By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
Facts have emerged on reasons four Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, belonging to the United Bank of Africa, UBA, exploded and spewed out raw cash at the weekend in Calabar, the Cross-River state capital.
Reports say the incident happened at about 9.20 am on Saturday at the ATM gallery opposite the gate of the University of Calabar, UniCal. Although nobody sustained any injury, the explosion caused panic as there was severe trepidation as customers, whose who went to withdraw funds from the ATMs, had to run away for dear life.
An eyewitness, who gave his name simply as Usani feared that the explosion could have been caused by electrical fault and human error during the loading of cash into the machine because, according to him, it was few minutes after money was loaded that the machines exploded.
Another resident, Samuel Ekpo, said “We were in queue, waiting to withdraw money from the ATM, although there was no cash in some of the machines and immediately, we saw officials with a bullion van entering the back, hope was restored, so we waited.
“After the machines were loaded, about four of them suddenly burst into flame and exploded. People started running helter-skelter, thinking it was a bomb. Even the security patrol (team) around the bank premises had to hurriedly move their vehicle away.
“The incident happened few minutes after the bank staff, who loaded the money, had left. No one was injured as we were standing far away. The problem is that a lot of cash was burnt and it was raining terribly at the time.”
Another respondent, Matthew Ilem, who also spoke to our reporter, believed strongly that the cause of the incident would not be far away from electrical faults, saying “the incident occurred barely 20 minutes after the bank officials loaded the machines with cash.
“I had to call the police and fire service which responded quite on time to help arrest the situation. The cause of the incident is not ascertained but I think it could be traced to electrical fault somewhere.”
Our reporter further learnt that, curiously, there was no scramble for the cash scattered all over the gallery. This may have been partly because of the shock which enveloped everybody around.