There was chaos and pandemonium at Wadata Plaza, the headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday, as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar submitted his presidential nomination form.
The simple event, was marred by a stampede and gunshots which forced supporters of the former vice president to scamper to safety.
Atiku enthusiasts with posters of the aspirant and PDP insignias had arrived at the venue as early as 9:00 a.m. The contestant himself came at about 12:00 p.m. in a convoy of branded campaign vehicles.
Trouble broke out, however, when persons armed with machetes and sticks were seen pursuing people. The ensuing panic resulted in a stampede at the front gate of the premises.
The footage of the incident showed a mass of mostly women and some men jammed helplessly on ground as concerned individuals rushed to their rescue.
An attempt by a number of Atiku supporters to confront the attackers inflamed the situation as a fight broke out.
An eyewitness, who is also a fan of the former vice president, said: “The fight started when some thugs with APC posters attacked us along Michael Okpara Street opposite the party secretariat. The APC supporters started singing a song against the supporters of the former vice president. The supporters of Atiku retaliated and a fight ensued.”
The Police also worsened the situation by firing shots in the air in a bid to restore order but only resulted in heightening confusion and fear in the minds of the people.
Atiku, in a statement signed by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, condemned the incident by persons he described as troublemakers. He urged his supporters to show restraint in the face of provocation. He also praised the police for containing the situation, adding that he wanted the PDP’s presidential ticket to “get Nigeria working again.”
The party, in its own statement, said: “The whole world witnessed with dismay how APC thugs, brandishing their party’s famished brooms and charms, armed with machetes and other dangerous weapons, stormed our national secretariat, which has become a beehive of activities and attacked and wounded our members and supporters before they were dispelled by security operatives.”
The APC, however, dismissed claims it staged the attack at the PDP secretariat. A founding member, Prince Tony Momoh, cautioned Nigerians not to be deceived by the accusation. He said such finger-pointing was common to democracy and should only be believed after a thorough investigation.