Following the contrary report of the police and that of the public over a stampede which occurred when customers of an online marketing firm, Inksnation, besieged one of its offices in Rumuodara, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State on Tuesday, the state Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan ordered an investigation into the incident.
More than eight persons were said to be feared killed by eyewitness while the police confirmed only two deaths and many in critical conditions.
It was learnt that customers, who registered with the online platform, gathered at its office early on Tuesday with the hope of shopping for items with the money in their automated wallet.
One of the customers, simply identified as Chinaza, explained that the crowd was too much, which resulted to stepping on each other when they tried to enter the premises, leading to the stampede.
She narrated, “As they opened the gate, everybody wanted to rush in. They even pressed me. I am having pain in my chest now. As we went inside, I also stepped on some who fell to the ground without knowing.
“About 13 persons were on the ground and people were stepping on them. Even one woman lost her pregnancy here.”
One of the survivors said some people fainted in the process, as it was a serious stampede and it was difficult to escape.
“For me, leaving that place is a testimony because I was almost pushed to the ground,” the survivor stated.
The survivors however blamed the firm for the incident, stating the event was not properly organised.
A lady explained that she registered with N1,000 and the firm promised to pay her N12,000 on the 12th day of every month.
She explained, “I registered with N1,000. They told me that on 12th of every month, they would be paying me N12,000.
“Then we would go shopping too. But along the line, this month they said we would not go for the shopping again.”
Another customer disclosed that when she gained access into the office, she couldn’t find any package and the operators explained that they could not deliver the items due to the crowd.
She stated, “I now asked them if at all they really prepared for this before inviting people; I asked them why they didn’t make the items ready two days ago.
“Before we knew it, the firm’s officials had disappeared.”
Another survivor who is a male said he escaped death by a breath, disclosing that he sustained a head injury and a dislocated shoulder.
“We were just standing there when they opened the gate. Before we knew it, people started rushing in. The next thing was that people started falling on each other,” he stated.
An official of a hospital, where some victims were rushed to, stated that five of the seven persons admitted to the facility were responding to treatment.
“They brought seven persons. Two of them were dead on arrival. We tried to stabilise the other five and they are getting better now,” he explained.
It was gathered that those invited for the package were registered members from Ikwerre, Emuoha and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state.
The spokesman for the state police command, Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed the incident, disclosed that the Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, had ordered an extensive investigation into the incident.
Omoni said in a statement, “I can confirm the incident of this morning (Tuesday) at an events centre in the Rumuodara area of the East-West Road, Obio/Akpor LGA, where palliatives were being distributed by Inksnation, a non-governmental organisation, to her registered members from Ikwerre, Emohua and Obio/Akpor local government areas, when suddenly there was a stampede leading to the death of two persons.
“Some sustained varying degrees of injury and are currently receiving medical attention. Meanwhile, the situation is under control. The Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, has ordered an immediate probe into the unfortunate incident with a view to ascertaining the circumstances and bringing persons found culpable to justice.”