More reactions have continued to trail last week’s stampede in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital which led to the death of no fewer than 12 persons, mostly women, as they queued to collect Sallah gifts from a former governor of the state, Senator Bukola Saraki.
The latest round of reaction is coming from the gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Kwara during the 2011 general election, Mohammed Belgore, who has condemned in strong terms the political philanthropic gesture of the Sarakis which he described as a ‘carnival of death’ that must be brought to a stop.
A statement by his spokesperson, Rafiu Ajakaye, on Monday said Mr. Belgore commiserated with the families and friends of all, who died in the unfortunate incident at the Ile Loke house of the Sarakis.
“This carnival of death, disguised over the years as some political philanthropy, must end,” Mr. Ajakaye said. “We condemn in strong terms what has almost become an annual ritual where dozens will die queuing to collect amala and ewedu, N50 notes and five yards of ankara under the guise of political philanthropy.”
He recalled that these deaths were the third in a space of four years, having occurred in 2010, 2011 and now in 2013.
“Worst still, every time this happens, the government and the PDP play down the casualty figures and do nothing more than issuing ready-made statements to commiserate with the families of the dead, while doing nothing to tackle the cause of the cycle of death in the coming year.”
The statement also claimed that contrary to reports, conservative estimates say up to 47 persons were confirmed dead during this year’s incident.
“For how long can anyone continue to waste precious lives in the guise of whatever philanthropy? It has to stop! Rather than continue this demeaning practice of queuing people up for whatever gift, the alternative is to set up a foundation to assist people to outlive the poverty that made them queue for food that costs no more than N100,” he said.
Mr. Belgore also called on all relevant bodies to investigate the incident and ensure that anyone found culpable are not allowed to go unpunished.
“This cycle of death must stop. Innocent lives must not continue to be exploited for political gain. We call on the Nigerian Police, the National Human Rights Commission and other relevant agencies to investigate this annual tragedy and pass their findings to the appropriate bodies for further steps. Enough is enough.”