There was palpable fear, anxiety and tension in Benin City, capital of Edo state on Tuesday afternoon, as multiple and deadly explosions ripped four residence buildings apart.
The explosions occurred at about 2:00 pm, around Oka primary school area, close to the junction popularly known as ‘three house,’ off Upper Sakponba road, in Ikpoba-Okha local government area of Benin metropolis.
Eyewitnesses had it that the first explosion occurred when a medicine dealer, Elue Chinedu, who operates from one of the buildings, was burning the refuse he swept from the building at a refuse dump.
Following the explosion, operatives of Edo state anti-bomb squad and anti riot policemen, led by Musa Uba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police were said to have been promptly drafted to the place to secure and cordon off the area.
But to the dismay of residents of the densely populated area, another deafening explosion went off again at about 6:16 pm, when the anti-bomb squad was trying to detonate other explosives discovered.
Louvre blades, PVC ceilings, doors, aluminium roofing sheets, bore hole rubber tanks and part of the front perimeter fence of the buildings were shattered.
This development heightened tension and anxiety in the entire area as people scampered in different directions for safety as residents feared that men of the dreaded Islamist sect, Boko Haram were responsible for the explosion.
One of the occupants of one of the affected buildings and a woman who was passing by were said to have sustained serious injuries from the explosion, but no live was lost.
It was gathered that suspected kidnappers had lived in one of the buildings in the past, but left the house two years ago when security operatives raided the area.
A 70 year old woman, Mrs. Hannah Francis, who lives directly opposite the scene of the explosion, said she heard a deafening sound and had come out to find out what happened, only to see a thick, dark smoke from the building.
Narrating his ordeal, the medicine dealer, Elue Chinedu, said he rented the entire building about nine months ago.
He disclosed that after an electrician carried out some minor repairs in his living room, he decided to sweep and burn the refuse at a nearby refuse dump.
“An electrician came to work in the house and I said let me use the opportunity to clean the compound. I gathered the waste papers together and wanted to burn it. As I was burning the papers, I said let me go and buy ice cream. That was when the thing exploded and I sustained some injuries,” he said.
Mr. Chinedu was later whisked away by the Police.
Efforts to get the commnt of the state commissioner of police, Mr Chris Ezike ysterday evening were not successful.