…No house, kiosk built on petroleum pipelines in Soba’
By Olayinka Ajayi
Hon. Peter Kolawole Oluwasegun, is an indigene of Soba town from the Adelakun Royal family and also from the Adebeji Royal family in Soba community. In this chat, the former Alliance for Democracy, AD, candidate, who contested for the Federal House of Representative in Amuwo-Odofin urges appropriate agencies to do thorough forensic investigation on the actual cause of explosion as there’s no gas pipeline that could cause damage of that magnitude. Excerpts:
What is your view on the explosion in Soba area that affected some parts of Lagos and its environs?
I have been living in Soba for the past 50 years. Apart from when I went for tertiary education in the North, I had my primary and secondary education in Soba town. The explosion was terrible and devastating. The extent of damage is huge.
It happened on a Sunday morning of March 15, 2020. At about 8: 45, people in the community noticed smoke coming out from the ground and few minutes after, we heard a big bang: an explosion after which we observed white substances, before we could know what happened fire was ignited in that particular area. We later heard some people saying the explosion was caused by a gas pipeline that was tampered with. I stand to be corrected by the appropriate authority, there’s no gas pipeline in or around Soba community. What we have here is petroleum pipeline that supplies the Ejigbo depot.
Does your view not contradict the general claim that it’s a pipeline explosion?
I strongly feel it’s a slip of tongue on who said that. They should do their findings well. The NNPC knows where they have petroleum and gas pipe lines. If they have gas pipeline in Soba it means it would be serving industries that uses gas as their source of energy to generate power but our community is not an industrial location area.
But there are claims of factories in Soba community?
There is no major factory here. The only factories you will see in Soba are maybe where they bake bread or they fry puff-puff. We don’t have any factory here that uses gas as a source of power. As far as we are concerned and is also open to verification, there’s no house, kiosk built on petroleum pipelines in Soba. Before the explosion, NNPC officials came to mark what they called the 25meters setback (that is the distance) and every kiosk or containerized shops were removed, talk less of residential buildings.
So, there are no residential buildings or permanent structure on the NNPC setback talk less on the pipeline beginning from the road to inside the community. About four years back the NNPC awarded contract to Julius Berger to bury the pipeline downward making it almost impossible for any individual to tamper with. Vandals had never come to Soba. We heard they sometimes approached Ijegun. Our people are so fearful of petroleum pipeline. Also because of the respect our people have for the government, they don’t compromise or associate with group of persons into pipeline vandalism. Our people would rather get involved in real estate business than to rupture pipeline.
What then do you make of the N2 billion compensation fund being sought by the Lagos government for the community?
The community strongly appreciates Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s gesture. His prompt intervention and fatherly role for coming to the aid of the people in Soba town and for taking that wise and brilliant decision. Immediately he came, he set up a committee comprising of two persons from the community, one from the Community Development Associations and also one from the Community Development Corporations, CDC, and other people from the state government and together they will look at the way-out to get things for the people.
We also thank the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who gave us his word of assurance that the house will do everything possible to get the Federal Government to come to our aid. 99 percent of the people of this community are in support of the government of Lagos State.
Why are residents still insisting that it was a bomb explosion?
They hold this view because of the extent of the damage, which cannot be linked to pipeline vandalisation or gas explosion. The way it started, and the information surrounding the whole incident, shows that this is not petroleum pipeline explosion. Haven heard of pipeline explosion at Abule Egba, Ijegun and Idimu, these cannot be compared to what we had in Soba.
The impact of the explosion in Soba town affected houses as far as Festac town and even Mushin to Badagry. The Soba explosion can be likened to the Ikeja Army cantonment explosion that got many killed.
The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said it could not have been a pipeline explosion even they are yet to ascertain the cause. But we are of the view that with the magnitude of destruction and the impact around Lagos. We can say authoritatively that it was not a petroleum pipeline explosion but could be other atomic explosion.
What do you make of the video trending on the social media where a man was seen displaying a substance he tagged as residue of an explosive device?
People are entitled to their opinion, but I will urge Nigerians to give less attention to what is being shared on social media because it could be misleading. Some online media stated in their report that there are laid gas pipeline in Soba community. Such reports are misleading because there’s no gas pipeline in our community. Let’s allow agencies saddled with the responsibility to do their forensic investigation and come-up with the actual cause.
That is the only way to avert future re-occurrence. We want to appeal to the appropriate agencies to do their findings with the fear of God. The government will strongly learn from it when they present a factual report to the government.
If it were to be a bomb, why will Soba be the target?
There target maybe the Lagos international trade fair. And the substance is designed to cover 500 meters. So, if they could not get it into the market, they had to do it somewhere close to the market. My call to the government is that there’s need to improve on our security. I appreciate the move of the state government for the ban of commercial motorcycle otherwise known as Okada along major roads; they should enforce this law even in communities and make sure that if any Okada is to ride into any community, it should be registered with the resident association for effective monitoring.