BBC Africa Eye uncovers new evidence contradicting official explanation for Lagos explosion

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 September 2020:

New evidence obtained by BBC Africa Eye contradicts the official explanation for the cause of an explosion which killed 23 people and destroyed a girls boarding school in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the country’s state-owned oil firm, claimed the explosion occurred as a result of a truck that hit gas cylinders near one of its petroleum pipelines.

But new evidence indicates this official explanation for the cause of the blast, that decimated over 100,000 square metres of Lagos, is incorrect.

The blast occurred in Soba, a residential neighbourhood of Lagos on March 15th 2020 at 8:56 am. New video evidence filmed at the explosion site, five minutes before the blast, shows a catastrophic leak of vaporised liquid at the exact location where the NNPC high-pressure petroleum pipeline runs beneath the ground through that area.

The BBC found there was no gas processing plant at the explosion’s epicentre. Moreover, analysis of gas cylinders found at the site after the blast indicates they could not have been at the centre of the explosion when it happened.

Three specialist engineers – experts in LPG gas safety, in petroleum pipeline safety, and in explosions analysis – who have examined video footage all confirm the huge leak of vaporised liquid could not have come from gas cylinders. Eyewitnesses the BBC heard from corroborate this. None of them mentioned gas cylinders or saw a collision. But four of them independently said the leak was coming out of the ground beside the heavily laden truck.

The evidence the BBC has uncovered indicates the heavily laden truck stopped on an eroded, unsurfaced road that had been softened by rainwater. This could have pressured the pipeline to breaking point, releasing a cloud of vapourised flammable petroleum product that ignited.

But petroleum pipeline safety expert, Dr Ambisisi Ambituuni, told the BBC the System 2B pipeline network has: “been in existence for way over the lifespan of the pipeline”.  He asked: “How is it so difficult for the operator to maintain the safety of those pipelines?”

After watching the film, Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, Human Rights Activist & senior Lawyer says: “Incidences of fire disasters have become commonplace for Lagosians. It just more or less reiterates the need for the government to be responsive and to hold accountable those who are working in the sector in terms of maintaining global best practice in their operation.”

Akinbode Oluwafemi, Environmental Rights Activist and Executive Director, Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa says: “My first ask is that, for the first time, the government should sit down to watch this documentary and set up an independent panel on pipelines explosions in Nigeria and use this as a case study.  Lagos State government too needs to start thinking how do we protect the people from these serial explosions.”

The NNPC were contacted and denied the pipeline was inadequately protected, reaffirmed their explanation for the explosion’s cause, and said there was no leakage prior to the explosion. They also said: “NNPC pipelines comply with safety and regulatory guidelines” and that they: “worked closely with the Lagos State Government in providing a N2bn relief fund for the victims of the explosion”.

The film can be viewed here::


  1. My father’s properties were drastically affected by the explosion and he has reached out to the government incessantly since to provide relief for the victims. There has been no response ever since and he has now recently sued NNPC. There has been no 2 billion Naira relief fund provided. That too is a lie. As well as the lie that NNPC is now trying to cover up. Some money was given to the family of the secondary school victims. But that too wasn’t followed through completely.. What we see here is a smoke screen of lies by NNPC and the government.

  2. Such a tragic event! When will African governments become resolute and committed in shouldering the daunting responsibilities of their respective nations? Its the same old sad troubling story – Firstly an act of negligence occurs followed by an outright brazen disgusting lie by government officials trying to save their own skins; Good-for- nothings callously unsympathetic to the devastating plight and sufferings of the victims and all those that are adversely affected.

    Nigeria is a riddle no one can solve – it is an intolerably perplexing conundrum, wrapped up social, political and religious dilemmas, a land of uncertainties that is firmly shackled by the unforgiving iron grips of corruption, attitudes of malfeasance and palm-greasing. I have been there many times, and it was there I saw people in their countless millions adjusting with smiles on their faces to the ugliest and worst kinds of living conditions you never imagined possible. No doubt it is a place with eye-opening contradictions – a land of vast riches controlled by a handful of individuals with power, surrounded by throngs of people languishing daily in abject, humiliating poverty.

    Such a disaster as the one in Lagos is nothing new, they will brood over it for a few weeks, grease palms here and there and all will be forgiven, and forgotten – it will become business as usual, things will quickly, easily return to normal, without the actual problems threatening communities being fixed – that’s the Nigerian way, and to be sincere, its also the African way and one size squarely fits us all.(lol)

  3. This BBC report illustrates how oil companies operate with different sets of policies or rules when it comes to Africa. Be it national or international. For many years, both poor villagers and city dwellers that live in the suburbs across Nigeria’s mega cities have died as a result of oil explosion caused by exposed oil pipe lines above ground, instead of burying oil pipe lines as they should be. Or in extreme cases, explosions caused by bad roads, and oil tankers that are not road worthy carrying their deadly cargo to unsuspecting neighbourhoods.

    These giant oil companies have one rule for the way they operate in the African continent and a different set of rules when they operate in their own countries. Of course the reality is that they are helped by our own very corrupt public officials to carry out these despicable acts, with the knowledge they will escape any serious consequences. Whether jail time for these public officials that put poor neighbourhoods health and safety at risk for quick profits, or escaping hefty fines where it hurts most – their bank balances.

    There are regulatory protocols to be followed by these operators, but if officials can be bribed to circumvent carrying out their operations strictly and abiding by the rules, then all bets are off. The victims of this cavalier attitude are always the poor. You will never see exposed pipe lines running in the rich neighbourhoods of Lagos. Its always the poor that pay the highest price for unchecked corruption.

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