“A fuel tanker ran into a convoy of vehicles at an army checkpoint in Narabi village … and fell on its side, spilling its contents, and caught fire,” Haruna Likong Albashi said of the accident on Friday night.
“Seventeen vehicles at the checkpoint were engulfed in flames…. In all from our estimation we have around 50 dead.”
The accident occurred near the Bauchi state border with Plateau state in central Nigeria.
Such accidents occur frequently in Nigeria, where roads are poorly maintained and chaotic traffic is commonplace.
Friday’s accident occurred on the eve of parliamentary elections throughout the country, the first of three landmark ballots to be held this month.
Army checkpoints are common in the West African nation, particularly in central Nigeria, which has been hit by years of clashes between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups.
In November, more than 30 people died in the northern state of Yobe when two buses collided and burst into flames.
A fiery road crash outside the commercial capital of Lagos in August burnt at least 15 people to death and injured 18.