The 27th of January 2002, a Sunday was meant to be a reasonably normal day for Lagosians. Sundays in Nigeria were mainly synonymous with rest and Jollof Rice and nobody in their wildest dreams would have envisaged what was set to happen afterward that day.
An armoury at the Ikeja military cantonment in Lagos, Nigeria, containing "high calibre bombs" went up in flames at about 6.00 pm (local time) on Sunday, 27th January 2002, leading to a series of explosions in and round the cantonment. The explosions affected areas up to 50 kms. faraway from the scene of the incident. Lagos is that the economic nerve centre of Nigeria.
The first reaction of these living near the Ikeja army barracks in Lagos was to presume that the pop of ammunition marked the beginning of yet one more military coup.
But because the sporadic explosions gave thanks to artillery shells and mortars raining over thousands of homes, these long-suffering Nigerians began to think it had been a war. within the panic, as thousands streamed on to the streets not knowing which thanks to run, a couple of asked if America was bombing.
It has an estimated population of between 10 and 12 million people. Two government Areas - Ikeja and Oshodi/Isolo - with a population of about 1.03 million people were mostly affected.
If it had been a coup or an air strike, the price among the residents of sub-Saharan Africa's biggest city wouldn't are nearly as large. But yesterday, as bodies were still being counted after a fireplace ignited a military ammunitions dump on Sunday night, the amount of victims reportedly ran to quite 600 and should rather be much higher. Worst of all, the dead included many children.
The blast immediately leveled a neighborhood of several square blocks and killed approximately 300 people, mostly soldiers and their families. The explosion was heard and felt 30 miles away and therefore the tremors collapsed homes and broke windows as many as 10 miles away. Making matters worse, the explosion sent munitions debris raining over a good swath of the side of Lagos. This caused fires to interrupt out everywhere the town .
The first explosions were heard before 6pm on Sunday. a number of the shells burst above Lagos like fireworks, on the other hand rained down burning shrapnel on the skinny tin roofs of the rickety homes packed into the city's poorer neighbourhoods. The shells destroyed whole buildings, including a church.
Official pronouncements put the amount of deaths as at 30th January at about 700. Most of the deaths were thanks to drowning during a stretch of canal by fleeing persons, a couple of kilometres faraway from the nucleus of the explosions. The explosions and fires caused a general panic partially of the town . Lagos features a large canal, the Oke-Afa, running north to south through the town . On the opposite side of the canal may be a banana plantation.
By then, tens of thousands of panic-stricken people were trying to form their answer of the world . Hundreds became trapped near the Oke Afa and Pako canals. Some drowned because they didn't realise how deep the water was. Others were forced into the canals by the sheer weight of the gang trying to flee .
Many people were injured and treated for burns and minor wounds. As at 29th January, the Nigerian Red Cross had treated 250 of such people. more probably patronised other health facilities. The explosions caused damage to variety of buildings in and round the cantonment, leading to displaced persons and loss of property. Government has conservatively put the figure of displaced persons at 20,000. The figure might be more. Destroyed structures include residential buildings, offices, business centres and schools.
Stampedes in other parts of the town killed hundreds more, most of them children separated from their parents. Approximately 5,000 people were injured in total, overwhelming the city’s hospitals. Explosions continued throughout the night and into the subsequent afternoon. thanks to a scarcity of firefighters in Lagos, the blazes weren't contained until quite 24 hours later. a minimum of 12,000 people were left homeless by the disaster.
Afterward, the commander of Ikeja issued a press release , “On behalf of the military, we are sorry … efforts were being made within the recent past to undertake to enhance the storage facility, but this accident happened before the high authorities could do what was needed.” actually , it clothed that city officials had told the military to modernize the power the year before, following alittle explosion, but that virtually nothing had been done.
REMEMBERING THE GORY INCIDENT
Media publication Zikoko talked to a couple of people that could attest to the severity of the incident and here's what they recall of the black Sunday
Quadri – 24.
In January 2002, i used to be a couple of months shy of turning 5, but I remember everything that happened love it was only last week.
When the primary blasts went off, we were wondering who was still throwing bangers this long after Christmas and why they were shooting it so on the brink of our home. When the blasts wouldn’t stop, we knew something more serious was happening, but none of my relations wanted to alert the opposite .
My dad did what any dad would do, he asked us to place a movie on to distract us, while he stepped bent ask neighbours every other minute. It went on like this until the blasts subsided, everyone pretending to concentrate to the movie, but jerking whenever another blast went off. The relief was palpable when the blasts stopped ringing out.
Ayomikun – 34.
I remember the events of January 27th, but maybe not within the way everyone does. At the time, I lived in Egbeda which was a substantial way faraway from the blasts, so while the bulk of Lagos was in pandemonium, wondering where to show due to the blasts. i used to be home with my family, first wondering what quite thunder was ringing out, then if anyone was shooting a rifle or something of the type around. Word eventually got round to us, but once I saw the size of injury brought on by the blast in papers subsequent day, it had been still so hard to believe.
Ayoola – 29.
I was in Ota, Ogun State on January 27th, 2002. Mobile phones weren’t as widespread during that period, so I and members of my family were clueless about events in Lagos at the time. i used to be heading to the stop , looking to travel to You Ore from Main Ota when some bike men spoke the subsequent words in Yoruba to me: “head to Iyana instead (believing i used to be headed elsewhere), the planet is ending in Lagos”. It really was too.
Fisayo – 30
Somehow what I remember most of January 27th isn’t the sounds of the blasts, but the sheer number of individuals that were out on the streets once they started.
I lived in Iyana Ipaja at the time, back then, if gunshots rang out, nobody waited to inform the opposite , everyone ran. You couldn’t even be upset with subsequent guy for not informing you.
So when the primary few blasts rang out and my family found the courage to venture out, it had been surprising to ascertain numerous people just walking on the roads. Many with haphazardly packed luggage on their heads. the truth that an excellent majority of those people ended up within the lagoon or succumbing to some harm jars me till today .
MAJOR ACTIONS TAKEN AFTER THE EXPLOSIONS
The federal of Nigeria did found out an Explosion Disaster Relief Fund and a Committee headed by the Secretary to the govt of the Federation to receive and administer the fund. The federal supposedly donated the sum of 2 hundred million naira to the Fund, and appealed to both the local and international community to contribute to the Fund.
The Lagos government also found out a Lagos government Explosion Relief Fund, and opened a fanatical account for receipt of money donations.
The government also found out two rehabilitation camps - one for military personnel and therefore the other for civilians. An information centre was also found out at Ikeja cantonment for those that wish to urge information on missing members of families or make other related enquiries.
A number of people , establishments and Non-Governmental Organizations provided relief materials.
Many children who fled from home and were found wandering were eventually reunited with their families. the govt also provided ambulances to transfer corpses to 3 designated mortuaries, and also provided buses to require people to the varied mortuaries to spot and collect bodies of dead relatives.
The victimes were buried at Oke-Afa by the Lagos government .
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