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Black Sunday: Lagos Blast Kills Scores, Destroys 70 Buildings …NNPC Says Explosion Came From Gas Pipeline …Buhari, Lawan, Gbajabiamila, Others Condole Families Of Victims

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No fewer than 18 people were confirmed dead, including a family of four and over 70 houses destroyed in yesterday’s pipeline explosion which rocked Abule Ado area of FESTAC Town in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The Acting Coordinator of NEMA in Lagos, Ibrahim Farinloye, who disclosed this to journalists, said the victims, a couple and their two sons, were caught by the explosion on their way to church at about 9:00 a.m. yesterday.
A massive explosion was heard, yesterday morning, accompanied with thick smokes and balls of fire.
The explosion shook several houses miles away from the scene.
The explosion reverberated and shook houses several miles away.
Farinloye said: “The resulting fire later spread to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) oil pipeline passing through the area even though the pipeline has been shut down as a precautionary measure.
“The fire was eventually extinguished at 3:30 p.m. through the combined efforts of officials of the Lagos State Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, and Nigerian Navy Fire Tender.”
He said; “From the information given by officials of the Lagos State Fire Service who are currently on the ground, the implosion is not connected to pipeline but might have occurred in a factory located in the Abule Ado area.
“Emergency responders are on ground while others are still on their way to the scene. The situation is under control and we hope to get more information soon to ascertain its cause,” he said.
Farinloye said the NNPC had shut down the pipeline passing through the area as a precautionary measure after the oil company was notified of the incident.
He also confirmed that several buildings were affected by the explosion.
Also, a Staff Officer of the Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, told journalists that the students were stabilised at the Navy Hospital, adding that those who have fully recovered would be discharged soon.
Daji said although the cause of the incident was still unknown, some residents of the area told security operatives that there were several industrial gas cylinders close to where the explosion occurred.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) spokesman, Nosa Okunbor said the explosion might be from the pipeline.
“We were debating in my house where the sound came from, and then, my sister called some friends in Satellite Town who confirmed it happened in their area and Abule Ado,” said Precious, who lived close to the area.
An Army, personnel who craved anonymity, said the explosion occurred behind Oando Gas Station at Abule Ado.
Emergency management officials were seen evacuating the remains of several dead victims.
The headquarters of the Lagos Province 3 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) located on 24 Road, FESTAC Town, Lagos was burnt along with over 70 buildings.
The explosion, which occurred more than a kilometre away from the church premises, shattered its glass windows, injuring worshippers.
A parish of the First Baptist Church near the RCCG parish also lost a part of its roof to the explosion.
The roof of a parish of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) located at 7th Avenue, FESTAC Town, was also blown off by the explosion which equally shattered the roof of the Ark Parish of the RCCG at 1st Avenue, many kilometres away from the explosion scene.
The Bethel Secondary School, a boarding school owned by the Catholic Church in Abule Ado, was brought down by the explosion, with many of its students injured and some feared dead.
The agency said, at least, 60 injured students of Bethlehem Girls College had been taken to the Nigerian Navy Hospital in Ojo Cantonment for treatment.
Many other buildings very far from the explosion scene in Abule Ado, Festac Extension in Amuwo Odofin LGA, were also brought down while many others shook during the explosion that threw thousands of residents in panic and confusion.
The Odic Plaza, a motor parts mall and warehouse, Bush Bar Hotel, Green Horse Plaza which houses tyres, Arch Angel Catholic Church, Chino Plaza with many goods in it, and a mechanic village, all located inside the Trade Fair Complex, Ojo, were all hit by the explosion.
The cause of the explosion has yet to be ascertained according to the National Emergency Management Agency, which is yet to confirm the death toll.
A witness, Mrs Patience Erebogaya, said that she was preparing to go to work in a nearby hotel when the Bethel School was scattered by the explosion and injured her.
The victim said that mass celebration was going on in the catholic school when the explosion reduced the school to rubbles, trapping many students.
The state Commandant of the Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr F. A. Adeyinka, said hat security personnel and other emergency responders were working hard to bring the situation under control.
The Chairman of Amuwo Odofin LGA, HonValetine Buriamoh, who was at the scene, ruled out pipeline vandalism as the cause of the explosion.
He said that the magnitude of the damage was beyond pipeline vandalism.
He appealed to the residents to give access to security operatives and emergency responders to do their jobs.
The fire which started at 9.00p.m was still on as at 3.00.p.m.
Reacting, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC0, yesterday, blamed the explosion that occurred at the Abule-Ado Area of Lagos State, in the early hours of yesterday, on a gas explosion which occurred after a truck hit some gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant located near the corporation’s system 2B Pipeline Right of Way.
In a statement in Abuja, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Dr. Kennie Obateru, stated that following the report of the explosion, the corporation quickly halted ongoing pumping operations on the Atlas Cove-Mosimi pipeline which was active at the time.
