BreakingNews 3/11/13 - Stampede At Adoration Ground, Uke; 25 Suspected Dead As Gov. Obi Escapes

[ Masterweb Reports ] - The weekly  adoration crusade usually organized by Rev. Fr Emmanuel Obinma of the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, for prayers, healing and spiritual retreat at  Uke turned tragic in the early hours of yesterday.
 
 
Gov. Obi who was accompanied  to the crusade by 10 others, including  Sir Victor Umeh,  Willie Obiano, among others would have been caught in the stampede that followed if not for the fact that the team left at 3:30 shortly before the close of the crusade at about 5:08.
 
 
As at 3 pm yesterday, about 25  were confirmed dead.
 
 
An eye witness  said trouble started shortly after the event, when group of people behaving like paid agents started shouting “Fire’ Fire, Fire,” which immediately sent people   scampering to safety. 
 
 
It is believed among the crusaders that  the commotion was deliberately organized by some people who learnt Gov. Peter Obi would visit the place. However, the lucky Governor had already left the venue quietly without them  knowing.
 
 
Casualties were many because the number of crusaders tripled to over 100,000 because the day was All Saints’ Day and the first day of the Month, when so many people usually take advantage to pray for the new month.
 
 
Gov. Obi who cancelled all his engagements yesterday, including campign flag-off at Nsugbe, Live Radio programme at Silver Bird, Flag- off of road projects, inspection of the on- going shopping Mall at Onitsha and the on-going Stadium at Awka, was the first person to visit the Adoration Ground with Security Agencies, who he informed of the incident immediately he got the report. The Two Police DIG visiting the State, P I Leha and Kachi Udoji were accompanied by the State Commissioner for Police, Bala Nassarawa. They commended Obi's quick response and describe the cancelling of all the  events of yesterday , as a great sign of responsiveness and care for the people.
 
 
Though the Spiritual Director of the Centre was not around, as he was said to have gone to brief his Local Ordinary, Archbishop Valerian Okeke about the incident, he was received by the Cordinator of the Centre, Bro Achebe Nnadi. He said it was most confusing while a group of people should start shouting fire when there was none.
 

Thence forth, the Gov. visited  the Crown Hospital, Nkpor to see the wounded, most of who have left.  He directed the names of all the wounded to be compiled for him. Though he refused to disclose the reason, it is believed that the State will take care of their Hospital Bill.
 
 
Speaking to the Press, the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr. Edwin Emegoakor said he was shocked by the response of the Governor. He said that the Governor called him on phone few minutes after they brought the wounded to him. He said he was pleasantly surprising since the Governor did not have his number. According the him, the Governor inquired about the wounded and appealed to him to take utmost care of them and promised to come to the Hospital. He said while he was dtll contemplating whether the Governor was actually the one that called him, he arrived to the hospital. He said that no dead was recorded and that most of those that were brought to his hospital were revived and that only three remained and that they were in stable condition.
 

From Crown Hospital, the Governor moved to Immaculate Heart Hospital, Nkpor. Again, he directed the names of those hospitalized to be compiled. Obi also visited St Charles Borromeo hospital. At the hospital, the spiritual Director of the Ministry, Fr. Emmanuel Obinma came around. He was also visiting the wounded at different hospitals. He said he was still in shock to talk to the Press.
 
 
Meanwhile, the Governor said that a Panel of Enquiry would be set up immediately to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the incident. 
 

Speaking, another eye witness, Mr. Osmund Okoli, who was in fact one of the victims of the Stampede said that "devil just wanted to do over time." Asked what he meant, he said that they were overjoyed that the Governor attended their crusade, asked them to pray for Nigeria and Anambra State, promised to sponsor 20 indigent and elderly ones on pilgrimage to Israel, to construct the access road to the crusade ground on the reason that the road was critical due to the number of people that used it only for this ugly event to happen."
 
Another eye witness at St Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha, Chinenye Etinanma, who came to visit her sister who was equally a victim  said she narrowly escaped because they were the first set that encountered the  blockaded  road Pro-Ngige supporters who shouted his slogans and caused the stamped.
 
 
Obi who said he was heart-broken by the event, disclosed that he went home after the crusade satisfied on the rewarding spiritual encounter only to get the shocking news of human-induced stampede.  He consoled all those affected one way or the other and said that those responsible would be punished if found or that God will punish them if not found.
 
 
Obi visited the Archbishop of Onitsha over the matter. What they discussed was not divulged to the press.
 
 
 
*Photo Caption -  The Adoration Ground after the stampede with survivor Osmund Okoli.
 
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