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.
“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.”
“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.”
Makinde further revealed that the investigation revealed foreign names in the Corporate Affairs Commission documents of the company involved in the Ibadan blast.
“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.
make it mandatory for anybody dealing with explosives in Oyo state to have it stored with the military.
“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 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.
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.
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.
The Oyo State Government has set up an emergency situation hub to assemble 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,” Gov. Makinde emphasized.