He noted that the temporary shutdown of the critical System 2B pipeline, would not affect the supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, across the country.
Obateru explained that the NNPC had already mobilized its in-house combined team consisting of Health, Safety, Environment experts, medical and security personnel from its nearby Satellite Depot in Lagos, even as Lagos State Fire Service was also rallied to extinguish the fire.
He added that more fire fire-fighting personnel and equipment were mobilised from the NNPC Mosimi Area Office to provide extra fillip to the ongoing operation.
The newly appointed spokesperson of the NNPC explained that preliminary findings indicated that the impact of the explosion was so huge that it led to the collapse of nearby houses and damage to NNPC pipeline on which efforts are being made to curtail the resultant fire.
He added that the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, and other top management of the corporation departed to Lagos this evening for an on-the-spot assessment at the scene of the incident.
While assuring members of the public and residents of the affected communities to remain calm, the NNPC’s spokesman assured that the temporary shutdown of the petroleum products pipeline would not affect the normal supply of products to the Lagos and its environs.
He said the fire, currently burring at controlled condition, was being fought headlong, saying a detail assessment of the incident was underway to establish the extent of damage to the pipeline.
“The NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, commiserated with the victims of the incident, praying that God provides them succour at this hour,” he said.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday night, commiserated with families of victims of a pipeline explosion in Abule Ado, Amuwo Odofin local government area of Lagos State.
The President also condoled with the Lagos State government and all residents affected by the unfortunate incident that killed, at least, 15 people and injured several others.
Buhari, in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described the incident as a national tragedy.
He said: “I have received with sadness the news of this unfortunate incident which caused the loss of lives and property.
“A misfortune of whatever scale anywhere is a tragedy to the country, and while the NNPC makes efforts to determine the cause of the incident, I send my deepest and profound sympathises to the victims, their families, government and people of Lagos State.”
Similarly, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan commiserated with victims of the explosion that occurred, yesterday morning at Abule Ado, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Lawan condoled with all those who lost loved ones in the incident.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Ola Awoniyi, Lawan also sympathised with those who are injured and those who lost property to the inferno.
The Senate President commiserated with the Lagos State Government over the tragic incident and prayed to God to comfort all those who are affected.
Lawan called on the relevant authorities and agencies to get to the root of the incident with a view to forestalling a recurrence.
In his condolence, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila expressed sadness over the pipeline explosion in Abule Ado, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Gbajabiamila, who sympathised with the victims of the explosion, called for calm as the state government makes frantic efforts to ascertain the cause of the incident.
The Speaker commended the Lagos State Government as well as relevant agencies for taking action following the explosion.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker said everything should be done to avert the re-occurrence of such incidents in future.
“My heart goes out to the people of Abule Ado, especially the victims of the explosion, in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area. I also sympathise with the people and Government of Lagos State over the incident
“May I call on all the agencies of government to do diligent work to ascertain the cause of the explosion to avert a reoccurrence,” Gbajabiamila said.
In a swift reaction hours after the fire explosion at the Abule Ado area of Lagos, the state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, advised residents in the affected area to make safety their priority, urging them to maintain a safe distance from the scene of the explosion and fire as the site is still live.
The governor also instructed the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) to immediately release personal safety equipment such as face and nose protection masks to be distributed to first responders, residents of the affected area and all safety workers at the ground zero.
The safety equipment had been delivered.
An explosion rocked the Western part of the state in the early hours of Sunday morning, leading to fire incident with attendant effects on the atmosphere.
Safety agencies in the state were immediately mobilised to the scene of the incident to contain the fire and keep the residents safe.
The perimeter of the fire incident is under control.
A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said the governor sent the protective equipment to the affected site to prevent any form of medical hazard such as respiratory infections by the residents who may unknowingly inhale toxic substances from the explosion.
The governor noted that in a situation like this, there would be a lot of unhealthy substances, gas particulate matters that can affect people’s lungs.
Sanwo-Olu, however, reiterated the need for the residents to maintain a safe distance as practicable to avoid breathing in polluted air.
Meanwhile, combined safety teams of the Lagos State Emergency Authority (LASEMA); the Lagos Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA); the State Safety Commission; the Lagos State Fire Service; the Lagos State Ambulance Services (LASAMBUS), as well as the Nigerian Civil Defence (NSCDC), the Nigerian Navy and the military are among the state and federal agencies currently at the scene of the incident to ensure the safety of residents.

