New Telegraph

In the aftermath of Ibadan explosion

Five persons were killed in the explosion that occurred in Ibadan on January 16 which also left roughly 77 injured. It will be hasty to jump into conclusions until thorough investigations are carried out. What must not be swept under the carpet is the failure of relevant government agencies to regulate the use of dynamite for mining and other Civil Engineering purposes. It is shocking that such Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) found their way into a residential area, for storage. There were hazy reports after the explosions that hit the Bodija area of Ibadan.

Some residents thought it was an attack by terrorists who have found refuge in many of the forests scattered all over the country. In the confusion that ensued, a clutch of heart attack cases emerged. Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde visited the site and was emphatic that the explosion which also destroyed solid structures even outside Adeyi Avenue and Dayo Oyelese Street, was caused by illegal miners who reside in the highbrow area of the ancient city. Some residents claimed that a motorcyclist, Mahmoud Camara, rented the two apartments where the explosion occurred but was barely around the premises. One name, Youssef Sawane, was bandied as the fellow behind the miners. Sawane emerged immediately after the governor’s visit with some clarifications. He is the President, Oyo Chapter of the ECOWAS Members Nigeria Miners Association. According to him, the miners are properly registered to do business in the country. Sawane, while dismissing all allegations of illegality, argued that a company that pays tax employs nearly 10,000 Nigerian workers and fulfils Corporate Social Responsibility roles cannot be painted black overnight even by those who benefit from its operations. Bodija is not just a downtown part of Ibadan. It was established as a large housing estate in 1959 to accommodate the high of the society. In the 1970s, it was expanded and birthed a New Bodija. Subsequently, a sprawling market was added, attracting various enterprises. While Sawane may be right in his defence, there is danger in allowing such a densely populated area to serve as an armoury for dynamite users. And the blame goes beyond him. From the government to even Bodija residents, there are begging questions.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has disassociated itself from the activities of those behind the explosion, emphasising that the company is not recognised. However, checks show that it is registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). There is a further twist. Although some of the directors are Malians, they have a Nigerian on the Board. As investigations continue, caution must be applied. ECOWAS encourages free trade among member states. What should be of concern is the act of stockpiling dynamite and not the nationality of those behind it. The West African Sub Region is battling terrorism on all fronts. Mali is as threatened as Nigeria. The failure of Nigerian regulatory agencies should be highlighted in this regard. The precious stones miners were either not properly guided or were ignored in the midst of danger constituted by their activities. Minister of Solid Minerals, Dele Alake, must swing into action immediately. He has to empower the regulatory arm of his ministry through deliberate consultations with the Presidency and National Assembly. Mining has gone beyond revenue collection. Security should play a key role. Dynamite has become very handy for bandits and armed robbers as operational weapons. Many bank vaults and bullion vans were blown up by criminals all over the country in years past. It happened in Ejigbo, Lagos. It affected Uromi and Ekpoma in Edo. Otukpo, in Benue was not spared. Ekiti State has known no peace from dynamite attacks. In December 2023, two banks came under fire in Ikere Ekiti, leaving three persons dead, among them, security operatives. It has become a yearly ritual from 2018. Boko Haram and bandits have access to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). It is an open secret that terrorism in Zamfara is fuelled by activities around mining sites. Defence Headquarters must be involved in regulating the use of dynamite. Bodija is a wake-up call. Bombs can also be made from dynamite. Government must not wait for more devastating explosions before acting. Who knows, many other buildings around the country may be full of explosives, waiting to be triggered.

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