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How explosive devices stored by ‘illegal miners’ wreaked havoc on lives, property in Ibadan

How explosive devices stored by ‘illegal miners’ wreaked havoc on lives, property in Ibadan

…Victims count losses
…Death toll on the rise
…As govt continues to probe

Almost 8 pm on Tuesday, when most people had retired home after the day’s hustle, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was thrown into confusion and panic when a loud bang was heard in some parts of the city.

The vibration spread up to Mokola, Oke Itunu, Apete, Omi Adio,Idi Isin,, Agbowo, Eleyele, and Orogun and University College Hospital (UCH).

This sent sent jitters down the spine of many who wondered what could that be and from which area of the ancient city.

After the blast, discussions promptly came up on various platforms on what really happened,with insinuations of possible terrorists attack- Boko Haram, bomb blast, explosion from a gas plant, earthquake, etc.

Few minutes later, videos surfaced online from the scene of the explosion where thick smoke filled the air and residents were heard calling for help to rescue injured people.

It emerged that the location of the explosion was Adeyi Avenue, Bodija, a middle/upper class neighborhood and home to some of the best brains in Oyo State.

Buildings were brought down, cars burnt, door/window glasses and ceilings were shattered.

As at Friday, five persons were confirmed dead , 77 injured, most of whom were treated and discharged. 58 houses and unverified number of vehicles were burnt.

Reacting to the incident, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, who swiftly swung into action by deploying first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations as well as moved earth moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights, and security to the scene, said the explosion was caused by illegal miners who stored improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in their houses.

Residents of the area had earlier alleged that a migrant known as “Camara” was occupant of the house where the explosive devices exploded.

They alleged that “Camara” was a known miner and also allegedlly stored explosive devices in his house.

According to residents, the whereabout of “Camara” is not known now. “We are appealing to government to fish him out to face the sanction. He had been warned severally to stop endangering the community,” they said.

But during a world press briefing, the governor said the company that stored up the explosives has been identified.

While calling for calm, he listed some measures already taken to address the situation which include the setting up of an Emergency Operation Centre to oversee search and rescue.

He also said that search and rescue efforts would continue until all lives in the vicinity of the blast are accounted for, adding that the state government has also made provisions with hotels to accommodate victims and those living close to the site of the incident once they are able to identify themselves.

“We are aware that aside from the immediate perimeter of the incident, people as far as 25km away may have been affected physically or psychologically. We have, therefore, put the Emergency Operation Centre, which is being headed by Professor Temitope Alonge, to coordinate all search and rescue efforts,” he said.

On his part, Alonge, a professor, said an emergency response to the incident was to set up a team of about 40 doctors, 40 nurses and 25 medical students at the University College Hospital, Ibadan.

He added that victims that were injured were receiving medical attention in private and government hospitals and that most of them were in stable condition.

“Apart from doctors and nurses, we have added to our team physiotherapists, clinical psychologists and they were on ground yesterday to assess the psychological state of the survivors of this unfortunate incident,” he said.

But according to Muyiwa Bamgbose, chairman, Bodija Estate Residents Association, “Bodija, is a low density area. It is a mind-your-business area traditionally. Many people wouldn’t know what their neighbours are doing. For somebody to have been harbouring explosives like that, dynamite or whatever, that has been dealing with some agencies of government in getting approval of some sorts, in moving some things to some places.”

A resident, Mohammed Musa, alleged that “the house where the fire started is occupied by a Senegalese or Malian and they engage in mining activities.

“Definitely, they had explosives inside the building. The explosion was as a result of the explosives kept in the building. The foreigners have been living in here since 2013. They go in the morning and come back in the evening. I wouldn’t know if their immediate neighbour knows they are into mining. The foreigners ran out before the explosion.

“We have them all over. They are also at Orogun. That’s their trade and that’s what they came to Nigeria to do. And explosives are part of the things they use in blasting. Definitely, they had kept them in the house.

“Also, we want government to investigate other miners who might have been storing such dangerous devices in residential areas,” Musa said.

Counting their losses over the unfortunate incident, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Iyiola Oladokun, a lawyer whose house was affected by the explosion, said : “I have been rendered homeless.”

Oladokun, who visited the scene of the explosion, claimed that property worth millions of naira were destroyed in his house.

