Biafran bombs

June 18, 2019
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•Bombs traced to the civil war should not be around over five decades after

The bomb explosion in Eziorsu community of Oguta Local Government Area in Imo State must have brought back the gory memories of the Nigerian civil war, to the people living within the area and other war theatres. According to the police public relations officer in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, three persons, namely Elvis Ukado, Kasiemobi Uzoma and Justice Adiemea, were killed in a scrap dump site, arising from the explosion of “unexploded ordinance (UXO).” An UXO refers to explosive weapons that did not detonate when deployed.

Sometimes, it may lie in wait for decades or centuries, posing danger, until it is detonated. Of note, some of the UXO deployed during the first and second world wars still pose danger in areas where the bombs were dropped. Significantly, UXO poses great danger because all the safety mechanisms have been removed at the point they were expended, and can easily explode, once put under any form of pressure.

The victims in Oguta are scrap metal collectors, and one of them was beating a metal in other to compress it, when it exploded. Considering the effect of weather on an UXO, it can explode if a child kicks at it as a play object. Such a device beneath the land surface can blow up if anyone steps on it. It can also go off under the tyre of a moving vehicle.

So, an UXO is so dangerous that it can only be handled by bomb detonation experts, to avoid the kind of calamity witnessed in Eziorsu. We therefore urge the Federal Government to take necessary steps to avoid a recurrence of such  calamity. It should retain experts to comb the entire war zone, especially the areas that suffered the highest concentration of bombing during the war.

It is difficult to justify that a citizen was killed by a bomb expended in a war that ended nearly 50 years ago. The casualties of the recent incident do not deserve to die from a war ordinance when the nation is not at war. Indeed, they deserve some form of compensation from the government which has been remiss in clearing the unexploded ordinances after the war.

Educating the people about the existence of such ordinances is also important in the areas concerned. The state government and local authorities should join efforts to get the people to know the danger posed by unexploded ordinances. The warning of the commissioner of police to members of the public “to promptly report any metal device suspected to be Unexploded Ordinance or Explosive (UXO), for possible examination, evacuation, and possible destruction,” should be standard information promptly disseminated using all local mediums and channels.

The report that the blast reverberated across the town should also be investigated to find out if any building was affected. The state and local governments should send out experts to check the effect of the explosion on the buildings within the community, so as to avoid casualties from any building collapse. Also, trained experts should be deployed to survey whether the elderly and the young were unduly affected by shocks from the blast.

It is not proper to treat the incident as a mere security challenge and once the police have reported a return to normalcy, those who died or are affected in one way or the other are left to their individual designs. Such treatment from government authorities breeds the kind of citizens that have little or no patriotic feeling. It also provides impetus for the extremists who want to divide the country.

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