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P/Harcourt tragedy: Witnesses blame presidential security

Witnesses who testified before the presidential panel on the stampede which killed 11 persons in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, have blamed security men deployed from Abuja, the nation’s capital for the tragedy.

Testifying before the panel on Tuesday, Mr. Nmehielle James, Manager of Liberation Stadium, Elekahia, Port Harcourt, said men of Police Mobile Force and State Security Service (SSS) from the Presidential Villa, Abuja chased him and his staff out of their offices and changed the padlocks to all the gates.

James disclosed that the security men opened only three of the gates despite the large crowd, noting that the pressure on the main entrance to the stadium caused the tragedy.

The stadium manager said the security men ignored all the plans put in place by the stadium authority to ensure a hitch-free rally, stressing that the incident could have been avoided if all the security agencies were carried along.

Also testifying before the panel headed by the AIG, Zone 6, Calabar, Mr Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, a Commissioner of Police, Margaret Hart, wondered why one of the Masters of Ceremonies of security at the stadium announced that state house security personnel should take over the stadium’s main bowl, chasing out others and causing confusion.

According to Hart, the announcement was embarrassing and caused confusion among the security men.

Another senior police officer, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of operations in the state, Mr. Habila Joshak, said policemen who  were detailed to man the gates by the state command were displaced by security men from Abuja.

Giving figures, Joshak said 3,550 officers out of the over 13,000 officers in the state were assigned various duties during the presidential campaign rally, saying that the stampede could have been averted if the right things were done.

-Tribune

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Posted by on Feb 15 2011. Filed under Latest Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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