Mixed reactions trail Akure explosion
• Afenifere Calls For Inquiry Into Ondo Explosion
• PDP Expresses Shock, Apprehension
• APC Sympathises With Victims, Ondo Govt
Mixed reactions have trailed the explosion that occurred in the early hours of yesterday at Ilu-Abo community in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, destroying over 100 houses and leaving people with varying degrees of injury.
The Guardian gathered that a truck loaded with explosive substances was conveying dynamites from Ibadan, Oyo State, to a quarry company in Auchi, Edo State, when the incident happened.
Some people, however, attributed the blast to the asteroid flyby, predicted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) on Friday.
The whole of Akure, the capital and metropolitan city of the state, and its environs, were rocked with the deafening sound of the explosive, which detonated along Akure/Owo/Benin Expressway.
People living in Ilu-Abo and neighbouring communities like Oba-ile, Osi and Akure, said the earsplitting sound reverberated in the middle of the night and shook their buildings. The scene is less than one kilometre from Akure Airport.
It destroyed the Aina Awawu International Group of School and the Possibility Prayer Mountain for all Nations, which are situated beside the expressway.The major Akure/Owo/Benin Expressway was cut into two, leaving many commuters stranded.
Some people expressed gratitude for the Coronavirus outbreak that led to the stay-at-home-order by state government, which prevented more deaths and fatality. “If not for the disease, the narration might have been different and worse. More people would have gathered at the church for night vigil, as it was the last Friday of the month,” they said.
A source in Akure Airport, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Those people moving the bomb to the North are still being buried, alongside their security vehicle at the scene, while those at the Mission Home of the church have been rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Owo. Some people are on danger list now, while some are feared dead,” he said.
The Commissioner for Police, Mr. Undie Adie, denied rumours that the explosives were being smuggled to the North. Adie, who promptly mobilised policemen and the anti-bomb squad to the scene, said the blast was caused by a truck conveying explosives to a quarry company in Edo State.
He explained that the truck was flagged down by policemen at a check-point near Shasha Market in the outskirts of Akure, and that they notified the truck driver of a flame under the truck.
According to him, the driver managed to move the truck away from the place and tried to put the flame out to no avail.
Governor Akeredolu, while addressing journalists at the scene, said he was briefed by security chiefs of a vehicle in a convoy transporting explosives to a storage facility in a neighbouring state.
“Security personnel and other individuals transporting the ordinances noticed smoke from the vehicle. After several attempts to extinguish the resulting fire failed, the vehicle and its consignment ignited, causing a massive explosion that was felt in Akure and its environs. Presently, efforts are being made to ascertain if there are casualties,” he said, ordering that the area be cordoned off to allow the explosive ordinance department/bomb squad extricates the vehicle buried underground.
Akeredolu expressed fears over whether there were still undetonated explosives within the debris, but assured that “Everything is under control and I will be updating the public on any new development.”
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, in a statement, appealed to “all to be calm and refrain from flaunting theories that are capable of distracting the security agencies in their investigations.
“In the meantime, Governor Akeredolu advises people to be careful and take precautions not to rush to the scene. This, according to him, is pertinent because the blast, the scene and its immediate effects are already security concerns. This is more so that no one can confirm if undetonated devices are still stuck in unseen corners, especially in the gully already created by the blast…”
Many people, however, expressed doubt over this narration, as there were no traces of debris scattered on the surface of the scene or metres away from the blast.
The Southwest Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Ayo Fadaka, has raised alarm that the frequent damage happening in the region calls for utmost attention.
He said: “It is sad to note that another Southwestern state has been subjected to another unjustifiable explosion that inexplicably terrorised and murdered scores of people.
“The PDP condemns this recent development, and is forced to demand that the Federal Government do a proper investigation on this matter, lay the facts bare for all to see and develop strategies that will forestall reoccurrence of such across our nation.
“We find it curious that explosives were being carelessly transported across the nation by all sorts of people, thereby continuously exposing Nigerians to unnecessary harm.”
Fadaka insisted that government must do an assessment of the number of lives lost and worth of properties destroyed, as due compensations must be paid for the negligence responsible for the disaster.
The Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere has expressed heartfelt sympathy to the government and people of Ondo State over the explosion.In a statement yesterday, the organisation’s spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said all accounts so far indicated that the explosion occurred from a possible fire incident from a vehicle that was carrying explosives through the state.
It read: “Though the identities of the movers have not yet been known, the police have claimed they were escorting the ordinances (bombs), when they noticed some challenge. While we have nothing to contradict the stated accounts yet, we demand an inquiry into this disaster in accordance with Ordinance and Firearm Acts to be able to determine the type of ordinances that exploded.”
Afenifere said the inquiry should be able to ascertain the identities of those transporting the ordinances, the origin of the ordinances, who assigned the escorting policemen and under what circumstance and the destination of the devices.
The group added that while it awaits answers, “we must express our displeasure at the rate of explosions in Yorubaland in recent time. First was the blast in Ekiti State early February, with investigation blaming it on “human error.” This was followed by the massive explosion in Abule-Ado in Lagos, which was attributed to some spurious pipeline explosion, which we rejected because the long-range impacts of that explosion could not have come from pipeline explosion.
“Till date, we don’t know the owners of the articulated vehicles found on the scene of the Lagos explosion, while the number of casualties and level of suggested damage done to the Catholic owned Bethlehem School suggested deliberate targeting…”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has sympathised with victims of the explosion and Ondo State government.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party said going by the images of the buildings and other property destroyed as a result of the explosion, it was clear that the blast was powerful. The party, however, urged citizens to desist from unnecessary and unfounded conspiracies surrounding the unfortunate explosion.