By Augustine Osayande PhD
The Senate on Tuesday directed its Committees on Petroleum Downstream, Gas resources and Petroleum Upstream to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the explosion in Abule-Ado, Amuwo-Odofin Local Government of Lagos State, resulting in loss of lives and massive destruction of properties with a view to prevent reoccurrence, and proffer lasting solutions
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also directed the NNPC to enforce the rule of right of way and those who are building within there should be declared as irregular settlers.
The lawmakers who observe a minute silence in honour of innocent Nigerians that lost their lives in the unfortunate national tragedy, also resolved to send a high power delegation to Lagos and write a letter of condolence to the people and government of Lagos State
They also directed the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to immediately send relief materials to affected victims and offset medical bills of hospitalized victims;
The Senators urged the Federal Government and members of the National Assembly to donate to the N2 Billion “Abule-Ado Emergency Relief Fund
The development follows a point of order raise by Senator Adeola Solomon representing Lagos West. He cited orders 42 and 52 and moved a motion on the urgent need to investigate the explosion the resulted to loss of lives and massive destruction of properties.
Senator Adeola in his lead debate urged the Senate to note that in the early hours of Sunday, March 15, 2020, a massive explosion occurred at a point in Abule-Ado near the Lagos Trade Fair Complex, along the Lagos Badagry Expressway in Amuwo Odofin LGA, Lagos State.
He further said that “the explosion caused no fewer than 23 deaths including that of a family of four on their way to a church service as well as the death of the school principal of Bethlehem Girls College, Rev. Sister Henrietta Alokha, who died while rescuing her students.”
In her contribution, Senator Oluremi Tinubu urged the federal government to come to the aid of Lagos at this time. “I think it is occurring too often and we begin to wonder why. I want to console the family of those that have lost their loved ones in this incident and also want to urge the federal government to come to our aid at this time. We will really appreciate whatever assistance we can get; financially and morally.” Tinubu said
Senator James Manager commiserated with the state government and the victims and supported the investigations to unearth the cause of this inferno “I commiserate with my colleague, Senator Solomon who is representing that particular community in the Senate. I also commiserate with the state government and the victims. This is one tragedy too many. As we speak we are yet to know the cause of this inferno. This motion will unearth so many of the details about why this is happening very frequently in that part of the country. We need to know the depth of these pipes and how they have been laid.” Manager said
Senator George Sekibo said the pipelines were laid 30 years ago and some of them have lived their age. He added that the amount of stealing from the pipelines is so heavy. “I think we need to encourage NSCDC to do more. I sympathize with my colleague that brought the motion and I sympathize also with the government of Lagos State.” Sekibo said
Senator Boroffice Ajayi added that the explosion is happening so many times and there is a need to look at possible reasons why this is happening. “I think the NNPC should enforce the right of way that has been described by law. I commiserate with not only the Lagos State Government but Nigerians who are residing there.” Ajayi said
Senator Sani Musa said “In my own opinion, these disasters are not yet over. We should own it. NNPC, security agencies need to do more. What we have seen in Ijegun clearly shows that we are not yet serious. Vehicles go on top of these pipes and they are in the middle of a community where there are so many inhabitants. NNPC must go back to the drawing board to relocate these pipelines. I think the Senate should call on NNPC to be up and doing in respect of our pipelines and NEMA should see how they can go and compensate these people.”
In his comment the Senate President, SenatorAhmad Lawan sympathized with the government and people of Lagos State.
“Similar thing happened sometime in October and we took resolutions here. I want to advise the executive arm of government that when we take resolutions like this we take them with all seriousness and they mean a lot to Nigerians. It is not good for us to be talking about the same thing. The executive should implement the resolutions we passed in November regarding the explosion that happened.
“I also want to advise that when our trucks carry loads they should take those loads within the confines that the law allows. We need to really go back to insisting on trucks to carry loads within the weight that is allowed. I also want to advise our town planners not to approve buildings close to pipelines. I think there is need for enforcement of town and urban planning designs by our authorities. May the good Lord rest the souls of those who lost their lives in this incident” Lawan said