Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and James Sowole in Akure
The Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday raised a team to unravel the circumstances surrounding the explosion that destroyed 100 houses and churches at Ilu-Abo on Akure/Owo Road in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State.
The team, which is headed by the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, Force Headquarters, Abuja, Mr. Maikudi Shehu, comprises police officers from the Police Bomb Disposal Squad (Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit).
A statement issued by the Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, said the team would work jointly with experts from the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA).
Mba noted that as the nation’s leading research and development institution and sole repository of all geo-scientific data, the agency had a state-of-the-art laboratory with the capacity and expertise to carry out a wide range of geo-scientific examinations, including laboratory/forensic examinations, geochemical analysis of rocks, minerals, water, sewage, soil samples and site investigations amongst others.
“The IG hopes that with the involvement of NGSA, the quality and integrity of investigations into the explosion will be greatly enhanced.
“The IG, however, enjoins the citizens, especially those living around the scene of the incident to avoid the area so as not to tamper with the scene of the incident and the ongoing investigations,” he said.
The IG sympathised with the government and people of Ondo State, particularly victims that sustained injuries or lost their property as a result of the incident and called for calm while assuring the people that the outcome of investigations would be made public.
The blast was reportedly caused by dynamites, which also injured over 20 persons, including some policemen who were accompanying it to a quarry in Edo State.
While the police in Ondo State attributed the incident to an explosion from the dynamites, a professor of Geophysics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Adepelumi Adekunle, contradicted their findings, saying a giant rock from space known as meteor impacted the location.
However, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Chief Gani Adams, on Sunday, called on the federal government to investigate three recent explosions in the South-west.
He noted that the explosions were beyond ordinary blasts as claimed by the government.
Adams said the latest blast in Akure might be from a bomb that must be investigated.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, Mr. Abdulmajid Ali, also spoke about the panel while briefing the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, on what the police have done so far.
The DIG, who visited the governor yesterday shortly after visiting the site of the incident was accompanied on the visit by the Director-General of Geological Survey Agency, Dr. Kaka Imam.
The DIG said he had visited the scene of the incident with his team, adding that the officials of the geological survey agency had also taken a sample of the soils, adding that the committee would produce a credible report.
Ali, who commended Akeredolu for his display of maturity when he visited the scene, said the police were not sleeping on the issue and that they were working to unravel the mystery behind the blast.
The governor, while commending the police for the steps taken so far, lauded the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Undie Adie, for being on his toes since the tragic incident, saying he had demonstrated the capacity of his office.
He noted that while he was not against other views, particularly that of the university don, he would rely on the initial information from the police.
He said: “I am not saying the professor was right or wrong and I am not making any conclusion. I have been speaking with some experts and they said if we were unable to find debris of the shattered truck within one kilometre radius from the spot of the incident that would show the incident was not caused by explosive devices.
“Already, the debris of the truck that was carrying the explosive devices that created a very large crater on the express road has been seen. This is not new; there are similar incidents with pictorial evidence.
“I am also relying on eyewitnesses’ accounts, particularly, the driver, who drove the vehicle and who is currently recuperating at our State Teaching Hospital, Akure.
“I am very sure that if it was an asteroid, the NASRDA would have picked this when coming to earth. This is not what we can hide. I am already in touch with the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.”
The governor, however, called for calm, urging the people to wait for the results of the tests being carried out on the site of the blast.