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Abuja Trembles As Residents Panic

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In what has been described as earth tremor, residents of Abuja are still in a state of shock after the earth shook for two consecutive days in some parts of the city. And in spite of assurance from government, the incidence remains a scary topic among residents of the affected areas and many others, who now live in fear. AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE and STELLAMARIES AMUWA report.

Satellite towns in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) especially Mpape and Maitama, may be used to rock blasts and seconds of earth shaking. But the vibrations that shook many buildings in Abuja Municipal and Bwari area councils in the last two days have never been felt before.

Usual earth shaking would ordinarily cause mild anxiety among affected areas where the vibrations would extend and not in the unusual manner, different from the rock blasts by quarry companies, that was experienced the last time.

The reality that residents of premium area like Maitama in the heart of Abuja city, felt the movement further compounded the fear, and left many residents bewildered.

While some experts have attributed the signs to earth tremors, the situation has generated a high level of curiosity and panic among residents especially because it is the first time such is happening in the city.

According to an eye witness, Martha Osondu, a resident of Mpape, one of the areas affected, the movement has been going on now for three days. Osondu, who is also a hair stylist in Wuse market, said the quarry area has been in turmoil for a long time now.

“I live in Mpape and for the past three days, we have been experiencing some unusual trembling in and outside our house. Initially we thought it was just the usual blasting of rocks but on close observation, we noticed that it continued more than usual.

“This morning (Friday) it was worst. I am so scared and my husband is equally disturbed. If we had enough money we would relocate to another part of Abuja especially because of our children.

“I have been living in Mpape for the past four years and I have never had this kind of experience. We can no longer sleep with our eyes closed at night. There are even rumours that the Chinese are about something in Jigacuchi, close to Mpape.”

Another resident, Chisom Obinna, who lives in Efab Estate, opposite Mall Global Estate by Dawaki, said that there was a bit of panic in her area too, on Friday morning. “I was still on my bed around 7am this morning when the bed shook.  I ran outside and found my neighbours complaining about the same thing.”

On his part, Mr Frank Sunday, another resident of Mpape, also narrated his experience: “I heard the sound close to Love FM, the owner of the house called and said part of his house fell down because of the tremor. The natives of Mpape (Gwari natives) said the tremor is diabolical, that they are supposed to appease a goddess in the area, a ritual they usually observe but have not, in recent time. They say that is the reason the tremor happened.”

Aisha Memudu, Mpape resident narrated her experience saying: “My first experience of the incident was on Wednesday, when I returned from office around 8:27pm. I heard a thunderous sound which also shook the building. I became confused so I called my neighbours but they asked me to be calm that it was nothing.

“They concluded that Berger Company was blasting stone at that time. We didn’t rest, we decided to stay out with other neighbours till 10pm that night to make sure our building does not collapse on us. Then when I returned home on Thursday evening, my brother said, he experienced it at the football field around 4pm that same day. Then on Friday morning around 6:15am, it was really scary. I was on the bed but felt a very strong movement as if the bed moved. Other people in the neigbourhood also called to complain of the same thing.

“Some were already suggesting that the best thing to do is to move back to their home towns while others said they will relocate to places like Kubwa. While we were still on the discussion, it happened again and again. I had to hurriedly take my bath, picked a few things and left home. As it is now, I am not in a hurry to go back to Mpape until I get clarifications on the issue. As at about 1:24pm (Friday) a neighbor, Christiana Fawab, called that the tremor was still going on.’’

Not all the residents of the areas affected are troubled over the incidence. For Mr John Madaki, who has been living in the areas for over 10 years, the vibration of the earth in Mpape and environs was just the usual vibrations they have experienced in the past.

He insisted that the residents of the FCT need not panic over the development because those expressing fear are still new in the affected places.

“There is no cause for alarm and panick over the earth vibrations in Mpape and other areas of Abuja. It is normal, we have been experiencing such movements for years. It is normal for us. Those who are scared are new residents who have not experienced much of the natural movements around here,” he said.

