The untold story of Abulado Fire as Residents finger government

Incredulous, unfathomable, unbelievable, were indeed some usual and expected lamentations, that greeted the avoidable but huge and incalculable human and material losses occasioned by the explosions that rocked Abulado area of Lagos Nigeria on Sunday, March 15, 2020. CYRIACUS NNAJI in this report pens down his observations as grassroots people at the scene of the incident passed a verdict in condemnation of negligence, ineptitude of state authorities.

Nigeria is synonymous with blames, counter blames, denials, relativisms, viewing issues, actions, disasters from prism of self justification and shifting of responsibilities.

Abulado inferno, so unfortunate as it was, has come and gone leaving in its trail blood, sorrow, anguish, regrets, perpetual wound on affected homes.

Sad, sorrow, indescribable, like candle light Rev. Sr. Henrietta Alokha SSH, Principal of Bethlehem Girls College, Abúlé Ado who struggled to rescue her students in the pipeline fire explosion was gone. She virtually dragged them to the back of the school away from the presumed danger. That was when the explosion happened. She got to the back and felt that some students were not yet accounted for and ran back to bring them. She never made it out.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) says over 50 buildings were destroyed in the explosion that rocked Abule Ado, near the Trade Fair Complex on the Lagos-Badagry highway. Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, Acting Coordinator of the Lagos Territorial Office of NEMA, confirmed the development on Sunday..

As at time of preparing this report, officially death toll from the inferno has rising to 20, while houses are in 50s. But that was official, eye witnesses and residents say the number is incalculable, putting it at the range of hundreds, they said the blasts did not only affect churches at Sunday masses, it touched school dormitories and many people are still missing.

Many alleged that a Tipper truck came to the scene with bomb that triggered the explosion, adding that the driver abandoned his vehicle when asked by security agents on duty to pay usual N200 or N100. It was when the driver disappeared, according to eyewitnesses, that the explosion occurred, yet many claimed that the tipper hit a gas pipeline, others still said the blast was planned by the authorities because according to them, for weeks now, that particular area was cordoned off with ropes, and traders in that corridor were asked to vacate the area, they said.

The Residents insisted the explosion that occurred in Lagos was caused by bomb and not pipeline explosion.

One of the locals said “I heard the explosion all the way from Alaba International. I thought it was a bomb blast. If I could hear the sound of the explosion so loud in my area, how much more of those living within the scene? If this had happened tomorrow [Monday], many people would die.

Another Lagos resident said remember when a pipeline explosion happened at Abulegba, those living close to Ikotu, Iba, Okoko, badagary, Alaba and others, didn’t hear the sound so loud, but why did it sound so loud today and people say it is a pipeline explosion? A pipeline explosion occurred in Abulado [Omo-onile] and people far away from Alaba, Ikotu, Badagary, Cele, Agbara could hear the sound so loud. I think this is a bomb blast planted on a pipeline.

Residents are still counting their losses even as hundreds have been rendered homeless and jobless from tremor-like explosion that rocked the place, they said what appeared like a gas explosion razed hundreds of buildings in the entire Abule-Ado, some went up in flames, others had their roofs squeezed, shrunk and broken in bits with parts of the buildings caving in. They have refused to accept claims in some quarters that it was a gas explosion. They said it was a clear case of a bomb explosion, but who planted the bomb remained unknown since up until now nobody has claimed responsibility.

According to report, resident who identified herself as Mama Divine aligned with other residents’ assumption with information they got from soldiers guarding the pipeline as well as the effect of the explosion.

She said “My brother that is a bomb explosion. My street is very far from the scene of the explosion but all the storey buildings on that street lost their PVCs ceilings to the explosion. The whole buildings shook and their PVCs all fell off.

“Again, according the Security Personnel who were guarding the pipeline, the thing came like a rocket and hit the pipeline and the next thing was that smoke starting billowing before the deafening sound, which was followed by the destruction.

“The Bethlehem College was badly affected, with many boarding students sustaining injuries. In fact, nobody can say the exact number of persons that died at the college.”

According to manager of a nearby hotel “I had 15 lodgers and about eight workers, who were here before the incident. As I speak to you now, I don’t know their whereabouts. A member of my church even died in this incident. What happened here is more than a pipeline explosion; it looks like a bomb explosion,’ she narrated.

According to a resident who refused to give his name, “E be like say na that tipper carry the bomb. People wey dey around that moment said as soon as the tipper stopped, the person wey drive am just pack and disappeared. And, soon after that, the explosion happened and the tipper too got burn. So, e be like say na the tipper carry the bomb come.”

Another resident lamented “I don’t understand why there are gas pipelines going through community, residential and school areas and why did this not appear on international news? It’s horrific and an injustice to the Nigerian people”

Gani Adams has called on Government to investigate Sundays Fire saying he is suspecting something.

Right now, hundreds of residents are moving what remains of their property out of the area. While many are seeking refuge in their relatives’ homes, others are stranded even as many others are moving into their shops.

According to Ozo (Engr.) Patrick Uwaezuoke Mba, Social commentator, our solidarity, sympathy & empathy, goes to the victims of Abule Ado explosion, As we mourn the demise of Rev. Sis. Henrietta Alokha, principal, Bethlehem high school, Abule Ado and all others, who lost their lives in the inferno, we pray & implore the good lord to grant her soul and the souls of all others, a resounding rest in his bosom and may perpetual light, continue to shine upon their souls.

HRH Augustine Ojukwu, Ezeudo II of Amuwo Odofin (Ezendi Igbo Na Amuwo Odofin) has sympathized with the people of Abule Ado community especially the families of individuals who lost their lives and properties in the massive explosion. “It is indeed a sad story, we pray such occurrence cease in our community and country at large.”

Honourable Jude Chukwuemeka Idimogu, the Lawmaker representing Oshod/Isolo Constituency 02, also commiserated with Lagosians over the inferno.

Giving Preliminary report of the inferno, Dr Olufemi Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu, DG/CEO LASEMA said “The primary cause of the explosion is unknown. There were a number of secondary explosions which have caused significant damage to multiple buildings including the leveling of a church to ground zero and the destruction of St Margaret’s Girls’ Hostel. “

He said 17 bodies have been recovered while 25 casualties are being treated for injuries on site. We sympathize with the families of the dead and wish the injured quick recovery. We appeal for calm and urge residents to shun fake news. Operation is still in progress. Updates will continue through the course of operation while investigations remain on going

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos has also disclosed that the state has set up a N2 billion relief fund for victims of the Sunday’s explosion around Abule Ado area while the president is yet to visit the area.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on its part said that a gas explosion caused the blast which rocked the Abule Ado.

A Lagosian expressing opinion on the explosion said, first, Lagos State Government has a lot of works to do on this incident that rocks its city; second, they need to investigate thoroughly, call an expert to investigate what caused the explosion, is it pipeline vandalism, a terrorist attacked, or other act of evil? Take a necessary action that will make Lagos State secured and saved for its citizens

In a chat with The AUTHORITY one of the victims revealed that he lost all the trucks that he recently bought to boost his business. The people also revealed that bunkering is a process that has been ongoing in the region.

Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu on Sunday warned people residing within the petroleum pipeline network and Gas Installations areas to vacate as such was illegal and a threat to their lives.

He said tampering, digging; building and erecting kiosks or shops on gas pipeline and dumping/burning refuse around gas facility and pipeline always pose danger to lives and properties of the residents, even parking of vehicles, motorcycles, farming and smoking in gas pipeline areas are very dangerous to human existence.

Residents say a two year old child and another three months baby have been recovered almost 2 houses after the disaster knock at the door. That was the amazing wonder of God.

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