By Magnus Effiong, Calabar
Tragedy struck in Calabar, Tuesday, at the Bikers Parade when a Toyota Camry car rammed into a crowd of spectators at the Bogobiri axis of the metropolis, killing at least seven persons while 29 persons were said to have sustained various degrees of injuries.
The Federal Roads Safety Commission confirmed the number of casualty, saying while the bodies of seven persons who died had been deposited in mortuary, the 29 others injured were receiving treatment in two different hospitals in Calabar.
The Sector Commander of the Corps, Maikano Hassan, listed the injured to include 21 male adults, three women, two make children and three female children.
He said a Toyota Camry car lost control and rammed into a crowd of spectators at the Bogobiri axis of the Carnival route, inhabited mainly by the Hausa/Fulani natives.
The Bikers Parade was one of the two major activities lined up for Tuesday, preceeding the Wednesday’s Carnival Calabar. The other activity was the Miss African Beauty Pageant which later held on Tuesday night amidst tension.
Our reporter, who monitored the event in the ancient city said the incident happened about one hour after the commencement of the event.
While the dead and injured were being rushed to hospitals, the event ended abruptly.
Few minutes after the incident, the Hausa/Fulani inhabitants of the said area reportedly reacted violently and threatened to stop the Calabar Carnival scheduled for Wednesday.
However, the timely intervention if security agencies brought the situation under control. Soldiers from the 13th Brigade of the Nigerian Army as well as the detachment of riot police to the area were deployed to area to maintain paece and swcutity of lives and property.
Tear gas was freely used to disperse the angry crowd even as fun lovers had to run for dear life.
Some of those who spoke to our reporter under the condition of anonimity, blamed the incident on security beaches and poor crowd control strategy.
Meanwhile, Governor Ben Ayade, who was not physically present at the venue of parade flag off, has expressed sadness over the incident.
A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Chief Press Secretary, Barrister Christian Ita said Governor Ayade is devasted by the incident and has directed security agencies to apprehend the motorist who is believed to be on the run.
While sympathising with the victims of the accident and their families, the governor, according to the statement, ordered an immediate investigation to unravel how the motorist was able to get through security barricades to have access to the routes which were closed to the public.
Ita said the Governor directed the immediate discontinuation of the Bikers parade in honour of the victims of the accident.
Governor Ayade while promising to ensure the culprit is arrested and brought to book, however, sued for calm.
While a cross section of fun lovers expressed reservation over the success of the main Carnival Calabar scheduled for Wednesday and which is expected to pass through the same Bogobiri community, others believed heavy security presence would help in ensuring the biggest street party in Africa hold as planned.