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Catholic families left homeless as Nigerian explosion kills 2, leaves 77 injured

A massive explosion rocked the Nigerian city of Ibadan on Tuesday, leaving two dead, more than 70 injured, and left several Catholic families in the areas homeless.  

The explosion was caused by a suspected illegal mining site in Ibadan, Nigeria’s third most populous city. The blast flattened buildings and structures within a radius of more than 100 meters. 

The damage after a Jan. 16 explosion in Ibadan. Credit: Pillar Media.


Fr. Francis Awotoye, pastor the Ascension Bodija parish, told The Pillar that while here is “no causality among the parishioners [in terms of lives lost] … many were left homeless because their houses are no longer habitable. 

The priest said that he had just finished offering Mass Jan. 16, at 7:40 pm, “when we heard a loud and deafening sound.” 

“It was as if the sound was within the Church premise. Some parishioners who were still within the Church premises ran helter-skelter seeking for safety. We knew immediately that it was not a sound of a gun but something massive,” Awotoye added.

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 Awotoye said that after the explosion, he asked the parish security guards if the blast had happened on parish property. 

“They seemed not to know the cause. The sound of the blast was heard in many places within Ibadan metropolis. It travelled as far as 15km from the place of the explosion,” he explained.

Later that evening, the priest said he learned that the explosion had taken place almost a mile from the parish, reportedly at the site of an illegal mining operation.

“Unfortunately, some of our parishioners were staying in that estate and they were massively affected. I drove down around 10pm to see the scene and to visit some of them,” he explained.

 “Arriving at the scene, I saw the security operatives, health workers and other rescue teams from government [agencies].” 

But close to the blast, he said, “the houses within the estate were badly damaged. Two houses were razed down completely, and are suspected to be the house where the explosives were kept. The ceilings and roofs of the houses within the estate were severely damaged.” 

According to local government officials, initial investigations have concluded that the blast occurred because the workers of an illegal mining operation were storing explosives in their home. In one such home, the explosives apparently ignited. 

Some local residents have accused Sawane Youssouf, a Malian national whose firm, SDYB International Company Nigeria Ltd., is involved in mining activities at the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State. 

Locals have questioned how Youssouf was able to obtain large caches of explosives and keep them in his home. 

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