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Mr. Ejiro Otarigho (2nd left), Comrade Kelvin Ejumudo (left), Pastor Edewor Egedegbe (2nd right), and Comrade Monday Enudi

 

By Emeka Nwokocha

Delta State Human Rights Protection Congress (DST-HRPC) has described the driver of a tanker laden with 36,000 litres of petrol, Mr. Ejiro Otarigho as a Nigerian Hero for bravely averting an inferno in Agbarho town when the tanker suddenly caught fire while in motion. According to the group, Ejiro courageously averted a looming fire disaster by driving the tanker that has caught fire out of the densely populated Agbarho town to a river (Agbarho River), where it exploded, causing a huge inferno.

Narrating the incident to members of DST-HRPC in Agbarho, on Monday 13 June, Mr. Ejiro said the petrol tanker was in motion along old Ughelli road when it caught fire, stating that he was terrified and did not know what to do. But in split second, he quickly activated a plan to drive the petrol tanker to Agbarho River, on the outskirt of the town, along Agbarho-Ughelli highway, to avert the destruction of lives and property that would’ve happened if the petrol tanker eventually explodes.

His words, “I was driving my tanker loaded with 36,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol. When I got to old Ughelli road, I was alerted by some persons that the tanker had caught fire at the rear. That point, I looked through the side mirror and saw a raging fire on the tanker. I became frightened knowing the calamity that would happen if the tanker eventually explodes. Then, I quickly devised a plan to drive it out of the busy Agharho town and headed towards Agbarho River, along Agbarho-Ughelli highway, which I considered to be a safe place for the tanker to burn without killing people and burning houses and property.”

Members of Delta State Human Rights Protection Congress (DST-HRPC), having a discussion with Mr. Ejiro Otarigho, in Agbarho

When asked why he took the huge risk at the expense of his precious life, Ejiro, father of four children said, “I was fully aware and conscious of the risk I had put my life into by embarking on the dangerous mission, but then, I was determined to bear the cross alone because I wouldn’t be able to bear the pains that would come with the destruction of lives and property the carnage would cause to the people of Agbarho town. In fact, when the fire started burning at the rear of the truck, I instructed my boy (the conductor) to get out of the truck, so I would face the consequence alone. I didn’t want to put his life at risk too.
“That time, I had made up my mind to die, even when I know that my lovely wife is pregnant, rather than abandoning the truck to cause great havoc to innocent people.”

Ejiro continued, “To maneuver the burning truck through the narrow and busy Agbarho roads to Agbarho- Ughelli highway was a huge task that I didn’t know how I luckily got over the scores of obstacles I met on the road that would’ve caused the tanker to get stuck on the way, then, the disaster I was trying to avert would’ve happened.”

He further stated, “while I was frantically driving the burning tanker through the roads heading to Agbarho River, people were shouting and wailing, some of them thought I had gone mad to have sat behind the wheels when a disaster was about to happen. But I thank God that I was able to maneuver the tanker to Agbarho riverside, before disembarking from it, then it exploded and went up in flames.”

Ejiro, who has been a tanker driver since 2010, said he had been receiving numerous phone calls from people from all walks of life expressing their appreciation for the deadly mission he had taken to avert huge disaster in Agbarho town.
While commending Ejiro for his rare courage, members of DST-HRPC, led by Pastor (Comrade) Edewor Egedegbe, said that in appreciation of his sacrifice to humanity, the group had begun a serious discussion with the relevant authorities, including DSP Ovie Omo-Agege, and Hon. Francis Waive on the need to reward him. The group stated that at a time people no longer make sacrifice for the betterment of society, Ejiro’s heroic feat had set a new agenda for promoting national unity and love, adding that such rare virtue had to be commended and handsomely rewarded.

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