The victims had rushed to the scene of the accident to scoop the fuel gushing out from the tanker, when fire broke out, engulfing them.
Obana Jatau, the head of Ganigaku village said residents had swarmed the crashed truck, and that a spark “led to a huge explosion from the tanker which killed 12 people.”
According to him, the tanker had skidded off the road and overturned when the driver attempted to avoid a pothole.
Other sources, however, said up to 30 people died in the fire, though the figure could not be confirmed.
Adamawa state police spokesman Nemuel Yoila confirmed the incident, but could not give details of casualties.
Petrol tanker accidents are common in oil-rich Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation where fuel is distributed with trucks on poorly maintained roads.
Residents often seek to take fuel from such accidents either for personal use or to sell on the black market in a country where most people live on less than $2 per day.
Last month, six people were killed and several injured when a petrol tanker caught fire on a road in the oil city of Port Harcourt.