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Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.

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Buhari Seeks NASS’ Amendment Of PIA …Wants NNPC, EFCC Boards’ Confirmation

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President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, seeking an amendment to the recently signed Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
President Muhammadu Buhari also sought the House of Representatives’ amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act, including removal of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning from the boards of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
In the letter, Buhari wants an amendment to the new Act to allow for the removal of the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance from the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying that they can continue to perform their functions without necessarily being members of the board.
In the letter read, yesterday, during plenary by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Buhari is also seeking for the amendment to allow the Non-Executive Members to be increased from two to six in the national interest.
The President, in three other letters to the Senate, asked for the confirmation of nominees into the boards of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The three confirmation letters from the President were read in yesterday’s plenary by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan.
In a letter dated September 16, 2021, Buhari stated that the request to confirm the chairman, chief executive and executive directors for the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority was being made in accordance with the provision of Section 34(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The nominees for confirmation into the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Board are: Idaere Gogo Ogan (chairman); Engr. Sarki Auwalu (chief executive); Abiodun A. Adeniji (executive director, Finance and Accounts); and Ogbugo Ukoha (executive director, Distributions Systems, Storage and Retail Infrastructure).
In another letter also dated September 16, 2021, the President while relying on the provision of Section 11(3) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, requested the Senate to confirm the appointment of four nominees as chairman, chief executive and executive commissioners to the Board of the Upstream Regulatory Commission.
The nominees are: Isa Ibrahim Modibo (chairman); Engr. Gbenga Komolafe (chief executive); Hassan Gambo (executive commissioner, Finance and Accounts); and Ms Rose Ndong (executive commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management).
According to the President, requests for the confirmation of the board’s membership were made “in order to fast track the process for the establishment of the commission”.
In the third letter dated September 17, 2021, Buhari requested the upper legislative chamber to confirm the appointment of the secretary and board members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He explained that the request for the confirmation of the nominees was in accordance with the provision of Section 2(1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004.
Those to be confirmed include George Abbah Ekpungu, secretary (Cross River); Luqman Muhammed (Edo); Anumba Adaeze (Enugu); Alhaji Kola Raheem Adesina (Kwara); and Alhaji Yahaya Muhammad (Yobe).
At the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, read the cover letter attached to an executive bill presented to the House by Buhari at the opening of plenary, yesterday.
The proposals also include the appointment of non-executive board members; removal of the ministries from the boards of the two institutions; and appointment of executive directors to the boards.
The President’s requests to the House of Representatives are a rehearsal of the same demands he made to the Senate.
It would be recalled that the joint National Assembly committees that worked on the PIB had proposed five per cent equity share for the development of the host communities but the Senate-led the campaign for its reduction to three per cent while the House of Representatives approved the panel’s recommendation.
The conference committee set up by the presiding officers of both chambers in their recommendation, fixed the equity share at three per cent and was invariably approved by the National Assembly.
The development generated into controversy with senators from the South-South geopolitical zone kicking against it and asked Buhari to resolve the impasse by seeking amendment to increase the equity share to five per cent.
However, the new amendments proposed by the President did not address the concerns of the South-South stakeholders.
Rather, Buhari’s fresh request centred basically on the need to review the administrative structure of the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Buhari is seeking the senators’ approval to increase the numbers of the non-executive board members of each of the regulatory agencies from two to six, in order to capture the six geopolitical zones.
He said, “The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 provided for the appointment of two non-executive members for the board of the two regulatory institutions.
“I am of the view that this membership limitation has not addressed the principle of balanced geopolitical representation of the country.
“Therefore, I pray for the intervention of the 9th Assembly to correct this oversight in the interest of our national unity.
“Needless to add that this amendment will provide a sense of participation and inclusion to almost every section of the country in the decision making of strategic institutions such as oil industry.
“If this amendment is approved, it will now increase the number of the non-executive members from two to six that is one person from each of the six geopolitical zones of the country”.
The President also removed the Ministers of Finance and Petroleum Resources from the board of the two agencies.
He said the two ministers already have constitutional responsibilities of either supervision or inter-governmental relations.
He said, “They can continue to perform such roles without being in the board.
“It is also important to note that administratively, the representatives of the ministries in the board will be directors – being the same rank with the directors in the institution
“This may bring some complications in some decision making, especially on issues of staff related matters.”
Buhari added that the appointments of the executive directors who would be in charge of the seven departments in the NMDPRA should not be subjected to Senate confirmation since they are civil servants who were promoted in the course of their career.
He said, “The Act has made provision for seven departmental heads in the Authority to be known as executive directors.
“Their appointment (according to the PIA) will also be subjected to Senate confirmation. These category of officers are civil servants and not political appointees.
“The Senate is invited to note the need to exempt serving public officers from the established confirmation process for political appointments.
“This will ensure effective management of the regulatory institutions through uniform implementation of public service rules for employees of the authority.
“In the future, these positions will obviously be filled by the workers in the authority.
Buhari said the proposed amendment would also increase the membership of the board from nine to 13 members that is representing 44 per cent expansion of the board site.
He said, “This composition would strengthen the institutions and guarantee national spread and also achieve the expected policy contributions”.

