There was pandemonium on Monday when hoodlums invaded the Peoples Democratic Party presidential campaign mega rally in Kaduna and launched an attack on the crowd.
The hoodlums came into the Ranchers Bees Stadium venue with sticks and machetes and started attacking the crowd, leaving many injured.
The hoodlums invaded the venue three times before they were finally repelled by security operatives and members of the opposition party.
Reacting to the development, the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, condemned the attacks on supporters of his party in Zamfara and Kaduna states.
According to Atiku, the attacks in Kaduna and Zamfara, which led to the death of a PDP member, were direct attempts to suppress the legitimate campaigns of the party in the states.
This was disclosed in a statement he signed on Monday.
He said, “I have received reports of coordinated attacks on members of our great party, the PDP, by thugs in Zamfara State, which reportedly led to the death of one of our members.
“I condemn these attacks entirely because they are attempts to scuttle the lawful right of Nigerians to assemble peacefully and a direct attempt to suppress the legitimate campaigns of the PDP in the state.
“I reassure the Zamfara State PDP of my support, and most importantly, my heart goes out to the PDP family in Zamfara and the friends and loved ones of victims of this attack.”
Shortly after condemning the attacks in Zamfara, the former vice president issued another statement lamenting attacks on PDP supporters at the party’s rally in Kaduna.
He said, “I have just received emergency reports of attacks on PDP supporters by thugs sponsored to scuttle the ongoing PDP campaign rally in Kaduna State. This is undemocratic and against the peace accord that all parties signed just a few weeks ago.
“I urge President Muhammadu Buhari to call on all parties to call their supporters and members to order and to ensure that campaigns, just as with the elections themselves, are kept free, fair and safe.”
Saraki demands probe
The immediate past President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, also condemned the attack.
In a statement signed by Yusuph Olaniyonu for Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office, the former governor of Kwara State described the development as a return to the dark days of politics in the country believed to have become a thing of the past.
He said the attack was not just a threat to the nation’s democracy but an indication that some elements were still bent on sabotaging and undermining the success of next year’s general elections.
The statement quoted him as saying, “This sad development is a big setback for our democracy. It represents a slap on the face of all Nigerians. It made a mess of all the efforts of the eminent men and women who constitute the National Peace Committee which just recently got all leading presidential candidates, their party chieftains, and spokesmen to sign an accord to promote peace and unity before, during, and after the elections.
“Both the sponsors and perpetrators of these criminal acts should be treated as top enemies of the state. They should be exposed and made to face the wrath of the law in such a manner that others who harbour this evil intent will take this case as a big deterrence.”
PDP fingers APC
The PDP, in a statement by its spokesperson, Debo Ologunagba, alleged that the APC was behind the attack.
Ologunagba stated, “The attack today by the APC must give well-meaning Nigerians concern as some reports alleged that the vicious assault on the PDP presidential campaign was spearheaded by the APC governorship candidate in Kaduna State.
“The APC is intimidated by Atiku Abubakar’s popularity and acceptance among the majority of Nigerians following their confidence in Atiku Abubakar’s practical experience, record, capacity, broad-mindedness, Pan-Nigerianism and willpower to unite our nation, revamp our devastated economy and guarantee the security of lives and property in our country.
“In any case, our party is undeterred by such cowardly attack as Nigerians are already connected with our issue-based campaign and Atiku Abubakar’s message of hope which is already resonating throughout the nooks and crannies of our country.’’
The PDP called on the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to call his party men to order and ensure adequate security for a free, fair and credible electoral process in our country.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State APC Secretary, Alhaji Yahaya Baba-Pate, said the ruling party in the state was not known for thuggery and the party was strictly against it.
“APC is a peaceful party in Kaduna State and our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Tinubu is in Kaduna and we have been engaged with activities at the Arewa House with all the party leadership. We don’t know who disrupted or attacked their campaign rally.
“We’ve done well and we are confident that the electorates in Kaduna State are with us. We don’t have to engage in thuggery to win our elections,” Baba-Pate said.
In another development, the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, on Monday, said there was no crisis in the party.
This was just as he appealed to those not on the campaign train to join as quickly as possible so as not to be left behind as the party geared toward wresting power from the All Progressives Congress in 2023.
“There is no crisis in PDP, the train is moving and those who are not on the train should, please join,” Ayu said.
Ayu, spoke when he visited Benue Community in Kaduna along with the party’s vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa.
He charged the community in Kaduna to unite more for the PDP ahead of the 2023 elections.
Meanwhile, Atiku appealed to his supporters in Kaduna State to give him winning votes just the way they did in 2019.
This was just as he promised to revive the moribund manufacturing industries in the state(Kaduna) as well as find solutions to terrorism and banditry which have plagued the entire land over the years.
Speaking at the presidential rally held at the Ranchers Bees Township Stadium in Kaduna, the PDP presidential hopeful thanked the people of Kaduna for giving him the highest number of votes in 2019.
He said if elected in 2023, he would take issues concerning the state seriously.
On his part, Okowa said the people of southern Nigeria are ready to vote for the PDP and Atiku come 2023 following the success of the party in the recent gubernatorial election in Osun.
In his remarks, the Director General of the Atiku’s PPCO, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State said efforts to throw a spanner in the PDP’s campaign would fail.
Tambuwal said, “They do not want us to continue with our rallies because they are not prepared. They haven’t constituted their campaign council and so, they want to drag us back but we are moving on with our campaign.
“The people of Kaduna have seen and felt the negative impact of the APC and when Atiku gets into power by next year, all the factories will return by God’s grace.
“His administration will ensure we invigorate our economy to have jobs and better life. I urge the people of Kaduna to come out in their millions to vote come February 2023.”