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.”
Lady from Hell! Sets Ex-Lover’s House, Girlfriend Ablaze
Nineteen-year-old Jemila Ibrahim and her friend, Fatima Mohammed, have been arrested by the personnel of the Lagos State Police Command for setting her ex-lover’s house ablaze at the Monkey Village, FESTAC area of the state.
It was gathered that Jemila and her friend stormed the residence of her ex-lover, Mohammed Yusuf, around 5.30pm on November 18 and set it ablaze, while his girlfriend, Rabi was inside.
Yusuf, who got to know about the incident, rushed home to rescue Rabi and took her to hospital, where she died on Saturday around noon.
Mohammed reportedly left Jemila over alleged infidelity on her part.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement on Monday, said policemen from the Satellite Division arrested the suspects, adding that the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had ordered the transfer of the case to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, for further investigation.
The statement read in part, “The duo of Jemila Ibrahim and her friend, Fatima Mohammed, of Monkey Village, who accompanied Jemila to commit the heinous crime, have been arrested by the police operatives attached to the Satellite Division of the command.
“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, who condemned the crime, has ordered that the matter be transferred to the SCIID, Panti, for discreet investigation. The CP also vowed to go after those, who engage in crimes and social vices, and to rid the state of criminals and criminality.”
The CP, however, urged the residents of the state to avoid taking the law into their own hands.
Gunmen Invade ABU Zaria, Abduct Lecturer
A day after bandits released nine abducted students of the French Department of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, gunmen have invaded the institution and kidnapped a lecturer.
According to a statement by Auwalu Umar, the institution’s Director of Public Affairs, the incident took place at Sardauna crescent on the main campus.
Although he did not mention the name of the lecturer, an online newspaper, Saheliantimes, simply gave his name as “Dr Bako.”
The university spokesperson said the lecturer was initially kidnapped along with his wife and daughter.
He said the wife and daughter were released “when security agents chased the kidnappers into the bush.”
“At about 12:50 a.m. on Monday, 23rd November, 2020, kidnappers invaded the house of a staff member of the university on Sardauna crescent, area BZ, main campus, Samaru, Zaria. They went away with him along with his wife and daughter.
“The University security division quickly informed the operatives of the police intelligence response team that advanced to the scene following the distress call. There was an exchange of fire between the kidnappers and the mobile police operatives. When it was clear that they would be overpowered, the kidnappers ran into the bush along with the victims.
“As the police went after them up to kasuwar Da’a village bothering the university, the kidnappers then released the wife and daughter and went away with the husband. Some empty shells were recovered from the scene.
“The inspector general of police and other security agencies, as well as all relevant government establishments have been duly informed of the unfortunate incident,” the statement read.
ABU Zaria has suffered attacks by kidnappers lately.
The abduction of nine students who were on their way to Lagos for an academic programme has earlier been reported. In the same vein, police officers on a special assignment were kidnapped in Katsina State.
The officers were on their way to Zamfara State from Borno to carry out a special assignment before they were abducted.
They have been released, according to the police.
Their abductors reportedly demanded N270 million as ransom. The students were later released after a ransom was paid.
Kaduna, Katsina , Zamfara and Niger States have seen have seen more frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite increased security presence in the area.
Escort Policemen Kill Man, Abandon Corpse, Van in Ekiti Hospital
Some policemen reported to be on an escort assignment, on Saturday, shot two persons in a hotel in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.
PUNCH Metro gathered that one of the victims, who was hit by a bullet in the stomach, was pronounced dead in a hospital.
The second victim, who was hit in the leg, was said to have been admitted for treatment.
While a source said the incident happened when the policemen, numbering about five, attempted to give a retired senior officer compliment, another said the cops were in a joyous mood, chanting and shooting in the air when the two victims were hit by bullets.
A source said, “The policemen came into the hotel with one retired senior police officer. They were up to five in number. As they were gyrating inside the hotel, they shot in the air. Two persons were hit by bullets in the process. Two of the policemen took the victims from the hotel in their Hilux van to hospital.”
On realising that one of the victims had died, the policemen were alleged to have, on arrival at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, bolted, leaving the corpse, the injured man and the van.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Sunday Abutu, who confirmed the incident, said the policeman, who fired the shots, had been arrested and was being detained at the command headquarters in Ado Ekiti.
Abutu, however, said the cops were not from the state police command.
He said, “We have established that there was a shooting incident on Saturday night at one hotel in Ado Ekiti. Two persons were hit and one is died, while the second man is receiving treatment. The corpse of the deceased has been deposited in a morgue.
“The policeman who was responsible has been arrested and is now in our custody. We are not going to hide anything. Though those involved are not from our command, the incident is within our jurisdiction and we promise that whoever is found culpable will be prosecuted accordingly.