Armageddon

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A number of reasons are being adduced as the causes of the devastating explosion that occurred in a community in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, just past midnight inward Saturday, March 28, that injured several persons and destroyed over 100 buildings including shops, offices, homes, some churches and a school.

The severity of the explosion is indicated by the fact that it created a huge crater, which split the Owo-Akure road into two; and the country is obviously only lucky that it did not cause even greater havoc.

In its account of the incident, the Ondo State Police Command attributed the explosion to dynamites being conveyed by a vehicle in transit to a quarry company in Edo State.

The vehicle reportedly developed mechanical problems, which led to complications, that resulted in the explosion of the sensitive material it was transporting.

It would appear that the police command has good grounds for its explanation of the incident. For one, police officers were reportedly provided, who escorted the vehicle on its journey and some of them were injured. Again, debris of the vehicle transporting the consignment are said to have been sighted at the scene of the explosion.

Yet, the position of the police has been contested by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NSRDA). The agency asserts that an extra-terrestrial object, falling at great speed from space and hitting the site of the explosion, is the most likely cause.

Professor Adepelumi Adekunle, a geophysicist and earthquake engineer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), Ile-Ife, aligns with this position.

He avers that a meteor impacted the location from “an angle of 43 degrees” creating the huge crater on the expressway. These claims cannot merely be authoritatively asserted. They must be empirically and scientifically proven with peer review and authentication in the global intellectual community.

There has also been the conspiracy thesis that the incident was a bomb explosion aimed at the South-West, especially as it came shortly after another explosion in Abule Ado area of Lagos, which also destroyed lives and property.

We agree with the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, that far-fetched, as well as logically implausible speculations must not be peddled to distract the relevant agencies from thoroughly investigating the disaster.

Against this background, we welcome the committee set up by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to unravel the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Comprising officers from the Ordinance Disposal Unit of the police, the committee will also work with experts from the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), who have reportedly already taken a sample of the soil for requisite tests.

Even as the outcome of the investigation is awaited in the interest of the public and to help prevent future recurrence, it is important to urgently address the plight of victims of the disaster, who were either injured or had their real estate damaged or destroyed; and who have been rendered either homeless or jobless.

Since the explosion occurred on a federal road within the jurisdiction of Ondo State, both levels of government must collaborate to help pay for the damages and rehabilitate the victims.

If the dynamites that reportedly exploded were meant for a mining site, the level of complicity of the company must be determined as well as its role in compensating the victims.

The question naturally arises as to whether there was requisite insurance cover for the affected property. This is unlikely in most cases, given the country’s fragile insurance culture.

One critical take-away from this disaster is the need for insurance cover for property and persons; as well as the imperative for insurance companies to cultivate greater public trust by promptly meeting their obligations when disasters occur.

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