On Sunday, February 16, 2020, at about 9 a.m., many residents of Lagos reported hearing a loud blast that shook them, reaching environments such as Surulere and Obanikoro. The loud blast was a source of confusion for many who were not sure what could have happened. Later in the day, confirmation came that there had been an explosion at a gas processing plant in Abule Ado, a suburb of Lagos, that claimed the lives of 17 people, affected a number of buildings, and destroyed properties in areas as far as Agege and Amuwo Odofin parts of Lagos. The inferno from the explosion was visible for hours on Sunday.
What caused the explosion?
It was initially speculated that the explosion was caused by the activities of pipeline vandals – a recurrent problem in Lagos – targeting oil pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, but that theory has been debunked. According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the explosion was not connected to the disruption of oil pipelines. The Acting Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office, NEMA, Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, made the clarification in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday.
“From the information given by officials of the Lagos State Fire Service who are currently on the ground, the implosion is not connected to pipeline but might have occurred in a factory located in the Abule Ado area.
“Emergency responders are on the ground while others are still on their way to the scene. The situation is under control and we hope to get more information soon to ascertain its cause,” he said.
According to Reuters, the NNPC said the explosion occurred after a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant near the corporation’s pipeline in Abule Ado area of Lagos state.
What has been the cost of the explosion?
Unfortunately, the human cost of the explosion has been high. 15 people were reported dead yesterday and TVC has claimed that another two bodies have been found in the rubbles. Among the dead is Rev. Sr. Henrietta Alokha SSH, Principal of Bethlehem Girls College, who lost her life while trying to get her students to safety. Bethlehem Girls College has been reduced to ruins as a result of the explosion, students of the school were injured but survived. Homes in the immediate proximity of the explosion were destroyed also.
What has the government done?
The President in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described the incident is a tragedy to the country.
“A misfortune of whatever scale anywhere is a tragedy to the country, and while the NNPC makes efforts to determine the cause of the incident, I send my deepest and profound sympathies to the victims, their families, government and people of Lagos State,” the statement read.
The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has announced a two billion Naira relief fund created to help victims of the explosion. He visited the affected community with his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, on Sunday and announced that he would set up a panel to investigate the explosion.