Residents of Adeyi Avenue in Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State, have blamed Malian illegal miners for the explosion that rocked the ancient city on Tuesday night.
The explosion left at least three persons dead, scores of others injured, and property worth billions of naira destroyed.
This is just as President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, called on the relevant government agencies to “fish out” and “punish” those responsible for what he called “reckless behaviour” that triggered a devastating blast in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital Tuesday night.
This was as he expressed sadness over the incident he described as “worrisome.”
At least three persons were confirmed dead and over 80 were injured in the explosion which also destroyed several buildings, vehicles, and other property.
A resident of Adeyi Avenue, who simply identified himself as Apa, in an interview with journalists in Ibadan on Wednesday, said there were no illegal mining sites in the area.
He, however, blamed illegal miners from the West African country, Mali, who lived in the area for the explosion, adding that the Federal Government should send illegal miners out of the country.
Apa said his neighbour agreed with him that the explosion was caused by explosive materials, which the Malians used for illegal mining.
Recounting his experience, 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.
“If the explosion had happened in Odogbo barracks, then one would say yes, they have all sorts of things there. That thing is not supposed to be kept in this type of environment. And wherever such equipment is kept, it must be under-regulated humidity. Maybe the temperature would have triggered it, and that’s my own suspicion.
“There is nothing like illegal mining here. It’s miners that live here that brought the equipment and they are Malians.
“This is a lesson for the Nigerian government to decide whether we still want to keep such people in our country. Malians do a lot of things apart from this; they cause a lot of havoc. The government should start thinking about what to do with them, and if you find out they don’t have documents to live in this country, you know what to do.”
Speaking to journalists on the explosion, another Bodija resident, Taiwo Salami, said, “Many have died. We saw corpses all over the street last night (Tuesday). It just has to stop. Not only in Ibadan, in Niger, in Sokoto, in Abuja, everywhere.
“There is chaos and disorder in this country. This is not the country everybody wants to live in. This is not the country of our dreams. It’s just ridiculous. Where do people start from? Lives have been lost. Can they be gained back? They cannot! Everybody woke up yesterday, thinking this is 2024.
“This is January for goodness sake. Is this how we are going to start the year? How many more of such do we have in other neighbourhood that we are not even sure of? I’m tired.”
On the scale of damage, he said, “Everything is gone, everything. The whole house is gone. All the vehicles, all the properties, everything is gone. In fact, this whole area, all the houses would have to be demolished. Every single house must be demolished because their structural defects are evident; there are cracks everywhere. Everything has to be demolished and probably rebuilt. You’re talking about billions here.”
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, who visited the scene of the explosion, confirmed the casualties adding that the explosion occurred at Adeyi Avenue, Bodija. However, settlers say the blast was heard and felt kilometers away in many parts of the city.
Makinde said preliminary investigations by security agencies revealed that the blast was triggered by illegal miners occupying one of the houses in the Bodija area of the ancient city.
Makinde further revealed that the investigation revealed foreign names in the Corporate Affairs Commission documents of the company involved in the Ibadan blast.
The governor, while appearing on Channels TV Politics Today, Wednesday promised to uncover the identity of all those involved in the blast.
He explained that the explosion revealed the failure of the neighborhood association, adding that they failed to report the activities of illegal miners in the area to law enforcement agencies.
“Yes, 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.
“It is a failure of the neighborhood 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. So, people within this neighborhood are aware of some of these things. But it was never brought to the attention of the authorities.
To prevent an occurrence, Makinde said he would seek approval from President Bola Tinubu to compel miners with explosives to store them with the military.
His words, “ I will be seeking approval from the President for us in Oyo State to ensure that any mining activity, anybody that has to deal with explosives, take it to storage with the military. And if they need to use it, they go there, collect it and the military will escort them to where they will use it.
“Once I have the nod of Mr President, I should be signing an executive order that will make it mandatory for anybody dealing with explosives in Oyo state to have it stored with the military.
Makinde further noted that 60 out of the 77 injured persons have been successfully treated and discharged.
Tinubu in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, 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.”
The statement is titled ‘President Tinubu commiserates with Oyo State government, victims over the Ibadan explosion.’
President Tinubu 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.
