The National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, is investigating the cause of the blast that led to destruction of no fewer than 100 houses in Eleyowo village on the Akure-Owo highway near the Akure Airport, Ondo State and will soon make its findings public, the Agency’s head of media and corporate communications, Mr. Felix Ale told this magazine on Monday.
Ale spoke against the background of controversies over the cause of the blast which resulted in a huge crater that effectively rendered the Akure-Owo expressway, a major artery that linked the Southwest part of the country to the North impassable, and injuries to many others living in the environ.
The Police had during a visit to the site of the incident by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu few hours after it occurred attributed the blast to a broken down vehicle loaded with explosives which went ablaze and exploded.
The Police claimed officers of its Ordinance Unit who were escorting the vehicle tried their best to put out the fire, before the explosives went off.
“I have been briefed by the security chiefs that in the early hours of Saturday March 28th, a vehicle in a convoy transporting explosives to a storage facility in a neighbouring state developed a fault while in transit along the Akure Owo Road about 2km from the Akure Airport,” Governor Akeredolu had told journalists of the claim by the Police after a tour of the scene of the explosion.
But the Police have not been able to show the wreckage of the truck while other cynics also pointed out that there were no signs of fire or smoke suggestive of bomb explosion in the environs among others.
The suspicion that there may be more to the blast than the Police said intensified about 24 hours later when a team led by Professor Adepelumi Adekunle, a professor of geophysics and earthquake engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, said the explosion was caused by a giant rock from space known as meteors which impacted the location from “an angle of 43 degrees.”
While further disputing the claim of the Police, the Professor noted that there was no evidence of a buried vehicle, buried ordinance or explosives at the site.
He added that a preliminary analysis of the vibration, noise, seismicity, water analysis, radioactivity studies, rock and soil at the site by his team suggest that the impact of the blasting covers 1km radius of the surroundings of the crater while no evidence of fire or burning of anything was found within the vicinity.
“No evidence of radioactivity radiation was found within the crater and immediate vicinity. The field evidence point to a conclusion that a meteoric from an asteroid belt that travels at a great speed from space impacted the location at an angle of 43 degrees created an ejecta at South-Western part,” the team said in their report.
It also noted that a crack opening that vary in thickness from 3mm to 4 metres occurred on the wall of most of the buildings in the area, “but not at the base of the buildings.”
Despite the claim by the Professor, the Inspector General of Police on Monday set up a team which included the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) and the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, Force Headquarters, Abuja, CP Maikudi A. Shehu to investigate the blast.
Dcp Frank Mba, Force Public Relations Officer, said in a statement said that the Special Investigation Team was set up to “unravel the immediate and remote cause of the unfortunate tragic explosion that occurred at Ogbese near Akure, the Ondo State Capital on Friday, 27th March, 2020.”
However, Ale told this magazine that NASRDA has also been investigating the blast to determine the cause.
He told this newspaper that the team from the space agency was also at the site of the explosion with the Professor Adepelu’s team.
“We are investigating the matter. The Minister of Science and Technology will brief the press on our findings soon,” Ale said.
He was, however, not specific on when the report of the agency’s probe into the blast will be ready.
“NASRDA will make a statement as soon as we are sure of our scientific findings,” he concluded.