In this report, Osa Okhomina narrates the disruption of Buhari’s presidential rally in south southern Nigeria>>>
Some youths suspected to be hired thugs yesterday disrupted a rally organised by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, with former military head of state Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in attendance.Twenty-four hours before the rally, another attack was launched on the campaign office of a governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Francis Doukapolagh, by unknown persons.
LEADERSHIP gathered yesterday that the disruption of the CPC rally,which occurred midway, caused a stampede as the armed thugs threw bottles, stones and other missiles into the campaign ground at the football field of a primary school in the state capital.
Among the wounded were women and a few men who received direct hits from the bottles. Although there was a heavy presence of the police at the rally, it was the supporters of the CPC that launched a counter-attack that brought the situation under control.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the suspected PDP youth leader was beaten up before he was handed over to the police.
A few minutes after the incident, the crowd of supporters regrouped and re-arranged chairs, but others including some traumatised women did not return to the rally ground.
A check by Leadership showed that some youths dressed in northern native attire were seen armed with bottles and keeping close vigil over the other part of proceedings at the rally.
Buhari, who sat calmly at the other end of the field, said he was impressed by the turnout of party supporters. He said when the Independent National Electoral Commission begins the registration of voters, all Nigerians should register and vote. “Make sure your votes count. All our slogans will not materialise unless we do these things,” he said.
The former leader, who did not refer to the attack that had briefly disrupted the rally, said he would tackle indiscipline and corruption. “There will be sustained development so that people will get jobs. The railways will come back; the airways and national shipping line will come back. We shall build houses for the masses,” he said.
Buhari also handed the party registration card to Daunemigha, a former member of the PDP and special adviser to the Bayelsa State governor on mobilisation, to formally welcome him to the CPC. Daunemigha said he and his supporters would not be scared or intimidated.
The state government’s statement reads thus : “It has come to the attention of the Government of Bayelsa State that on Tuesday, 07 December 2010, a group of miscreants disrupted the Yenagoa campaign rally of H.E. General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
“While we condemn this act with every force at our command, we are at a loss as to why neither Buhari nor his managers thought it fit to inform the state government of his campaign visit to Bayelsa. As a former head of state, protocol demands that the state government be in the know.
“Governor Timipre Sylva was only informed about General Buhari’s visit after the unfortunate incident at the rally ground. We consider this improper. Irrespective of differences in political party affiliation, the general and his party have to acknowledge the fact that there is a sitting governor in the state.”