Police have fired teargas at thousands of supporters of the jailed Niger opposition figure Hama Amadou, media reports and witnesses said Wednesday.
The incident happened on Tuesday evening at a gathering of Amadou supporters outside his party’s headquarter in Niamey just before the cortege of incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou passed by.
Amadou, a former premier and parliament speaker, was arrested in November on his return from exile in France and jailed for his alleged role in a baby trafficking scandal.
Issoufou, elected in 2011 and currently seeking a second term at the February 21 presidential election, was returning from Filingue in the north of the country where he had held a meeting earlier in the day, a member of Amadou’s party, the Nigerian Democratic Movement, told AFP. Amadou is in jail in Filingue.
The crowd spilled over into the road prompting police to use tear gas in order to clear the way for the presidential motorcade, the private Labari television said.
Clashes also broke out between police and Amadou supporters, added local radio station Anfani.
“We had to interrupt our meeting because of the suffocating gas,” said one participant.
The incident is the first since the start of the presidential election campaign on Saturday.
Amadou left the west African country in August 2014 after losing his parliamentary immunity over the allegations of baby trafficking between Nigeria, Benin and Niger.
He has been denied bail though several other senior political, military and business figures facing accusations in the case have been released pending trial.
Amadou has denied the allegations and denounced the legal process against him as a ploy to keep him out of the elections.