On January 27 2002, a Military storage facility in Lagos, Ikeja accidentally detonated, causing untold damage, deaths to many Lagosians. I was a mere 6yr old then, but the incident on that day stuck with me like a permanent tattoo. I wasn’t even among the victims, i was nowhere near Ikeja when it happened. I was at Ojo cantonment barracks, but yet i remember i heard a roaring, explosive sound!
And more quieter ones. Thinking it was a Thunder clap, i can remember vividly i asked my mom, Mommy, its like it wants to rain, she immediately replied Yes, that she thinks so too. But it didnt sound like a thunder to me especially not in this dry season, but what can my young mind process anyway? Little did i know that what i just heard wasnt a thunder clap….. It was the sound of many explosive weapons and bombs detonating almost at once..!.
Here are some chilling facts you might not know about that blast that threw our nation into misery.
1. The Blast could be Heard 50km Away: Imagine that distance for a second, I was at Lagos, Ojo. Yet i was able to hear that terrible sound which i thought was just a thunder… Infact according to reports: Houses were cracked up to 15km away and many windows were shattered at that distance. Even those that live around Adekoya street, while running where thrown of their feet… Some of the undetonated bombs were thrown into the air due to the blasts, later falling on houses and people. This not only shows the bombs intensity but also shows the shock wave produced was enormous… It could only be likened to a fighter plane dropping bombs on the ground and you hearing the explosion getting louder and louder.
2. Nobody knew what was happening: Imagine taking a casual nap at home and suddenly BOOOM!, you hear a sound so loud it literally blew your ear drums, rushing out you find people running helter-skelter, you join them but keep asking what is happening but no one can provide any useful information. What do you do?? You run of course’? To where’? Anywhere as long as its far away from where you heard the explosion… Even till today many people are still clueless as to what happend 13yrs old.
3. The Bomb(s) Explosion didnt Kill many People. A Canal Did: In the midst of that confusion and total disarray.. Many people fled for their lives, Old, Young, middle-aged, sick, healthy, but just when they thought they have found safety, hundreds of people ran to their doom, along the way some got caught up in a stampede while others had to jump from storey buildings, but the most devastating of them all was the hundreds who died in a large canal.
The canal occupies from north to south parallel to the Isolo-Oshodi expressway, and a banana plantation borders it, there by creating an image that it was safe, Alas! That thing that looked like grasses bordering a banana plantation wasnt actually grasses but a canal! Covered by a water hyacinth( a free-floating plant that) and thus invisible in the dark. As the crowd surged towards the plantation, hundreds of them fell into the canal, those already in it where crushed by yet more falling people and in the ensuing confusion more than 600 people lost their lives many of them Children.
4. No One Knew there was an Ammunition Depot nearby: Unless of course the military personnels, civilians weren’t allowed into that vicinity, hence many of them didn’t know that just a stone throw from where they live an ammunition storage was
5. This would have been averted but for Gross Negligence: Before that explosion, it turned out that there was a smaller explosion that occured a year before following which the army were advised by city officials to either remove or modernise the armoury but sadly no action was taken. More than 12,000 people were rendered homeless with some others Missing….. In a gory event that all the more teaches us how fragile human lives are. IN MEMORY of the dead and missing people of the ikeja bomb blast, may their souls rest in peace. Amen