Ibadan Explosion: The Emerging Twists and Turns – By DAPO FALADE

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One week ago, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, was jolted out of its renown serenity as Adeyi Avenue, Bodija witnessed an early evening explosion which led to the loss of human lives, while several buildings were reduced to mere rubbles. Mostly affected was Aderinola Street, off Dejo Oyelese Close, which was totally eclipsed by the devastating explosion that emanated from mining explosives illegally kept in a building on the street.

As at the last count, the Oyo State government put the number of the dead at five; more than 30 buildings destroyed, while 230 others are currently undergoing structural integrity test. The state government is still clearing the rubbles that became the end-result of once-upon-a-time beautiful and imposing buildings on the now desolate street which can described as a place looking like a relic of war.

While investigations are still going on to unravel those who illegally stockpiled the mass of such a deadly weapon in a residential area. This was as Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, who has been doing a great job in respect of the incident, went to Abuja, last weekend, to present to President Bola Tinubu the report of the Ibadan explosion. The governor however made it known that the report was not conclusive as he declared that his administration would fish out and punish those behind the avoidable tragedy.

Some twists and turns are however emerging, calling for more circumspect in the course of investigating the Ibadan explosion. Chairman, Head of Emergency Operation Centre for Bodija Explosion, Professor Temitope Alonge, addressing the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr Dele Alake on Monday said, apart from dead bodies recovered from the rubbles of the explosion, body parts were also picked from the epicentre of the blast. This was as he gave a very sad news that several buildings at the area of the incident would go under the bulldozers “Many of the buildings within the 500 metres radius did not pass the integrity test,” he said.

The emerging twists and turns also bothered on an alleged conspiratorial negligence of the residents of the affected area, long before the sad occurrence. Second was an information that the security agencies may be looking at the wrong direction in the quest to unravel the identity of those who stockpiled the dangerous explosives.

It was gathered that a domestic staff working in one of the houses very close to Ground Zero, the building where the explosion took off, had, as early as September, informed his employers that he noticed some some strange happenings in that particular building. Curiously, however, the domestic staff was reportedly told by his employers to mind his business as he was not working with the occupants of the building which harboured the instruments of death and destruction.

This clearly corroborated the position of the Special Adviser (Security) to Governor Makinde, Mr Fatai Owoseni (a retired Commissioner of Police) that the explosives were stockpiled illegally in the building over a period of time, and long before the explosion.

The import of the failure of the residents to say something, if they see something was also not lost on the Minister of Solid Minerals, Alake who, during his visit to the scene of the explosion on Monday, wondered how the suspected miners were able to harbour over a period of time the explosives that wrecked the havoc of such a great magnitude without being detected.

Alake expressed surprise at the calibre of residents of a high-profiled area like Bodija who have access to the authorities, but failed to alert the security agencies about such destructive explosives that have been co-habiting with them for long.

“There is no way the residents of this area would not suspect that someone in this area is doing something untoward. They need to report without putting their names but the kernel of the information will be used,” Alake had said on Monday.

Also of great importance to the security agencies is the need to thoroughly investigate and fish out the real persons behind the stockpiling of the deadly explosives. While all eyes are on Sawane Youssouf, a Malian miner, fresh revelations indicated that the security agencies may have to search further as three names have also come up as the likely owners of the explosives and the building.

One of the letters by Medureth Resources (Nig) Limited was dated 27 August, 2015. The letter, with the headline “Explosive Returns For The Month Of August, 2015”, was addressed to the Zonal Mines Officer, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Federal Secretariat, Ikolaba, Ibadan. The second letter by the same company, dated 4 September, 2017 for the “Explosive Returns For The Month Of September, 2017”, was addressed to the Divisional Officer, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Iwere-Ile, Iwajowa Local Goverment Area.

In the aftermath of the incident, a legal practitioner, Muyideen Olagunju, last week in a write up that went viral on the social media, “authoritatively” informed the public that the Ibadan explosion was the handiwork of Youssouf, a Malian immigrant who is engaged in mining operations in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State. He claimed that Youssouf is the owner of Medureth Resources (Nig) Limited and further detailed the alleged illegal activities of the man in the eye of the storm, including evading paying taxes to the state government.

Youssouf, however, spoke with some journalists, via telephone conversation, last week. He disowned the building as well as the explosives therein. He also claimed that he has nothing to do with either SDYB International Company Nigeria Limited (RC 511184), a company that was incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on 17 May, 2004, or Medureth Resources (Nig) Limited.

The Malian miner, who is said to be living somewhere around the Ikolaba area of the Agodi GRA, was also a guest of the security agencies and also with the state command of the Nigerian Immigration Service, on Monday, obviously to further state his own side of the story.

Some few days ago, some names and photos of three other Malians, who are also said to be involved in mining operations in Oyo State, came up. These include Alahji Camara, Camara Mamadou, who is alleged to be the real owner of Medureth Resources (Nig) Limited and Salim Camara. The trio was alleged to be the owners of the explosives found in the Ground Zero building. It was further said that there was another person, also a Malian, working with the three persons. This other person, who was said to have stepped out of the house shortly before the incident to buy something, was caught up in the explosion on his return. He was said to be one of the rescued victims and taken to the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan from where he was allegedly arrested on his sick bed by security operatives and taken away to Abuja for further investigation.

Going by the information, two things have been established as regards the unfortunate Ibadan explosion namely, the failure of the residents of Adeyi Avenue, Bodija to speak out when they saw the deadly explosives being stockpiled and that those who warehoused the explosives are Malian immigrant miners who have been operating in Oyo State for years. While the sad incident may serve as a lesson for the people in general to heed the admonition by Governor Makinde that you “say something when you see something”, there is the need to for the authorities to up the ante and get to unveil the identities of the blood-stained hands of foreign miners who, by their illegal actions, sent several people to their early graves and brought untold sorrows, tears and gnashing of teeth to many homes and families that Black Tuesday evening.

The whole world is watching as the state government has vowed to ensure justice and give succour to the victims, just as President Bola Tinubu has assured that no stone will be left unturned in the quest to get to the root of the sad occurrence.

Dapo Falade is the publisher of NewsCoven.ng, an independent on-line news medium 

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