The residence of Owerri, the Imo State capital are in pandimonium as a private explosive expert, Professor Bala Yakubu, has raised the alarm over the possible explosion of 17,000 live bombs stockpiled in the city.
He stated that the Federal Government has refused to pay the contractors to destroy the bombs despite persistent warnings on the dangers of the explosives.
The bombs, which are said to be among those used during the Nigerian Civil War, according to Yakubu, include 81 and 82 mm Mortar Bombs, 2” mortar bombs, which are all area neutralising bombs; 100 mm air defence ammunition for anti-aircraft defence and Fragmentation anti-personnel land mines. Others are General purpose aerial bomb 75kg, Energa grenade, anti tank land mines locally made and small calibre ammunition.
Professor Yakubu, an explosive expert and a stockpile manager who is also the managing director of Demining Concept Nigeria Limited, said the 17,000 live bombs currently being stored at number 109, Achike Udenwa Avenue in new Owerri, a densely populated area, could go off anytime, especially now that the rains are here.
He cautioned that if nothing is done to urgently dispose of these bombs, Owerri, may be another theatre of horror.
Lamenting the security situation in the country, he urged the federal government to stop playing politics and act quickly to save the country of further loss of innocent lives.
Yakubu, who spoke with Daily Sun in Abuja, narrated how he got a contract from the federal government in 2009 to clear land mines and explosive remnants in the Southeastern part of the country, and had successfully removed over 18,000 explosives before he got a stop order from the Ministry of Defence in 2012.
Before getting the stop order, Yakubu said his company had successfully destroyed 608 land mines laid by the federal government troops against the enemy at the time in the territory of the former eastern region.
Since then, he said he had written several letters to the federal government and got no positive result, but that things got worse with the coming on board of the current Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who, he said “is playing tribal and religious politics with the issue.”
Yakubu, who said he was raising the alarm to alert Nigerians, the public and the world, of the impending dangers, said “despite two court orders, one from the High Court Owerri, giving instructions that those bombs should be relocated, the government has not shown seriousness.”
He said: “In the whole of the South-East, South-South and parts of North Central region of Nigeria, there were a lot of explosive ordinance left after the civil war. We took a technical survey of the entire area that was contaminated, and from the various contaminated areas, we started removing bombs up till the time we got a stop order from the Ministry of Defence. We had removed 17,605 bombs, including locally made weapons like Ojukwu buckets, Ogbunigwe rocket launchers which were all locally made. And we had destroyed 608 land mines.
“The land mines were laid by the federal government against the enemy at the time in the territory of the former eastern region. The work progressed until we got the stop order in 2012.
“Mine action centre is a specific installation of the United Nations from where you coordinate all mine actions which include removing bombs, removing land mines, taking care of the injured and so on.
“Now, we have dug out where we put these bombs, and the heaviest bombs I have in that place is 75 kilograms each, and I have two of them. We co-habit with people on 109, Achike Udenwa Avenue in New Owerri. It is not too far from the Concord Hotel.