BY MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
Five years after the Ijegun Pipeline explosion, Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Lagos, which wreaked havoc on the community, victims of the disaster are still waiting for compensation.
Although full compensation for the disaster is still pending, the Lagos state government has released a sum of N81 million, as relief fund to the victims of the explosion, who were divided into four categories.
Victims in Category A – those who died during the disaster received over N1 million; Category B-those who had permanent disability, over N400, 000; Category C- those who lost their means of livelihood, over N200, 000 while category; D received over N90, 000 for the injuries they suffered during the explosion.
It will be recalled that the fire disaster occurred on May15th, 2008 after a pipeline in the community burst and spilled Petrol Motor Spirit, PMS, which caught fire and killed several people, destroyed goods and properties which worth couldn’t be ascertained.
Vanguard gathered that due to the degree of the loss suffered by the victims and the delay in the release of compensation, some of the victims have relocated from the state to their villages, citing financial constrain.
Mrs. Juliet Udeh, whose husband died in the explosion, spoke to Vanguard after receiving the relief fund from the Lagos state government at the Igando relief camp, said “I have four children and since his death, joy has eluded the house. Daily, I wish I could rewind the hand of the clock.”
Udeh, a private school teacher, explained; “Due to the financial requirement for the welfare of our four children in Lagos, my mother-in-law advised that I send two of them to the village while I cater for others.”
Mr. Kingley Ojoye, a victim of the explosion, who spoke with gloomy eyes, said; “Since 2008, I haven’t recovered from the injury. Today, whenever I am in the house, I don’t wear cloth or sleep on the bed because of the pains I suffer whenever I try that.”
Ojoye added that the explosion has also affected his arms, as he could only lift one while the other has failed to respond. The former refrigerator technician lamented that the explosion has forced him to auction his landed property, in order to raise money to buy the required drugs for his treatment and cater for the needs of his family.
According to him; “Today, due to the burn I suffered, I cannot return to my profession, that was why I had to seek shelter in my church until I could get the required fund to rent a habitable shelter”, Ojoye said adding that he would go for surgery as soon as he gets money.
Vanguard gathered that apart from Lagos state government who recently released N81 million relief funds to the 233 victims captured by the six man committee for Ijegun fire disaster victims, led by Mr. Olaseni Shoewu, other parties like the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, are yet to come forward with any assistance.
Mr Adedoyin Orenuga, whose sister, Idayat died during the incident commended the state government for giving him a token to deliver to the mother of the victim, saying that she trained the girl until she graduated from the university before her death, but lamented that the money given could not bring back his sister.
Also, Mrs. Adewuyi Musiliu, a mother of six, whose husband died during the explosion, thanked the government for giving her some money to make ends meet, saying that she would channel the money into her business. It was further learnt that over 100 victims affected by the pipeline explosion weren’t captured in the 233 victims list released recently by the state government.
Vanguard gathered that other parties who were yet to compensate the victims were the two Federal Government agencies: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and Pipeline and Product Marketing Company, PPMC, who were expected to compensate the victims of the disaster.
Counsel to the victims, Mr. Micheal Babalola who spoke to Vanguard in an interview said that their concern was that not all the victims were captured in the list released by the committee. But Shoewu in his reaction, argued that there are bound to be error, saying “we are human and not God.”
The General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osayintolu, said; “The state government has asked the community to inaugurate a committee on the disaster that would speak on behalf of the affected victims.”