BY SAM OYANDOGHA
The peace of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, was, Friday night violated when two explosions rocked the Edepie and Ovom suburbs, causing panic among residents.
Though no lives were lost in the separate blasts, the police allayed the fears of residents, saying they had nothing to do with the Boko Haram bombings being experienced in some parts of the north.
The Edepie and Ovom blasts, believed to have been caused by detonated dynamites, occurred simultaneously at about 11 p.m. when most residents had retired to their homes.
While the Edepie explosion was targeted at the Tombia bridge, the Ovom attack, it was learnt, was a car which was set ablaze by suspected arsonists close to the Peace Park, an amusement park in the heart of Yenagoa.
The attack on the Tombia bridge, a steel structure, which connects communities on the Tombia flank and the university town of Amassoma to mainland Yenagoa could have been tragic if it had occurred during the day when the Edepie market is in session.
A section of the iron bridge was blown off by the impact of the blast which also destroyed sheds used by traders at the nearby Edepie market.
Residents told Sunday Vanguard that they were frightened by the impact of the blast which reverberated through the Edepie, Etegwe and Okutukutu suburbs.
Men of the anti-bomb squad of Bayelsa State police command were said to have raced to the scene and cordoned off the area with a view to ascertaining the cause of the explosion and the device used and possibly recover shrapnels to assist them in their investigation.
Yesterday morning, security operatives were seen conducting motorists through the narrow bridge to avert gridlock and saving them from plunging into the deep crater caused by the blast.
But the development did not affect business activities at the nearby market some of which sheds were destroyed, as traders and shoppers went about their normal transactions, while vehicles were allowed to pass through the bridge.
However, the pedestrians’ walkway and the exact spot where the explosive device allegedly went off on the bridge were cordoned off, so that physical evidences would not be destroyed.
The state commissioner of police, Hilary Opara, who visited the Tombia bridge, scene of one of the blasts, allayed the fears of the public, describing the explosion as isolated incident which has nothing to do with the Boko Haram attacks in some parts of the country.
The commissioner said, “Some mischievous persons, last night, wanted to embarrass us by creating false impression of insecurity through the detonation of dynamites. We are lucky it did not damage the bridge. You can see that vehicles are still passing.
“Our bomb disposal unit were here last night to comb this area and they confirmed that it was dynamite. Immediately we finish our investigation, we would brief the media. What we have been doing before now is the adoption of proactive measure against all forms of sabotage”.
Opara added, “Everybody should go about his or her normal business without fear. This is just an isolated case. People should not have any feeling that Boko Haram is here. There is nothing like that”.
Reacting to the development, Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, said “It is worrisome that these things are happening at a time the nation is faced with a critical security challenges.”
Speaking through a statement by his chief press secretary, Ola Doifie, the governor advised the people of Yenagoa to remain calm, but strong and vigilant as they work with government to overcome security challenge in the state.
Meanwhile, Restoration 2012, the umbrella organization campaigning for the election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the February 11, governorship election in Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, has condemned the Yenagoa explosions.
The group, in a statement by Daniel Iworiso Markson called on the police to bring the perpetrators of the dastardly act to book. It noted that the bomb blast was planned and executed by the enemies of Bayelsa State to create fears in the minds of VIPs and the masses billed to attend the official flag-off of Dickson’s campaign tomorrow at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, Yenagoa.
President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP acting chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, will hand Dickson the flag at the occasion. The group urged Nigerians to turn up en mass as “we have been assured of adequate security by the police.”
“Members of the public should be actively involved in the spirit of community policing and assist the security agencies with valid information that would be useful to track down criminal elements in the society”, the police boss stressed.