A tragic incident that claimed seven lives yesterday brought a temporary halt to the ongoing Calabar Carnival in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The colourful event, which kicked-off on Monday with cultural carnival, is expected to end tomorrow.
The annual carnival, which was initiated during the administration of Donald Duke, did not hold in the past two years.
It was suspended in 2020 due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. No reason was given for the carnival not holding last year.
But the Bikers’ Carnival/ Exotic Cars Parade were abruptly cancelled when a vehicle rammed into a crowd that thronged the carnival route to watch the bikers, killing many of them.
In a swift reaction, Governor Ben Ayade expressed sadness and ordered the cancellation of the parade before the usual displays by participants.
A statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Chief Press Secretary, Christian Ita, said the governor “is devastated by the incident and has directed security agencies to apprehend the motorist who is on the run”.
In the statement, Ayade sympathised with the victims and members of their families.
He immediately 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 also directed the immediate discontinuation of the Bikers parade in honour of the victims of the accident.
The CPS said the governor Ayade has promised to ensure the arrest of the culprit and bring him to book. He however sued for calm.
The Bikers/Exotic Cars Parade is usually the precursor to the main Carnival Calabar scheduled for today.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) last night confirmed the death of seven people and the injury of 29 others.
The incident happened on Mary Slezzor Avenue by Bogobiri axis of the carnival route.
An eyewitness said children were among those crushed by the vehicle. The injured were rushed to Naval Hospital and the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) hospitals.
Confirming the casualty figure, the FRSC Sector Commander, Maikano Hassan, said that the incident occurred in front of the Jumat Mosque in Bogobiri in Calabar.
Hassan listed the number of injured to include 21 male adults, three women, two male children and three female children.
The remains of the dead were also deposited in the two hospitals.
According to him, the incident occurred when a Toyota Camry car lost control and rammed into the crowd of on-lookers during the carnival.