The armoury of Squadron 38 of the Mobile Police base in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, was yesterday gutted by fire, causing explosions and panic in the state. The explosions, which lasted for about two hours, came barely two months after the same base was attacked by gunmen, who killed a corporal on duty.
The explosions were first heard at about 6:26am. Residents of the area, who spoke to newsmen, said they heard explosions from the direction of the MOPOL base. “We heard explosions, and we started running in different directions. We thought it was a bomb blast”, said a witness.
Another witness said, “I didn’t know what to do. I started running before I turned back to get my children. My husband was with them, trying to get them out of the compound”. Our correspondent reports that local rescue efforts were organized by residents, who tried unsuccessfully to put out the fire. It was gathered that the fire burned until it went off, and that close to an hour after it died down, men of the fire department arrived with their tanker, blaring siren.
But the police authorities said it was a fire disaster, and that no one was physically affected. The armoury, the house of the commander, and other sections of the base were affected by the incident. Chief Superintendent of Police Abibo Deinma, who is the commander of MOPOL 38, confirmed the explosion in the armoury of the base when he spoke to newsmen, shortly after the incident. He said the armoury housed ammunition and teargas. He blamed the fire on electrical fault, though he insisted that it was not possible to ascertain the actual cause yet.
The state’s Police Commissioner, Abyomi Akeremale led top officers of the command on an on-the-spot assessment. Speaking to newsmen, spokesman of the command, Cornelius Ocholi said there was a fire outbreak at the base, but added that he couldn’t say more about the incident. “I don’t want to jump into making statements while the command is still investigating to ascertain the cause,” he said.