Meanwhile, it’s almost two years since the residents of Kwoi and surrounding villages in Jaba local government area of Kaduna State experienced earth tremors.

LEADERSHIP Weekend recalled that on Sunday, September 11, 2016, the people of Kwoi and various villages in Jaba, woke up to a normal Sunday morning but at the end of the day, were traumatised by excessive earth shaking that sent waves of pandemonium around the LGA.

Like an ambush that took them by surprise, the residents ran for cover while others try to make sense of the whole happenings. And like some residents of Abuja, only a few residents of the affected communities in Jaba local government, at the time, were convinced that what occurred two days simultaneously, was part of natural dynamism of the earth.

An Earth Tremor, according to geologists, is the perceptible shaking of the surface of the earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust that creates seismic waves.

It takes a strong hearted individual to stand to hear the harrowing tales of the residents of Kwoi after the 2.9 local magnitude earth tremor that hit them repeatedly for two days.

Most of the structures in Kwoi and surrounding communities are built with mud blocks and could not withstand the 2.9 magnitude vibration, hence, several structures gave way, including some electric poles.The immediate effect of the earth tremor on Kwoi town was the hasty flight of families from the troubled community. Most of the people left out fear for their lives.

Those behind told LEADERSHIP Weekend then, that no one can blame all the people that fled the town as ‘experience is said to be a better teacher.’ Most of the fleeing families couldn’t come to terms with the reality in Kwoi town after the vibration.

Although, most of the residents that fled the town have so far returned, when LEADERSHIP Weekend contacted some of them after the Abuja vibration, they said they never felt anything as such in the last few days.

Federal governments’ reaction

Authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have explained the ‘earth tremor,’ which happened in some parts of the city.

The director general of FEMA, Abbas G. Idriss, in a statement on Friday said; “The tremor was caused by sudden breaks along a fault line, resulting in sudden release of energy that makes the ground shake.

“The rock blasting and mining activities in an area could result in the underground rocks to experience stress.”

The DG urged the public to remain calm and not panic by the development.

Always keep a flashlight and first aid kit-expert

An environmental management scientist and expert in climate change, CO2 emission and deforestation, Dr Mande Hosea, in a sensitisation paper, assured that what has been happening in some part of Nigeria is not an earthquake.

Dr Hosea, who is a senior lecturer at the Kaduna State University, said (as in the case of Kwoi in Kaduna State at the time) the underground vibration and shaking of the earth was as a result of sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust that created seismic waves.

“The perceptible shaking/vibration could occur within few seconds in a day and the situation could persist for a few days.

“This tremor occured at a place called fault zone where jagged edges of two tectonic plates grind against each other, moving in slow motion and a plate may suddenly jolt into a new position and energy released in the fault by this  movement creates tremor,’’ he said.

He added that fault zones cut across many parts of Nigeria linking up to the Atlantic Ocean fractures zone and it is a zone of concern as areas at the proximity of these faults zones are at risk of tremor/earthquake.

He said tremor challenges are not recent development in Nigeria, as the country has a timeline of experience in 1933, 1939, 1964, 1984, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2009 and 2016 both in the South East, West and Northern part of Nigeria.

Dr Hosea however, ruled out an earthquake happening in Nigeria as West Africa is on a stable croton not located in the sub-duction zone called ring of fire.

Nevertheless, the environmental expert advised that the government should always be on the alert as the system is dynamic with the change in the environment.

As a precautionary measure, he urged the people to always have in their possession, flashlight and first aid kit. He also advised that people avoid leaving heavy objects on shelves and anchor heavy furniture, cupboards and appliances to the wall or floor.

And in the case of tremor, he advised that people should not panic, step away to open space, and stay away from things in the room that could topple over. Even as he advised that in tremor situations, people should hide under a desk or table, unplug electricity cords and watch out for dangling power lines.



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