Over 30 persons, who lost loved ones, got injured or lost properties in the gas explosion that happened in the Baruwa area of Lagos on October 8, have written a pre-action letter to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, demanding N4bn as compensation for their losses.
The victims made the demand in an October 19, 2020 letter written to the governor by their lawyer, Akeem Fadun.
Fadun, who said the incident was blamable on government’s failure to act when the residents raised an alarm back in February 2018, said his clients should be compensated so they could get their lives back on track.
“Our clients have suffered varying degrees of damage, including death of family and kin, maiming and burning of loved ones, complete destruction of properties, such as shops, schools and homes.
“As it stands, many of the victims sleep in makeshift sheds amid the ruins left behind by the inferno, and others roam hopelessly, having lost their means of livelihood to the inferno.
“One of our clients lost his wife and three children at a go; another lost his brother and son; another, his brother and benefactor. Others have spouses with third-degree burns that will require further surgery, if they survive, to try to lessen the scarring and contracture; the list goes on. Some of the victims have had to assign permanent guards to other victims who have displayed symptoms of severe depression, anxiety attacks and even made suicidal utterances,” Fadun said.
The lawyer, while describing the explosion as man-made and a clear case of government systemic failure to delivery on its statutory function to protect citizens’ lives and property, recalled how upon writing a save-our-soul letter to the government back in 2018 calling for the removal of Best Roof Gas Station from the neighbourhood, the response of the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development was to demand payment of N689,500 from the residents for the likely removal of the gas station.
Fadun said rather than being proactive and show responsibility to the citizens it had sworn to protect, the government sought to shift the liability for the removal of the gas station to the residents, which, he said, was a violation of Section 65 of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of Lagos State.
He said, “This was a gas station in a purely residential area, with a primary and secondary school directly opposite it. It would have been expected that as soon as the petition was received, all manner of red flag would have been set off and the Lagos State Physical Planning and Permit Authority would have immediately proceeded to seal up the gas plant. But instead, a monstrous, callous and deleterious excuse of a letter was issued, which has now left death, tears and blood in its wake.
“Our clients are mourning their preventable losses and the burn victims will require extensive medical care and rounds of plastic surgery to regain a semblance of normal life. Those who have lost everything would need to restart life once again. The action of the Lagos State Government has gravitated beyond negligence, considering the facts preceding the unfortunate occurrence.
“The death toll currently stands at 10 with 45 houses destroyed alongside several shops and surrounding schools. We are demanding N4bn on behalf of our clients as damages for their varying losses.”
The lawyer said the Lagos State Government had only seven days to meet the demands, failing which the victims would head for court