The Ikeja cantonment bomb blast of January 27, 2022 left a devastating mark on all who it had affected, especially those who lost loved ones as a result of the explosion.
The detonation of bombs and sundry explosives at the military depot in Ikeja triggered a stampede of fleeing people during which more than 1000 souls were killed and some unfound till date.
The blast immediately leveled an area of several square blocks and killed approximately 300 people, mostly soldiers and their families. The explosion was heard and felt 30 miles away and the tremors collapsed homes and broke windows as many as 10 miles away.
Due to the panic the explosions had caused, Lagosians scampered towards a canal at Oke-Afa. Ahead of the canal is a banana plantation which the people thought would provide safety to them against the exploding shells. In the process of running towards the banana plantation, they surged into the canal as they had forgotten where the canal was located in the dark. Also, water hyacinths were on the surface of the water which further misled the panic driven people to push into the canal as they thought they were running towards dry land covered with plants.
The surge into the canal claimed 600 lives of people who had drowned while trying to struggle out of the canal. It is safe to say that the stampede created by panic claimed more lives than the explosion itself as people lost their lives when they got trampled underfoot and drowned in the canal.
Many properties were lost and about 12,000 families lost their homes to the explosions. Approximately 5000 people were injured in total leaving the hospitals overwhelmed with victims who need attention. When a certain level of stillness had washed over the city the next day (the fires could not be controlled due to the lack of firefighters in Lagos), people went back to familiar grounds in search for their loved ones who had been separated or lost to them as a result of the stampede. Many are still left unfound till date. Majority of them were children who had separated from their parents.
Afterward, the commander of Ikeja issued a statement, “On behalf of the military, we are sorry … efforts were being made in the recent past to try to improve the storage facility, but this accident happened before the high authorities could do what was needed.” It turned out that the city personnel had told the military to renovate the storage facility a year before the explosion, however, nothing had been done in regards to this.
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