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Ibadan explosion: Illegal miners under scrutiny as govts take action

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On Tuesday, January 16, 2024, an explosion rocked the community of Old Bodija in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State. Displacing many and claiming several lives, the occurrence has placed illegal miners in the region under heavy scrutiny as they are reportedly responsible for the tragedy.

 

In his reaction to the unfortunate development on Wednesday, January 17, Oyo Governor Seyi Makinde disclosed that illegal miners are to blame for the explosion.

 

While sharing that the development left two dead and 77 injured at the time, Makinde stated that the explosion was caused by illegal miners who stored explosive devices in an apartment in the area.

 

Federal government reacts

 

President Bola Tinubu, in a statement through his Special Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, insisted that those responsible for the explosion must be brought to book in what he called “inexcusable and reckless behaviour”.

 

“It is worrisome that the cause of the blast is being attributed to the activities of illegal miners. Those behind the inexcusable and reckless behaviour that has created the conditions for the sad incident to occur must be fished out and punished,” he said.

 

Speaking further, Tinubu expressed sadness over the incident and consoled the people of Oyo State and the government.

 

 

Mining officers ordered to probe tragedy

 

Not satisfied with the call for the arrest of the culprits, the Minster of Solid Minerals and Development, Dele Alake, instructed mining officials to probe the explosion.

 

Issuing the directive the day after the incident, Alake revealed that the officers would work with the Oyo State government to unravel the root cause of the incident.

 

“I have directed the ministry’s mine officers who are already on site in Ibadan to join ongoing investigations to find out the immediate and remote causes of the explosion.

 

“We have ordered a detailed investigation and our officers will work and collaborate with the Oyo State government to know the actual cause.

 

“If the explosion was caused by mining explosives devices as earlier reported, the ministry will double its efforts to tighten the noose around those acquiring explosives and storing them illegally,” he stated.

 

NUJ calls for arrest of perpetrators

 

Lending its voice to the cause, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council called for the arrest of those responsible for the Ibadan explosion.

 

In a statement jointly signed by Ademola Babalola (Chairman) and Olusola Oladapo (Secretary), the union expressed solidarity with those affected, including three of its members residing in Ibadan.

 

“Together, as a community, we can overcome this tragedy, while working towards a safer and more secure environment for all.

 

“We have equally sent intelligence reports we garnered through our investigations to the Governor and relevant security agencies to launch a manhunt on other suspected offices of the prime suspect and company linked to the unfortunate incident,” it said.

 

Lagos government pledges to prosecute illegal miners

 

In a bid to forestall any such likely occurrence, the Lagos government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has promised to enforce laws against illegal miners.

 

The pledge was made by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Energy and Mineral Resources, (Office of Mineral Resources), Abiola Olowu. He added that a visitation exercise had already begun.

 

“As part of the drive to curb illegality in the solid minerals, mining sectors, toll fee, and revenue points, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Office of Mineral Resources has commenced a scheduled visitation exercise to all the dredging, mining, toll and revenue points across the five divisions of Lagos State.

 

“The exercise which commenced on Monday, January 8, 2024, was targeted at curbing illegalities in the solid minerals and mining sectors across the state to a minimal level.

 

“The Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration will begin enforcement of all relevant laws guiding mining and dredging activities in the state.

 

“Anyone caught violating the set rules, laws, and guidelines of the dredging and mining in the state will be prosecuted. Therefore, we urge all the dredgers and miners across the state to obtain all necessary permits and regularise their operations with the Office of Mineral Resources.”

 

Ban on mining activities ruled out by Makinde

 

Despite having to deal with the casualties and lingering effects of the devastating explosion, Governor Makinde says a ban on mining activities in Oyo is out of the question.

 

The blast is linked to illegal miners storing explosives in a Bodija building, causing damage across Bodija, Agbowo, Eleyele, and Orogun.

 

Sharing an update on Friday, Makinde harped on his commitment to responsible mining as he resisted calls for a blanket ban.

 

“We recognize the concerns arising from this tragedy,” he said, “but a responsible mining sector can co-exist with public safety.

 

“Our focus is on cracking down on illegal activities and implementing stricter regulations to ensure responsible mining practices.”

 

Governor Makinde disclosed that integrity tests on 230 houses have been conducted by his administration.

 

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