2023: Tension as Nigerian police stop Tinubu’s APC rally in Niger

Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Niger state command has stopped a grand lockdown rally to sell the candidacy of the presidential standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his running mate, Senator Kassim Shettima in the state.

Police on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, along with soldiers, men of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Civil Defence Corps, and the local vigilante group stormed the New Bussa Stadium venue of the planned rally as early 8a.m. for an event slated to hold from 11 am to 2pm.

The army came in two loaded pick-up vans, while the Police men were dispatched from the state headquarters to join their colleagues in New Bussa to ensure that no one gets in into the already prepared venue.

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Journalists, invited guests and supporters, who came for the rally, were turned back by the police operatives citing “order from above”.

The closure of the stadium came barely 24 hours after the commissioning of the rehabilitated New- Bussa Township Stadium, Borgu, Niger State, by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North) who rehabilitated the said stadium.

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A Support Group, 774 under the leadership of the senator representing Niger North, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, had planned a “Grand Lockdown Rally” for the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, as well as the governorship candidate, Umar Mohammed Bago and his running mate Comrade Yakubu Garba.

The mega rally was billed to hold at the New Bussa township stadium today, Tuesday, to mobilise supporters for the candidates.

The Deputy Whip of the Senate, who is also the National Coordinator, Project 774 for Tinubu/Shettima, 2023, had through his Special Assistant (Operations), Mohammed Garba Danladi in a letter dated January 27 and addressed to the state party Chairman, Haliru Zakari Jikantoro notified the party of the planned rally.

Senator Sabi, in the letter, also stated that the State Working Committee of the party was invited to the Grand Lockdown Rally for the candidates and their running mates on the need to galvanise support and positively enhance the party’s chances at the polls.

However, the State Working Committee of the party, in a statement in Minna on Monday by the publicity secretary, Mallam Musa Dan Sarkindaji, said the Chairman of the party, Haliru Zakari Jikantoro has disassociated himself from the rally.

The four paragraph statement, titled “Niger APC Disassociated Herself From Lockdown Rally in Borgu” and signed by the publicity secretary, also directed all party faithful not to honour and attend such rally, claiming that the planned rally contravene unified campaign structure as designed by the party.

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According to the statement, “The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State under the leadership of Haliru Zakari Jikantoro has disassociated itself from lockdown rally organized in New Bussa, Borgu Local Government Area of the state.

“The party wishes to draw attention of all party faithful not to honour and attend such rally as it contravene with unified campaign structure as designed by the party.”

The Party instead urged its executives, stakeholders and party loyalists to attend the grand zonal rally which is scheduled for Wednesday, February 2 in Bida, headquarters of Bida local government.

However, no reason was given for the action of the party, but it was gathered that the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, who is the leader of the party in the state, had instructed the party to stay away from the planned rally, a confirmation of the Cold War between him and the senator, the organiser of the rally.

Why we sealed of stadium — Police

However, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, Police Public Relations Officer,  PPRO,  Niger State Police Command said in a reaction  that the Police had to take over the venue of the planned rally, as a proactive measure due to intelligence received of likely breach of security at the venue.

“Hence, we have to do the needful to avert any possible attack or hijack by suspected miscreants to cause mayhem and breach of peace in the community.

“The Command will not fold its alms and allow act of political violence, avoidable loss of life, destruction of properties and lawlessness,” Abiodun added.

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