Barely 48 hours after a petrol tanker exploded at Upper Iweka, Onitsha another tanker explosion has occurred along the Enugu/Onitsha Expressway near Omagba, Anambra State.
The fuel-laden tanker according to eyewitnesses fell at Bessoy Filling Station Bus Stop around 3:00 am spilling its contents. The contents then flowed through an underground tunnel into Heritage Street, Omagba where it eventually exploded.
Properties including earthmoving machines, two residential buildings, and several business outlets were gutted by the fire. Vehicles numbering about 15 were destroyed in the fire.
Before the intervention of emergency service operatives from Anambra State Fire Service, residents trooped out en-masse and lent support to quench the fire.
Presently, no death has been recorded but residents decry the huge losses caused by the fire accident.
Meanwhile, another petrol tanker has also lost control and fallen along Agulu road this morning creating panic among residents in the area.
The police in Kano State have rescued nine children kidnapped from the state and trafficked to Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State.
The Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu confirmed this to journalists on Sunday.
He also stated that eight suspects have been arrested in connection to the crime.
According to him, the victims had been trafficked from Kano to Onitsha over the last five years.
Meanwhile, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has lauded the police and all other security agencies for their efforts in rescuing the children.
“This singular action shows the real and patriotic synergy and commitment of the Nigeria Police, Department of State Security Service, Military and all other security agencies in making sure that criminal activities are faced head on,” he said in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary to the Kano State Governor, Abba Anwar.
Speaking further, He assured the security agencies of his administration’s continued support and dedication in the area of security.
He, however, noted that “all hands must be on deck for the state and the nation at large, to enjoy lasting peace.”
Governor Ganduje also called on parents “to be very vigilant with what is happening around them” adding that they should “keep vigil at all times and nothing should be taken for granted.”
Upper Iweka in Onitsha, a major commercial hub in Nigeria’s South East region, is popular for a number of reasons, particularly the volume of business activities that takes place there.
It is also a major transport hub, with high traffic of persons and vehicles, and connecting virtually every part of the country.
Added to this is the swarm of hawkers and petty traders, selling all kinds of consumables, from snacks to water packed in sachets, which make the hustle and bustle nature of Upper Iweka clearly evident.
All this was suddenly interrupted at sunset in Onitsha on Wednesday, March 13, when a tanker laden with kerosene lost control and rammed into the crowd of traders and everything in its path, crushing both goods and human beings. Those who could run, fled in different directions.
By the time all became quiet, about 10 people were found to have been killed, leaving at least six others critically injured, including a woman who had her left lower limb cut.
When Channels Television visited Toronto Hospital, where both the survivors and the dead were moved to after the accident, pain and anguish pervaded the atmosphere.
The relatives of the deceased victims were seen wailing, some of them rolling on the floor.
For John Anyanwu, who lost a brother in the tragic incident, the death was one too many.
“I was home last night (Wednesday) and around 8pm, my sister and my other siblings came to my house and I enquired what the problem was. They said they had called my line but it did not go through and that our younger brother, Chukwunonso Anyanwu, was among those crushed by a tanker at Upper Iweka,” he said.
Shocked by the account and thinking it was a joke, Mr Anyanwu demanded to know if it was indeed true. The answer he got left him in demoralised.
He said his dead 35-year-old brother was into wine business at the Relief Market in Onitsha.
“This young man that died now is just the taproot of the family, not because he was rich more than others but he was a graduate. Whenever we have problem in the family he will stand firm and rally support for the family immediately and that is why his death is very painful to everybody,” he lamented.
Miriam Monday, a lady who hawked herbal drinks at Upper Iweka, could not hold back tears as she grieved for her customers who lost their lives in the accident.
“I’m crying because of my customers who had accident. The ones I know are five in number that died. The one that I know his name is Experience, that guy, he was selling shoes,” she said as she sobbed.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike, who visited the hospital at the instance of the governor was conducted round the wards to sympathise with the injured as he gave the assurance that the government would take up their medical bills.
One of the medical personnel attending to the victims, Dr Fredrick Aduba, told the Commissioner that out of the 17 people brought to the hospital, eight were dead on arrival, while two died later.
The tragedies on the roads have become worrisome to the state government but the Commissioner for Health promised that the state government would take proactive measures to effectively tackle the challenge of reckless driving that leads to fatal accidents.