By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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Emohua, Three Kalabari LGAs Partner On Joint Security

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The Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Lloyd, has met with his counterparts from the three Kalabari-speaking local government areas; Degema, Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru, to review the security situation along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, and plan strategies for a joint network to checkmate any infractions in the security of the LGs.
The meeting, which was held at the instance of Lloyd at the headquarters of Emohua Local Government Area, followed the recent abduction of an expatriate attached to Lubrik Construction Company; the contractor handling the construction of Trans-Kalabari Road by yet to be identified gunmen.
The chairmen of Akuku-Toru, Degema, and Asari-Toru LGAs, Hon Roland Sekibo, Hon Michael John Williams, and Hon Onengiyeofori George; respectively, in their separate remarks, commended Lloyd for initiating the process for a partnership to improve the security of lives and property along the Emohua-Kalabari Road, which presently calls for concern.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting which lasted for hours, Lloyd said the meeting condemned the abduction of the expatriate staff, who was supervising the construction work being executed by the Rivers State Government on Trans-Kalabari Road.
The council chairmen also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate by his abductors, as well as the apprehension of the masterminds of the reprehensible act by security agencies.
The meeting further agreed to set up a local security outfit with members drawn from the four local government areas to support the security agencies in providing effective security along the Emohua-Kalabari Road.
Lloyd said the meeting was also expected to be hosted concurrently amongst the four local government areas, with a view to strengthening the relationship between the LGAs as well as the promotion of the socio-economic development of the area.
The chairmen also appointed Hon Lolo Ibiene to serve as their rapporteur.

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