By Jonathan Ugbal
A 100 level Microbiology student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Cross River University of Technology, Miss Ogolo Eke, has died after a kerosene explosion in her house in the Eight Miles area of Calabar roast her beyond recognition on Wednesday night.
The fire is suspected to have been caused by the use of adulterated kerosene.
And, the 21 year old who died in the early hours of Thursday, CrossRiverWatch gathered, matriculated alongside some 5,500 others on April 9.
A witness, Mr. Ekere Kelvin, told the PUNCH Newspapers that Ogolo was trying to refill a lantern with kerosene around 7.45pm on Wednesday when the incident occurred.
He said the victim was rushed to a private hospital in Calabar in critical condition, but she could not survive the severe burns.
“We heard a sound from her room. Before we got there, the smoke had already covered the room. We tried to help her, but her face and chest had been burnt. She died on Thursday. She was badly burnt by the fire,” said Mr. Ekere.
A family member, Mr. Felix Eke, said Ogolo’s death dealt a big blow to the family and described her death as mysterious.
“We feel very sad and my parents have been devastated. She had been searching for this admission for over four years, but could not get it. She just got this one and matriculated two weeks ago. She died in a mysterious circumstance. We are grieving,” he said.
This brings the total number of victims of suspected adulterated kerosene in the Calabar metropolis in 2018 to about a dozen and half after 10 were roast in March, about three in February and two more in January including a mother of four.
Meanwhile, reports suggest that there was another kerosene explosion in a house around the Eight Mile area.
A witness, Ignatius Agbama, who also knew about Ogolo’s case, said a teacher was injured in that incident.
“The female teacher is my neighbour. She was injured in the explosion. That explosion occurred a few hours after Ogolo’s room was gutted by fire. This is the sixth incident this year alone and we have stopped patronising black marketers for kerosene. We now buy directly from the filling stations.
“There is something wrong with the supply system because a lot of people have died. Recently, a mother of three and her two children were burnt to death. The Department of Petroleum Resources need to do something urgently about this ugly trend,” he said.
The adulterated kerosene is allegedly been sold by Independent Marketers and some staff of major marketers who cut corners.
And, the state Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr. Lawrence Agim who expressed sadness over incessant kerosene explosions in the state as many families had been affected by explosions in recent time, vowed to ensure that the circulation of adulterated kerosene was checked.
Also, the Operations Controller of the Department of Petroleum Resources in the state, Mr. Bassey Nkanga said his department will partner IPMAN to reduce to the barest minimum, the sale of adulterated products including kerosene by shutting down defaulting station who don’t buy from the right source.
He advised marketers not to, “Buy doubtful product from anybody apart from the licensed depot, anyone who buys adulterated product and there is an explosion in any corner, that person will be held to face the necessary sanctions and the full wrath of the law.
“DPR is well equipped in checking petrol stations across the state to ensure that the right thing is done and all loopholes for adulteration blocked and reduced to the barest minimum.”
However, there have been allegations of collusion by the masses. Some residents who spoke to CrossRiverWatch say that the government agency has been conniving with marketers and maintained that this was evident in the fact that very few fuelling stations or petroleum dealers are ever sanctioned in the state.
“DPR will always talk tough but do not walk the talk. They are in bed with these marketers that is why they can’t implement their mandate in Cross River State,” said Adie Agba, a retired civil servant.
Another resident who simply gave his name as Asuquo maintained that: “We are tired of hearing about kerosene explosions. The state government, DPR and the petroleum marketers are not sincere or they would have stepped up their sensitization game.
“They would have prosecuted someone by now, but, that has not been the case as we only get a token of pity and ooohs and stories of sadness and we will do this and that; never that of an inquiry panel, never that of a prosecution; it is sad.”
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