Fears of the gathering storm of violence, on Tuesday, led Police operatives in Niger State into stopping what was termed “a grand lockdown rally” to sell the candidacy of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his running mate, Senator Kassim Shettima.
The programme was also meant to drum support for the governorship candidate of the APC in Niger State, Hon. Umar Bago and his running mate, Comrade Yakubu Garba.
The event was organised by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate and National Coordinator of Project 774 for Tinubu/Shettima 2023, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
A report in The Nation said the gates of New Bussa Township Stadium in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger, which was already fully rehabilitated and decorated in readiness for the event billed to commence by 11.00 am, were locked and barricaded by police operatives.
The Nation also said it observed two pickup trucks manned by heavily armed Mobile Policemen stationed at the gate of the stadium while regular policemen locked the gates and prevented supporters from gaining entrance.
Journalists who arrived the venue at about 8.30am were turned back.
The police, who refused to speak on record, said the order to barricade the New Bussa Stadium which was commissioned on Monday by Senator Abdullahi came from unnamed higher authorities.
Three pickup vans mounted with guns and filled with heavily armed men of the Nigerian Army were seen patrolling around the stadium.
Niger Police spokesman, Wasiu Abiodun, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the security cordon was to prevent a “breach of security” following credible intelligence at its disposal.
According to him: “The Police had to take over the venue of the planned rally, as a proactive measure due to intelligence received of likely breach of security at the venue.
“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 fold its arms and allow act of political violence, avoidable loss of life, destruction of properties and lawlessness.”
The Nation said it gathered that the order to stop the rally was allegedly given by Governor Sani Abubakar Bello.
However, the newspaper said it could not independently confirm the claim as at press time.
Bello, whose second term ends on May 28, is the Niger North senatorial candidate of the APC.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi, who organised the rally, occupies the Niger North seat in the Ninth Senate.