Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA. has accused the current administration under President Muhammadu Buhari of completely destroying the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and rendering the agency inefficient.
HURIWA described as inefficient and ineffective the workings of NEMA and other Lagos State Government’s funded first responders over their abysmal failure to respond to the distress calls of the school children trapped in the suspected petroleum Pipeline explosions in Lagos which may have led to the undetermined number of human casualties.
The human rights group said the Lagos State Government must set up a judicial probe panel into Sunday’s disaster and many others to find lasting solutions to these avoidable disasters.
HURIWA said the Abule Ado petrol pipeline explosion in Lagos happened and it took the relevant public-funded first responders several hours to respond to the raging fires, adding that this shows that institutions such as the Lagos State Fire Service, NEMA, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency are in need of comprehensive overhauls in order to bring them up to speed with 21st-century demands of urgency, efficiency, and effectiveness.
“Now NEMA has become an empty talking drum and a shell of its former self to an extent that a huge fire broke out in Lagos and ordinary Nigerians were there at the scenes of this Emergency and were doing the jobs of NEMA and FEDERAL and LAGOS STATE FIRE SERVICE and for at least the next one hour there were no official first responders in place,” HURIWA added in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and made available to DAILY POST on Monday.
“This is a national scandal. NEMA needs to be overhauled and made to begin to work as it used to be before the hierarchy of that agency was politically hijacked by nonprofessionals who see it like a cash cow. The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT must act now to stem the deterioration of the national capacity to respond to emergencies.
“From available documentary evidence it is clear that but for the swift efforts of ordinary Nigerians made up of mostly young Nigerian boys who rescued most of the students of the Bethlehem Catholic Boarding School, the number of casualties would have been multiplied. There are clear enough evidence to show that for many hours the fires raged and the victims were left to their own devices if not for the humanitarianism of those brave Lagos youths who actively coordinated effective rescue operations through unorthodox means with no facilities.
“The Federal government must do something radical and fundamental to salvage the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) from its current deteriorated standards. On the part of the Lagos State government, we are shocked that these kinds of disasters keep repeating themselves intermittently with the attendant high toll of casualties and the State administration has not bothered to put in place effective strategies to curb these occurrences.
“The Lagos State government must be blamed for allowing the development of factories and residential buildings such as boarding schools to be located within short distances from such explosive facilities like the NNPC PIPELINES. The Lagos State administration should be blamed squarely for letting such accidents to be choreographed and orchestrated through the Lagos State government’s lack of urban development planning strategies and due to corruption by the Housing development departments of the state government.”
HURIWA condemned NEMA for failing in its mandate and for rushing to the media to claim that the explosion which occurred at Abule Ado, Trade Fair axis of Lagos State was not caused by a disruption of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation oil pipeline.
The group carpeted the acting Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, for making what it described as the senseless and irrational clarification in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos in which he said contrary to information earlier put out on social media, the explosion which occurred about 9 a.m. was unconnected to pipeline vandalism.
“Why should NEMA officials speak from the background of hearsay and rumours? Did they carry out forensic investigations to ascertain the real cause of those explosions which as we understand consumed many innocent school children? Is there no longer logic and scientific research methods in that GOVERNMENT funded office to such a ridiculous extent that the official could grant media interview to give his opinion on the cause of the disaster that is yet to be scientifically investigated? This professional rascalism in the administration of public offices in Nigeria must stop,” HURIWA said.
HURIWA recalled that the NEMA’S Lagos coordinator told the media as follows: “‘ From the information given by officials of the Lagos State Fire Service, who are currently on the ground, the implosion is not connected to the pipeline but MIGHT have occurred in a factory located in the Abule Ado area. Emergency responders are on the ground while others are still on their way to the scene. The situation is under control and we hope to get more information soon to ascertain its cause’.”