Lagos Explosion Victim
•Govt probes December fireworks blast
By Gboyega Akinsanmi and Chiemelie Ezeobi
One person was killed and a police officer was injured in an explosion at the Festac Town area of Lagos State, triggered by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by a yet-to-be identified person under the Festac link bridge.
The deceased was identified as the Chairman, Mile 2 Sand Dredgers Association, Mr. Oladele Pius, while the police officer, identified simply as Inspector Sani, sustained serious injuries. He was said to have been rushed to the hospital for treatment.
The about 40-inch high concrete pavement on which the deceased was seated was shattered, with some of the blocks flying into the canal.
The explosion occurred on a day the Lagos State Government raised a three-member panel of inquiry to investigate the causes of the fireworks explosion that occurred at the Jankara Market last December.
THISDAY gathered that the IED, which was buried under the ground at the bridge linking Festac Town and Amuwo Odofin, was probably set off through the aid of a remote control device as no one was seen around the scene before and when it was detonated.
According to an eyewitness report, the deceased was the leader of the Miracle Sand Association, Festac Town, Lagos, an umbrella body for those dredging sharp sand under the Festac link bridge, while the injured policeman, simply identified as Inspector Sani, was in company with the deceased when the explosion occurred at about 12.30pm.
Another eyewitness said the IED was planted at the bank of the river where the deceased normally sat to relax. The device was said to have been covered with stones to hide it from detection.
Prior to the explosion, the deceased had driven into the park in his Pathfinder SUV with registration number LSR 957 AZ alongside his wife. Eyewitnesses said the deceased's wife was standing a few yards away when suddenly the explosion occurred. Traumatised by the gory sight of her husband's corpse, she was said to have immediately fainted and was rushed to a nearby private hospital for treatment.
“After the explosion, the police man’s leg was broken and even one of his eyes was affected, but he himself (Mr. Oladele) his two legs were (blown) off,” Peter Adeola, an eyewitness, told reporters.
Although the scene of the explosion was immediately cordoned off by armed security personnel, the incident caused a heavy vehicular and human traffic despite crowd control measures.
At the scene of the blast were officials of the Police Anti-bomb Squad who tried to determine through their equipment the probability of another buried device. The body of the deceased has since been deposited at the mortuary.
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the explosion was caused by an IED and not a bomb as claimed in some quarters.
The police could not however confirm if the deceased was the actual target or was just a random victim of a vicious attack.
The Area E Commander, Festac Division, Dan Okoro, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, also confirmed that only one person was injured in the blast.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, visited the scene of the incident shortly after the blast.
“The experts in that area are already there. The impression there is not what all of you might be thinking. It is so minor; it is not the type that everybody is thinking about.
“It is not the type of explosion that Nigerians are used to of recent. Just somebody trying to play games here and there by using common battery put in a torchlight, that’s what we found there,” he said.
Amid speculations that the explosion might be an assassination attempt, Manko said the police would probe the incident to know the reason behind the blast and those behind it and assured the people of their security.
“It’s not just people living here, Lagosians all over the place have no cause to fear for anything,” the police commissioner assured.
When contacted, the Spokesperson, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South-west Zone, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said the device was hidden, hence no one saw the device before it exploded.
He said: “The explosion was caused by an IED and not a bomb. One person was killed and a policeman injured.
“It’s rather unfortunate that nobody saw the person that planted the explosive. Our investigations revealed that it was buried underground and I think they used a remote control to detonate it because no one was seen near the device.”
Nearly two months after the explosion at the Jankara Market, the state government Monday set up a three-man panel to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the blast.
The state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), inaugurated the panel, noting that he had received reports, which he said, had to do with the structural integrity of some of the adjoining buildings in the market.
He said the panel consisting of Justice Oladokun Ishola (rtd) as chairman, Mr. Olokunola Wasiu and Mr. Richard Ahonaruogho would have three months to complete its assignment.
He explained that the panel would assist the state discover how the explosives got into residential areas as well as strengthen the capacity of government to stop such occurrences in the future.
He said: “We expect that all the first responders who played one role or the other on the day, the fire service, the police, the State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) to whom we are very grateful, will be able to shed more light into how we came to that unfortunate incident.”
He said his government would continue to owe citizens the responsibility of increasing awareness on safety, adding that the Lagos Safety Commission was set up to prescribe safety guidelines across all sectors and ensure the response capacity to disasters are in place.
He explained that the incident questions the choices people make about what business to embark upon and how such choices imperil the community.
“For the records, this is the second time in 10 years that this kind of thing will happen in Lagos, and clearly we want to ensure that the lessons of these two incidents remain enduring and beneficial for the future.
“We hope your recommendations and information will let us know if any person or group of persons has breached any laws in order to ensure the office of the Attorney General will bring all these people to justice in a very expeditious manner that shows the willingness of government to protect its citizens and enforce its laws,” he added.