.Taraba Blast: Death toll rises to 6, as Police dispatch anti-bomb squad

By Femi Bolaji, Jalingo

The sudden flash and the deafening silence that followed the loud bang Madam Christiana heard last Sunday would forever remain fresh in her memory. Just like every business person that evening, she was only out to do her normal business at the beer joint where she sells pepper-soup.

She never envisaged that her life could flash before her eyes. While many ran away when the explosive device went off, she was left in the rubble until the dust settled and a hand pulled her up to safety. She kept muttering: “It was God that saved me”, while talking to newsmen about the incident.

“I have been running my business for long and have never seen something like this before,” she stated. “On that Sunday evening after cooking, I decided to sit outside our shop since there was no light. My boss (Junior) later put on the generator and I thought it wise to charge my phone before leaving for home.

“I was yet to even plug my device charger to the socket when something like an earthquake lifted me from where I was seated inside the shop to the roof. I later found myself on the ground covered in dust.

“Everyone at the bar had fled when the explosive device went off and no one was close-by to help me out of the rubble. Help later came when dust settled and I was pulled out of the debris,” she said.

The loud bang of the explosion reverberated across Jalingo metropolis, Taraba State capital that Sunday around 8.30pm, and this raised tension among residents.

There were also conflicting reports at the time of the explosion as some insinuated it was a gas cylinder explosion. Madam Christiana, however, discountenanced the rumours and affirmed thus: “I have never used a gas cylinder to prepare my pepper-soup since I started cooking here. I only use firewood.”

The blast pulled down the wall of the bar, shattered window blinds and affected some buildings close to the bar. There was also no casualty while Madam Christiana only had minor bruises.

Mr Samuel Ayodele, whose house was affected, was yet to recover from the shock of the blast while narrating how he felt when the loud bang was suddenly heard.

“I felt like my heart stopped when I heard the sound,” he said. “I initially thought the tyre of a moving vehicle exploded; it was when I moved out of my house, I heard people saying ‘bomb ya tashi’.
“The wall of my building was also pulled down by vibration caused by the explosion.”
Henry Boyi, one of those at the bar when the blast incident happened said he only came to relax not knowing he would eventually run for his life.

“I was drinking my beer here when we suddenly heard the blast. We fled this premises for safety but after some few minutes we came back to see what happened.

“We initially thought it was a gas cylinder explosion but we discovered there was no gas cylinder here and the pepper-soup we were served was prepared with firewood.”

Spokesman of Taraba state police command, SP Abdullahi Usman, also confirmed that preliminary investigation at the site of the blast showed that it was an explosive device that caused panic.
He said the anti-bomb during their preliminary investigation after cordoning the site of the blast discovered particles of detonated IED.

He also said the Command has re-jigged its operations and more personnel have been deployed by the Commissioner of police to ensure the protection of lives and properties.

Usman, a superintendent of police, also said stop and search operations among other measures have been adopted to ensure residents of Taraba state are safe to go about their business without fear. This is the fourth time this year that Taraba State has recorded an explosion by improvised explosive devices, of which three was within Jalingo, the state capital and one was at a local beer joint in Iware town, Ardo-Kola local government area of the state.

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