He directed the National Emergency Management Agency to work with the Oyo State Government to offer immediate and comprehensive relief to the victims.
Meanwhile, following the devastating explosion, the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday said it had set up a committee to review the laws guiding the control of explosives in the country.
The committee would determine whether laws were violated by the illegal miners identified in the preliminary investigations by security agencies, the Minister of Defense, Mohammed Abubakar, told State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.
The council presided over by President Tinubu at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, expressed worries about the incident, noting the need to avert future episodes.
Abubakar said despite preliminary investigations linking the incident to explosives stored by illegal miners; the authorities are not ruling out gas as a possible cause. However, federal agents are on the ground to ascertain the proximate and remote causes of the incident.
Fielding questions from journalists, the Minister said, “The first question has to do with the Ibadan explosion where the governor said that preliminary investigation suggested that there were some explosives around the area where it happened that are owned by some illegal miners.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has deployed Explosives Ordinance Disposal experts to affected areas following the explosion in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The Force Public Relations, Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi revealed the development in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Wednesday night.
The FPRO noted that the experts were deployed by the Oyo State Police Command while adding that the Force Headquarters could also deploy more experts to the area if the need arises.
He further noted that the Force Headquarters was expecting a detailed report from the experts.
Adejobi said, “We have EOD experts in Ibadan working very hard at the moment. They have assessed the scene, and we are expecting a detailed report from them on the Ibadan explosion. Those in Ibadan are competent, and we may not need to send additional men to assist, but if they request, the IGP would deploy them.”
Also, the National Emergency Management Authority said no fewer than 58 houses were affected by Tuesday’s explosion at Dejo Oyelese Street, Adeyi Avenue, Old Bodija, Ibadan, the Oyo state capital city.
The Director General of the agency, Mustapha Ahmed, made the disclosure when he paid a visit to the scene of the explosion to assess the situation.
The Oyo State Government has set up an emergency situation hub to collate and coordinate management of victims affected by the explosion that rocked Ibadan on Tuesday night.
A statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Dotun Oyelade, on Wednesday, said anyone who was affected could go to the premises of the Housing Corporation, Bodija, Ibadan the Oyo State capital.
The Commissioner who said that the situation hub was headed by the Deputy Governor, Bayo Lawal, also advised victims to submit verifiable evidence of their losses and to seek clarifications on the nature of government intervention.
The statement also disclosed that temporary accommodation had been arranged by the government for those displaced as a result of the explosion, adding that the state government would also finance the hospital bills of those injured.
Oyelade confirmed that several victims had started registering at the hub, even as he said that they were being put through by emergency and disaster experts.
As investigations by the security agency into the explosion continued, the state government is narrowing down on the possible cause of the blast.
The commissioner said that because of new evidence, the government was interrogating certain leads that suggested the storage of explosives by illegal miners residing in the area.
During his visit to the scene last night, Governor Seyi Makinde implored residents of Oyo State to be more sensitive to the goings-on in their environment.
“If you see something, say something,” the Makinde emphasized.
The commissioner said that residents could call the situation room on 615.
A senior Advocate of Nigeria, Niyi Akintola’s hotel was one of the properties destroyed in the unfortunate blast that occurred in Ibadan on Tuesday night.
He wrote of the tragedy thus, “This is what remains of my modest contributions to hospitality businesses in Ibadan land just after the explosions of last night (Tuesday) in Bodija. It is a posh hotel in a posh area known as ‘House 40” on Dejo Oyelese Street. Bodiam. I recalled that some of our colleagues who had at one time enjoyed the hospitality of the modest 24 beds which include eight suites, three chalets, and 13 standard rooms are Alariwo, Wole Iyamu SAN, 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 Bola Ige , the Late Bandele Aiku , and a hospitality building said to belong to the late Governor of Ondo state, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
“My three other houses on Alabiamo Street, Adeyi Street, and Adenuga Street were also slightly damaged with removed roof, removed POP ceilings, sliding doors, air-conditionals, and several electrical applications. Oh my God, it is terrible! As I write this with my hands trembling, some guests and three hotel staff members 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.”
Additional reports by Abiodun Sanusi, Damilola Aina, Abdulrahman Zakariyau and Uthman Salami