Rivers State Police Command has confirmed the death of about 31 persons in a stampede during an outreach programme organised by a new generation church, Kings Assembly, on Saturday in Port Harcourt.
It was gathered that at the programme tagged, ‘‘Shop for Free’, which was scheduled to begin on Saturday morning, the church expected to offer free food items to attendees, the less privileges.
However, there was a crowd at the venue of the event. The movement of the crowd resulted in a stampede, which led to the death of the 31 victims.
Confirming the incident, the acting Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, Grace Iringe-Koko said the church, located in GRA in the state capital, had invited members of the public to an an event where it would share some gift items to its members, including food stuffs.
She said that the event was held at the Port Harcourt Polo Club, a bigger facility to accommodate the anticipated crowd, including the underprivileged.
The PPRO further disclosed that the stamped occurred when the people who had gathered struggled to force their way into the arena, resulting in the death of the 31 persons.
She said, “There was a stampede in the said church and 31 persons were confirmed dead at the military hospital.
“Everywhere is calm for now and there is peace. Investigation is ongoing.”
Meanwhile, the church programme is an annual event to provide for the vulnerable in the society.
It was, however, not clear if the church made provisions or arrangements for crowd control measures or for medical emergencies.
According to a message announcing the programme on the church’s website, household items, furniture, shoes, food items, among others, were available for distribution to attendees.
“For many, it is tough to get through each day. The economy and the state of the nation has kept many out of job and left others with little or nothing to cater for themselves or their loved ones. Hope seems like a fluke and living a struggle.
“It is to this end that we host our annual event – ‘Shop for Free’, where we put God’s love into action and reach out to those in our immediate community with encouragement to keep hope alive.
“From foodstuff to household items, furniture and supplies, clothes, shoes and sundry items for adults and kids, there is no limit to the gift items that are given out during this event.
“You can be a part of this by dropping your gift items at any of our locations on Service days or use the button below to either get gift basket(s) for a home or make a cash gift to keep someone’s hope alive,” the message stated.
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