Lagos flight bomb scare: 98 passengers evacuated

Hours after militants said they would detonate bombs without prior notice, multiple explosions have rocked an oil facility in Bayelsa State.

In Port Harcourt yesterday, a bomb scare grounded a Lagos-bound Arik Air flight, which was due to depart at about 8.00am.

The explosions occurred Tuesday night at Well Head 3 Flow Station at Cloak Creek Area in Ekeremo Local Government Area of the state, which belongs to Agip Oil.

The extent of the damage to the facility could not be ascertained last night. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which threatened to bomb the Niger Delta – Nigeria’s oil region, Abuja – the seat of the government and Lagos – this country’s business and commercial engine-room, claimed responsiblity for the explosion.

MEND vowed further strikes on oil infrastructure in the coming days.

“This attack and similar attacks on pipelines and flow stations which will take place in the coming days are a reminder to the Nigerian government and general public not to take our threats for granted,” the militant group said in a statement emailed to media.

But the Joint Task Force (JTF), the special security outfit for the oil region, described the incident as “an isolated case, not connected to the MEND threat”. It promised to investigate it.

JTF spokesman Lt.-Col. Timothy Antigha said: “The incident is not connected with the warnings from MEND. It is an isolated case and we are trying to get details.’’

He confirmed that the explosion occurred at 11pm on Tuesday. There were no casualties, he said.

Agip officials declined comments on the explosions, which may have reduced the company’s oil production.

In the Port Harcourt incident, Nollywood actress Hilda Dokubo, who was a passenger, got a text message on her mobile telephone that the aircraft would be bombed. She showed the text to the airline’s officials, who aborted the flight and evacuated the passengers.

The airline sent another plane from Lagos, which flew the passengers out around 12.10 pm.

Dokubo was taken to the airport authority’s custody where she was questioned

Arik Air Managing Director Mr Chris Ndulue said the airline directed that passengers should disembark to allow security agencies, including the Police Anti bomb Squad and the State Security Service (SSS), to scan the aircraft.

“We also sent our security personnel with mobile trace detectors,” Ndulue told reporters in Lagos.

On whether the bomb threat was linked to MEND, Ndulue said he had no idea, adding that it was for the security agencies to determine.
Source: The Nation Newspaper – www.thenationonlineng.net

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