Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
A taskforce team suspected to be working for the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Tuesday allegedly pursued a tanker laden with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) into a ghastly accident in Ebonyi State.
The incident took place at about 3pm on Tuesday along the Abakaliki-Enugu Expressway shortly after the entrance gate of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) towards the popular Spera-In-Deo Junction.
It was not clear why the taskforce team pursued the petroleum tanker, but it might be as a result of levies, dues, or other revenues of the association.
The allegation was made by the Commissioner for Internal Security and Boarder Peace, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, while fielding questions from newsmen on the course of the accident.
Ugbala said: “From the information we gathered from men on ground, we learnt that the driver of the tanker was racing right from Haraca Filling Station and he was being pursued by (members of a) taskforce who are suspected to be members of NUPENG.
“In the process of trying to dodge them, the incident we are seeing took place. We don’t know the level of damages yet but we know that both the driver and the passengers inside the vehicle are safe. They were not burnt by the fire.
“Thank God the security agencies are there. We will find out exactly what happened; we want to know whether the people that are pursuing the tanker were the legitimate authority: a recognised tax force: if not we will find out what exactly happened so that we can forestall this kind of situation from happening again,” he said.
When our correspondent visited the scene of the incident, the fire was still raging. Men of the fire service led by the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Raphael Ibiam, an engineer, were on ground making efforts to put out the fire. There were also some security agents on ground.
According to an eyewitness, the tanker knocked down some streetlight poles lined up on the median before it fell down and immediately went up in flames.
Meanwhile, the commissioner, while thanking God that no life was lost, lamented that the inferno had done damages to the state’s critical infrastructures like the streetlight, the asphalted roads, and decoration lights.
“The most beautiful thing is that we didn’t lose any life. And the fire service agency responsible for controlling the situation, were there to make sure that everything was brought under control.
“Even when the fire was about the affect a nearby gas plant, they did a nice job by making sure that everything was brought under control,” he said.