Nigeria: ‘Illegal Miners’ Explosives Caused Ibadan Blast’

Ibadan — Following the explosion that rocked major parts of Ibadan, on Tuesday, one of the survivors, Alhaji Mohammed Musa, who lives close to the epicentre, said it was foreigners, who were engaged in illegal mining activities that caused the blast.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State also attributed the blast to explosives stored by illegal miners, with President Bola Tinubu directing security agencies to fish out those behind the disaster.

Though the official announcement of the casualty figure is yet to be made available Vanguard gathered that three people were killed in the explosion.

At the scene of the explosion, yesterday, a casualty was brought out of the rubble and put in a body bag.

Earlier, the Oyo State government had announced that two people died in the unfortunate incident.

Also, a survivor who was seriously injured was seen being wheeled into a waiting ambulance.

It will be recalled that at about 7.44 pm, on Tuesday, a loud explosion was heard in different parts of the state capital, leading to panic and confusion.

How explosion occurred — Witness

Speaking with Vanguard at the scene of the explosion, Alhaji Musa, who said he was rushed to the hospital and discharged yesterday, said he escaped death by the whiskers because he offered to help his neighbour put out the fire that preceded the explosion.

His claims that foreign illegal miners caused the explosion were corroborated by Governor Makinde.

Narrating events that preceded the explosion, he said: “Around 7 pm last night (Tuesday), I was going to pray. As I was standing to start the prayer, I noticed some fire burning in the next house. So, I stopped the prayer and quickly picked up my fire extinguisher. I told my boys that the neighbour’s house was on fire, let’s go and help.

“I then came downstairs. One guy saw me and said the fire was beyond what an extinguisher can put out. I then picked up my phone to call the fire service. The next thing I heard was a blast.

“It threw me off the ground and landed me on the stairs. Part of the house had cracked. My boys advised that I jump.

“Fire started just a metre away from that house and at the time we came downstairs, there was no one in the premises. The house where the fire started was occupied by Senagalese or Namibians and they engaged in mining activities.

“They had explosives inside the building. The explosion was a result of the explosives kept in the building.

“The foreigners have been living here since 2013. They go in the morning and come back in the evening. I wouldn’t know if their immediate neighbours know they were into mining.”

The foreigners ran out before explosion

He further clarified that immediately the foreigners saw the raging fire, they knew the implications because of what they kept inside.

His words: “The foreigners, including their children, ran out of the house and they didn’t alert us, so we could run away too. They knew the implications when they saw the fire, so they ran out without alerting us.

“Thank God I came down trying to help put out the fire; I would have been dead by now. The whole house would have collapsed on me. That I wanted to save the house of my neighbour from being burnt was what saved me. If anyone had been in the house, the person would have died.”

Asked if he knew his neighbours were illegal miners, he simply said: “We have them all over. They are also at Orogun; that’s their trade and that’s what they come to Nigeria to do and explosives are part of the things they use in blasting. They had kept them in the house.”

How I Lost My Brother — Survivor

A survivor who gave his name as Adeleke, gave an account of how he lost his elder brother to the tragic incident.

Adeleke, who said he and his brother were playing tennis before he left, said: “A sharp object cut him in the stomach.”

He further narrated that his late brother, Oladipupo, was rushed to Adeoyo General Hospital immediately but he could not make it.

He said: “He came out to the front of the transformer where the incident happened. His intestines were out after the cut.”

Another survivor, Olaitan Okanlawon, said: “I was inside with my husband and kids. We started hearing strange sounds and vibrations; it was not clear until we began to see rubbles outside the window.

Blast shattered our windows, roofs –Bola Ige’s son

The residence of the late Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige which is just two streets away from the epicenter, was also not spared.

His son, Mr Muyiwa Ige, in a chat with Vanguard, said he had to rush back home when a friend told him about the explosion, adding that he came to rescue the grandchildren of someone close to him.

He said: “We thank God for life and for those who survived the unfortunate incident. The effect is that lives were lost. It affected my house; we are just a few metres away from the epicentre and the gravity led to the damage we have here. We thank God that no life was lost here. The blast shattered the windows and roofs.

“Structurally, the building is intact. I have gone around to do the analysis. Yes, we are hearing that the explosion was caused by some illegal miners. That would be grossly unfortunate that someone could keep such dangerous things in a residential area.

“I have spoken to the leadership of this residents’ association to find out who the persons are. We should not jump the gun, but it is evident because there is a crater at the epicentre. It’s unacceptable.

‘Glasses were blown out, roofs caved in. If they knew what they had and they kept it in a residential area, then they are suicidal.

“We must identify who they are. If they are still alive and some people have died based on the consequences of what they had done, they should be brought to book.

“There were fears that some unexploded bombs could still be at the place. Security officers were warning thousands of people at the scene to move away, as staying there could be risky.”

