were only injuries.
The president, according to Mr Shehu, expressed his deepest sympathies to all those who were injured “following an incident at the massively-attended campaign rally in Maiduguri, Borno State at which a pavilion came down crashing on party faithful”.
“Several party men and women who wanted a vintage view of the speakers at the rally climbed the roofs of the pavilions, one of which came down crashing on other spectators.
“May Allah heal those that were injured, I thank you all for the support,” the president said.