- 13 persons injured, 60 buildings affected
James Sowole in Akure
Panic gripped residents of Akure, Ondo State capital early Saturday when explosives in transit through the state capital exploded at Elleyowo/Iluabo on Akure-Owo highway in Akure North Local Government area of the state.
A source said the explosives were being moved from Ibadan, Oyo State to Auchi, Edo State when the incident occurred.
Though, no life was lost in the incident but not fewer than 13 persons were injured and not less than 60 buildings including churches and schools were destroyed.
It was gathered that the explosion was heard in various parts of the state capital and up to a distance of about 10 kilometers from the scene of the blast.
Among the damaged houses were the Possibility Ground for All Nations Church, Iluabo and the Aina Awwuan International School located close to the scene of the incident.
It was gathered that the truck conveying the explosives broke down at Shasha market and later at the Aina Awwuan School, where it eventually exploded.
The source said securitymen who were escorting the truck at a distance were the one that noticed the fire and alerted the the driver and other occupants of the truck to disembark from the vehicle before it exploded.
Another account also said that the driver of the vehicle sensed the danger at Shasha market but refused to stop there in view of the population in the area.
Shaha market is popular in Akure where food items like pepper, tomatoes, yam and cattle from the Northern parts of the country are offloaded before being moved to other parts of the state capital and suburb.
The incident created a crater in the middle of the highway cutting off movement of vehicles from Akure to Owo thus forcing motorists to look for alternative routes.
The Principal of Aina Awwuan International College, Mr Roland Kayode, who stated that he was notified of the development by the school’s security guard said that he was thankful to God as non of the students were in school due to the coronavirus shutdown.
While quantifying the damage done to the school to be in the region of hundreds of millions of naira, he appealed to government to come to the aide of the school.
Also, the founder of Possibility Church, Prophetess Olayemi Adesida, who was in church when the incident occurred, said that the building collapsed on her while she struggled her way through the debris.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Undie Adie who briefed Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu at the scene of the explosion emphasized that blast was caused by explosives meant for a quarry company.
He disclosed that the vehicle conveying the explosives which was in transit through the state had developed issues before it exploded opposite Aina Awawu International College.
Undie added that security operatives who were escorting the vehicle gave the red alert which made the truck driver and another person to abandon the truck before it exploded.
Speaking at the scene, Akeredolu described the explosion as accidental discharge, urging everyone within scene to stay clear of the area as there might still be some undetonated explosives within the vicinity.
Akeredolu said: “I have been briefed by the security chiefs that in the early hours of Saturday March 28th, a vehicle in a convoy transporting explosives to a storage facility in a neighbouring state developed a fault while in transit along the Akure Owo Road about 2km from the Akure Airport.
“Security personnel and other individuals transporting the ordinances noticed smoke from the vehicle.
“After several attempts to extinguish the resulting fire failed, the vehicle and its consignment ignited causing a massive explosion that was felt in Akure and its environs.
“Following my visit to the scene, I have directed that the area be cordoned off to allow the explosive ordinance department/bomb squad to extricate the vehicle buried underground because it is unclear if there are still explosives that are yet to be detonated.
“Everything is under control and I will be updating the public on any new developments.”
Also in a statement by the Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, Aketedolu said no reports of casualties had been recorded; but the impact of the explosion had a devastating effect on several buildings including schools and a Church.
“Expectedly, various slants have characterised the incident even as several claims trail the unfortunate blast. The Government of Ondo State wishes to appeal to all to be calm and refrain from flaunting theories that are capable of distracting the security agencies in their investigations.”
The governor advised people to be careful and take precautions not to rush to the scene.
This, according to him, is pertinent because the blast, the scene and its immediate effects are already security concerns.
The governor said the people should move away from the area because no one could confirm if undetonated devices were still stuck in unseen corners, especially in the gully already created by the blast.
“It is, therefore, in the public interest for people to allow security experts access to the area by de-populating the scene. Security agencies will keep the public informed of developments as they unfold.
“Owing to the road that has been cut-off, an alternative route will be worked on immediately for commuters plying the route,” the statement said.