Tragedy occurred in Awori community, Lagos Mainland, in the early hours of today, Wednesday, December 19, 2018, when a spillage from a fuel tanker used in conveying petrol from a vadanlised pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) led to an inferno that affected several houses and properties in the community.
InsideMainland gathered that the tragic incident that left the community in ruins occurred at about 3:00am when the vandals were moving PMS from the location to their safe haven.
In the process, there was a spillage which caught fire after a making contact with burning heat from the Abattoir in Oko-Oba Agege located few meters away, before resulting in an inferno which consumed everything along its path.
Speaking to InsideMainland, a resident of the community, Pa Enebeli Andrew said residents thought the explosion was a tactic used by armed robbers to break into homes. “I first thought it was a robbery when I heard the loud noise coming from different points at the same time. It was not until when I opened my windows that realised it was fire coming from another house close to mine,” he said.
The septuagenarian said that the incident occurred as a result of vandals who tapped a pipeline of the NNPC to scoop fuel. “The vandals were tapping fuel from a pipeline in Awori. They carefully kept a container at the spot where they dug a 6ft hole into the ground. They brought tankers to the area which they used to move the fuel.
“There was a spillage when they were moving the fuel and some entered into the drainages in the area. This was what led to the fire when the fuel made contact with fire at Oko Oba Abattoir where butchers were burning ‘ponmo’.”
— Inside Mainland (@InsideMainland) December 19, 2018
Another resident and a youth leader in the area, Yusuf Aderemi told InsideMainland that the vandals had kept the container with ‘FOR SALE’ written on it at the spot for several days. “The container was there all alone and we all thought it belonged to one of those who sells sand in the area because it had ‘for sale’ written on it. No one knew the vandals were inside and digging the ground to get to the pipeline,” he said.
He added that the explosion burnt houses and other properties worth millions of naira including lock-up shops in the vicinity.
Furthermore, residents shared tales of new business owners affected in the inferno including a woman who recently stocked her shop with wares worth N10 Million naira imported from China. At the time of filing this report, she is reportedly in coma in an undisclosed hospital after news of the incident was brought to her notice.
The sad incident brings back the memory of a similar incident which occurred in the axis in December 2006 where scores of people were confirmed dead. At the time, more than 200 people were confirmed dead in an explosion that shook the entire Lagos metropolis.
Residents indict the Police
Some residents of Awori community, Lagos Mainland has insisted that the inferno that rocked the community has the involvement of Police operatives attached to the Oko Oba Police Divison, Agege, Lagos Mainland.
Speaking on this, Pa Enebeli said; “The Policemen started coming to the area on Saturday to raid and asking people to enter into their homes by 9:00pm. We were surprised because the area is a peaceful one and there was no report of violence.
“They chased mallams selling Indomie by the roadside including a woman selling local food (fufu) yesterday (Tuesday) before the vandals started work. They are the ones protecting those behind the whole thing.”
Another resident, Gideon Azuh said the Policemen were at the location where the vandals busted the pipe at the night before the incident occurred. “The Police should be thoroughly investigated to tell their side of the involvement with the vandals. They were here last night (Tuesday) asking everyone to go inside their houses that they have a report of a planned robbery.
“No robbery happened but all we had was an explosion that ruined the business and homes of innocent citizens,” he said
However, the officers at the Oko Oba Police Division refused comments on the allegations. In addition, the DPO of the station was not present at the time of visit.