By Patrick Obia
Bikers of all riding clubs in Cross River have sympathized with victims of the 2022 bikers parade tragedy that left 10 dead and many injured in Calabar, the State capital on December 27th.
Six people were initially confirmed dead after a Toyota Camry driven by one Toyin Wahab Salawu with plate number DUK-505-PE, Cross River lost control and rammed into spectators at the Bikers/Exotic Cars Parade, an event that is part of the week-long activities marking this year’s Carnival Calabar.
The incident occurred at the Bogobiri axis of the carnival route, barely two hours after the event was flagged off by the governor, Sen. Ben Ayade.
The Bikers who trooped out in their numbers to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) said it is unfortunate the sad incident played out and was perpetuated by someone alien to them.
Dressed in dark attire and with black ribbons to their arms, they prayed for quick recovery, against further loss of souls and handed envelopes to identified deceased families and injured victims.
Leader of the Cross River State Bikers Club – Effanga Asuquo expressed optimism their visit has lifted the spirits of the victims even as they mourn those departed.“We came here to show solidarity and tell our fans that they are not alone in terms of pain, we came to show them we care and extend our love and that we have them in our prayers.” He said.
While appealing that the ugly scene was not carried out by a biker but by a car, he “appealed to Cross Riverians, they have always been law-abiding and obedient but all of a sudden we don’t know what happened.
“This should teach us a lesson; when they say it is a biking parade, cars should not come, and if it is a car parade, bikers don’t come. I pray this should never happen again but since it has happened let’s use it as a lesson going forward.”
Also, speaking, the Commissioner for Sports and a member of the Diamond Bikers Gang, Hon. Ekanem Ekpenyong said extending the hands of fellowship is necessary to show concern as a group and know what their fans who fell victims are feeling as it is not enough for only government to handle the situation.
He said, “they came out because of the bikers If not that young man did not bring out his car that day we will not have had all these we are passing through. Unfortunately, what transpired had nothing to do with bikers but today we are paying the penalty and being labeled meanwhile no biker had an incident that day.”
Meanwhile, the Director-General of Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong who was in various wards in the hospital assisting doctors and patients said “UCTH is where the bulk of the patients is while a lot of them were sent to General and Navy hospitals but because of the severity and magnitude of their injuries some were referred to tertiary institutions,” adding that, “I’m glad now that a lot of them are stable and that’s why they have been moved from the casualty to various wards.”
Dr. Janet Ekpenyong pegged the number of deaths to her knowledge to 10 and over 30 injured.
The victims are spread into various wards visited in UCTH – Cardiothoracic, Intensive Care Unit, Male and Female Orthopedic, and Pediatric among other wards.
Earlier, the bikers visited the Hausa/Fulani Community in Bogobiri, the scene of the incident where they met with the leaders of the Community, Seriki Alhaji Garuba Lawan to commiserate with them.
Responding shortly after the Bikers poured out their hearts with the Community, Seriki Garuba Lawan said the community is engulfed by the sad event.
He appreciated their concerns and assured them he will send the message across; to erase the notion the unfortunate incident was perpetuated by the bikers.
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