At least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people gathered fuel, emergency services said Tuesday.
The truck overturned near shops while travelling through the village of Ahumbe in Benue state on Monday.Local residents rushed to the scene and collected leaking gasoline for over an hour before the fuel caught fire, causing a blast that tore through the surrounding area.
“We have recovered 45 corpses of the dead while 101 others sustained serious fire burns,” Benue state Federal Road Safety Commission Sector Commander Aliyu Baba told AFP.
“From the look of things and considering their condition, many of them might not survive.”
Baba said a pregnant woman and at least two children were among the dead and two firefighters sustained serious burns.
He said the blaze was sparked when a bus laden with passengers drove past the scene and its exhaust pipe scraped along the ground, causing sparks to fly.
“Sixteen of the passengers in the vehicle, including the two children and the pregnant woman, were instantly burnt to death,” Baba said.
Police and emergency services crews were working to clear the tanker’s charred hulk from the road, an AFP reporter at the scene witnessed. At least one building was gutted in the explosion.Locals spoke of their shock.
‘Fought for our lives’
“I lost a brother and two others are seriously burnt and in the hospital. They were trapped in the fire when the truck exploded for a second time,” resident Ade Derfer told AFP.
At the Bishop Murray hospital in the state capital Makurdi, patients with serious burns were recovering.
Survivor Ochuole Imaje said she had been on the ill-fated bus.
“We warned our driver to park but he went ahead and in a bid to pass the spilling fuel an explosion occurred and we were trapped in the fire and fought for our lives,” she told AFP.
“I managed to escape but many others died. I cannot tell how I got here to the hospital.”
Earlier, a spokesman for the local council said over 64 people were killed in the incident. The police has not given an official toll.
Petrol tanker and pipeline blasts are common in Nigeria, where despite the country’s multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry, most people live in poverty.
Fires and explosions often occur as people try to siphon fuel from pipelines or following accidents involving fuel tankers on badly-maintained roads.
In January, at least eight people were killed in Odukpani, in the southeastern state of Cross River, in a similar incident.In July 2012, more than 100 people were killed and some 50 others injured in the southern state of Rivers.
NUC, NYSC to block ‘fake’ foreign-trained graduates from service
The National Universities Commission (NUC), in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), on Tuesday said it had put measures in place to block fake foreign-trained graduates from partaking in the compulsory one-year national service.
The NUC said it would continue to ensure the credibility of certificates issued by Nigerian universities and block fake foreign-trained graduates coming into the country.
Its Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, spoke when the NYSC Director General, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, visited him at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
A statement in Abuja by the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, regretted the challenges in vetting the certificates obtained from universities established by Nigerians outside the country.
The NUC chief said many universities produce quality graduates while some produce graduates who cannot defend their certificates.
He said the commission had not approved the degrees of some online universities operating in the country.
Rasheed added that the commission had approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to shut down some illegal universities operating in Nigeria.
“NUC and NYSC must work together to help the country in producing quality graduates. The NUC will continue to certify the credibility of certificates obtained from Nigerian universities,” he said.
The NYSC DG said the scheme will not issue Certificate of National Service to unqualified graduates.
Eid-el-kabir: FG declares Monday, Tuesday public holidays
The Federal Government has declared Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th August as Public Holidays to mark the 2019 Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Barr. Georgina Ehuriah, who made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated the Muslim faithful on the occasion .
She called on all Nigerians, at home and in diaspora, to use the period of this year’s Eid-Al-Kabir celebration to embrace the virtues of love, humility, peace and sacrifice as exemplified by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
She urged Nigerians to shun any form of disruptive tendencies and join hands with the Federal Government to build a peaceful, strong and united Nigeria so as to achieve an enviable Next Level of growth and development.
According to a statement by Director (Press & Public Relations), Mohammed Manga, the Permanent Secretary reaffirmed the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari led-administration to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, adding that Security Agencies under the Ministry have been directed to ensure the provision of adequate security, before, during and after the Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.
She restated government’s desire for all Nigerians to live a life of sacrifice, charity and love for one another.
Bar. Ehuriah wished Nigerians a happy, peaceful and fulfilling Eid-Al-Kabir celebrations.
Why Buhari must act now, by comedian Ali Baba
Foremost Nigerian stand-up comedian and actor, Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome, widely known as Ali Baba recently charged President Muhammad Buhari and Nigerians to be futuristic in their dreams.
The ace comedian who took to his social media page said the present administration needs to be proactive in creating the future for the next generation.
“Buhari needs to act now. He must start creating the future, developing our infrastructures and prepare them for the next generation,” he posted.
“The Eiffel Tower was built in the 1800s. Today, that structure is the centre of the economy of Paris. The Pyramids built in the days of Moses, still feed Egypt. The Walls of China. The leaning Tower of Pissa. The Ruins of Rome… What structures do we have, to drive economic development and help trigger different dreams. Where can you see those iconic landmarks in Nigeria? How have their values been maximized? Visit our Museums. Yet we want the artefacts taken away, that are getting the best treatment, to be returned. Laughable.”
The 54 years old comedians, however described the present situation of the country as ‘hand to mouth,” “We live from hand to mouth. We sell the oil. Spend it. Drill for more oil. Spend it. And the fraction we even spend is small. The rest of the money stolen. We have been stolen blind. And the thieves are living large amongst us. And we can see them but can’t make them face the music.”
Ali Baba who after completing his academic degree in 1990, relocated to Lagos to develop his comedic talent said he still think about how people tried to discouraged him when he started doing stand-up comedy in 1988.
“In 1988, when I started doing standup comedy, there were many who told me that much. My father disowned me. His reason? He could not see any future in what I did. Many people are limited by history of things and what they already know. Those who create the future get triggered by things that can be seen in the future.
“I look back now and think about how many people tried to discourage me. Those who thought the ladder to success, was exclusively by climbing as a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Banker, Architect, Accountant, Civil Servant… Today, there are comedians who are worth 3 billion (more or less) in assets and liquid cash. There are comedians, whose social impact and economic value has empowered many who are in those core walks of life mentioned above.”