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KADUNA EXPLOSION: RED CROSS, POLICE DISAGREE OVER BLAST

By NBF News
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Traders lament loss of  l2 members, N220m property
By Luka Binniyat & Emman  Ovuakporie
ABUJA- The Nigerian Red Cross yesterday confirmed that the explosion which killed seven people and injured several others last Wednesday on Ogbomoso road, Ori Apata area of Kaduna was a bomb contrary to the claim by the police that it was sparked by compressed chemical inside cylinders.

Several eyewitnesses had also said that the explosion occurred when two men carrying a bomb on a motorbike stopped in front of a shop on Ogbomoso road

Kaduna state police spokesman Aminu Lawan said he was not aware of the Nigerian Red Cross report, but that the police's anti-bomb squad had concluded that the blast was accidental.

A trader salvages some of his goods after the explosion at Ogbomosho West, Oripata Mechanic Village, Kaduna on Wednesday Photo by Olu Ajayi.

Lawan said the squad found acid batteries, a gas cylinder and other 'active' materials stored in the small shop where the fire started.

Meanwhile traders yesterday counted their losses in the blast just as the state governor, Mr Ibrahim Yakowa promised to assist the families of the deceased and take care of the medical expenses of the injured.

Chairman, Kaduna Igbo Spare Parts Dealers Association Mr, Sunday Mba who briefed newsmen on the explosion in Kaduna yesterday lamented that they lost property estimated at about N200 million and about N20 million cash.

His words: 'From all I know, we lost 12 of our members here when that bomb exploded. Two of our tenants, who were Yoruba were killed in their homes. From what we have been able to find out, we lost at least N200 million in values of goods and the property in that explosion. In fact, about N20 million in cash was burnt. In one shop, the man lost about N8 million cash, that he was about to take for a transaction. Now eight of our members are critically wounded too'.

Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mohammed Bala Nasarawa, in a chat with Vanguard yesterday, however said the Police could only confirm seven deaths and eight injured.

He also denied reports that the explosion was caused by a bomb, insisting that it was sparked by compressed chemical inside cylinders.

He said: 'The police can confirm that the unfortunate and sad incident claimed 7 lives. I have not been informed of any casualty today (yesterday). We have some that are critically ill, and they have been taken to various hospitals for treatment.

'And let me read to you what the preliminary findings of our expert bomb units said in its reports. Part of the reports reads: 'the explosion was neither caused by a bomb, nor an Improvised Explosion Device (EID), but as a result of poor handling of very reactive, lethal chemicals. The blast was a mechanical explosion from reactive materials. It was caused by compressed cylinders, and jerry cans containing reactive materials, some which must have expired without the knowledge of the handlers. Acids could react like that when the pressure of the acid inside the container exceeds the external pressure of the container.'

SEMA backs police report
The Public Relations Officer of Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Abubakar Zakari backed the claims of the Police, when he told Vanguard that seven people were killed adding that four critically wounded victims have been transferred to the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (ABU) Teaching Hospitals. He added that two injured persons were taken to the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna and another injured to Army Referral Hospital, Kaduna.

Meanwhile the Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Ibrahim Yakowa visited the scene of the blast yesterday where he expressed sadness at the loss of lives and property. The governor said that the state government would render assistance to the family of the deceased, and take care of all the medical bills of the wounded and carry out a comprehensive investigation into the incident.

The Governor of Kaduna state, who visited the place of the incident yesterday told the traders how sad he was about the incident, and what he intended doing about the tragedy. A Statement by his Senior Media Assistant on Media, Mr. Rueben Buhari reads: 'The Governor of Kaduna State was at the scene of last Wednesday's incident. He seriously condoled with the victims at Ori Akpata. He described the incident as very unfortunate, painful, sad and regrettable. He then urged the people to keep with the peace they are known for and avoid rumour peddling as he has orderd a detailed investigation into the incident. He called on anyone with useful information to avail it to government and security agencies in the state. The Governor said that the Government has taken full responsibility of the medical bills of the injured and would give some aids to the family of the deceased'.

Kaduna remained calmed yesterday, but people are divided on the cause of the blast. Some believed that the lethal bang was caused by a bomb, while others insisted that the Police version of the incident was correct. When Vanguard went to the Barua Dikko Hospital and the Army Referral Hospitals in Kaduna yesterday, the victims were kept at the emergency wards, with unfriendly armed soldiers and police sending away all visitors. Even the relations of the victims were kept away, but they stayed put wearing grim faces outside the wards.

Reps regret Kaduna explosion
Meanwhile, House of Representatives, yesterday, commiserated with families of victims of the explosion.

The lawmakers also sent condolences to the victims' families. The House has directed its relevant committees to investigate the cause of the explosion.

The decision of the House followed a point of order raised by Karimi Sunday under matter of urgent national importance where he emphasized that urgent steps are required to check recurring incidences of explosions across the country.

In his argument, Sunday who lamented the blast due to the devastating effects it had on lives and property in the area pointed out that perpetrators of such acts have never been adequately punished by law.

He stressed that a bill that was before the House on the handling of explosives attempted to examine all aspects of the matter for the safety and comfort of Nigeria and Nigerians.

'There is a need to put a permanent end to these explosions because if not properly curbed, the explosions could spread to other parts of the country,' he said.

He said the blasts have been affecting the economy negatively as investors become wary of injecting their funds in atmosphere of insecurity.

He urged security agencies to investigate the incident, find and prosecute the culprits.

Sunday's prayer that the blast be condemned by the House was amended based on inadequate information at the disposal of the lawmakers.

At the point of putting the prayers of condemning the blast to voice vote by the presiding officer, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, some lawmakers raised their objections on what to condemn, bomb blast or explosion.

In his response, Deputy Leader Leo Ogor advised that relevant House committees should ascertain the cause before deciding on the next legislative step.

The Deputy Speaker amended the prayers and it was unanimously agreed that the House investigate it while regretting the blast and its effects.