It seems the last has not been heard about the explosion that rocked Ibadan a fortnight ago. BAYO AGBOOLA reports.
The Tuesday, January 16 massive explosion at Bodija area of Ibadan was an incident that will not be forgotten easily by residents of old Bodija, Sango, Mokola, Eleyele, Apete, Agodi Secretariat, University College Hospital (UCH) and many other areas of Ibadan with a very loud bang around 7.20pm which threw residents into panic as they run helther skelter to ascertain the cause of the unusual loud bang and its source.
Statement from state govt
To some, it was an explosion from electricity transformer, gas station or probably a suspected explosive; however, few hours, the state government came up with a statement from the state commissioner for information and orientation Prince Dotun Oyelade confirming the loud bang to be an uncommon explosion.
“Residents of Ibadan and immediate environ experienced an uncommon explosion about 8pm this evening. There are various interpretations of the incident but it is important for us to state categorically that the state government has taken over and in the full control of the unfortunate occurrence in order to mitigate the incident. All security service chiefs including para military chiefs and fire operatives have been deployed by the governor to reign in the spillover from the explosion. “His Excellency Governor Seyi Makinde therefore implores citizens to calm down and be rest assured that their interests are being looked after.”
At about 1am on Wednesday, January 17, Gov Seyi Makinde stormed the scene to ascertain the situation after which he wrote on his twitter page that, “In total, we have 77 injured victims so far, most of whom were treated and discharged and two fatalities. May their souls rest in peace and may God give their loved ones the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. Preliminary investigations by the security agencies revealed that illegal miners occupying one of the houses in Bodija had stored explosive devices there which caused the blast.” He vowed to bring to book those found culpable,
As an immediate measure, earth-moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights and security were deployed to the scene.
Sensing the enormous challenges ahead in curtailing looming negative effects of the explosions, the state government set up an Emergency Situation Hub headed by the deputy governor, Barrister Bayo Lawal to collate and co-ordinate management of victims affected by the multiple explosions.
Also, the government in a statement by Oyelade stressed that temporary accommodation has been organised by the government for those displaced as a result of the explosion, while the government he said would also finance the hospital bills of those injured.
Tales of woes
Since then, it has been tales of woes with no fewer than 58 buildings wrecked and seriously damaged by the massive explosions. The Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital, (UCH), Prof Jesse Otegbayo said the explosions affected 16 buildings at the hospital including the School of Nursing, School of Medical Laboratory, the hospital museum building, pathology building, Ogunlesi Hall, among others.
He said doors, roofs, ceilings and electric fittings at the affected buildings were brought down, destroyed and badly damaged. The CMD minced no words in saying 11 of the victims of the Bodija multiple explosions were receiving treatment at the hospital as at Wednesday January 17, 2024.
A legal practitioner, Barrister Niyi Farinto whose chamber was beside the scene of the explosions said the explosions were more than once with ceilings, doors, windows shattered thereby leaving his chamber in ruins.
Makinde on the incident
Gov Makinde after a second assessment visit said, “The explosion led to loss of lives and property. I stated in a brief remarks early this morning that preliminary investigations traced the incident to the storage of explosions by illegal miners at a house in Bodija, but since yesterday (Tuesday) our security agencies, our first responders, emergency services and all other relevant agencies have been working diligently as they carry out their search and rescue mission.
“But, just this morning another individual was recovered. I want to assure the emergency team members that search and rescue operations will continue until all lives within the vicinity of the blast are recovered. We are aware that, aside from the immediate perimeter of the incident, our people as far as 25km away may have been affected physically or psychologically. We have therefore put the Emergency Operation Centre been headed by Professor Temitope Alonge to coordinate all search and rescue efforts. I will like to appeal to our people to remain calm as we do everything possible to provide succor to everyone affected. There are numbers that have been provided to reach out to the Emergency Operation Centre. If you have any information regarding any person who is still trapped within the perimeter, please reach out,” he said.
Gov Makinde added, “Also, let me use this opportunity to appeal to anyone still staying within 250metres of ground zero to move out to government provided accommodation until we check the structural integrity of the buildings. At the same time, unscrupulous elements who may want to take advantage of this disaster to carry out any form of looting should be warned as I have asked the security agencies to deal decisively with anyone caught in such act. They have been placed on high alert to ensure that there’s no breakdown of law and order at the place. We will continue to provide regular update regarding the actions we are taking through the Emergency Operation Centre and our various reach out channels on and off the social media. The important update we can provide at this time is that we have information regarding the company that was using that residence to store explosives. Rest assured that all that were involved directly and indirectly in bringing this tragedy upon us shall be brought to book.
“Just as we were about starting this press conference, I received a call from Mr President. I want to specially thank him. He has approved that the National Emergency Management Authority be on ground and I can confirm that they are already on ground and working with our people locally here. And he also gave his condolences to the people that have loved their lost ones in the unfortunate incident. And he is also giving us the assurance that he is with us at this trying period. So, it is a trying time for all of us but it is at such time like this that we draw our strength and resilient to be our brothers keeper. Let us refrain from spreading fake news and disinformation that can potentially cause panic within the populace”.
“There are lots of misinformation going on. I saw on a platform where someone said Yoruba land has been invaded and these are people that may not even be anywhere near Nigeria, talk less of Oyo state. So, let us mind what we say and I read where someone said some random people on the street mentioned that they were been asked to pay to receive medical treatment or to stay in a hotel. Who should they believe? The random people or should they believe myself as the governor as the chief security officer of this state? Yes, that is how low we have sank as a country that people doubt their leaders; the gap between the government and trust deficit between the government and the people is widening. It is a wake up call and one again I urge us all to remain calm as the authorities in Oyo state are on top of the situation.”
The special adviser to Gov Makinde on Security, Fatai Owoseni said, ‘’Almost immediately, the governor gave instruction and it was promptly complied with. The area has been secured. Hoodlums have been prevented from carrying out looting. It was an explosion. We want to use this opportunity to say it is incorrect for people to say Boko Haram elements have infiltrated Ibadan. Preliminary investigation indicates that for a period, explosive devices have been stored there. Security men will continue to manage the security of the area.”
From NEMA stable
The director general of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Abeeb Ahmed on his part disclosed that the search and rescue was ongoing. “This is something that occurred last night and as we speak, that is why the place need to be evaluated so that people don’t step on other people, because search and rescue has not been concluded. Regulatory bodies must all sit up. Where we have people keeping piles of explosives in a residential area is not acceptable, disaster management is everybody’s business.
According to the NEMA DG, “We’ve seen documents, personal belongings of the people there for now, we don’t know what exactly is there, the most disturbing is that these particular people with the explosive have been there for a very long period of time and how come people keeping that quantum of explosives over 10 years and nobody has seen anything.This kind of materials is not allowed in a residential areas such as this, the regulatory bodies must ensure that nothing of this nature happens again.”
One of landlords whose buildings were affected, Barr Iyiola Oladokun said he and his family members can’t sleep in the house again as a result of the damage done to the house and that property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
“I am one of the residents of Dejo Oyelese close. My house has been affected. We were just watching football match when the explosion occured. All the doors that were closed were forced to opened. It is very devastating. All the doors, burglary, windows and even the roof have gone. We give glory to God that myself and my wife were not hurt. I am just coming back now, because we can’t sleep here again. We didn’t sleep here yesterday,” he said.
President Tinubu in a statement by his special adviser media & publicity Ajuri Ngelale commiserated with victims saying, ” It is worrisome that the cause of the blast is being attributed to the activities of illegal miners. Those behind the inexcusable and reckless behavior that has created the conditions for the sad incident to occur must be fished out and punished.”