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Four killed as fuel-laden bus explodes

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  • NNPC supplies only 10.23m litres of fuel Lagos

Four persons were yesterday burnt beyond recognition when a bus loaded with many 50-litre kegs of petrol exploded in Isolo, Lagos.

The bus, with registration number, KTU 418 XK, was said to have rammed into a stationary truck on Musiratu Lasisi Street, following a brake failure around 4.30am.

Three died on the spot; the fourth, Segun Oluwole, died at Gbagada General Hospital around 7pm.

According to eyewitnesses, the bus was coming from Imota in Agbowa-Imota Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State.

Segun, who was a 17-year-old Senior Secondary School pupil, was placed on oxygen after being rushed to the hospital.

He was in pains, moaning: “Where are my friends, Where is Tunde and the landlord?” until he died few hours later.

A motorcyclist, Femi Ajibola, who said he was woken up from sleep by a loud bang around 5am, told The Nation that only the driver survived.

He said he heard the driver screaming “Alhaja is in the bus”, and crying for help.

Ajibola said: “I was sleeping at the top of the building because of heat and suddenly, I heard a loud noise like bomb. So, I looked down and saw fire. I woke up my other colleagues and told them that something was wrong and that there was fire. I went down and removed my motorcycle and that was when I saw one man sitting by the pavement of Kembos school. He was screaming for help but no one could near him because the fire was much. He came out from the passenger seat and eventually he died.

“But the driver also came out of the bus from the other side. He was rescued by the people in the nearby Celestial Church of Christ and was taken to Isolo General Hospital. The bus had about 15 kegs of 50 litres and all of them contained petrol. It looks like they are vandals or they went to buy vandalised fuel because there were few seats in the bus.”

Another eyewitness, Deji Ogunleye told The Nation that while two bodies were retrieved, the third was completely dismembered.

He said Red Cross officials who got there before other agencies could not do much until the arrival of fire fighters.

“At first, they tried to use fire extinguisher to put out the fire on the body of one of the victims but they could not achieve much.”

Two bodies, covered in disposable bags were seen beside the school gate amid a large crowd.

Isolo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) Executive Secretary Olusegun Jubril, who visited the scene, said no one knew where the bus came from nor where it was headed.

He said the calamity would have been worst if the stationary truck did not stop the bus from ramming into a bakery.

Jubril said: “I was called this morning that a bus caught fire; that no one knew where they were coming from and where they were going; that the bus collided with another vehicle selling sachet water.

“Only one person survived (later died in hospital). Two bodies were recovered. I also heard that there was one Alhaja inside the bus. The only person who survived said that. The incident happened around 5am and I was called around 5:30am. I rushed down immediately because I stay in the neighbourhood. That was how we started rescue operation.

“Maybe the bus was coming from a far place where they went to do rubbish. And maybe they were running from security agents. People must be mindful of their actions and take precautions. It is pointless engaging in illegal activities,” he said.

Director, Lagos State Fire Service Mr. Rasak Fadipe confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the men were burnt to death after their vehicle carrying plastic jerry cans of fuel caught fire.

Fadipe said: “It is likely they were involved in petroleum bunkering in Ikorodu area. The driver lost control and hit a stationary truck. The driver tried to swerve to the other side and the vehicle ran into the gutter, spilling the contents of the jerry cans which resulted to fire. It took my men about an hour to put out the fire in the gutter and the vehicle. The driver was one of those roasted to death in the bus.’’

The late Segun’s mother, Mrs. Roseline Oluwole, said their landlord whom she identified as Kebe, phoned her on Monday night that he wanted to see her son.

The 45-year-old mother of five said when her son was leaving the house, he told her the landlord said there was a bricklaying job, adding: “We live in Imota and my son lives with me. Since the landlord (Kebe) doesn’t collect a kobo from me, I asked my son to go to him. In fact I borrowed the transport fare I gave him. He left home around 11am and I pleaded with him not to stay out late since we had nothing to eat. He was even acting funny and I told him to stay behind if he didn’t want to go. When it was around 6pm, I dialled Kebe’s mobile line but it wasn’t reachable even when I asked my neighbour, she said it is possible my son was playing with his children.

Mrs. Oluwole, who trades in fish, said she was shocked when an unfamiliar number called her around 5am, saying her son was involved in an accident.

Meanwhile, in fulfillment of its agreement oil marketers to stem the ongoing fuel scarcity, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has increased its daily supply of petrol to Lagos from 295 trucks (9.7 million litres) as at Monday to 310 trucks yesterday, which is 10.2 million litres.

The Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Obafemi Olawore said marketers received the 310 trucks yesterday, adding that if the same quantity is received today, the long queues at filing stations will ease out by end of the week.

Olawore stated that there are vessels laden with products that were imported by NNPC but the problem  is that the Corporation lacks storage and distribution facilities to distribute the products, which accounts for the current situation on ground.

He noted that when the importation ratio was 50:50 between marketers and the NNPC, the distribution situation was not this bad, adding that the 78 per cent importation ratio given to the Corporation may be reviewed in second quarter.

He confirmed that many filling stations were selling at above the regulated pump price, but explained that such situation obtains because the demand surpasses supply and many people sell at whatever price they like to make more profit.

He also said marketers are not importing because of lack of access to foreign exchange.

He said: ‘’Only NNPC has access to forex and that hinders adequate importation. However, government should have the courage to deregulate the downstream sector, so there will be local production and also encourage investors to invest in the sector. ‘’

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Accidents

Customs Suspends Noble Intention To Sell Rice At Rock-bottom Price

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Nigeria Customs Service’s noble intention to sell impounded rice to the masses at the rock-bottom price of N10,000 per half-bag has been suspended.

It would be recalled that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on the directive of Mr. President, announced the commencement of a noble intervention aimed at alleviating the hardships faced by Nigerians and improving access to essential food items through direct disposal of seized edible goods condemned in competent courts of law and certified fit for consumption by relevant government agencies. 

Consequently, according to the Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Maiwada, a pilot exercise was conducted on Friday, 23 February 2024, at NCS Old Zonal Headquarters, Yaba, Lagos state. 

Stated Maiwada: “The exercise was conducted following meticulous planning to address all potential risks that may emerge during the exercise. As part of our process and control measures, we had Nigeria Police and military personnel to ensure crowd control. We also fully equipped a medical team on the ground in anticipation of potential risks during an exercise of that magnitude. Their presence was part of our proactive approach to ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants.

“The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise. This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5000 beneficiaries and members of the press. 

 

“However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome. The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded”, the Service Spokesman stated, stressing that the Nigeria Customs Service extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families during this challenging time, and we assure them of our unwavering support. 

“We are working with Hospital Authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps. Following this incident, an internal investigation was initiated to understand the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate event. 

“As a service deeply committed to the welfare and safety of Nigerians, we recognize the need for heightened sensitivity and preventive measures in all our operations. 

“Considering the recent unfortunate event, we regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, 23 February 2024. 

“This should help us to properly articulate more robust and comprehensive action that will not defeat the noble intention. We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of all Nigerians as we work towards addressing the challenges facing our nation’s food security”, the Imgemaker said further. 

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LASG Lifts RTEAN- Ban; Dissolves State’s Parks And Garages Administrators’ Committee 

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…To boost peace 

In furtherance of this administration’s quest to foster peace and smooth working relationships among union members in the transportation sector, the Lagos State Government has lifted the ban on the activities of the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the State.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on transportation, Hon. Sola Giwa said on Monday that the government decided after careful consideration and extensive consultations with relevant Stakeholders, including members of the association, Trade Union Congress (TUC), and the general public.

Hon. Giwa further stated that the Lagos State Parks and Garages Administrators’ Committee which was set up to manage parks and garage facilities in the State has been dissolved with immediate effect.

He explained that the decision is made in the best interest of promoting unity and peaceful co-existence, ensuring the smooth operation of transport services within the State as well as helping to foster a more collaborative relationship between the government and the transport union, ultimately leading to improved services for the public.

The Special Adviser urged all parties involved to adhere strictly to the terms and conditions of the settlement reached for peaceful and sustainable operations in the transportation sector.

He also implored them to cooperate and work together towards building a better transportation system to benefit all Lagos State residents.

It would be recalled that the State Government suspended the activities of RTEAN across the State in September 2022 and constituted a Caretaker Committee to oversee the Affairs of the union.

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Crash: NGX Group Mourns Ogunbanjo, Commiserates With Wigwe Family

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…As EFCC hunts for Emefiele, 3 Others

The Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) has mourned the death of its Group Chairman, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo in a helicopter crash in the United States of America.

The firm also commiserated with the family of the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Holdings Plc, Dr Herbert Wigwe, who also died along with his wife and son in the same mishap.

Ogunbanjo, Wigwe, his wife, son, and two others died in a helicopter crash in California, U.S A. on Feb. 9.

The Group Chairman of NGX Group, Alhaji Umaru Kwairanga, in a statement, expressed condolences to the families of the departed souls, describing their death as untimely.