Schools shut down

The explosion led to the shutdown of two private schools in the area, namely Barakat and Educational Advancement Centre. Their students came to resume only to be sent back home by their teachers.

When Vanguard got to the scene, there was gridlock as a result of the large crowd trooping to the scene of the explosion.

Security agents had a hectic time controlling the crowd bent on having a glimpse of the rubbles created by the blast. At the spot, the rescue team was working to search if there were still victims under the rubble.

Vanguard was reliably informed that several children of a popular school located at Idi Ishin were injured and taken to the hospital. They use the building opposite the epicentre as hostels.

Governor’s Office, ministries suffer damage

Similarly, the effect of the explosion was felt by buildings and offices within the State Secretariat at Agodi, Ibadan.

Visits to some of the ministries and parastatals by Vanguard revealed severe damage caused by the explosion.

The affected offices include the office of the governor, the governor’s media office, the Water Corporation building that houses other ministries, the State Secretariat Central Mosque, the Secretariat Chapel, the Revenue House, and the newly built and yet-to-be-commissioned Local Government Service House, and the Local Government Staff Training School.

Glasses were shattered, ceilings caved in, and doors forced open and damaged; likewise, Computer Systems were also affected in some offices.

Some members of staff who could not sit in their offices due to the damage caused by the explosion were seen in groups discussing the unfortunate incident.

Explosion caused by illegal miners — Makinde

Speaking on the explosion after visiting the site, Governor Seyi Makinde attributed the explosion to devices stored by illegal miners.

He also disclosed that two persons died in the explosion, while about 77 persons were injured.

Makinde explained that preliminary investigations revealed that illegal miners stored explosive devices in one of the houses in Bodija.

He said: “We visited the scene of the explosion which occurred at about 7.44 pm yesterday, January 16, 2024, in Bodija, Ibadan. This unfortunate incident resulted in death and injury to residents in the vicinity and also affected properties.

“We have already deployed first responders and all relevant agencies within Oyo State to carry out comprehensive search and rescue operations. These operations will continue throughout the night.

“Earth-moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights, and security were deployed to the scene of the incident. The wounded and injured are being treated and moved to public and private hospitals within Ibadan.

“Medical personnel are on standby at these hospitals to provide all needed assistance to the injured. We have visited UCH to see some of those injured during the incident.

“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.

Foreign names indicted for Ibadan explosion — Makinde

Governor Makinde said foreign names and a company were indicted for the explosion.

Governor Makinde further disclosed in an interview with Channels Television’s Politics Today, that the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, certificate of a mining company indicted for the explosion showed some foreign names as owners.

The governor said the death toll in the unfortunate blast had risen to three as one more victim died at a hospital yesterday.

He said: “We are trying to uncover the identities of the people. We’ve done a few fact-finding on the company involved and yes, there are indeed some foreign names on the CAC documents of the company involved but these are still early days. We don’t have anything to cover.”

Oyo govt to pay medical bills of victims

“I have directed that the medical bills of all victims be covered by the government. We will also be providing temporary accommodation for those whose houses were affected and ensuring that they are supported to rebuild their lives.”

“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. The investigations are ongoing. All those found culpable for this will be brought to book.

“I urge all residents to please call 615 for any emergencies they may be experiencing at this time and to remain calm and stay away from the immediate scene of the incident to allow rescue operations to be carried out without interference.”

Emergency situation Room set up

Also, Governor Makinde, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Suleiman Olanrewaju, said: “The state government has set up an Emergency Situation Room for the Bodija Incident led by Professor Temitope Alonge, to coordinate the ongoing response to the incident.”

NEMA blames explosion on IEDs

Similarly, the South-West Zonal Office of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, in a situation report on the explosion, said it was caused by Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs.

The Southwest zonal office of the agency stated that a distress alert for the explosion was received at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Bodija GRA behind Ace Mall Ibadan.

The zonal coordinator said the mobilised response agencies were deployed to the scene of the explosion. On arrival at the scene, it was observed by NEMA that it was a suspected explosion of an IED, which affected over 20 houses.

It stated that the casualty figures by the agency could not be ascertained adding that search and rescue operations were still ongoing.

According to the agency, stakeholders present as disclosed in the situation report include the NPF, NSCDC, DSS, SEMA, Nigeria Army, Federal and State Fire Service, Nigerian Red Cross, State Ministry of Environment, and Amotekun Corps.

It added that more resources are being mobilised to support the ongoing operations.

The situation, according to the report, is under control while efforts are ongoing to ensure smooth operation.

Those behind Ibadan explosion must be fished out — Tinubu

Also yesterday, President Bola Tinubu directed all the relevant authorities to ensure that those behind the incident were fished out, describing the unfortunate explosion as worrisome.