For some of the witnesses, all parks around Upper Iweka should be moved further inward and leave space for vehicles to move freely on the road, while hawkers and traders on the roadside should be relocated.
While the residents, especially the eyewitnesses of the Onitsha accident, struggled to come to terms with the tragedy, a similar scenario played out in Umuchu, a town in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, where a trailer laden with cement collided with a tipper and crashed into a chain of stores at Eke Umuchu market.
Three people including the driver of the trailer, the conductor of the tipper and a member of the community, who was in front of his shop when the disaster struck, lost their lives.
Motorists plying the Asaba-Onitsha Expressway have decried the poor state of the road and called on the government to come to their aid.
As a result of how bad the road has become, gridlocks have become a constant and motorists spend hours just to get through.
This has taken a toll on their activities and their businesses and many of them do not think they can continue to go through the nightmare.
In reaction to the gridlock, security operatives have been drafted to the area to ensure order and improve the flow of traffic.
Unfortunately, some of them take advantage of the situation.
Apart from the potholes on the road, some motorists accused the security operatives of worsening the situation by stopping trucks to collect money from the drivers.
The Delta State government believes that the devolution of powers to states will help solve the problem.
Chief Press Secretary to the Delta State Governor, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said, “The Federal Government tends to have carried so much load that they cannot shoulder. If you have an amount of federal roads across the 36 states and you don’t have enough time to attend to them, why not leave those roads for the states and then let the money you are taken on account of that also move to the states in which case the states are able to address them?”
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has procured three special firefighting trucks with 10,000 litres water storage capacity for the State Fire Service.
The Police and the Federal Road Safety Corps also received smart bikes and patrol cars to accompany and support firefighters during emergencies.
The procurement is in line with the Governor’s pledge to take proactive measures against fire disasters across the state, following a fire incident in February where property worth millions of Naira were destroyed in Onitsha.
Governor Obiano formerly handed over the equipment to the Southeast Zonal Officer of the Federal Fire Service at the Governor’s Lodge in Awka, the Anambra State capital.
He said the fire equipment would be deployed to the commercial cities of the three senatorial zones which include Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi.
The Governor, however, tasked the people of the state to insure their property, saying it is not only the responsibility of the government to ensure their property are protected.
“Our people must have the culture of insuring their goods; that culture is not deep-rooted here in Anambra State and we are trying to educate people on the importance of insurance.
“You won’t say because the Governor has bought three fire trucks, then you feel you are protected. Yes we will try to do so, but you must insure your goods,” he said.
A petrol tanker laden with diesel on Wednesday night exploded at Upper New Market Road, by DMGS Roundabout, Onitsha, destroying buildings, vehicles and properties worth millions of naira.
Fire fighters and a large dispatch of security personnel ranging from the Police, Army, Civil Defense, Road Safety and the Red Cross were on ground to assist in quenching the inferno.
According to eye witnesses, the tanker driver was negotiating the DMGS roundabout when it s fell with a loud thud, causing explosion immediately and spreading fire to several buildings, offices and shops within the area.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Tony Nnacheta, decried the enormity of the disaster but remained grateful to God that no death was recorded.
Reacting to the incident, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumu commended the effort of the police in warding off miscreants who wanted to use the opportunity to steal.
The State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr Sunday Ajayi, on his part informed that “there will be an investigation into what caused the falling of the tanker as the driver should, ordinarily, be able to navigate the roundabout, if truly he is a driver”.
The Nigerian Army has found guilty, the two soldiers seen assaulting a physically challenged man on the streets of Onitsha, Anambra state, on Tuesday, February 7, in a video that went viral.
A statement by the Army Spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman, revealed that the soldiers, Corporal Bature Samuel and Corporal Abdulazeez Usman of 82 provost company, have been sentenced to reduction in rank.
They have been demoted from Corporals to private soldiers and given a 21-day imprisonment with hard labour which includes forfeiture of 21 days pay by the Nigerian government.
The Army has also reached out to the victim of the assault, Mr Chijoke Uraku.
Both soldiers were seen beating Mr Uraku for allegedly wearing a camouflage shirt.
In a statement earlier released by General Usman, he pleaded with the public to regard the ugly incident as an isolated case which was not a true reflection of the Nigerian Army.
The Nigerian Army says it has apprehended the two soldiers who were caught on camera assaulting a physically challenged man in Nigeria’s southeast.
The video clip released by eyewitnesses online showed the soldiers beating the physically challenged man allegedly for wearing a camouflage shirt.
