The number of people who died in the Wednesday night stampede in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, may have risen to 20.
THISDAY checks revealed that among the dead were three pregnant women.
Many of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, who had queued up in the late Dr. Olusola Saraki's Government Reservation Area (GRA) residence, were said to have been trampled to death.
The victims, said to be predominantly women, were taking turns to collect their Sallah gifts, which resulted in the stampede.
But the PDP Wednesday had claimed only four people died in the incident.
Similar incidents happened in 2010 and 2011 at the Mandate House which serves as one of the campaign offices of PDP where scores of people lost their lives in similar circumstances.
Sources told journalists in Ilorin Thursday that corpses of the victims in the current incident were deposited at the state government-owned Sobi Specialist Hospital, while the injured are recuperating at the state Civil Service Clinic, a shouting distance from the scene of the incident.
When contacted yesterday on the incident, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Sobi Specialist Hospital, Ilorin, Dr. Stephen Arigidi, refused to comment on the matter. Instead, he referred reporters to the State Commissioner for Health, Kayode Issa.
When THISDAY visited one of the wards in the Civil Service Clinic, no fewer than eight of the victims who sustained different degrees of injuries were receiving treatment.
However, THISDAY visited Ile Onibon, Ilorin, the home of one of the dead, where one of the deceased’s in-laws identified as Abdullahi, said Alhaja (as the deceased was called) was close to 64 years and an ardent supporter of the PDP.
He said: “The family has taken it as an act of God because we are Muslims as people will die one day and it could have been anywhere and under any circumstance.”
Abdullahi said: “If it was in other places, people will be talking of other things, but as a Muslim, the family has accepted it as the will of God.”
Also at Ile Atatalo, where two of the dead came from, nobody was prepared to speak with the press, stating, “The incident will not bring back the deceased.”
Reacting to the incident, Senator Bukola Saraki expressed his sadness over the stampede that happened in Ilorin Wednesday night.
In a statement issued in Ilorin yesterday by his Special Assistant, Media and Advocacy, Saraki said it was painful to have lost the victims.
According to him, “I am deeply saddened to receive the news about the loss of some of our party members who were stampeded after the Sallah festivities at the charity house.”
He said: “Our party's strength resides solely in the support from party faithful which gives us huge confidence always; it’s very painful to have lost these party faithful.
“I commiserate with the families of the deceased and pray that Allah grant us the strength to bear the loss, and for those responding to treatment, I wish them speedy recovery.”
Saraki said all other activities scheduled at Charity House had been suspended till further notice as a mark of respect for the departed.