Mpape: Earth Tremor Leaves Abuja Residents in Fear

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Since Wednesday night, the rumblings within the earth crust have sent jitters down the spines of the residents of Mpape, a hilly suburb in Abuja. Some of the residents share their fear with Olawale Ajimotokan

Mpape sits atop the hill overlooking the upscale Maitama District, where many of the country’s aristocrats have their homes.

For three days in succession, dwellers of Mpape in the Bwari Council Area, site of a huge Quarry, are in fear occasioned by multiple earth tremors that began on Wednesday night. The development has made some of them to consider relocating to other parts of the city.

A tremor is as an involuntary quivering movement in the ground or an earthquake especially of low or moderate intensity.

Locals said ever since they experienced the tremor, it has continued with greater intensity with its effects even felt in nearby Maitama and Karu, in Nyanya area.

Anthony Obeta, who leaves in the Arab area of Mpape, described the unusual trembling as “frightening”.

Obeta told THISDAY that for three days running, the residents had been having sleepless nights, believing that their houses might collapse as a result of the vibration.

He said the tremor produced a very loud thud underneath the ground and many of the people initially mistook the intense sensation as bomb blast, which explained why they all ran to a nearby military barracks for cover.

“For three days now something strange has been happening over here that we fear that an earthquake is in the making. The ground is shaking profusely. Initially, we thought it was as a result of the blasting from the quarry. But later we discovered that blasting was not the cause as the companies don’t blast the rocks in the night. The tremor kept happening repeatedly. Even this morning (Friday) it occurred incessantly. Everybody here is in fear. Some people are even contemplating relocating their families from this environment. We are appealing to government to come to our rescue because nobody knows the cause of it. Even we enquired at the nearby Army Barracks if the vibration was originating from there. But they too can’t explain what is happening”, Obeta, who sells building materials said.

The Earth tremor was confirmed by another Mpape resident, Owolabi Ogundare. He described the trembling that occurred yesterday as the most scaring since the rumbling first stated on Wednesday. He said the last one lasted about three hours, after it began at about 7.45 a.m.

“It is real and very frightening. Initially, we thought it was as a result of rock blasting but the construction companies have denied that it was associated with them,” Ogundare said.

Blessing Junaive, who leaves at Ajegunle Road in Mpape said the earth tremor affected her father’s breathing and forced the old man to be hospitalised for two days.

“I have never experienced anything like this. The tremor produced an intense sensation that we knew immediately that it could not be coming from the quarry site. The shaking was so pronounced that the intensity put all of us in fear that some buildings could crumble as a result, Junaive said.

Chris Ebosa and William Inabor also shared insights about the trembling shock they have been experiencing.

Ebosa, a technician, who resides at Ajegunle near the Mountain of Fire Ministry, said the trembling was so pronounced that he felt it was an Earthquake and was due to the anger of God.

“For three months, rock blasting has stopped in Mpape. But when this one started, we felt God was angry with us in our country and we should change our way. Government should investigate what happened and proffer solution”, Ebosa said.

Inabor said inspite of what was happening it had not crossed his mind that he should relocate from Mpape. He said community leaders had even gone to the extent of appeasing the gods by offering sacrifice.

Meanwhile the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has attributed the cause of the tremor in the area to seismic movement within the earth crust.

The Director General, FEMA, Abbas G. Idriss, said the tremor was caused by sudden breaks along a fault line in the earth, which results in a sudden release of energy that makes the ground shake.

Idriss also added that rock blasting and mining activities in an area could make the underground rocks to experience stress. He asked the public to remain calm and not panic as a result of the development.

“We have been inundated with distress calls in our watch room as a result of Earth shaking happening around Mpape and parts of Maitama districts of the FCT.

“While appreciating the calls from the public, the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wishes to say that the possible cause of the earth shaking might be as a result of earth tremor. It is also a sign of seismic movement within the earth, caused by sudden breaks along a fault line, which results in sudden release of energy that makes the ground shake,” Idriss said. FEMA also ruled that the likelihood of the outbreak of earthquake in the country is low as Nigeria is not in an earthquake zone.

The agency also issued safety tips for the members of the public to follow in the event of continued occurrence of tremor.

It advised that  people in a building should locate a safe room, drop down and take cover under desks or tables, while those outdoor should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees and power lines.

In an another development, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has ordered  the suspension of further quarrying and mining activities and borehole drilling in the affected areas of Mpape, Gwarimpa and Garki districts of Abuja, pending the outcome of investigations on the root causes of the incidents.

Bello gave the order when he paid an on-the-spot visit to Mpape, the epicentre of reported incidents of earth tremor in parts of Abuja recently.

Speaking, on behalf of the FCT Minister, the FCT Permanent Secretary, Sir Chinyeaka Ohaa, advised residents of the affected areas to rest assured that there was no cause for alarm, noting that geological experts have counseled that Abuja was not on the line of any major seismic danger.

He asked residents to go about all their businesses while disclosing that the Administration was engaging both local and international geological experts, in order to unravel the root causes of the earth tremors experienced in parts of Abuja in recent times.

Preliminary reports, he said, indicate that the activities of rock blasting from quarrying, mining activities, as well as proliferation of borehole drilling were likely causes of these tremors. Consequently, he stressed, it became necessary to suspend all quarrying activities in various sites of Abuja, especially Mpape, Garki, Gwarimpa and contiguous areas.

Responding to the minister’s address, the District Head of Mpape, Malam Abubakar Ibrahim Gimba as well as the Chairman of Mpape Residents Associations, Mr. Ameh Christian recounted that the community had experienced tremors in the past, but that the recent incident was more pronounced.