By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Two persons were feared dead in Otukpo town in Otukpo Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue state on Christmas Day during a stampede at a musical carnival in total disregard for the COVID-19 restrictions recently announced by the state government.
Vanguard gathered from an eyewitness in Otukpo that the music carnival which was put together by a popular Otukpo millionaire (name withheld) and was taking place at his residence on the popular Ochacho Avenue in Otukpo was billed to have popular Nigerian musicians entertain fun-seekers.
According to him, the event had hardly started around 11:00 pm when the sound of gunshots allegedly fired by one of the policemen said to be on duty at the event triggered a stampede.
He said “the gunshots triggered a stampede because we all started running out of the venue for safety.
“The sound of gunshots made me run towards the gate in fear as I did not know what was happening. While running, I saw two persons in the pool of their blood; a male and a female.
“Several other people also took to their heels; although it was not easy for most people to identify the location of their vehicles. Several onlookers stood aloof at the rail-crossing and at Upu Road and Ibadan street in utter surprise,” he added.
Confirming the deaths, Chairman of Otukpo LGA, George Ali said a young lady and young man died in the incident.
He said that the organizer of the carnival flouted federal and state governments directive banning social gathering due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Chairman, “it is true there was an incident and two people died, a young lady and young man died and their corpses have been deposited at the hospital morgue.
“I have spoken to the Area Commander and the Divisional Police Officer they are investigating the incident. The gathering in the first place was not proper because the federal government had directed that there should be no social gathering and it was also reiterated by State government that there should be compliance to the directives.”
The chairman said he was already putting together his report which would be forwarded to the appropriate quarters for necessary action.
When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene who said the matter was being investigated added that the police did not kill anybody in Otukpo.