There was a bomb scare in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on Tuesday afternoon when a lady’s travel box fell off the trunk of a taxi in front of a Police Divisional Headquarters, causing police officers on guard to abandon their rifles and flee.
For about two hours, everyone including armed police officers stood far away from their divisional headquarters, while waiting for the anti-bomb squad to come and verify the content of the box, which they thought contained explosives.
The situation caused panic in the town that suffered a fatal bomb blast exactly one week ago. At least 43 people are believed to have died from last week’s explosion, the first in Maiduguri in several months.
The event that led to the blast of the previous week was not dissimilar to Tuesday’s. The box was dropped at about 1:30 p.m., about the same time as last week’s blast.
The incident also coincided with the visit of the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 12, Muhammed Gana. He arrived Maiduguri about the same time the box fell in front of the police division.
The police officers at the scene became agitated especially when they heard that the AIG who was addressing police officers at the Force Headquarters in Maiduguri, would pass through Poloice HQ to pay homage to the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Elkanemi.
Things stood still for over an hour when suddenly, a woman got to the scene on a tricycle and headed towards the box. She was stopped by angry police officers who tried to stop her from retrieving her box.
“Are you mad?! Don’t you see that there is a bomb dropped there; do you want to lose your life?” one of them yelled.
Befuddled, the woman said “no, that is not a bomb, it belongs to me. I was just returning from a journey and the taxi man carrying our luggage did not place the box well and it fell off”.
The woman said she only realised her bag was missing when she got home; so she traced her way to find her missing box.
Despite the explanation, the police officers were afraid to go close to the box.
The woman confidently went to pick her box which turned out to contain personal items.
Tuesday’s scare was the second in four days after an empty laptop bag dropped off a tricycle on the Lagos Bridge on Saturday.