Ibadan explosion deaths rise to five, soldiers occupy site

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The Oyo State government on Thursday said the number of fatalities from Tuesday’s explosion in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, had risen to five.

This was as a group of stern-looking soldiers, on Thursday, took over the site and barred people from the area.

The Special Adviser on Security Matters to Governor Seyi Makinde, Fatai Owoseni, gave the update during a press briefing on Thursday, adding that two additional bodies were recovered.

The Special Adviser on Security Matters to Governor Seyi Makinde, Fatai Owoseni, gave the update during a press briefing on Thursday, adding that two more bodies were recovered.

He said, “Rescue operation is still ongoing. As of yesterday (Wednesday), we had three casualties, but this morning (Thursday), I got information from the security operatives supporting the medical team that two more dead bodies were recovered.

“A lot of conversations have been going on, a lot of interfacing with the people so that they will see transparency in what the government is doing.The security agencies, especially the police, the Department of State Services being supported by the Nigerian Army team Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit as well are putting the bits and pieces of information together to ensure that discreet information is done towards prosecution to ensure that whoever, either directly or remotely connected with that incident, are brought to justice.”

The explosion, which rocked the Adeyi area at Old Bodija, damaged about 58 houses and inflicting serious injuries on 77 residents of the area.

When our correspondent visited the scene on Thursday, the environment was calm, owing to the heavy presence of soldiers deployed to secure the scene.

The armed men restricted both human and vehicular movements some metres away from the scene of the explosion.

The affected area was a shadow of its former self as residents either moved out or joined their loved ones at the Emergency Operation Centres provided by the State Government on the orders of Governor Makinde to allow the buildings to undergo structural integrity tests.

Our correspondent gathered that soldiers stationed at the scene of the incident did not give opportunity for anyone to gain entrance in a move to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage to loot the property of affected victims.

One of the residents, Adekunle Ajadi, said some of the new occupants of the transferred property were foreigners who came to the country to run illegal businesses.

He said, “Some landlords have relocated abroad, and their children are selling their houses to strangers. The way houses at Bodija estate are sold indiscriminately to foreigners negates what was obtainable when we were growing up here as children. During our childhood days, residents were not allowed to sell beer. Even food sellers were not allowed to move, but now, hotels are erected anyhow in the estate.”

A civil servant who resides in Bodija and prefers anonymity said it’s time for the state government to review the law on acquiring and transferring property within the estate.

In an interview at the scene of the explosion, the Head of the Emergency Operation Centre, Temitope Alonge, maintained that his team would continue its search for survivors until all victims were accounted for.

Alonge, who is a former Chief Medical Director at University College Hospital, Ibadan, on Thursday, said, “The storm has yet to settle, but it’s time to pick up what is left of the disaster site of Tuesday’s deadly explosion in Bodija which led to the loss of five persons and about 77 sustaining varying degrees of injuries.

He said, “Earth-moving equipment has been deployed to the scene to clear the debris and perhaps rescue more victims. The Operations Emergency team is also on the ground to ensure the smooth flow of evacuation. Residents fortunate to pick up what is left of their property have headed for safer locations as the state government has ordered an evacuation due to safety concerns.

“All hands are on deck to ensure that all victims are properly integrated into society.”

Governor Makinde, who has been paying visits to the victims to encourage them, gave the assurance that the perpetrators of the heinous act would face justice.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has stated that the deadly explosion was not the handiwork of terrorists.

Speaking in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, the Director of Army Public Relations, Maj. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said soldiers had been deployed to the scene to join the rescue operations.

Onyema said, “The army has been part of the rescue mission since the night of the incident. The General Officer Commanding, Maj. Gen. Bamidele Alabi led his men to the scene that night to cordon off the place, and they were part of the rescue team.

“They did not just go there today. Let me add that the incident was not a terrorist attack. “