Explosion rocks CBN Calabar

By Eme Offiong, Calabar

An explosion suspected to be from a faulty FM 200 fire fighter cylinder has rocked the Cross River State branch of Central Bank of Nigeria-CBN.

The CBN, which is located in the commercial hub of Calabar, was hit by the explosion at about 11:20 Friday morning.

Though, the area was cordoned off by security agencies, 18 staff sustained various degrees of burns and were admitted to the intensive care unit of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, two persons had died from the explosion.

Further investigations
The Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Calabar, Baba-Adisa Bolanta and the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Henry Fadairo both inspected the CBN premises.

In a statement, the Nigeria Police Force, Calabar Command confirmed that the explosion was caused by a faulty FM 200 fire fighter cylinder in the office.

The statements also indicated that though investigations were on going, it ruled out a possible terror attack.

Though officials of the bank declined to comment, one of the staff could only muster “we are so traumatized right now. No one can talk”.

Observer account
An eye-witness, Mrs. Henrietta Bassey, who was at a nearby building explained that there was thick black smoke and then a loud bang before the commotion started.

Bassey stated: “At about 11:20 am today, I was passing by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Calabar branch I noticed there was a thick black smoke rising from the rear of the building. I went into an adjoining bank and ten minutes later, a loud explosive sound erupted and shook the building of the bank I was in. Even the roof of the building shook and then there was calm.

When we got outside, that was when we saw a crowd of people rushing towards central bank and then we saw another building with the roof blown away. The next thing was security agents cordoned off the area and the fire service arrived instantly to evacuate the injured.”

She explained further “the whole place was rowdy, people trying to gain access to CBN, the security pushing back, people crying and ambulances everywhere. Some people said they saw dead bodies, but we cannot say for sure”.

Exercise Calm
Meanwhile, the Cross River State Government has advised the public to remain calm and exercise restraint in peddling of rumor about the explosion at the Central Bank, Calabar Branch, until results of investigations emerge.

The Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, who visited the premises of the apex bank for an assessment, expressed shock at the enormity of devastation.

Professor Esu assured of the support of government towards normalization of its operations, while investigation and rehabilitation work commenced.

The State Controller of the bank, Dr Graham Kalio explained what looked like an explosion occurred suddenly at the banking hall with its attendant destructive effects resonating across the building”.

He added that those affected were taken for treatment at the UCTH and Navy Hospital Calabar.