Army Declares Ikeja Cantonment Free Of Unexploded Ordnances

…as police issues certificate of clearance in accordance with UNMAS

By: Okosun Dennis

A historical feat was achieved today as Ikeja Cantonment has been certified safe and free of every unexploded ordnances following the bomb explosion that happened 21 years.

The closing ceremony which took place at the Officer Mess, 9 Brigade, Ikeja Cantonment, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Taoreed Lagbaja, who was represented by the Commander, Engineer Corps, Maj Gen Philip Eromosele was presented a certificate by the Commander of the Nigeria Police Explosive Ordnance Department-CBRN, DSP Awodele Jude, who represented the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command.

The inscription on the certificate read: “This is to certify that the Nigerian Army Engineers has professionally carried out the clearance (Search, Identification, Recovery and Disposal) of Unexploded Ordnance at the site of the 2002 Unintended Detonation of Ammunition Dump in Ikeja Cantonment.

“The site is hereby categorized “A” (safe) in accordance with UNMAS standard.”

This followed 57 days of intensive clearance of Ordnances by the Nigerian Army Engineer, Ordnance Corps in collaboration with other sister agencies leading to the recovery and destruction of 2,055 UXOs.

While declaring “Operation Clean Sweep” closed, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Taoreed Lagbaja, said that the Nigerian Army would continue to be responsible and responsive in its engagement with the society.

He stressed that such commitment in ongoing end-of-year exercises and operations have strengthened its objectives to combating piracy, oil theft, banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, insurgency, secessionist agitation, and others.

Explaining that the primary objectives of “Operation Clean Sweep” was the clearance of the remnants of UXOs in the Cantonment, he expressed satisfaction that the completion of the exercise and certification by the Nigerian Police Bomb Disposal Department was heartwarming.

“The site has been declared safe and free of UXOs. With this designation, the site is now ready for future development by the army in line with their priorities.

Answering reporters questions on whether the entire Cantonment is free of any UXOs, the COAS reiterated, “Yes. You would have observed that following that January incident, certain areas in the Cantonment was declared as ‘a no-go area,’ nobody was allowed into those areas. With this exercise, everywhere is free and accessible.

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In his brief, Lt Gen Lagbaja, who thanked the media for their positive and incisive reportage in educating the public about the trends and operations, stated that, “Exactly 57 days ago, I flagged off this Exercise to clear remnants of unexploded ordnances from the site of the 28th January 2002 Ikeja Cantonment Bomb Blast.

“Before now, the contaminated site has been a no-go area for inhabitants of the cantonment and environs as the Unexploded Explosive Ordnance therein posed a grave safety and security threat.

“I, therefore, stand here just about two months short of the 22nd anniversary of the bomb blast with great sense of accomplishment, pride in the ability of our personnel, and gratitude to the Lord for the successful clearance of the harmful Unexploded Explosive Ordnance.

“Exercise CLEAN SWEEP witnessed the deployment of some of the most sophisticated Explosive Ordnance Disposal technologies and techniques available today in the market, which include ground penetrating radar detection systems, drone-propagated chemical clearance of vegetation, as well as remote-controlled Explosive Ordnance Disposal robots.

“Additionally, the best Nigerian Army personnel in Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Ammunition Technical Experts from Nigerian Army Engineers and the Nigerian Army Ordinance Corps were also employed.

“The efficient mobilization of these men and equipment resulted in the timely search/recovery and disposal of 2,055 Unexploded Explosive Ordnance of various calibres from the contaminated site. The blast’s epicenter, measuring 155,275 Square Meters, is now safe and secured for immediate productive development.

Earlier, Colonel Kazeem Abdulrazaq, the Coordinator, “EXERCISE CLEAN SWEEP”, who doubles as the acting Director, Directorate of Explosives Search and Disposal, Nigerian Army Engineers (NAE) in his brief stated that during the period the clearance operation lasted, “not a single UXO was deliberately or accidentally detonated at the clearance site” and there were no accident of any sort.

While they engaged the best hands in bomb disposal, he reiterated that Exercise CLEAN SWEEP was meticulously conducted in four distinct phases, which included mobilization, vegetation clearance, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) search and recovery, and demobilization with each phase executed with precision and utmost professionalism, demonstrating the exceptional capabilities of our personnel.

Present at the closing ceremony were the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Mohammed Usman, Maj Gen JO Ugwuoke, the Commander, 9 Brigade, Ikeja Cantonment, Brig Gen Adegoke Adetuyi,
whose domain the the epicentre is domicile.

Also present were the Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Command, UI Alfadarai, and a representative from the Department of State Security (DSS).

Others were the Governor of Lagos State, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Wale Musa; His Royal Majesty Alaiyeluwa Oba Oluwasegun Olasunkanmi Ajasa, the Awuse of Onigbongbo Kingdom, Federal Road Safety Corps, Federal Fire Service, Lagos State Command, Emergency Rescue Service and host of other agencies engaged during the operation.

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