In a statement signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, the Army confirmed that the incident indeed took place on Tuesday February 7, 2017, at Onitsha, Anambra State.
“In line with our zero tolerance for acts of indiscipline and unprofessional conducts especially in relation to violation of human rights, we wish to further state that the soldiers involved have since been identified and apprehended.
“They have also been charged for assault by their Commanding Officer.
“Similarly, troops have been warned to desist from such acts that infringe on human rights and cast serious aspersions on the good image of the Nigerian Army.
“The public should please regard this ugly incident as an isolated case which is not true reflection of the Nigerian Army,” the statement reads.
Deputy Director of Army Public Relations of 82 Division, Enugu, Colonel Sagir Musa and the Commandant of the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha, Colonel Isa Abdullahi, have commenced inspection of activities at different check points of the ‘Exercise Python Dance’.
This is to further strengthen the commitment of the Nigerian Army to the mandate of the latest security operations in the five Southeast states.
It is also aimed at ensuring the various teams are operating within the premise of mandate, as well as ensuring that the exercise yields the desired results.
According to Mr Musa, the effect of the exercise was already manifesting, especially in the area of traffic congestion, as it had been minimized greatly at the Bridge Head axis as well as other border points where the check points of the exercise were planted.
At the boundary between Anambra and Enugu state at Amansea community on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, vehicular movement was equally said to be smooth and uninterrupted.
The check points were well manned by vigilant eyed soldiers who passed the vehicles as they came and at the same time maintained security in the area.
On the arrival of Mr Musa and Mr Abdullahi, to inspect the mode of operation at the point, they expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance of road users.
The mandate of the exercise included but was not limited to checkmating rising waves of crime usually prevalent during the yuletide period, traffic decongestion of major highways, patrol raids, cordon and search, planting of check point and road blocks, show of force and anti-kidnapping drills among other serious violent crimes including herdsmen-farmers clashes.
At the second boundary between Anambra and Enugu state, the soldiers, properly positioned, were seen passing vehicles calmly, while motorists complied with the new set up maximally.
Moving out of the area, the next port of call was the Bridge Head axis where initially complaints were laid over sudden traffic congestion occasioned by the new check points.
Reacting to that, the Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, maintained that the interest of the Nigerian Army was the peace and stability of the country, and in the present exercise, it would be to ensure that the targeted challenges were reduced to barest minimum.
Musa said, “the Nigerian Army has no other interest except one – to ensure peace, security and stability in all parts of Nigeria.
“Here like we have explained, issues of kidnapping, abduction, herdsmen-farmers clashes, cultism, and even traffic gridlock are the issues and our interest here is to ensure that these security challenges are reduced to the barest minimum.
“You can see vehicles moving left and right, so there is no congestion. In any case, there is not much stop and search operation on the road.
“Soldiers are just by the side of the road watching in case of any need for them to act. They will act professionally and decisively,” he said.
While many commended the efforts of the Nigerian army in the area of security and maintenance of orderliness on the highways brought about by their presence, others still complained of traffic congestion.
In the words of some of the citizens, “police and army are doing well, there is no problem.”
Another commuter said, “it is a welcome development because when the military men are on the road, it makes people feel safe that no thieves will attack them.
“So for me, I think it is a welcome development but I will also want to advise them to be courteous of not causing hold up.”
Musa however noted the complaints and assured citizens of necessary intervention.
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, says the state has become Nigeria’s most popular investment destination with over five billion US dollars investment attracted in two years.
The Governor was speaking during the opening ceremony of the Joint Trade Fair of all the Chambers of Commerce in the state tagged, “The Jubilee Fair.”
The trade fair with the theme, “to harness Anambra’s natural resources for non-oil exports as a world class trade hub”, was packaged with awareness of high standard expected of an international trade fair.
“Ndi Anambra, this trade fair could not have come at a better time. Anambra is indeed ready for the world. First, this is our 25th anniversary as a state.
“Second, Anambra is Nigeria’s safest state at the moment and thirdly, our beloved state has become Nigeria’s most popular investment destination with over five billion dollars investment attracted in two years.
“We are indeed in a better place today. Everything seems to be working in our favor. We have shaken off the dark days of violent armed robbery, kidnapping, child trafficking, and bloody shootout between rival gangs.
“We have made bold efforts to bring home our illustrious sons and daughter together on the altar of brotherhood. As a government, we know what our people expect from us and we are not relenting in our efforts to surpass the expectations of Ndi Anambra,” he said.
