LAGOS FIRE: Firecracker importer arrested
By IFEANYI OKOLIE & MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
THE Police in Lagos State, Wednesday, said they have arrested the importer of the firecrackers which triggered an inferno that killed one person, injured 40 others, and destroyed 12 buildings at Ojo Giwa area of Jankara, in Lagos Island, Lagos on Boxing Day.
The importer, whose identity was given as, Semilore Olalekan, was said to have been picked up by the police who have been on his trail for a long time.
Although the spokesperson of the Lagos Police Command, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the arrest, she said, however, that she had not been properly briefed. But a source who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity said the importer was currently being detained at the Area A Command Headquarters, Lion Building, Lagos Island. The source added that the importer told policemen during interrogation that he was licensed to import firecracker which remains a contraband item into the country.
He said: “The importer told the policemen that he got permission from the Police Anti-Bomb Unit and the National Security Adviser, NSA, to import firecracker into the country.”
Fear grips landlords, tenants over non-deformity test: Meantime, owners of structures and tenants of the 20 marked structures on Okoya and Ojo-Giwa streets in Lagos Island, site of the firecrackers explosion were, yesterday, gripped with fear over the commencement of the Non-Deformity Test on the marked structures.
It will be recalled that the state government through the Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA, marked over 20 structures for a compulsory Non-Deformity Test to determine the strength of the building. Vanguard gathered that the directive to conduct a compulsory test on the building sited within over 60 metres of the explosion site was ordered by the Governor, Babatunde Fashola, to determine the extent of damage caused by the Boxing Day explosion.
Among the structures marked by LASBCA are Anwar-Ul-Islam Movement of Nigeria, headquarters Central Mosque built 30 years ago, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Idumagbo, King Ado Junior and Senior Secondary school and 17 others structures.
When Vanguard visited the site one week after the explosion, the property owners expressed fear of their building failing the test which LASBCA through the Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory commenced December 28.
Mr. Sunday Okonkwo, a tenant at 35, Ojo-Giwa Street, said “we know that the houses have been marked for test but we cannot determine the extent of damage done by the explosion on the buildings.
The extent of damage cannot be determined through mere looking at the structure. But through Non-Deformity equipments that would determine the strength of the building. All we have to do now is to be prayerful that the explosion hasn’t caused serious damage on the building.”
A landlord Alhaja Adio at 49, Ojo-Giwa, said: “Our prayer is that our building passes the test. This is because we do not have the money to construct another one now.”
Speaking with Vanguard about what would become the fate of the 30-year old mosque, the chairman of Lagos Mission of Anwar-Ul-Islam, Alhaji Mufutau Salau, said that they would be hoping and praying that the building passes the test.”
Salau noted “But after the test, if the result shows that we failed the test. We will accept it in good fate. We have received a notice asking us to go for integrity test to know how sound it is structurally for continuous use. We will go for the test to confirm the soundness of the building (mosque). And if after the test they said the place is not good for use, we will have no choice than to begin to look for an alternative.”
Opportunity to test the building
Another resident, Miss Shade said: “I have removed my property from the building to give officials of the state government the opportunity to test the building. And I will pray that the building does not fail the test. This is because I have just paid a year rent to my landlord last December.”
Speaking during the test, the Project director of Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory, Mr Gboyega Abisogun, allayed the fear of the residents, saying “the test is in the interest of the owners of the structures and their tenants.
“It gives owners of the building the opportunity to know the type of building material used by the contractor while constructing the building. This is a scientific test that cannot be discovered through the eye and we will be using the non-destructive testing machine.”
He explained that after the explosion, some of the buildings could have experienced cracks that would not be visible to the eye, stressing that it would have caused the building to experience some deformity.
Also speaking on the test, managing consultant of the laboratory, Mr. Shola Famakin, said: “we are removing the house from the site, but we are bringing the portable ultrasonic non-destructive digital test equipment here to test the structure.
“During the test, we will place the machine on the column (pillars), beam and the slabs in the building to determine the strength of the building. After the site test, the data generated would be sent to the laboratory for another test.”