The Owo branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has blamed the police authorities for the weekend’s explosion in Ondo State. It, therefore, threatened to initiate a class action suit against the force for alleged negligence.
The chapter chairman, Tajudeen Olutope Ahmed, in a statement yesterday in Akure, declared that the “police are culpable”, issuing a 14-day ultimatum to the force to apologise to Nigerians or face litigation.
He regretted the “monumental damage to property worth hundreds of millions of naira”, adding that the blast had left a “big gully on the popular Akure/Owo/Benin highway which has brought movements to a standstill.”
Ahmed continued: “Several commuters, including members of NBA Owo branch, were stranded on the road as the bomb blast has divided the road into two parts with a big gulf in between.
“The destruction caused by the blast was as devastating as the psychological trauma experienced by members of Eleyowo community and environs consequent upon the huge noise that erupted from the explosion.”
The state Commissioner of Police, Undie Adie, had blamed the blaze to a truck loaded with dynamite that went in flames at Ilu-Abo town.
He had equally added that the ill-fated vehicle was being escorted by police officers from the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit to a quarry company in Edo State at the time of the incident.
Puncturing the CP’s claims, the NBA boss submitted: “In the account of the police, the vehicle conveying the dynamite had developed fault to the knowledge of the operator and the escorting EOD police officers much earlier before the ultimate explosion.
“In the words of Mr. Adie, he stated that the truck driver was coming from Lagos to Edo State, unfortunately along the road, their vehicle developed a fault and the driver noticed it.”
Ahmed went on: “From the explanation of the escort commander,
they had to try to move it away from where there were houses. When they parked and came out and noticed there was smoke coming out from the engine, the driver’s effort to put it out was successful and fire broke out.”
But for alleged negligence, the NBA chief maintained that the EOD experts could have prevented the incident since the vehicle picked up the fault early enough to the knowledge of the driver and the accompanying security personnel.
He argued that the escorts failed to bring their expertise to bear in demobilising and neutralising the explosives the moment it was discovered that the vehicle conveying the consignment had become faulty.
According to him, “the police’s neglect, failure and refusal to do the needful within the line of their professional duty led to the ultimate bomb blast when the vehicle’s fault was beyond control.”
Meanwhile, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, has called on the Federal Government and the South West governors to investigate the three recent blasts in Ondo, Lagos and Ekiti states.
In a statement yesterday, he decried the disasters, insisting that they were beyond “ordinary explosions as claimed by government.”
He was reacting to the views of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the police high command that the flares were accidental.