A stampede at a church charity event on Saturday (28th May, 2022) left 31 people dead and seven injured. It was a shocking development that happened at a program that was aimed at offering hope to the needy. A witness said that the dead included a pregnant woman and many children.
The stampede occured at the event organized by the Kings Assembly Pentecostal church Por Harcourt, Rivers state and involved people who came to the church’s annual “Shop for Free” charity program.
Events as this are common in Nigeria, where more than 80 million people live in poverty, seeking ways to alleviate their poverty.
Saturday’s charity program was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. but it is only normal as dozens of people arrived as early as 5 a.m. to secure their place in line and ensure they got the best of the charity items in large quantities too. Somehow the locked gate to the compound housing the relief items was broken open, creating a stampede as people rushed to acquire all they could lay their hands on and carry.
Mr. Godwin Tepikor from Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said that first responders were able to evacuate the bodies of those trampled to death and transported them to the morgue.
Security forces where able to ease up the situation but they arrived a little late after 31 persons had died. A good number of residents later thronged the scene of the tragic incident, mourning the dead and offering any form of assistance they could to the emergency workers. Doctors and emergency workers tended to some of the injured individuals as they lay in the open field. Videos from the scene showed the clothing, shoes and other items meant for the beneficiaries most of which were scattered and littered all around the field.
Some church members were attacked and injured by enraged relatives of the victims after the stampede, according to a witness.
The “Shop for Free” event was suspended while authorities investigated how the stampede occurred.The church has declined to comment on the situation and the injured individuals are responding to treatment.