Facts have emerged on how 21 year old Eke Ukam Ogholo, who was a microbiology student of the Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH, died when adulterated kerosene exploded at Ikot Nkebre community of 8 miles in Calabar municipality where she lived with her parents.
Our reporter, who visited Ogholo’s family house on fact a finding mission, observed that apart from taking the life of the young woman, the explosion did not affect or burnt anything in the kitchen where late Ogholo was preparing indomie noodles to help herself after returning from school that ill-fated evening.
As at when Pillar visited, her parents were still in their village, Erei Abanwan in Biase local government of Cross River, to mourn the sudden departure of Eke, who her siblings addressed as ‘Queen,’ but her sister in-law, Mrs Sarah Ukam, said she could not believed that what happened that day could have the capacity to kill the student who matriculated barely two weeks before her demise.
Mrs Ukam said “Queen came back from school on Friday at about 6.45 pm, after which she went inside that kitchen to prepare indomie noodle for herself. She was alone in the kitchen while we were all sitting outside. She had broken the indomie noodles into pieces to put on the stove but since the kitchen was a bit dark, she decided to put kerosene in the lantern which was already lit, and the next thing we heard was a deafening explosion.
“She then shouted for help. Instead of running out through the kitchen door which is closer to where we were all receiving fresh air, she ran towards the parlour which was farther and then came out with fire all over her clothing. She told us that she could not pass through the kitchen door because the door was covered by flame of fire.
“When she came out, we rushed and poured water upon her to quench the fire but part of her body was burnt. She was not unconscious. Queen was the person who narrated what happened to her in the kitchen and there was no sign that she could die just like that.”
Sarah said late Eke was rushed to four hospitals that night and regretted that the attitude of some health workers in those hospitals contributed to why the late students gave up the ghost at the early hours of Sunday.
“Few minutes after the incident, her parents came back and we took her first to General Hospital but we were informed by people we met there that the hospital workers are on strike. From there we went to Navy Hospital and like a bad dream, Navy people said they do not have specialist to handle the degree of burnt she sustained. They referred us to Bakor Clinic at the Murtala Highway.
“The Doctor we met in Bakor told us that the equipment and the drugs to use on her are very costly due to how serious the burnt is and that he is afraid the family will not be able to pay for the treatment. We all pleaded for treatment to start but the man instead referred us to UCTH. We went to UCTH and again we were informed of the ongoing strike. It was at UCTH that someone advised us to take her to the General hospital again.”
She said when they arrived at the General Hospital, they were able to secure the services of some health personnel with antibiotics administered to her but that the young woman finally gave up the ghost on Sunday morning.”
An eyewitness and resident of the area, Pastor Ebenezer Tayo, who also spoke to our reporter, described the late student as calm, brilliant, lively and an unassuming young woman with wonderful prospect. He called on the federal government to uncover remote and immediate causes of incessant kerosene explosions in the country.
“Just look at that. How can kerosene be exploding like bombs and taking lives of Nigerians as if we are fighting war. The federal government should come up with a solution to this menace. We refuse to accept it as a normal situation and we refuse to live by it. People are now afraid to use kerosene nowadays. I call on government to find a lasting solution to this,” he stated.
Other respondents, who also spoke, believed that the issue of kerosene adulteration should be blamed on petroleum marketers and tankers drivers who do not take adequate time to completely empty petrol before loading kerosene.
In his remarks, Head of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in Cross River State, Mr Bassey Nkanga said he had often advised independent marketers against buying petroleum products from un-trusted dealers but that the Department was partnering IPMAN to fight the menace.
He reiterated the determination of DPR to sanction and punish accordingly any petrol stations/marketer who buys adulterated product which would in turn cause any form of disaster, adding “anyone who buys adulterated product and there is an explosion in any corner, that person will be held to face the necessary sanctions. DRP is well equipped in checking petrol stations across the state to ensure that the right thing is done.”