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PDP rally bombed •10 killed, 18 on danger list

Suleja, the commercial nerve centre of Niger State, was yesterday thrown into pandemonium when some unknown persons threw a bomb in the direction of the pavilion at a campaign rally attended by the state Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu and other top government and PDP functionaries.

As at press time, no fewer than 10 persons have been reportedly feared dead, with 18 others on danger list. The 16 people who sustained injuries are receiving treatment at the General Hospital, Suleja and the Nationalist Hospital, Gwagwalada. Mostly affected were operatives of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and those of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The incident occurred at the Government Secondary School, Suleja, venue of the flag-off of the PDP campaign for the Niger East senatorial zone. The programe was being rounded off when a bomb was thrown from a moving white 18-seater bus which sped off immediately. Aliyu and his entourage were hurried into their official vehicles and ferried out of the venue. Policemen immediately cordoned off the area and took steps to unearth the source of the incident.

The Director-General (Publicity and Public Affairs), Alhaji Bala Abdulkadir told journalists that security agencies were on top of the situation. Aliyu who expressed sympathy with the families of the victims promised that the state government would pick the medical bills of the injured persons. In a swift reaction, former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida condemned the dastardly act, describing it as uncivilised, crude, shameful, barbaric and a sad commentary on the nation and its march towards entrenching democracy that is rooted in issue-based campaigns.

In a statement by his Media Spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, Babangida noted; “bomb explosions are gradually removing the beauty and attraction of political campaigns from being a platform where issues are presented to the electorates to being one that is dominated with fear, apprehension, suspicion, intimidation and threat to humanity.”

The statement read further: “It is utterly shocking, disturbing and disheartening to note that bombings are becoming part and parcel of the democratic process. It is worrisome to note that the people particularly the electorates who we try to woo to seek their votes are no longer safe in the hands of bombers. Under such atmosphere of fear and trepidation occasioned by these unholy and ungodly acts, the electorates are further driven away from the attractions of democracy to a forced and coerced acceptance or rejection of candidates depending on the motive of the bombers.

From whatever perspectives we tend to view these recurring decimals in our democratic journey, apart from giving us a bad name as a nation, they create an atmosphere of palpable fear in the polity and thus, eliminate healthy competition of ideas that should ordinarily be the hallmark of representative democracy. The beauty of a political campaign is such that affords the governed the opportunity to ask their leaders their performance scorecards.

It is a platform for stock taking and rendering of accounts in the process of seeking for fresh mandates from the people. Where such process is overtaken by the orgy of violence and bomb blasts with their untold human and material casualties, the nation suffers permanent loss. And democracy becomes the greatest casualty.

My heart goes to the families of those who lost their precious ones as a result of this ugly incident. My heart goes to the people and government of Niger State over this barbaric act. My heart goes to the Emir of Suleja, the host town over this spectre of violence that has brought shame to all of us. My heart goes to Mr. President and the good people of Nigeria over this sad incident. It is a call for more purposeful action in the area of security of our dear nation.”

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