A police spokesman said the seal occurred as hundreds of people gathered for the annual “Free Shopping” charity event in Rivers State.
At least 31 people were killed during a stampede at a charitable event at a church in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, police said.
Hundreds of people who came to receive food early on Saturday broke through the gate, causing a stampede, said Grace Iringi Koko, a police spokeswoman for Rivers state, of which Port Harcourt is the capital.
Several people queued from Friday to arrive at the Port Harcourt Polo Club – the venue for the annual ‘Shop Free’ charity program organized by the Society of Kings quinquennial church.
“People were there earlier and some of them got impatient and started to rush, which led to the stampede. Police on the ground are monitoring the situation while the investigation is underway,” Iringi Koko told Reuters.
A police spokesman said seven others were injured but were “responding to treatment” following the stampede at the event which organizers said was intended to “give hope” to those in need.
The police spokesman said an investigation had been opened and a report would be issued in due course.
Videos from the scene showed the clothes and shoes intended for the beneficiaries scattered on the ground. Doctors and emergency workers treated some of the wounded as they lay in the open field.
A “free shopping” event has been suspended while authorities investigate how the stampede occurred.
Such events are common in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, where more than 80 million people live in poverty, according to government statistics.
Nigeria has seen several food distribution tragedies in recent years, including an aid agency food program in northern Borno state where seven women were trampled to death last year.
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