The explosion that tore through the Rumuokoro area of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was caused by clumsy armed robbers, both Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the police have said.
The governor told a local radio station shortly after the explosion that the explosion was not caused by a bomb but was a mistake by a group of armed robbers riding in a bus with dynamites that were mistakenly ignited by the would be thieves.
The governor quickly dispelled speculations it was a bomb explosion, in what appears a bid to distance the oil-rich southern city from the north where the extremist Boko Haram group is on rampage, killing defenceless residents.
“No crater was created by the explosion, proving it wasn’t a bomb; no shrapnel, no shock wave as bystanders were not affected,” the governor said.
“It was not a bomb attack,” he said.
“It was a dynamite explosion inside a bus by suspected armed robbers who usually use dynamite to rob banks.”
The governor’s claims were possibly deduced from the police who have also claimed that the victims of the explosion were armed robbers who met their waterloo while proceeding on operation.
Mr. Amaechi also said that survivors have been arrested and four AK-47 rifles recovered and an unspecified amount of ammunition from the vehicle.
“Only the driver was killed. Other three occupants are in the hospital under police custody,” he said.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has issued a one-paragraph statement confirming the explosion, saying the driver of the commercial bus has been confirmed dead.
Witnesses said two bodies were sighted at the scene after the explosion.