Tragedy struck on Monday as fire razed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation filling station on Yaya Abatan Street, Ogba, Lagos State.
It was gathered that the fire, which started around 1pm, emanated from a diesel-laden tanker that was about to discharge its content into the station’s underground storage facility.
Apart from the filling station, over 30 vehicles in a car mart were also consumed by the fire as well as some buildings in the area.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Lagos State Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, MAN Fire Service and the Fire Department of the NNPC responded to the incident, while the state Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, supervised the rescue efforts.
It was gathered that the personnel of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps, the state police command and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were on the ground to manage the crowd.
The station manager, Samuel Akinyemi, said the tanker had not commenced discharging its content when the fire ignited from the vehicle.
He said, “I cannot say how the fire started, because it caught us unawares, but what happened was that a diesel-laden tanker arrived and we stationed it with the expectation that business would resume tomorrow (Tuesday) and we wanted to be available to the public in anticipation that the lockdown would be relaxed by the President.
“We stationed the truck at the appropriate place for discharge, but unfortunately, a fire that I can’t even say how it came about started and before we knew it, it had escalated. The fire started from the truck but nobody was there when it started.”
Akinyemi added that he could not estimate the damage done at the moment.
Speaking on the incident, the Director-General of LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the response team was able to extinguish the inferno around 4.49pm.
He stated, “The agency received a distress call around 1pm concerning a fire outbreak at the NNPC filling station located on Yaya Abatan Street, off College Road, Ogba, and this led to the activation of the agency’s emergency response plan.
“The agency’s response team, as well as other emergency responders, jointly fought and subsequently extinguished the flames around 4.49pm. No fatality was recorded.
“However, about 30 vehicles were affected. The combined effort of the emergency responders led to the salvage of buildings nearby.”
Oke-Osanyintolu added that continuous sensitisation and advocacy on fire safety measures must be embarked upon by relevant government agencies, while installation of fire extinguishers in both public and private premises should be encouraged.
He urged all petrol filling stations in the state to install at least one fire hydrant on their premises.
The acting Head of the state fire service, Margaret Adeseye, stated that the Alausa, Ikeja, Agege and Isolo fire stations responded to the incident.
She said, “On arrival, it was discovered that the fire involved the NNPC filling station, which went up in flames.
“The challenge encountered in managing the situation was that it took time for the crowd to be effectively managed. However, the filling station was salvaged from being completely burnt as only one dispensing machine was severely burnt, while another was partially affected.
“Preliminary investigation into the cause of the incident revealed that the fire started when diesel was being discharged into the filling station’s underground storage facility from a 33,000-litre tanker belonging to Lado Oil.”
A motorcyclist, Kazeem Adeoti, who claimed to be among the first responders, said most residents were having a siesta when the incident happened.
He said, “Some victims, whose houses were affected by the fire, were sleeping but were roused from their sleep by the shout that the filling station had caught fire.
“Some of us assisted them by moving their property out of the apartments. But we thank God that no life was lost as of the time we were assisting the residents, but I don’t know what happened after I left the scene.”
Another eyewitness, Jide Adelegan, who stated that he was sleeping when the fire started, said some youths in the area helped in extinguishing the fire before the arrival of firefighters.
He stated, “Before we realised what was happening, some houses close to the station had been burnt down. There was confusion everywhere, as some people were trying to extinguish the fire and help those whose houses were affected, hoodlums were trying to steal their belongings and there was little the police could do about it.
“When the fire service personnel came, they could not easily access the place due to the raging fire and when they eventually did, so many properties had been destroyed.”
Another resident, who identified herself simply as Tola, wondered why a filling station would be approved in a residential area, saying, “It is only in Lagos that you will see a fuel station being built in a residential area. Properties have been damaged by the inferno; the government should not approve fuel stations in residential areas anymore to prevent disasters.”
A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed concern over the security situation in the area after the fire had been extinguished and urged the police to beef up security.
She said, “When the fire started, we heard some people shouting that we should run and so many people were running to safety. I learnt that the tanker that came to discharge fuel at the station ignited the fire. The filling station got burnt, all the vehicles in a car mart beside the filling station got burnt and some houses close to the station as well.
“What we need now is security, because some people are using the opportunity to steal people’s property.”
