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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 12:44 GMT
Nigerian papers slam military, president
Explosions light up Lagos sky
The explosions caused panic across Lagos
This Day newspaper says that it is still not clear what caused the munitions dump at Ikeja barracks to explode.

"The 9 Brigade Commander's assertion that the incident was caused by a fire outbreak is more of a guess than an informed statement".

It's not best to have instruments of war near built-up areas

Dr Charles Dokubo
The army comes in for more heavy criticism.

"Large numbers of obsolete munitions have been in storage for over 20 years. There has also been a problem of crowding, lack of air-conditioning and long-term neglect."

"Several reports have been written concerning the danger emanating from the state of disrepair but to no effect."

The newspaper also quotes "an expert in strategic studies at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs" Dr Charles Dokubo, as saying: "It's not best to have instruments of war near built-up areas."

If only the authorities had listened to such pearls of wisdom before the event, many Lagos families would have been spared the grief they are currently suffering.

'Strange objects'

ThisDay also says that the danger is not yet over.

The state police commissioner, Mike Okiro, has warned those living near the barracks not to pick up any "strange objects" they find.

He said that these could be unexploded bombs which were still littering the area.

The paper reports that at 5pm on Monday, explosions were still happening every 10 minutes.

"Despite these periodic explosions, hundreds of residents who fled the barracks yesterday have braved the danger to return to their homes and pick up the pieces of their lives."

'Area boys' beaten

While many residents are seething with anger at the Nigerian army over the incident, some military personnel have a way of venting their own anger and frustration.

"Vagrants, popularly called 'area boys' who cashed in on the confusion to loot were caught and given beatings of their lives by soldiers at the cantonment."

Shut up... I don't need to be here."

Olusegun Obasanjo
Vanguard aims its fire, not at the military but at President Olusegun Obasanjo.

"Obasanjo stuns Lagosians with nonchalance," runs the headline.

Early on Monday, he visited the barracks and was apparently met by a crowd of people who refused to be quiet to hear him speak.

"Shut up," he told them. "I took the opportunity of being here to see what could be done. I don't need to be here."

At this point, he was reportedly unaware that anyone had been killed in the explosions.

Later in the evening, he went on national television and radio to describe the disaster as "a monumental tragedy" and confirmed that more than 600 bodies had been recovered.

Vanguard says that as many as 2,000 people may have been killed during the series of explosions.

See also:

28 Jan 02 | Africa
Eyewitness: Canal deaths
28 Jan 02 | Africa
Eyewitness: Lagos blast
28 Jan 02 | Africa
In pictures: Lagos explosions
28 Jan 02 | Africa
Nigeria military under fire
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