• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Makinde confirms foreign role in Ibadan explosion, seeks tougher control

Food crisis: FG didn’t give states N30bn each, says Makinde

Adeyi Avenue residents in Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State, attribute Tuesday night’s explosion in the ancient city to the activities of illegal miners from Mali, one of Nigeria’s West African neighbours.

Seyi Makinde, governor of the state, also corroborated the residents’ account, saying that non-Nigerian people were behind the explosion.

The blast resulted in the deaths of three people, injuries to many, and the destruction of property worth billions of naira.

President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, urged relevant government agencies to identify and punish those responsible for what he termed “reckless behaviour” leading to the devastating blast in Ibadan. Tinubu expressed sadness over the incident, describing it as “worrisome.”

Speaking to journalists, a resident identified as Apa disputed the existence of illegal mining sites in the area.

However, he attributed the explosion to illegal miners from Mali residing in the neighbourhood and urged the Federal Government to expel them from the country.

Apa, supported by a neighbour, claimed that the explosion resulted from explosive materials used by the Malians for illegal mining activities.

He said, “When I called my neighbour, she said, ‘You remember those Malians?’ There must be equipment they’re using for doing their mining work that must have exploded, and that equipment is not a cheap material. It’s something that’s very heavy.”

Several posts on social media fingered one Sawane Youssouf as the owner of the company called SDYB International Company Nigeria Limited that stockpiled the explosives at the building where the incident occurred.

One commentator identified as ALMUSTAQIM on Nairaland, a popular Nigerian online forum said he could confirm the involvement of Sawane.

“I can authoritatively inform you that the explosion in Ibadan is the handiwork of a Malian immigrant engaged in mining operations in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State. His name is SAWANE YOUSSOUF,” ALMUSTAQIM wrote on Nairaland.

“He has been stockpiling explosives in a house (unknown if he owns it or if he rented it) for years. These explosives he stored for the purpose of his extensive mining business. How he was able to do that in a residential estate with few eyebrows raised is a failure of intelligence at both government and community levels.

“To think the location is just a stone throw from the Government Secretariat is damning. His own negligent stupidity as well as government taciturn approach to security of lives and properties have caused unnecessary deaths, injuries and property damage.”

A finding by BusinessDay revealed that the organisation, SDYB International Company Nigeria Limited, registration number RC 511184, was incorporated in Nigeria on May 17, 2004.
Sawane Youssouf, Darame Ibrahima, Yattara Ibrahim, and Bakare Hakeem Oladimeji are listed as directors of the company.

BusinessDay also learned that Sawane previously served as the president of the Oyo State chapter of the ECOWAS members, the Nigeria Miners Association (NMA).

In an interview with Nigerian Tribute in November 2020, Sawane refuted the claim that he is an illegal miner, saying that he has been operating in Nigeria for over 30 years.

“I have been dealing with precious stones in Nigeria for over 30 years. I was elected president in 2016. I started this business as a messenger and gradually became a master. I have traversed all the areas of the business. With my experience in this business over the years, it has contributed to the economy of Nigeria directly and indirectly,” he said.

Makinde, confirming casualties during his visit to the explosion site, revealed that the blast resulted from illegal miners in the area.

He added that the preliminary investigations indicated foreign names in the Corporate Affairs Commission documents of the company linked to the Ibadan blast.

Appearing on Channels TV Politics Today on Wednesday evening, the governor emphasised the failure of the neighbourhood association to report illegal mining activities to law enforcement agencies.

“We are trying to uncover the identity of the people involved. We have done a few fact-finding on the company involved. And yes, there are indeed some foreign names in the CAC documents of the company involved, but these are still very early days. We don’t have any reason to cover anything,” Makinde said.

“It is a failure of the neighbourhood association because we always admonish our people. If you see something that doesn’t look right, then bring it to the attention of the authorities, and then they will do something about it.”

The governor expressed plans to seek approval from the president for a measure requiring miners with explosives to store them with the military. This, he explained, would involve obtaining permission from the president to sign an executive order mandating anyone handling explosives in Oyo State to store them with the military.

Makinde mentioned that 60 out of the 77 injured individuals have received treatment and been discharged.

In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu expressed concern over the explosion.

He emphasised the need to identify and punish those responsible for the reckless behaviour that led to the unfortunate incident.

“It is worrisome that the cause of the blast is being attributed to the activities of illegal miners.
“Those behind the inexcusable and reckless behaviour that has created the conditions for the sad incident to occur must be fished out and punished,” the statement reads.

The statement, titled ‘President Tinubu Commiserates with Oyo State Government, Victims over the Ibadan Explosion,’ conveyed his condolences to the government and people of Oyo State.

Tinubu urged relevant government agencies to swiftly investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragedy and directed the National Emergency Management Agency to collaborate with the Oyo State Government in providing immediate and comprehensive relief to the victims.

Reacting to the development on his X account, Tolu Ogunlesi, a media aide to former President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed concern about the possibility of many neighbourhoods housing explosives without the knowledge of the authorities.

While commending the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for curbing the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide bombings in the Northeast and Northwest, he said it is time to shift focus to mining and quarrying operations in the country. He also advocated for the use of a whistleblowing campaign to address the issue.

“I know that ONSA polices explosives in Nigeria, and have done an excellent job with curbing IEDs/VBEDs/suicide bombings in Northeast and Northwest Nigeria,” he said.

“It’s time now to shift the focus to mining/quarrying operations. Plus a national ‘Say It If You See It’/Whistleblowing campaign.”