While saying that he and his family members cannot sleep in his house again due to the damage from the explosion said: “My residence is among the houses affected by the explosion; a friend had to provide accommodation for me and my wife after the explosion on Tuesday night.

“I am just coming back now because we can’t sleep here again. We couldn’t sleep here on Tuesday. We have to use our phone to move out. We had to find somewhere to sleep yesterday.

“I am one of the residents of Dejo Oyelese Close. My house was affected. We were just watching the football match when the explosion occured. All the doors that were closed were forced open.

“It was very devastating, all the doors, burglary, windows and even the roof have gone. We give glory to God that me and my wife were not hurt.”

Also, Niyi Akintola, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in a touching write up, said: “This is what remains of my modest contributions to hospitality business in Ibadaland just after the explosions of last night in Bodija. It is a posh hotel in a posh area known as ‘House 40″ on Dejo Oyelese Street, Bodija. I recalled that some of our colleagues on this platform who had at one time enjoyed the hospitality of the modest 24 beds which include 8 suites, 3 chalets and 13 standard rooms are Alariwo, Wole Iyamu SAN, H,E. Iyiola Oladokun (whose residence) that shared a fence with my House 40 was completely destroyed. Other members of the Bar whose properties were destroyed on the street include the Late Chief Bola Ige SAN, the late Chief Bandele Aiku SAN, and an hospitality building said to belong to the late Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN. My three other properties on Alabiamo Street, Adeyi Street and Adenuga Street were also slightly damaged with removed roof, removed POP ceilings, sliding doors, air-conditioners and several electrical applliances. Oh my God, it is terrible. As I write this with my hands trembling, some guests and three hotel staff are in the hospital but we thank God that no casualty was recorded. What a way to start a new year? I need your prayers please.”

A resident, Taiwo Salami who lamented that all his property were lost, said: “Everything I have is gone; the whole house, all the vehicles. In fact, every house in this area has to be completely demolished because there are structural defects already. As you can see, there are cracks everywhere. Everything has to be demolished and properly rebuilt, and we’re talking billions here.’’

Yominife Olowe, who stated that the affected residents could not handle the losses occasioned by the destruction alone, said: “We don’t know where to start from. I don’t even want to think about the cost. I couldn’t sleep throughout last night. We just need help as much as possible.”

Another victim, Rebecca Opakunbi said: ‘‘We are homeless, there is nothing again, nothing that is useful here again. Everything has gone down, all our belongings have been destroyed, including the cars. But we thank God for life.’’

According to her, “I was on my way from the market when I heard the sound of the explosion, I could not see clearly but I managed to get to our house, which has already been burnt.”

Cecilia Adeleke, a resident, who blamed the estate management, said that businesses, mini companies, hotels, bars and lounges, had littered the estate as against what it was before now.
Another resident, Joshua Alabi, called for the review of the acquisition law and transfer of properties within the estate.

Apart from Bodija, the impact of the blast was also felt at the School of Nursing hostels at UCH where their glasses were shattered and some parts of government Secretariat also affected.

At the Secretariat, glasses were shattered, ceilings were forced down, doors forcefully opened and damaged, likewise computer systems were also affected in some offices.

While glass windows of the Governor’s Office were shattered, his private office, hallway and buildings of some ministries at the Secretariat were also not spared.

Some residents who spoke to BusinessDaySunday blamed the explosion on government’s lackadaisical attitude to the anything that concerns the masses.
A 40-year-old Jide said: “We Nigerians have seen a lot. Is it senseless killings; kidnapping; impunity at the highest level of government? We are just living in a mini hell here. Today, we are lamenting explosion, and everybody is shouting as if they are serious. Do they want to say that they were sincerely unaware of what really caused the explosion? Some expatriates come to Nigeria and collude with our people to our collective detriment. I hope they will make their findings public.”

By the same token, another resident who simply identified himself as Kunle said that the explosion would not have happened if the government was up an doing in knowing it’s environment.

“How would people say that one Camara was storing explosives and government was not aware? The question is, who knows how many other ‘Camaras’ that are in Ibadan? It is this attitude that has made businessmen to build filling and gas stations within the areas people live. You see filling stations sharing fences with residential buildings. Who approved such businesses in those places? In the next few days, the Ibadan explosion will become a past tense and everybody moves on without any lesson learnt, let alone taking steps to correct wrong things. No nation makes progress this way,” Kunle said.