The news of the death of a suicide bomber and off course, an attempt to detonate a suicide vest in Afikpo town of Afikpo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State must have caught the state government and the police command in the state unawares.
It is a given that both the government and the police in the state would have loved such news not to see the light of day, as it would be a further rude addition to the current spate of violent attacks currently ravaging the state and the South-East geopolitical zone.
This is even more so as the news travelled fast, with many Nigerians becoming apprehensive that one of the constant features of the insurgency in the North-East has finally crept into South-East and specifically, Ebonyi, where David Umahi, who has become very vocal lately, holds sway.
Pressed for how to arrest the narrative and do a damage control that will be more friendly and assuring to the public, both the state government and the police command in the state rushed out press statements that at the end of the did more damage than good.
While the police insisted that the alleged suicide bomber was actually a police officer, who was on special duty in Afikpo, the state government said the alleged suicide bomber was a security agent who was going about his duties.
The police spokesperson in the state, Loveth Odah, who gave the name of the victim as Idi Aminu, said in a statement on Tuesday: “He mistakenly hit the lead of his grenade which was hanging on his waist with his elbow, resulting in the deadly explosion.”
On the part of the state government, the Special Assistant to the state Governor, Francis Nwaze, said: “The above news is in sharp contrast to the reality as the incident was a grenade of a security personnel carrying out his duties at the said location that accidentally exploded. A similar incident equally occurred in front of the Ebonyi State Old Government House as some mobile police officers were servicing their APC machine. The first incident took the life of a passerby while the second caused injuries on the affected person, who has been taken to the hospital, where he is currently receiving treatment.”
Residents of Afikpo, however gave a different account of what transpired. According to them, the incident happened around 12 noon when the man tried to gain access into a school.
One of the residents said: “He made an attempt at entering Amaizu/ Amangballa Primary School but was turned back by the school security since he couldn’t justify his reason for visiting. He immediately started running inside a nearby bush before a big bang was heard.
“The upper part of the man’s body was completely destroyed form the impact of the bomb.”
Despite the explanations offered by both the police and the state government, there are questions seriously begging for answer.
The Nigeria Police Force, especially the Ebonyi State command needs to tell Nigerians if policemen carry grenades, and if they do, what kind of special deployment the supposed Idi Aminu was on to require him to carry grenade.
It is also pertinent to ask the police authorities how professional it is for a policeman to put a grenade on his waste and how possible is it for a grenade to go off with just an elbow hitting it, without the safety pin removed.
It is expected that both the police and the Ebonyi State government will do a little more to convince Nigerians, especially residents of Ebonyi State that their safety is guaranteed and that government is up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property.