President Tinubu, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, said: “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.”

He also commiserated with the government and people of Oyo State and called on all concerned agencies of government to unravel the circumstances that led to the tragedy with alacrity.

The President directed the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to work with Oyo State government to offer immediate and comprehensive relief to the victims.

FEC raises c’ttee to review laws on explosives

Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, yesterday, set up a committee to review the laws on control of explosives in a bid to determine whether they might have been violated by illegal miners in Ibadan.

The Minister of Defence, Badaru Abubakar, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the first FEC meeting in 2024, presided over by President Bola Tinubu, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The minister said: “The first question has to do with the Ibadan explosion where the governor said that preliminary investigation suggested that there are some explosives around the area where it happened that are owned by some illegal miners.

“Well, we have seen that report. There is another report suggesting that it was a gas explosion. So, our team is there trying to find out what the cause is.

“But for the council to be proactive, it has already set up the committee that I told you to look into how the control of explosives law was broken if indeed there were explosives around the area where this incident happened.

“That was why the committee was set up to look at the rules to see where the chain is broken and see how it can be fixed and gather more information if this is happening rampantly around the country.

“You all know that there are strict rules in the storage, movement and ownership of these explosives and the rule is being monitored. If there is any case of breakdown, we will find out and deal with it.”

We’ll tighten noose around illegal explosives acquisition –Alake condoles with Gov Makinde, Oyo people

Reacting to the explosion, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake, yesterday, said he has ordered a detailed investigation adding that ministry officials will work and collaborate with the Oyo State government to know the cause of the explosion.

While he condoled with Governor Makinde over the explosions, Alake said steps will be taken to tighen the noose around those acquiring explosives and storing them illegally.

The Minister, in a statement, said: “I am saddened with the news of explosion that occurred yesterday night in Ibadan, Oyo State.

“The tragic incident had devastating effects on lives and property.

“I offer my condolences over lost lives on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals to Governor Seyi Makinde and the good people of Oyo State.

“I also extend my sympathy to the wounded and other victims who suffered one loss or the other especially residents whose house were destroyed. I pray the Almighty God to comfort the family of the deceased and grant succour to those who lost valuables as they begin to rebuild.

“Oyo State Government and Emergency Response Agencies of both the state and federal governments have promised to help as much as possible.

“In the interim, I have directed the ministry’s mine officers who are already on site in Ibadan to join ongoing investigations to find out the immediate and remote causes of the explosion. “We have ordered detailed investigation and our officers will work and collaborate with Oyo State Government to know the cause.

“If the explosion was caused by mining explosives devices as earlier reported, the ministry will double its effort to tighten the noose around those acquiring explosives and storing them illegally.”

Ibadan explosion, unfortunate–Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun, Adeleke

Meanwhile, Governors of Lagos, Ogun and Osun states, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Dapo Abiodun and Ademola Adeleke, yesterday, described the Ibadan explosion as unfortunate.

Governor Sanwo-Olu described it as “disheartening and unfortunate”, wishing the residents, particularly the victims, peace, comfort and lots of love at this sorrowful time.

Sanwo-Olu, in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Gboyega Akosile, said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of the Ibadan explosion that led to the destruction of many properties in the vicinity with records of two fatalities and 77 people injured on Tuesday night at Bodija in Ibadan, Oyo State.

“It is painful and worrisome that the explosion was caused allegedly by illegal miners, who stored explosive devices in one of the houses in the Bodija area of the State.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Lagos State, I sympathise with the immediate families of the victims of the explosion, the government and people of Oyo State.”

Similarly, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State has described Tuesday’s explosion in Ibadan, Oyo State as a monumental tragedy.

The governor, in a condolence message, said: “I extend my deepest condolences to the government and the people of Oyo State, following the tragic explosion that occurred in Ibadan on Tuesday.

“Our hearts go out to the families who lost their loved ones and those who were injured in this devastating incident. We stand in solidarity with the people of Oyo State during this difficult time and offer our full support in the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

“The quick response by the state government, no doubt, saved more lives, and this is commendable.”

On his part, Governor Adeleke of Osun State described the explosion as sad.

The governor, in a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, said: “I commiserate with my Oyo state counterpart, Governor Seyi Makinde, Oyo State Government and the entire people of Oyo state especially those affected by the Ibadan explosion. It is a really sad thing happening at the beginning of the year.

“This incident is not only sad but also a huge economic blow to many families in the affected area.

“I pray for those who have lost their loved ones that God will give them the fortitude to bear the loss and for everyone who has lost one property or the other, God will help them to recover their loss.”

Dayo Johnson, Chioma Obinna, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Laolu Elijah, Deola Badru, Shina Abubakar, Gabriel Ewepu, James Ogunnaike & Fortune Eromosele

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