The recent massive explosion that happened in the Bodija area of Ibadan, Nigeria last Tuesday in the capital of Oyo State had once again reconfirmed my stance on the porosity of Nigeria’s security architecture. This incident has helped to reveal the lackadaisical attitude of the government, law enforcement agencies, and community development associations to the issue of security, an attitude which sadly, has led to the loss of lives and properties.
According to reports, at least 10 persons were feared killed while 15 were injured as the explosion rocked Bodija. Adjoining areas like Ologuneru, Apete, New Garage, Bashorun, Akobo, Sango, and Eleyele were also hit by its tremors. The Governor’s Office, Oyo State Secretariat, House of Assembly, and the residence of former Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, were not spared. The dust is yet to settle as both commercial and residential buildings were affected, properties damaged, families’ well-being threatened, and persons submerged under the rubble.
How did those transporting explosives beat the security checks of Policemen, the Army, NSCDC, and Customs on the highway? How did they manage to get to Bodija and eat all the security checks? Fortunately, it was learnt that Bodija is neither near a mining site, a military enclave nor in the outskirts where the transportation of dangerous materials would have been successfully delivered undetected due to the laxity in the security architecture. Bodija is in the very heart of Ibadan, an elite and cosmopolitan area, just a stone throw away from major government offices, companies and banks. Therefore, the state must re-jig its security architecture, step up intelligence gathering, and encourage communities to whistle-blow on suspicious activities in their neighbourhoods.
Governor Seyi Makinde during his visit to the scene attributed the blast to explosives stored by illegal miners. He stated that two lives were lost and 77 persons were injured. Although the governor moved quickly in deploying earth-moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights, security, and free treatment for the victims, he must go beyond this and fish out the culprits and their sponsors. He must ensure he probes the circumstances of warehousing explosives in an elite residential area, brings the perpetrators and their allies to book, and create bulwarks to avoid illegal activities of miners in the state. For some time now and still counting illegal miners have had a field day. Many had successfully turned rich from engaging in this trade. Illegal mining is now a menace in Nigeria. The illegal miners are having a field day, wreaking havoc on the landscape, causing environmental degradation with their unethical mining practices, engendering terrorism, and sabotaging potential government revenues from the sector.
In 2017, the government estimated that Nigeria lost $9 billion annually to illegal mining. The losses arise mainly from the illegal export of gold, lead, zinc, tin, and coal extracted in various parts of the country. The states and the local government areas should collaborate with the Federal Government to audit the mining sites, exploration, extraction, and storage processes of mining companies operating in their domains. Governor Seyi Makinde must ensure that Bodija illegal miners do not escape justice so this can be a point of reference to other illegal miners hiding in other states of the federation. The Ministry of Solid and Miners should also not rest on their oars to ensure they rid Nigeria of illegal mining.
All relevant agencies should also be up and doing, dangerous explosives substances such as dynamite should not be left unregulated. There should be a catalogue for every stick of dynamite and all other dangerous explosive substances that find their way into this country. Focus should be on safe handling, and storage of such dangerous materials, there should be no reason, or justification for bringing them into populated areas, to avoid such a Tragedy from reoccurring.
The community also has major roles to play, in reporting any suspicious movement or activity to the relevant security agencies. To forestall any recurrence, all hands must be on deck, government, security agencies and the people should collaborate. We all have our roles to play.
Written by Tosin Adesile.