The trade fair has seen over 100 business merchants from Anambra and environs with high expectations of attracting international business brands and investors who will tap into the commercial potentials of the state and step up the export potentials of the state.
Hundreds of business pavilions have been erected at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square Awka, the venue for the Trade Fair.
Various products on display ranged from agriculture and forestry, food and beverage and IT and Technology industries and the Governor was again blown away by the standard of the event as organized by the coalition of the three chambers of commerce in Anambra state for the first time.
“Before now, Anambra has three separate chambers of commerce, one each from Onitsha, Nnewi and Awka. Each chamber had made efforts to run its own affairs and hold its own trade fair, but I am told that their separate effort did not make as much impact as what we are witnessing here today”, the governor said.
The governor reminded them of the breakthrough Anambra made in rice production with the production of Anambra Rice and the export of vegetables to the United Kingdom in 2016.
He insisted that the state could still make more positive statement in export business with proper coordination.
He urged all the big businesses, small and medium enterprises, entrepreneurs and all interested members of the community to participate in the trade fair and help develop the state.
Ahead of the yuletide season, the Anambra State Police Command has commenced an aggressive crack down on crime and criminality, with renewed raid operations on criminal hideouts and dens at Ogidi, Nkpor, Obosi and Onitsha.
In a raid at the popular Nkpor Junction Market, two suspects with a toy gun and a bag containing Marijuana and stolen handsets were arrested by the Joint Security Operation Team.
Addressing reporters during the combined team operation involving the Police, Army, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Civil Defence, the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr Sam Okaula, maintained that the security infrastructure that had been established in Anambra State would never be compromise.
He assured the residents that the Joint Security Operation Team would continue with all measures to keep criminals at bay.
“We are having a joint operation with all the security agencies. It is an ongoing process.
“We are taking the war to their door steps. We are mopping up and we are going to ensure that the peace that Anambra state is known for will remain intact so that everybody will go about their lawful duties.
“These are ember months and we cannot allow criminals to come back to this state. We are working on them and we will continue to work on them. As a matter of fact, we have flash points, Ogidi, Nkpor, Obosi.
“We are focusing on these areas. We are going to target them and we are going to ensure that we rout out all those elements that are giving us some concerns.
“We want to assure Anambra people that the state is the safest in the country and they should look at it from that perspective. Any element that comes to test our resolve will definitely be dealt with,” he told reporters.
Mr Okaula said the operation would be continuous ahead of the yuletide season and all the flash points of criminal activities would continue to be patrolled, searched and sanitised, as several measures had been undertaken to ensure crime-free ember months.
He said: “It is an ongoing operation and we are not going to stop until we have these elements completely routed out of the area. That is the position we have taken on this.
“You will also want to know that we are blocking off all the outlets, we are checking elements that are coming in and going out. We have a robust stop and search process and we have been able to identify criminals and been able to arrest many of them”.
He hinted reporters of a renewed synergy and cooperation between Anambra State Police Command and the neighbouring states Police commands.
“I am in touch with Commissioners in Imo State, Enugu State and also in Kogi and all other states. We work together. We pass information across. We cross check information we get from these other commands and we have been working together effectively.
“If we have any reasons to cross over to these states to pick criminals, we will definitely do that and we have been doing that. We have received maximum cooperation from my colleagues in these states.
“Gentlemen of the Press, I want to assure you that Anambra state remains one of the safest states in the country. We are calling on all Anambra people to come home and enjoy their Christmas.
“This operation is ongoing. We will not allow any criminal to create any problem for us. They have been relocated and they should continue with where they have gone. If they come back here, they will meet their waterloo. I can assure you that,” he stressed.
Members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in Abia State on Tuesday defied the rains as they marched in a peaceful procession through Umuahia and some local government areas.
The procession was to celebrate the 17th year anniversary of the group.
Men, women and retired soldiers who call themselves ‘Freedom fighters’ were seen carrying placards and singing songs hinting that they have reasons to celebrate.
Some of them who spoke to Channels Television disclosed that they would only believe in Nigeria as one nation if things would be done differently.
They condemned what they described as recent massive killings of their fellow southerners in the northern part of the country, inequality in governance, amongst many others.
According to Evans Okoronkwo and Kingsley Nwosu, the way the country is going has become a source of concern that indicates that it is not one nation as being portrayed to the world.