By Ignatius Okorocha
Unhappy with the recent gas explosion in Abule-Ado that killed more than 17 persons and destroyed many houses and vehicles, Senate on Tuesday mandated its committees on Petroleum Downstream, Gas Resources and Petroleum Upstream to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the explosion with a view to prevent reoccurrence and report back to Senate in two weeks.
The Upper chamber while urging the Federal Government and members of the National Assembly to donate to the N2 Billion “Abule –Ado Emergency Relief Fund,” also directed that National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to immediately send relief materials to affected victims and offset medical bills of hospitalized victims.
The resolutions of the Senate followed a motion on urgent need to investigate explosion at Abule-Ado, Amuwo Odofin LGA, Lagos, resulting in loss of lives and massive destruction of property, sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola and two others.
Leading debate on the motion, Senator Adeola said that the explosion which occurred near the Lagos Trade Fair Complex, caused no fewer than 23 deaths including that of a family of 4 on their way to a church service as well as the death of the school principal of Bethlehem Girls College, Rev. Sister Henrietta Alokha who died while rescuing her students.
The lawmaker regretted that the explosion suspected to have been caused by an articulated vehicle loaded with granites hitting filled gas cylinders or pressuring NNPC pipeline at a point near NNPC’s 2B pipeline right of way, injured hundreds of persons, totally destroyed multi-billion naira properties and businesses including 200 building and 2,500 vehicles within a radius of over 40 square meters of the blast in the densely populated neighborhood as well as other collateral destruction many kilometers away.
Adeola disclosed that there have been a recurrence of similar explosions in recent times in the same area as happened in 2016, 2018 (Abule-Egba), 2019 (Abule– Egba) 2020 (Ijegun), and 2020 (Ile-Epo, Oke-Odo).
He expressed concern that Nigerians living around this axis or going about their legitimate endeavors now live in justifiable fear of not only losing their lives or those of love ones from these frequent explosive fire disasters but also their properties and investments.
The lawmaker commended officers and men of NEMA, LASEMA, Lagos State and Federal Fire Services, Nigerian Navy and Airforce, other security agencies, NNPC and ordinary Nigerians on their prompt roles in putting out the inferno resulting from the explosion and mitigating its spread as well as rescuing victims;
He further commended the Lagos State government for its prompt response to the national disaster particularly the setting up of the “Abule-Ado Emergency Relief Fund” worth N2 Billion for the victims with initial take off of N200 million.
In her contribution, Senator Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central) said there is need to upgrade he nation’s pipelines that are now obsolete to avoid incessant explosion of pipelines.
She said there is connivers in the pipeline vandalization, stressing the need to employ the services of local vigilantes in guarding the pipelines from being vandalized.
Senator Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North), on his part, called on state governments to demolish structures that are built on pipeline area to save Nigerians from a reoccurrence of explosion.
Senators James Manager (Delta south), George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East) and many others supported the motion, noting that stringent measures should be taken to guard against a reoccurrence in the near future.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahamd Lawan, recalled that similar incidence occurred sometimes last year and Senate took very far reaching resolutions totally about 17 resolutions and sent to the office of the Secretary to Federal Government (SGF) on he 13th of November, but regrettably, non of these resolutions have been attended to.
“I want to advise the Executive arm of government that when we take resolutions of this nature, we take them with all the seriousness they deserve. I also wish to advise that when our drivers carry loads, they should be mindful of the fact that they should not go beyond the weight of the vehicle,” he said.