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CP orders probe of Ebonyi’s New Year fire incident

The Commissioner of Police (CP) in Ebonyi, Philip Maku, has ordered a full investigation into the fire outbreak that left no fewer than five persons dead on January 1 in the state.

Confirms five casualties

The Commissioner of Police (CP) in Ebonyi, Philip Maku, has ordered a full investigation into the fire outbreak that left no fewer than five persons dead on January 1 in the state.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Loveth Odah, made the disclosure yesterday to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki.

She said that the CP was devastated by the tragic incident that also claimed a three-year-old baby.

Odah said: “The commissioner of police has ordered a discreet investigation into the incident to ascertain the actual cause of the fire outbreak.

“We do not really believe that someone can actually fire a cannon all in the name of celebrating the New Year because even during traditional burials, we normally give approval before cannons can be fired.

“So, this time around, we were not aware that the man wanted to fire a cannon, it’s unusual and sees what great disaster it has caused.

“The CP has therefore directed that full-scale investigation should be carried out to find out why such tragic incident should happen when people were celebrating the New Year.”

The spokesperson, however, said the number of casualties had risen from one to five persons.

“Four additional deaths were recorded from among those rushed to the hospital for treatment, while the other survivors are still receiving medical attention at the hospital,” Odah stated.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nelson Ogbaeja, an indigene of Akaeze and one of those involved in the rescue operation, told NAN that seven of the victims taken to hospital had died.

He added that one of the survivors was in a critical condition, having sustained first-degree burns.

NAN recalled that the fire incident occurred around 8 a.m. on Friday, January 1, at Mr. Ogenyi Chukwu’s home in Iyioji, Akaeze community.

The inferno allegedly broke out when a cannon ‘Nkpolali’ loaded with gunpowder had to contact with fire.

Chukwu said their children and 11 other relatives were seeing a movie in the house when suddenly the cannon exploded and fire engulfed the entire house leading to pandemonium.

Reacting over the development, chairman of Ivo Local Council, Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu, commiserated with families of the victims.

He said the council would do everything within its powers to ensure the survivors get the best medical attention.

Ogbadu, who described the event as ‘tragic’, prayed for the repose of the souls of the departed.