New evidence obtained by BBC Africa Eye contradicts the official explanation for the cause of an explosion which killed 23 people and destroyed a girls boarding school at Abule-Ado area of Lagos State.
KanyiDaily had reported how the explosion killed 23 persons, including the Administrator and some workers of the Bethlehem Girls College, and also destroyed over 60 buildings on Sunday morning, March 15, 2020.
In its reaction, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNCP) had claimed that the explosion was caused by a truck, which hit a stack of gas cylinders. But some residents of the community faulted the claim, alleging that the explosion was caused by a bomb.
After its investigative work, the BBC Africa Eye has published a new video evidence which was filmed at the explosion site, five minutes before the blast at Abule-Ado.
The video shows a catastrophic leak of vaporised liquid at the exact location where the NNPC high-pressure petroleum pipeline runs beneath the ground through that area.
The BBC found there was no gas processing plant at the explosion’s epicentre. Moreover, analysis of gas cylinders found at the site after the blast indicates they could not have been at the centre of the explosion when it happened.
Three specialist engineers – including experts in LPG gas safety, petroleum pipeline safety, and explosions analysis – who have examined video footage all confirm the huge leak of vaporised liquid could not have come from gas cylinders.
The BBC spoke with eyewitnesses who corroborated this claim. None of them mentioned gas cylinders or saw a collision, but four of them independently said the leak was coming out of the ground beside the heavily laden truck.
The evidence the BBC has uncovered indicates the heavily laden truck stopped on an eroded, unsurfaced road that had been softened by rainwater. This could have pressured the pipeline to breaking point, releasing a cloud of vapourised flammable petroleum product that ignited.
Ambisisi Ambituuni, a petroleum pipeline safety expert, told the BBC the System 2B pipeline network has “been in existence for way over the lifespan of the pipeline.How is it so difficult for the operator to maintain the safety of those pipelines?” he asked.
After watching the film, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, Human Rights Activist & senior Lawyer says incidences of fire disasters have become commonplace for Lagosians.
“It just more or less reiterates the need for the government to be responsive and to hold accountable those who are working in the sector in terms of maintaining global best practice in their operation,” he said.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, Environmental Rights Activist and Executive Director, Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa says:
“My first ask is that, for the first time, the government should sit down to watch this documentary and set up an independent panel on pipelines explosions in Nigeria and use this as a case study. Lagos State government too needs to start thinking how do we protect the people from these serial explosions.”
The BBC said the NNPC was contacted but it denied the pipeline was inadequately protected, reaffirmed their explanation for the explosion’s cause, and said there was no leakage prior to the explosion.
They also told the BBC that “NNPC pipelines comply with safety and regulatory guidelines” and that they “worked closely with the Lagos State Government in providing a N2bn relief fund for the victims of the explosion”.
Watch the documentary below:
KanyiDaily recalls that five months ago, Lagos State Government presented cheques to families of the 23 deceased victims of the Abule-Ado explosion.