A debate for the governorship candidates of four major political parties in Abia on Tuesday ended in chaos, following sporadic gunshots at Abia Hotels, Umuahia, venue of the exercise.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the gunshots and teargas cannisters were fired by security aides to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu and Dr. Alex Otti, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to contain the situation.
The shooting and teargas caused a stampede on the hotel premises, as scores of people, including newsmen and supporters of the candidates at the venue, scampered to different directions in a desperate bid to escape being hit by bullets.
In the process, many fell down, sustaining bruises and minor injuries, while struggling to escape through the main gate, which was the only exit route in the hotel. Trouble started immediately after the tension soaked debate, when the governor’s motorcade was about to leave the venue. NAN reports that scores of youths, said to be students, had besieged the hotel, seeking to have audience with the governor.
They were said to have also organised another governorship debate in Umuahia on the same day and had invited the governor to participate. Their attempt to get to the governor, who was already seated in his car, was stopped by his security aides. As the students surged toward the governor’s motorcade, the security aides seized and manhandled their leaders, forcing other students to barricade the main gate to the hotel.
In an attempt to disperse the crowd and bring the tensed situation under control, the security aides fired several shots and teargas cannisters into the air before forcing their way out of the hotel. NAN reports that the debate, oraginsed by a group of online practitioners and some private radio stations in the state, was attended by Ikpeazu, who is the governoship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and Otti.
Others were the governorship candidates of the Social Democratic Party and Accord Party, Dr. Blessing Nwagba and Mr Emeka Uwakolam.
Discussions at the debade centred mainly on the state of the Abia economy, security, infrastructure development, youth employment, education and health, among others.
Ikpeazu rated his administration high on road infrastructure, saying that he had built roads that would outlive his administration. According to him, no past administration in the state built any road that lasted up to 10 years.
He also scored himself high on education.