By Emmanuel Nduka
A Church stampede that happened early on Saturday morning in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital has claimed the lives of 31 persons.
The stampede happened during a free food sharing programme in the Church.
It was gathered that a new generation church, ‘Kings Assembly’, had invited members of the public for its fourth edition of free gifts and food items distribution, fixed for Saturday, May 28.
Information gathered showed that some of the invitees arrived at Polo Club, in Port Harcourt, the venue for the distribution of the free items on Friday, while others were at the venue as early as 6am.
It was learned that the programme was scheduled for 9am, but the invitees were already at the gate three hours earlier.
Sources at the scene of the incident, as at about 6.30am, said the crowd of people were already at the gate trying to force themselves inside the polo club premises.
It was disclosed that as soon as some bouncers opened a small gate, the crowd started scrambling to get into the premises which resulted in a stampede, leading to the number of deaths.
Confirming the incidence, the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Grace Iringe-Koko, disclosed that 31 persons lost their lives in the stampede.
He added that some of the victims who survived the incident and were seriously injured had been rushed to the hospital for medical attention.
“31 persons lost their lives at the church programme in Polo Club, Port Harcourt. Everywhere is calm now and those that were injured are in the hospital right now responding to treatment,” he said.
The incidence further shows the alarming spate of poverty in the West African nation.
In 2018, Nigeria surpassed India as the world’s poverty capital, with around 87 million people living in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million.