Twenty-four hours after an explosion rocked
Abule-Ado in Lagos State, the tears of its residents continued to flow
yesterday as they recounted the ordeal.
As the sun rose, the distraught residents besieged the scene trying desperately to make sense of the terrible devastation that has so far claimed 23 lives, shattered roofs and windows and brought the walls of many buildings crashing to the ground.
“Shoot me if you wish to. It’s the worst you can do. I lost two family members. Life has therefore lost its meaning and I don’t fear death,” said a dark-skinned man probably in his forties.
Loudly, he had protested against official accounts of the blast, which blamed pipeline explosion, and concluded he wanted to hear no more of the falsehood. For all he cared, the incident was the result of a bomb. At this point, security operatives nearby ordered him to shut up. Instead, he erupted in the discharge of angry words.
Few members of staff of Bethlehem Girls College located near the epicentre of the blast had a dry eye. Although they heard about the incident, they couldn’t comprehend the extent to which the school they happily left behind on Friday had been destroyed. Besides, never again would they set eyes on beloved School Administrator Rev. Sister Henrietta Alokha, who died while helping to evacuate the school’s pupils.
With an anguish-laden voice, one Michael Abiye told how his cousin who lived with him has remained missing following the blast. “My cousin came two months ago. He told me that he worshipped in one of the Pentecostal churches in the area. But I don’t know the particular church. Since the incident occurred, I have not seen him, and his phone is switched off.
“I have gone to all the hospitals, including the naval hospital in Ojo, yet I couldn’t find him. I learnt that five more bodies were recovered today. But there is no information on where they took the bodies to.”
Kerry Chukwuma, a friend of the Udoakonobis, a young couple whose life was cut short by the blast, could hardly hold back tears. “The husband (Emmanuel) was a good friend of mine. They went to church that morning for the first service and arrived at home few minutes before the explosion. I am pained. He was the only son. He joked a lot and was very hardworking. Chisom (wife) graduated with a first-class degree in accounting. She was also the only daughter of her parents. So sad! Young promising lives were wasted just like that. May their souls rest in peace.”
An agitated mother, Kemi Kolaosho, also narrated how she rushed to the scene following the explosion and began searching for her daughter, whose whereabouts remain unknown.
As at yesterday, more bodies were still being pulled out of the rubble, sending a flurry of painful emotions through the minds of the residents. Two yet-to-be-identified corpses were recovered at about 11:00 a.m.
For Abule-Ado, the scale and reality of what had happened seem to unfold with bitter realities every hour, and for many of the residents, the tears might only have started to flow.