*The late Abimbola Ogunbanjo

Kwairanga said the late Ogunbanjo’s leadership had left an indelible mark on the company and the broader Nigerian financial community, noting that his legacy would continue to inspire the group.

The NGX group chairman stated that the late Wigwe also left an unblemished footprint in the group’s private sector.

“NGX Group is deeply saddened to acknowledge the tragic passing of our former chairman, Access Holdings Group CEO, Dr Wigwe, along with his wife and son, in a helicopter accident in the United States of America.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time. May their souls rest in peace and may the Almighty comfort their families,” he said.

Also, the NGX Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Temi Popoola, described the passing of Ogunbanjo as a profound loss to the group and the entire Nigerian private sector.

Popoola said that the late Ogunbanjo played a crucial role in shaping the conglomerate.
According to him, while the late NGX Group chairman will be sorely missed, his visionary leadership and impact will never be forgotten.

*The late Dr. Herbert Wigwe

He also described the death of Wigwe, his wife, and his son in the helicopter accident as heartbreaking.

Popoola said that the contributions of the two respected leaders to the financial markets and the overall private sector would continue to be remembered.

“We are committed to preserving their legacies by upholding the principles of leadership, innovation and dedication that they exemplified,” he said.

According to the statement, the late Ogunbanjo, a visionary leader and luminary in Nigeria’s corporate legal and capital market spheres, served as President of the National Council of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) from 2017 to 2021.

As the first Group Chairman of NGX Group from 2021 to 2022, following the demutualization of the Exchange, the late Ogunbanjo’s strategic acumen and dedication were instrumental in shaping the group’s transformative journey.

Beyond his role at NGX Group, the late former group chairman was a distinguished legal practitioner, serving as Managing Partner of Chris Ogunbanjo LP (Solicitors).

He served on the boards of several multinational corporations and non-profit organisations, including Beta Glass Plc and the Advisory Board of the University of Buckingham Centre for Extractive Studies.

He also served on the board of GTL Registrars Ltd., AIICO Insurance Plc, and ConocoPhillips Ltd., amongst others.

“Ogunbanjo’s contributions to the legal profession and corporate governance were exemplary, earning him widespread respect and admiration,” the statement added.

In another development, the EFCC has declared Mrs Margaret Emefiele, wife of the former governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele wanted for alleged money laundering.

EFCC’s spokesman, Mr Dele Oyewale, stated in Abuja that three other persons had been declared wanted alongside Margaret in the same office.

He went on to publish the photographs of the suspects and some of their details on the EFCC website and its “X’’ handle.

The three other persons declared wanted alongside Margaret were Mr Eric Odoh, Mrs Anita Omoile, and Mr. Jonathan Omoile.

Oyewale stated that the quartet allegedly colluded with the former CBN governor to divert “huge sums of money’’ from the Federal Government coffers.

“The charges include obtaining money by false pretences, theft, and contravention of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State.

“Individuals with information regarding the whereabouts of Margaret Emefiele, Eric Odoh, Anita Omoile, and Jonathan Omoile are urged to contact any EFCC office or call 08093322644,’’ Oyewale stated

It would be recalled that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Saturday confirmed the crash of a helicopter carrying six passengers in a Southern California desert near Las Vegas.

All the passengers on board are reported to have died.

Mr Herbert Wigwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, who died in the helicopter was reportedly on board with five others believed to be his wife, son and Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc.

According to FAA, the crash occurred on Friday around 10 p.m. local time near Nipton, California.

However, the FAA did not make available the list of the passengers involved in the accident at the time of filing their report.

The family members of some Nigerians suspected to have been involved in the crash did not respond to calls.

But Mr Tunde Moshood, the Specialist, Asset and Communications to the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, described Wigwe as a leader with an unwavering dedication to his nation and his indomitable spirit serves as an inspiration to us all.

“Though he may have left this world prematurely, his vision and values will continue to guide us as we strive for a brighter future.

“Adieu, Herbert Wigwe. Your presence will be sorely missed, but your legacy will endure as a beacon of hope and progress,” he said.

Born on Aug. 15, 1966, in Isiokpo, Port Harcourt, Herbert Wigwe has carved a niche for himself in the world of finance.

He obtained a degree in accountancy from the University of Nigeria and further education in Banking and Finance, Financial Economics, and an executive programme from Harvard Business School.

Wigwe’s impact was not limited to banking. His passion for philanthropy led him to establish the Herbert Wigwe Foundation, fostering education and entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

His dedication earned him the Order of the Niger (CON) and admiration from peers and the public.

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