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Amidst insecurity fears, false & misleading claims trail Ibadan explosion

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Ibadan is the ancient town that became Oyo state’s capital. Its residents were on the verge of retiring from the day’s bustling activities when a tragedy struck. It was evening, past 6 pm on Jan. 16, 2024, when Adebimpe Folasade just returned to her residence in Bodija after closing at work in Elebu. The tiring schedule wasn’t strange as she opened the door to her one-room ‘self-contain’ where she lived alone. She dropped her heavy bag on the bed in her usual daily rhythm. Her body followed suit for 15 minutes before getting up to prepare noodles for dinner. At intervals, she switched between the kitchen and her bedroom until her meal was ready to satiate her hunger. 

Suddenly, a loud boom sent her out of her reverie as she enjoyed her meal. “I was startled, and my noodles poured to the floor. But I wasn’t even thinking of it. Noodles can’t even come to my mind when a sound like a bomb that I’ve never heard before explodes. I immediately scurried from the window because it rattled,” she told DUBAWA in pidgin.

When she was certain of her safety, she stepped out to check but got no tangible information. Social media should provide more accurate information, or so she thought.

News on social media

An explosion rocked the Bodija community in Ibadan North local government, Oyo state. According to a statement released by the state Police Police Public Relations Officer, Adewale Oyefeso, the incident occurred at about 7:44 pm. 

Residents in places far from Bodija, like Eleyele (12.67km), Ologuneru (9km), Mokola (7km), and Akobo (9km), among other places, shared on social media how they felt the impact in varying degrees.

The state governor, Seyi Makinde, revealed that some occupants housed explosives for illegal mining, which caused the explosion that claimed two lives and injured 77 others as of Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024.

According to him, rescue operations were ongoing, and the state government would cover all medical bills.

Misinformation thrives

While the dust was yet to settle, Ms Folasade found many accounts sharing claims about the cause and saw frightening images that she couldn’t believe.

Claim 1: It was a gas explosion

On Facebook, one ‘Docktor Ment’ claimed that it was a gas explosion. He feared that the explosion, which collapsed the popular Ace Mall in Bodija, would cause critical damage to the environment.

He said, “I’m still wondering how the main site of the gas explosion will be right now because for the sound to be heard and felt by people far away, it must be very serious.”

Verdict: FALSE. The gas station he’s referring to is owned by Gasland Nigeria Limited at Bodija. Apart from reports attributed to reliable sources and eyewitnesses that DUBAWA spoke with, the company also released a statement allaying customers’ fears and expressing its commitment to cooperating with emergency responders.

Part of the statement reads, “While our facility remains secure and operational, we understand the distress and concern this incident has caused in the community, and we want to unequivocally state that the explosion did not originate from any Gasland Nigeria Ltd. facility”

Claim 2: Explosion happened at Aderinola street

Another Facebook user, Oladele Idowu Joseph, claimed that the explosion happened at Aderinola Street.

“It’s nothing close to a gas explosion. Not Gasland, not in Samonda. It’s a massive blast in Aderinola street in Bodija, cause yet unknown,” he wrote on his timeline.

Verdict: FALSE. We confirmed from the information provided by the state Police PRO and the governor’s account that the explosion occurred at the close of Dejo Oyeleso. Though they were both at Bodija, the distance between both locations was approximately 2.6km or 1.6 miles.

Credit: Google map.

Claim 3: The explosion was from a transformer 

A Facebook user, Oyindamola Okuneye, claimed that the explosion resulted from a transformer that blew up.

Verdict: FALSE. According to the governor, the incident occurred at a residential building that stored IED explosives for illegal mining purposes.

Claim 4: 500 dead from the explosion

Barely hours after the incident, Oga Yenne (Uyo Influencer) [@ogayenne] asked on X if a rumour about 500 people died from the explosion was true.

He said, “I hope the people of Ibadan are safe. Is it true that over 500 people [have already been] killed in the blast?”

Verdict: FALSE. As of the time the report was filed, official reports revealed that only two had died, while 77 were injured. 

Claim 5: Image of a blast from the Ibadan explosion 

Another X user, The Cruise TV [@the_cruisetv], apart from claiming that the blast was from a gas station, also shared the image of a huge explosion and urged followers to “retweet for others to see.”

Verdict: MISLEADING. DUBAWA conducted a reverse image search on the picture and discovered that it had been in existence as far back as Sept. 6, 2014. Even the image was blurred in the source found, which indicates that it existed before it was used on the website.

Conclusion

While false and misleading claims hover around the Bodija bombing incident, official sources have confirmed that IED explosives devices stored at a residential building for illegal mining caused the bombing at Dejo Oyeleso Street. So far, only two have been reported dead and 77 injured. 

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