This Day (Lagos)

3 January 2013

Nigeria: Lagos Fireworks Inferno - Police Arrest Importer of Firecrackers

Barely one week after the inferno that consumed parts of the famous Jankara market, at the Isale-Eko area of Lagos State, the Lagos State Police Command yesterday said it has arrested the owner and importer of the firecrackers which caused the fire.

This is just as two buildings including the one occupied by a newly wedded couple on Jones Street around Ebute West area of Lagos, were Wednesday razed by fire

The owner of the storage facility which housed the exploded firecrackers, Mr. Semilore Olalekan, was said to have been arrested as part of ongoing investigations into the fire.

However, police sources said the arrest might have been uncalled for since the suspect allegedly had the permission of the Police Anti-Bomb Unit and that of the office of the National Security Adviser.

The fire which happened on Wednesday last week had killed one person, left several others with varying degrees of injuries and razed over 20 buildings and a cars.

THISDAY gathered that part of the questions the importer is expected to answer is on why and how those explosives were brought into the country despite being a contraband item.

Although firecrackers are generally considered manifestly a contraband, they are usually available and used in cities and even rural areas during yuletide seasons.

But Gbolahan Moronfolu, the spokesman of the anti bomb unit explained that firecrackers can be imported when certified by the Inspector General of Police.

Olalekan who is currently being detained at Area A Command, Lion Building of the Lagos State Police Command, pending the aftermath of investigations, alleged that he has the permission of the police of import fire crackers.

Meanwhile, owners of structures and tenants of the 20 marked structures on Okoya and Ojo-Giwa streets in Lagos Island, site of the firecrackers explosion are now jittery over the probability of their properties not passing Non-Deformity Test on the marked structures.

Confirming the arrest, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said discreet investigation was ongoing.

She said: "The owner of the firecrackers has indeed been arrested and investigations are ongoing but it is too early to say on what grounds he would be charged to court."

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