Police officials in Niger state on Tuesday halted a major lockdown rally to sell the candidacy of All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential flag bearer Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kassim Shettima.
The program should also include the APC’s candidates for governorship in Niger State, Hon. Umar Bago and his running mate, Comrade Yakubu Garba.
The event was officiated by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate and National Coordinator of Project 774 for Tinubu/Shetima 2023, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
The gates of the Nova Busa Town Stadium in the Borgu local government area of Niger, which had been fully restored and decorated in preparation for the event scheduled to start at 11am, were locked and barricaded by police.
The Nation spotted two pick-up trucks driven by heavily armed mobile police stationed at the gate of the stadium while regular police locked the gates and prevented supporters from entering.
Journalists who arrived at the area around 8.30 am were turned back.
Police, who declined to speak on the record, said the order to barricade the New Bussa Stadium, commissioned by Senator Abdullahi on Monday, came from unknown higher authorities.
Three pickup trucks fitted with guns and loaded with heavily armed men from the Nigerian Army were seen patrolling around the stadium.
Nigerien police spokesman Wasiu Abiodun, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the security cordon was intended to prevent a “security breach” following credible intelligence available to him.
According to him: “The police had to take over the location of the planned rally as a proactive measure due to intelligence received about possible security breaches at the scene.
“Hence, we have to do the needful to avert any possible attack or hijack by suspected miscreants to cause mayhem and breach of peace in the community.
“The Command will not sit idly by and allow acts of political violence, avoidable loss of life, destruction of property, and lawlessness.”
The order to stop the rally was reportedly given by Governor Sani Abubakar Bello.
As of press time, this statement could not be confirmed. Bello, whose second term ends on May 28, is the APC’s nominee for senator for Niger North.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi, who organised the rally, occupies the Niger North seat in the Ninth Senate.
Supporters of Abdullahi who turned out en masse to attend the rally, later found their way to the country home of the Senator where they sang the praises of Tinubu, Shettima, Bago and Yakubu.
The supporters also engage in a campaign procession around the locality of Senator Abdullahi amid singing, dancing and chanting of sai Jagaban, Shettima, Bago and Yakubu among others.
Senator Abdullah has not had an official reaction to the actions of the police in Niger at the time of filing this report.