Suspected Mentally Challenged Man Kills, Burns Woman in Rivers
The police have arrested a suspected mentally unstable man who allegedly killed and burnt an unidentified lady near an uncompleted building along Rumuekini end of the East-West Road, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
It was gathered that after killing the woman, the man wanted to conceal his crime by setting fire to the victim but policemen who were alerted swooped on the suspect, arrested him and removed the corpse.
Residents of the area, who expressed shock over the development, said the decomposing corpse of the woman was discovered when the stench permeated the area.
A resident said, “When we came to work on Monday, there was a foul smell near an uncompleted building.
“So, we went there and saw the corpse of the lady. It is surprising that we are there, but don’t even know about it if not for the smell that makes us suspect that something had happened.”
The spokesman for the state police command, SP Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the killing and the arrest.
“The body has been evacuated and deposited in the mortuary. Investigation is still ongoing to ascertain what really happened,” Omoni said.
Lovers Found Dead in Delta Residence, Neighbours Suspect Suicide
A 33-year-old man, Emmanuel Oshiotu, and his 25-year-old lover, Amaka Okafor, were on Thursday found dead in their one-room apartment in Uvwie community in the Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State.
The corpses of the lovers were sighted by neighbours in their apartment located at Ojigbo Crescent, Off Sapele-Effurun Road, Uvwie.
A neighbour of the deceased, who declined to be named, said, “Around 5am, we heard Emmanuel shouting for help and on breaking the door, found him vomiting white foam while his lover’s lifeless body lay a few distance from him.”
The cause of their death could not be ascertained by anyone as of the time of filing this report but witnesses said a can of insecticide and a knife were found besides their bodies.
The discovery made neighbours and the police suspect suicide.
It was further gathered that the suspected suicide theory was reinforced by one of the latest posts by Emmanuel on his Facebook page depicting someone facing frustration.
The neighbour said the lovers were rushed to the Central Hospital, Warri, where they were both confirmed dead on arrival and their bodies deposited in the morgue.
The Divisional Police Officer, CSP Muktari Bello, and his officers later inspected the bodies at the hospital.
The acting state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Edafe Bright, confirmed the incident.
Adamant Mother Insists Selling Own 4-Month-Old Child for N40,000
The police in Ebonyi State on Tuesday detained a woman believed to be a commercial sex worker for allegedly trying to sell her baby for N40,000.
The woman has been identified as Victoria Chukwube, 32.
The four-month-old boy was still breastfeeding.
The woman said she wanted to sell the child to raise money to start a business of selling drinks.
The police spokesperson in Ebonyi, Loveth Odah, while parading the suspect, said she was arrested following a tip off.
“So her name is Chukwube Victoria, she told us she is a commercial sex hawker and that she has this baby which she was carrying.
“She said if she leaves here she would continue to look out for prospective buyers.
“But we tried to talk to her and to make her see the value of being a mother, but she refused.
“She even told us that if we allow her to go home with the baby she will throw the baby away and that she can’t tell who got her pregnant,” Ms Odah, a deputy superintendent of police, said.
Ms Chukwube, during interrogation, refused to disclose her state of origin or local government. She said she did not have the financial ability to take care of the child.
“I am from Nigeria, 32 years old, a commercial sex hawker and my baby is just four months old.
“I want to sell the baby at the rate of N40,000 to start up a business. I have a fridge and I reside at Ogbe Hausa in Abakaliki,” she said.
Meanwhile, police in the state have arrested a suspected armed robber, Obinna Obike.
The suspect, according to the police, was part of a three-man armed gang which robbed a cargo bus along the Amasiri-Okigwe Highway.
The police spokesperson, Ms Odah, who confirmed the incident, said the suspect was arrested in Uwulangwu, Ohaozara Local Government Area with Nigerian Army camouflage.
“The operatives arrested the suspect, following a robbery incident which took place along Amasiri-Okigwe Expressway by Oso-edda in Afikpo South Local Government Area of the state on the 13 February 2021.
“The three-man gang, dressed on Nigerian military camouflage, accosted a bus driver, tied him down and robbed him of the said bus loaded with goods worth millions of naira. The hoodlums diverted the goods to an unknown destination,” Ms Odah said.
Following a report by the driver of the bus, police operatives trailed the suspected robbers to their hideout where the suspect was arrested, while two others escaped.
Ms Odah said the suspect has confessed to the crime and admitted that the camouflage belonged to their gang leader popularly known as “Iron” who is still at large.