The tragedy in Turkey is another wake-up call

We commiserate with the government and people of Turkey on the recent magnitude 7.8 earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands and wreaked monumental havocs in the country. But it is important for authorities in Nigeria to learn lessons from the tragedy. In September 2018, there was an outbreak of multiple earth tremors in some parts of Abuja which jolted the city and caused many residents to agonise in despair. For three days, the rumbling of the tremor sparked fears in the communities of Mpape, Katampe District, part of Maitama and some rural communities within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The intense trembling of the ground made many to even ponder the option of relocation as they imagined the vibration was a sign of earthquake.  

Although the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency and other emergency agencies downplayed the likelihood of an earthquake in Nigeria at the time, findings of the presidential assessment committee set up by the federal government were revealing on the dangers we face, especially from human activities. The committee declared that Nigeria is prone to seismic hazards while the possibility of an earthquake occurrence should never be ruled out. While nothing was done about the report, the Turkey tragedy is a wake-up call that there is need for a proper monitoring of all earthquake-prone zones in the country after previous incidents in Kwoi, Kaduna State; Saki, Oyo State, and Igbogene in Bayelsa State in 2016. The geological, hydrological, and geotechnical report for Abuja identified the underneath rock layers of Mpape to be already shifted, weak and bearing several fractures and faults system. This is not unexpected.  


For over three decades, the upland area has been exposed to unregulated drilling and blasting of rocks by quarrying companies and artisanal miners. The shift in the tectonic plates, which leads to the sudden release of energy that causes the trembling on the ground, is a probable cause aside other human activity. Besides, “there is the need to regulate the exploitation of ground water resources of Abuja via indiscriminate sinking of boreholes because this has been the primary reason for the stress build up leading to the Abuja tremors”, the presidential committee report

It is unfortunate that we continue to bask in the illusion that Nigeria is not at risk of earthquake as the country is not the in region prone to such disaster. Without putting in place the necessary measures, the safety of lives and resources will be imperilled if we continue to deny that tremors are insignificant natural phenomenon.  


Earthquake is a disaster that inflicts substantial human, material, and economic losses, which many affected countries rarely recover from. A case study is when Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti, an impoverished Caribbean country, was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January 2010. Besides killing more than 200,000 people, the massive earthquake destroyed the country and caused an estimated $14 billion in damage to private assets and public utilities.  


To avert earthquake, the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency should implement the laws criminalising indiscriminate mining, rock blasting and digging of bore holes across the country. These unrestricted activities can have damaging effects on the underground rocks and by extension the earth layers. In addition, the appropriate authority should install equipment that will gauge and monitor geological surveying methods across the country. 

Federal and state emergency agencies should also organise safety trainings in the communities prone to tremors and earthquakes on how to respond in the event of emergency given that earthquakes result in collapse of buildings, fire outbreak and motor accidents

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