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Afikpo Explosion: police unveil face of the victim

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Mixed reactions have taken over the pandemonium which struck at Amangbala, Afikpo North local government area of Ebonyi state on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

  • PDP, COSEYL want independent investigation 

An explosion occurred in the area at about 11;30 am, killing one person.

The incident, which occurred opposite Ameizu/Amangbala Primary School in Afikpo North threw the area into panic as the residents scampered for safety.

The residents had suspected it was a suicide bomber until the Ebonyi police command said the deceased was one of them, an inspector of police on special duty in Afikpo, not a suicide bomber.

The police went further to unveil the face of the policeman before his death.

While there is still confusion over the development, the People’s Democratic Party and the apex body of Igbo youth organisation, the Coalition of Southeast Youth Leaders (COSEYL), has called for an independent investigation into the explosion.

They went further to condemn the development.

Ebonyi state police command public relations officer, DSP Loveth Odah, debunked the reports and said the victim of the blast was, indeed, a policeman on duty in the area.

She said the policeman was a mobile police officer on special duty to Afikpo North local government area of Ebonyi and that his name was Idi Aminu, a police inspector. She, later, unveiled Aminu’s picture in his police uniform.

Odah said the officer died as a result of an accidental hand grenade explosion he was wearing on his waist.

The police command also denied the report that a police officer killed his colleague at the gate of Old Government House, Abakaliki as a result of accidental discharge.

“I’m not aware that a policeman shot a policeman anywhere. I only called you here to tell you that there was no suicide bomber anywhere; there is no bomb explosion in Ebonyi state. The picture making the rounds in the social media is a regrettable incident that has befallen the command today – a policeman was hanging a hand grenade on his west and his elbow mistakenly hit on it when it exploded and killed him. We lost Inspector Idi Aminu today. He was of MOPOL 32, Abakaliki.

“He mistakenly hit the head of his grenade which was hanging on his waist with his elbow resulting in the deadly explosion,” she said.

DSP Odah said his remains had been evacuated to a mortuary. 

Community account

Meanwhile, the residents have maintained that it was a suicide bomber that died in Afikpo.

A source in Afikpo had said that the man tried to gain access into a school but was blocked by security personnel at the gate.

“He attempted entering Amaizu/Amangbala Primary School but was turned back by the school security men since he couldn’t justify his reason for visiting. He immediately started running inside a nearby bush before a big bang was heard,” the source said. 

He said residents of Amaizu scrambled for safety on hearing the explosion but reconvened at the scene of the incident a few minutes after only to discover the suspected suicide bomber lying dead in the pull of his blood.

Jasper Okoro, a retired veteran journalist and President General of the Town Union in the community, and other residents of the area maintained that it was a suicide bomb explosion.

He said the explosion was near the Eke Market and a primary school of which the casualty figure could have been more if the bearer of the explosive had reached the market or school.

EBSG reacts

In its own reaction, the government of Ebonyi state corroborated the police stand on the explosion, also saying it was not a suicide bomber.

In a statement from the special assistant to Governor David Umahi on media and publicity, Mr. Francis Nweze, the state government said that “the incident was a grenade of security personnel carrying out his duties at the said location that accidentally exploded. A similar incident equally occurred in front of the Ebonyi state Old Government House as some mobile police officers were servicing their APC machine. The first incident took the life of a passer-by while the second caused injuries on the affected person, who has been taken to the hospital, where he is currently receiving treatment. 

“The general public is, therefore, charged to disregard the fake news as it is the handiwork of enemies of the state who are bent on causing panic where none exists.  

“Furthermore, Ebonyians and residents of Ebonyi state are reminded that generating and spreading of fake news aimed at causing panic in the state is actionable.”

PDP Ebonyi state

Ebonyi state PDP, in a statement by its publicity secretary, Bar Silas Onu, condemned any attack on Ebonyi people and maintained that it was either the insecurity was fought with sincerity of purpose or be politicised while the real issue gets worse by the day in the state.

It described the explosion as “an unfortunate, despicable sad incident that should be condemned by all persons of a good conscience, without prevarication” and expressed concern “that the authorities saddled with the responsibility of securing the state – Nigeria Police Force and the Government of Ebonyi State, have sadly painted two opposite narratives concerning one incident.” 

The party went further to say that “It is not in doubt that a man dressed in police uniform is lying dead in the said premises. The police have claimed him as one of their own. However, they have also claimed that he died of a tear gas malfunction. Well, that is simplistic and at variance with the accounts of eye-witnesses. 

“On the other hand, it became more concerning when the Ebonyi State government made a press release wherein they claimed that it wasn’t a bomb explosion, but a grenade explosion – what is the difference?”

“Does the government of Ebonyi State want citizens to be docile and accepting everything thrown at them in the name of governance? No, we demand an open investigation of this matter as policemen do not go about their lawful duty carrying grenade. It is not the norm and has never happened anywhere. So, the police and Governor Umahi should work as a team (as usual) to bring up a more believable story regarding this incident. 

“On our part, we condemn all forms of attack on anyone in Ebonyi state. This incident presents an opportunity for the police to be truthful and not allow the government to influence the discharge of its duty to the people – we need to know the truth about the explosion that killed the supposed Idi Aminu.” 

COSEYL wants independent probe

The apex Igbo youth leaders said a full investigation into the Afikpo explosion had become important as it may not be unconnected to the anger of the ban on open grazing by the southeast governors.

Hon. Goodluck Ibem, president general, and Comrade Kanice Igwe, secretary general, in a statement, labelled the explosion “a Fulani suicide bomber” and called on the people to be alert all the time to avert any danger from hoodlums.

“The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the apex socio-political youth group in the southeast geopolitical zone is alarmed over the terrible news of a Fulani suicide bomber who wore an impoverished explosive device which is wanted to detonate at campus 2 of Amaizu/Amangbala primary school in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi state. 

“This incident confirms to all and sundry the real people who have been terrorising the entire southeast zone in the name of unknown gunmen. God, in his infinite mercy, was kind to the children and families of those innocent kids who would have been victims of suicide bombing today. 

“The suicide bomber must have been sent to bomb the school children as a message to the Southern Governors to reverse its ban on open grazing. 

“We are very much aware that some vested interests are hell-bent on truncating the ban on open grazing and they are ready to go any mile to make it happen, even if it means killing innocent little school children. What a wicked world! 

“We are also aware that some vested interests are trying to conceal the true identity of the suicide bomber by telling us tales by moonlight stories of what did not happen. 

“We demand an independent investigation of the incident to unravel the true identity of the bomber and his sponsors. Southern Nigeria is unsafe until the true perpetrators of the dastardly acts and their sponsors are revealed and prosecuted accordingly. 

“We call on all and sundry to be watchful and report any suspicious persons and movements to the appropriate authorities for action. 

“The youths of all communities and their traditional rulers should immediately set up a security outfit to man and protect their territories against invaders and murderous Fulani herdsmen who have now taken to suicide bombing to destroy our peaceful communities”. 

Meanwhile, this newspaper gathered that the wife of the said police officer has been crying since Tuesday because of the sudden death of her husband.

Ruth Oginyi

More Breaking News in Nigeria on Orient Daily News

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