An explosion that occurred in the early hours of Saturday, March 28, 2020 in Ondo, splitting the Akure-Owo Road into two and destroying over 50 buildings, has continued to generate controversy. Although Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the state Police Commissioner, Undie Adie, attributed the blast to explosives being taken to Edo State, contrary to other opinions.
For instance, a professor of Geophysics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Adekunle Adepelumi, debunked the explanation given by Akeredolu and the police after leading a research team to the site. Adepelumi said the explosion was caused by a meteorite, adding that no evidence of radioactivity radiation, fire or burning of anything was found within the vicinity. A professor of Applied Geology and former Dean of School of Earth and Minerals Sciences at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Idowu Odeyemi, tells PETER DADA his view about the explosion that occurred on Akure-Owo Expressway, Ondo last Saturday
There have been various claims about what really happened last Saturday along Akure-Owo Expressway in Ondo State. The state government and the police said some explosives being taken to Edo State caused the explosion, while some others said an asteroid or meteorite dropped there, what is your view on it?
There was no asteroid; all indications point to the fact that the police statement issued on that day is correct. My people, that is, younger professors, were at the site. They saw the remnants of the vehicle within a 250-metre radius. It was the explosion’s shrapnel that actually destroyed the houses. They returned with the samples of the shrapnel. So there was no extraterrestrial influence involved in the explosion.
Some people said they sighted a bright light which they suspected was an meteorite, what do you think about that?
When there is an explosion, it gives off light. Explosion comes with light. With explosives, there must be light. Have you ever been to a quarry before? When you go to quarry, you will see that when there is an explosion, it will give off sound and flashes of light. In that particular situation, there would be flashes of light because the vehicle itself had fuel. Now, one of my academic children talked about meteorite but he has yet to come and give us the samples of the extraterrestrial rocks because meteorite travels long distances, like 300 million kilometres or 400 million kilometres. And they are very old, like two billion years old or four billion years old. Until we can find these samples, you really cannot talk of that and what we have seen does not conform to the normal pattern of a meteorite. If it was a meteorite, it must have been a very tiny one, extremely tiny one. The average size of a meteorite that will create problems will be up to two kilometres or 20 kilometres and they are very destructive. They will burn off a space if they are small, you will just see meteor showers at night. So, I’m not convinced that we are dealing with a meteorite. It is obvious that it was an explosion. Don’t forget there is a human element involved; the company that needed the explosives has spoken about it. They got a vehicle and the vehicle developed a fault. The policemen that escorted it ran around and wanted people to move away from the scene. If it was sudden, it would have led to serious loss of lives.
But people have said they did not see any part of the said vehicle that conveyed the explosives, what do you think about that?
They should have gone to the buildings that were destroyed. If there is an explosion, it scatters everything. That is where you should be looking for the particles, not at the scene of the explosion. Anyway, in the whole of the geosciences world in Nigeria, only one person is claiming that it was a meteorite. Nobody else has come out to claim that it was a meteorite, which makes it suspicious. I have talked to the man (who alleged that it was a meteorite) and I think he has also reasoned with others because it has implications. What is the trajectory of the meteorite? Why was it coming? All these will be treated by the space agencies if it was truly a meteorite.
As a scientist, do you think it is good to convey explosives in vehicles that are not in good condition?
No, it is improper to convey explosives in a vehicle that is faulty. You know, Nigeria itself is faulty. If you give somebody N10,000 to hire a vehicle for you, they would hire a vehicle of N5,000 and pocket the rest. If you give somebody money to service the vehicle to make it road worthy so that it can take some things to Auchi, Edo State, where they were going, they would not spend the whole amount of money on it. I think the controversy should not be on the scientific side but the human side. Why was a bad vehicle used? And that is important.
Do you think somebody should be punished for this to serve as a deterrent to others who take such things for granted?
I am not in the police, but the first thing that should happen is proper investigation and then you can apportion blame. After that, you can decide on what you want to do with the person who is found guilty. Who will be responsible for the road that was damaged, who pays for the reconstruction and so on? It is more important than making a claim that it was a meteorite or an asteroid.
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