Bloody weekend!
Tanker explodes in Lagos
By SUNDAY ANI, CHUKS EZE, OLUWOLE FAROTIMI (Lagos) & TIMOTHY OLA (Maiduguri)
Sunday, February 19,  2012

No fewer than five persons were feared dead and over 20 persons sustained various degrees of burns early Saturday when a diesel-laden tanker belonging to Shorelink Services Limited with registration number XB 370 ATN fell and spilled its content at Mile 2 in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

The fire incident, which started about midnight destroyed property worth millions of naira. About 36 vehicles belonging to different transporters at the Lagos-Benin Park were completely burnt.
A container office complex of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the public toilet building located within the park were equally razed.

According to an eyewitness, the tanker was coming into Mile 2 from Oshodi en route the bridge and wanted to negotiate a bend when its rear tyres got stuck in a ditch by the road pavement.“When the rear tyres got stuck, the body fell but the head was still standing with the headlights on. Immediately, the driver got down from the vehicle, folded his arms and was watching; probably thinking of what to do before the tanker exploded.

Within few seconds, its content had spread through the entire park with flame and smoke everywhere. People were running helter-skelter for dear life. Five persons died immediately. Over 20 persons were injured. Cars and buses, including the office complex of NURTW and public toilet, were all burnt.“Men of the Lagos State Fire Service came about 2am but then it was late because the damage had been done. The five corpses were taken away and some of the injured persons were also given first aid treatment and taken to hospital,” the eyewitness said.

A man, Andrew Nosa, seen weeping at the motor park, said he lost his bus and other valuable documents he left in the vehicle the previous day before going to see his family members. Recounting his ordeal, he said: “It was just God that saved my life. My own bus, which I drove from Benin City to Lagos yesterday evening, has been burnt to ashes and all those people who lost their lives were those people that slept in their buses.

“You can see it is a garage. This is where we load our passengers and park our vehicles if we are not going back that same day. Yesterday night, after parking my bus, I went to settle a misunderstanding within my family. That is what saved me,” he said. An executive member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) at the park, Mr. Sola-Gbade Azeez, explained that he got a call alerting him of the incident.

The visibly embittered union leader, who said he lost a fortune to the accident said: “I am alive but everything I worked for has gone.” He said the union also lost one of its officials, who slept in the park while two others were a driver and an attendant. The General Manager of the Lagos Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Dr. Oke Osamyintolu, who confirmed the incident, said his men were on ground to rescue people in the area.
His words: “The fuel-laden tanker en-route Oshodi fell while trying to manoeuvre at the loop around Mile 2 area and spilled its petrol content on the road, especially the car park.

“This resulted into serious explosion. We recorded three mortality and 36 cars burnt. The remains of the victims have been deposited at Isolo General Hospital.” Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Joseph Jayeoba, confirmed the incident but said only three persons died. In another tragedy at the weekend, a district head and an Islamic cleric were on Friday killed in separate attacks at Geidam, Yobe State, and Konduga in Borno State by suspected Boko Haram gunmen. The Islamic sect also engaged soldiers in a gun battle in the early hours of yesterday in Maiduguri metropolis in Borno State.

In the Yobe attack, Sunday Sun gathered that the gunmen stormed the residence of the district head in Geidam, Alhaji Mustapha Geidam, shortly after the Muslim magreb (Sunset) prayers and shot him in front of his house.
He was a protocol officer to the Yobe State governor between 1999 and 2002, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who is now a Senator.

Sources claimed he ignored warnings from the sect. The police in the state confirmed the killing but wondered why the victim refused to inform them of the warnings until he was killed by his assailants. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Borno Command, Samuel Tizhe, told Sunday Sun the command was yet to make any arrest in connection with the killing. Sources said the Islamic cleric, Sheikh Saina Ajiya, was killed about 7.30pm in his house in Konduga even as some claimed he was targeted for being “sympathetic to the government, praying and fasting against the activities of the sect.”

Meanwhile, Gwange, a suburb of Maiduguri, was again turned into a battlefield yesterday morning as the Joint Task Force (JTF) and Boko Haram engaged in a gun battle that lasted about 30 minutes. Some residents of the area claimed the shooting of a policeman, a JTF operative deployed to the area, by suspected Boko Haram men led to the gun battle. Fear gripped residents of Gwange, one of the flash points in the state, GRA and Lagos Street while the gun duel lasted.

Yesterday’s attack was the second in four days in the area. The JTF and Boko Haram had engaged in a fierce battle on Tuesday over an alleged killing of a soldier at a checkpoint. Some gunmen were said to have opened fire at a soldier while attempting to check a vehicle in Gwange even as others on duty reportedly took cover before the arrival of the Rapid Respond team of the JTF.

The booming of guns forced many to flee the area while motorists plying the Lagos Street leading to the University of Maiduguri and the University Teaching Hospital (UMTH) were turned back by angry soldiers. When contacted, the JTF spokesman, Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, refused to speak on the incident. He maintained he was yet to receive report from the men on the field.

“Right now, the operations officers are still in the field. They are not yet back and I cannot give you any detail now. You may wish to call later in the day when they are back,” he said.

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