By Benjamin Omoike
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has set up a fact-finding Committee to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the explosion which rocked Abule-Ado Soba in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of the state.
The Committee has two weeks to deliver on its mandate.
Sanwo-Olu equally announced a N2 billion Emergency Relief Fund for victims of the Sunday, March 15, 2020, explosion/ fire incident.
The governor, who stated this while briefing press men, after an on-the-spot assessment of the area on Monday morning, along with his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, commiserated with the families who lost loved ones, and those whose properties were destroyed.
He immediately announced the sum of N250 million as commitment on the part of the state government, to kickstart the endowment fund.
Sanwo-Olu added that he had never seen destruction of such magnitude and appealed to Lagosians to donate generously to the fund.
He stressed that banks and other well meaning Nigerians will contribute to the fund.
He added that the fund will be used to pay hospital bills of the victims and assist those who are displaced.
“We will set up a fact-finding mission, a panel that will come here and give us report in the next two weeks as to the cause of the incident and loss of lives and property. They will have two weeks to do extensive investigation and tell us what we need to do so this does not repeat itself.
“I am also setting up Abule-Ado Shobar Emergency Relief Fund. Its a N2 billion relief fund and we will put N250million into it. We also have some banks that are going to support us. This will allow some individual to also donate into the account. Part of the relief fund will be used to settle displaced citizens and pay hospital bills. I will meet with Mr President tomorrow to give him a report of the incident and we will be seeking assistance of the federal government,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Sanwo-Olu said three account numbers have been opened in Polaris, Zenith and Guaranty Trust Banks with the account name: Abule -Ado Emergency Relief Fund. Polaris: 4030017510; Zenith: 1017184516; GTB:0568615688 to this effect, with five emergency telephone numbers also listed.
The governor commended all first responders for their prompt response, stating that 250 street sweepers and 250 Neighborhood Watch volunteers will be deployed to the site to commence immediate clean up exercise. He warned residents to steer clear of the area, because, according to him, the site is still alive.
“Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, will deploy 250 sweepers to clear the site and I want to enjoined all citizens to steer clear of the site. Buildings that need to be pulled down will be pulled down. While some will be redeveloped.”
Security operatives were seen on ground with other responders from the state and Federal on ground at the site, which has been cordoned off.
The Fact-finding Committee will include the following, and is to be Chaired by the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, with Commissioner for Special Duties, Tayo Bamgbose -Martins as Co-Chairman; Commissioners for Education, Environment, Finance, Physical Planning and relevant stakeholders, especially representatives of the school affected, Bethlehem Girls college, CDC/CDA and two representatives of the Community.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the state government has described the loss of innocent lives as a result of the blast, which brought grief to numerous families, as sad.
The government assured Lagosians that efforts were on to determine the cause of the explosion that has left many homeless.
Giving an update about the incident, the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, commiserated with the affected families, saying that efforts are on to evacuate the casualties.
Oke-Osanyintolu expressed concern that the blast had displaced several residents, who fled their homes for fear of being caught in the inferno.
While noting that the primary cause of the explosion remains unknown, the Director-General confirmed that secondary explosions occurred at the location of the blast and caused significant damage to multiple buildings, including a Church that was razed. St. Margaret’s Girls Hostel, close to the site was also affected.
Oke-Osanyintolu said all rescue and recovery Agencies, including the Lagos State and Federal Fire Services personnel, Lagos State Safety Commission, Lagos State Building Control Agency, as well as the Ministry of Special Duties, are still clearing the debris of the incident.
He said that 17 bodies have so far been recovered from the rubble while 25 injured people are being treated for injuries at the site.
“We sympathise with the families of the dead, wish the injured quick recovery and appeal for calm. Residents are urged to shun fake news. Our operations are still in progress and we will provide updates throughout this process while investigations continue,” Oke-Osanyintolu said.