Apapa Tank Farm Blasts: Casualty figure could have been worse, say security sources

Folawiyo130 June 2014, Lagos – While the outcome of the investigation of last Wednesday’s twin blasts in Apapa is being awaited, security sources involved in the investigation have said the casualty figure from the blasts could have been higher but for the ongoing World Cup tournament, which has kept many people off the streets during rush hours.


However, there is still no official confirmation on whether the twin explosions at Creek Road, Apapa, Lagos, were planted bombs, an explosion caused by a petrol-laden tanker or gas explosion.


Confirming the suspicion that the twin blasts which claimed four lives were actually bomb attacks and not a gas explosion as touted, a security source said the police alongside the operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) attached to the Apapa area were still investigating the blasts.


He said: “Immediately the incident happened, the SSS personnelattached to Tincan and Apapa ports were withdrawn and sent to investigate. The outcome of their investigation was communicated to the Director of SSS.


“Insecurity is growing, so people need to be security conscious. What happened at Apapa was in tandem with latest trends. They targeted several casualties but because of the football match, there were fewer people around.


“We have studied them and found out that their latest system is to set off twin explosions. The idea behind this is to make sure they target more people. And that was exactly what happened at Apapa.


“When they set off the first one, which is often smaller, it is expected that people will troop to the scene to investigate and that is when the second one, which is on a larger scale, explodes.


“At the moment, covert investigations are ongoing in Apapa and I can tell you that security has been beefed up. Currently, more personnel and detectives have been assigned to tank farms but you won’t know them because they are expected to mingle as ordinary citizens.


“During the last briefing after the blast, they were saddled with the responsibility of monitoring, ferreting information and reporting to the appropriate quarters the report of their operations. The Apapa incident was a wake-up call for all security agencies.”


While advising Lagosians to be wary of suspicious persons, he said: Because of the peculiarity of Lagos, we are trying to manage the situation. We advise that people avoid densely populated areas.”


Meanwhile, contrary to earlier reports that the security guard attached to Enterprise Bank died in the blast, THISDAY exclusively gathered that the victim identified as Collins was actually in a coma alongside another guard, Fidelis.


Due to his physical and bloodied state after the blast, sympathisers had taken him for dead but they were wrong, as he was still breathing by the time officials of emergency services came to his rescue.


Also, one of the bank officials who spoke to THISDAY strictly on condition of anonymity said the management of the bank had to “redistribute” the workers of the affected branch to other branches because of the terrible state of the banking hall.


The bank official disclosed: “We were quite fortunate that day because we had left earlier than usual. We came to work the next day to see the massive devastation the explosion had on our office.


“It broke window panes, shattered our computers, tore the ceiling and roofs and blew our chairs and tables to pieces. It was a different banking hall that we met. The explosion also scattered our documents but it didn’t affect the safe.


“Due to its state, the bank had to designate us to other branches of the bank pending when they renovate the premises and kick off operations again. Some were attached to the headquarters in Victoria Island, others were sent to the branch at Wharf Road, Apapa.”


Speaking on the state of the injured persons, the official said they are  hospitalised at the Ikeja General Hospital, but still in coma.


Attempts to see the victims at the hospital proved abortive as one of the nurses on duty who had initially debunked the fact that the patients were admitted there, later said they should not be disturbed.


While Collins, who is in the surgical ward of the hospital, was said to have been in coma since the blast, doctors were still battling to stabilise the other security guard whose legs were fractured from the blast.


The source said: “It is such a sad incident. Collins only resumed work two days before the incident occurred. He had been on sick leave for a long time and only resumed work before the dastardly act chained him to a hospital bed again.”


Further checks revealed that the bank was not the only building that was affected by the blast, as most of the buildings along that axis suffered a similar fate ranging from blown-up roofs to shattered windows and torn documents.


Police sources also told THISDAY that the different divisions that make up the state Police Command have been mandated to be on their toes to forestall another occurrence such as the Apapa explosion.


Some persons believed to have had a hand in the attacks have been arrested.


This is coming on the heels of the previous arrests made by police officers attached to the Area B command on the day of the blast. The officers who stormed the scene after the blast began operations by arresting some persons at the scene especially those riding commercial motorcycles.


At the Isolo Division, the police authorities arrested about 35 young men believed to be from the northern part of the country at the weekend.


Some of those arrested included truck pushers and bureau de change operators who ply their trade in the area.


Some relatives of the victims who spoke on condition of anonymity as at press time, said the police simply swooped in and arrested the northerners they saw engaged in their legitimate businesses.


They also claimed that the divisional police officer (DPO) had allegedly demanded gratification to effect their release from detention.


– This Day

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