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Kaduna tremor : More questions, too few answers

Nothing prepared the people of Kwoi and its environs for the traumatic experience they had last Sunday.

All they remember is that at about 12:28pm , the earth shook, vibrating, sending shivers down the spines of residents.

Parents and their children screamed helplessly and ran in confusion in different directions.

Dogs barked and barred their teeth threateningly at distressed humans.

Many thought the world had come to an end; others thought the insurgency which had plagued some parts of north east Nigeria for some years had crept into the historic of Kwoi in Jaba Local Council of Kaduna State.

Speaking to The Guardian on the phone, a resident, Enoch Kakaki, described the scene as chaotic.

The surrounding villages of Nok, Sanbah and Chori also got a full dose of the vibrations which continued the next day.

At the last count, three houses had completely crumbled, while 20 other suffered different degrees of damage.
Four days later, the more questions the people of Jaba asked, the fewer answers they got.

Not many had heard of the term, ‘earth tremor’.

Indeed, and as explained by Head of Geology Department at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. Smart Obiora, the tremor in Kaduna is not strange after all .

As Obiora, who is also the General Secretary of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, explained to The Guardian: “The town is located North North-East and South South-West trending fault zones, which have been linked to fracture zones.

Tremors were recorded with instruments in 1984, 1990, 1994 and 2000 and reports have it that a similar incident happened in the Hayin Magina area of Ikara, in Kaduna State, last July.”

Left to their own devices, the ignorant community immediately gave spiritual meanings to it, blaming it on angry gods and activities of prostitutes and homosexuals.

Fearing the worst, many deserted the town.”

A resident, Malam Mustapha Musa, was quoted to have said: “It is nothing but a warning from Allah, the most high.

Many heartless residents have made the rock a safe haven for raping our young boys. On many occasions, victims were found wounded by rapists around the rock.
Parents of some of these boys are still battling to restore them. Those who cannot afford medical bills are suffering in silence.”

A local chief, ‘Sarkin Ikara’, Alhaji Aliyu Suleiman, gave credence to the thoughts of the community.
His words: “We’ve put measures in place to ensure that anyone caught committing such sins will be made to regret it.”

But experts point to historical studies which indicate that there was a similar phenomenon in Southern Kaduna around 1800 which led to the dispersal of Atyap people of Tachirak.

A Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at the Kaduna State University and a climate change expert, Dr. Mande Kato Hosea,explained: “The Kwoi underground vibration and shaking of the surface of the earth is as a result of sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust that created seismic waves.

This scenario in Kwoi and environs is an earth tremor which is of low intensity and can toss people around, shake and destroy houses with poor engineering structure.
The perceptible shaking or vibration could occur within few seconds in a day and the situation could persist for few days.

This tremor occurs at a place called fault zone where the 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 the tremor.

“This fault zone cuts across many part of Nigeria linking up to the Atlantic Ocean fracture zone and it is a zone of concern as areas at the proximity of these fault zones are at risk of tremor or earthquake.”

He continued: “Tremor challenges are not recent in Nigeria, as the country experienced similar situations in 1933, 1939, 1964, 1984, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2009 and 2016 both in the South East, West and Northern part of Nigeria in Gombe state. No part of Nigeria that is immune to tremor.”

He called for further investigation to determine if Kwoi and other areas in the state are situated on a fault zone and active mines sites.
A preliminary report from the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) only attributed the development to ‘natural causes’ and did not provide technical details on exact cases.

Head Media and Corporate Communications at Agency, Dr, Felix Ale, said tremor was due to ‘passive sources’.
He said the nature of the source would only be determined after the completion of on-going “thorough and further investigation of the incident by experts in the agency.”

Ale said the initial findings were reported by a team of experts immediately deployed to the affected communities .

His words: “The team which was led by the Head of Seismology division of the Space Agency, Dr. Ofonime Akpan was able to establish that the Seismological Station of NASRDA located at Kujama in Kaduna State accurately recorded the unfortunate incident which made it easy for collation of data and early release of preliminary reports on the incident.

“The analysis showed that the first event occurred at 12:28:16.50 seconds GMT on Sunday 11th September, 2016 and the event has anepicentre located Latitude 9.825N and Longitude 7.885 E while Local Magnitude was 2.6 and Moment Magnitude was 3.0 and Focal Depth was 10km.

“The report further revealed that the second event occurred on Monday 12th September, 2016 at 03:10:48.80 seconds (GMT) with Local Magnitude
of 2.6 and Moment Magnitude of 2.9 with Focal Depth of 10km while the epicentre was Latitude 10.879N and Longitude 7.188E.

“This was followed immediately by another event at 03:11:20.00 seconds (GMT) located at an epicentre of Latitude 9.927N and Longitude 7.297E, He went on: “The reports revealed that the time of occurrence of these events and intensities of the locations as reported by inhabitants of the communities corresponds with the results of analysis carried out by the team of experts from NASRDA’s Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics.”

The agency appealed to residents of the various communities to remain calm and assured that more data were being collated.

But a geologist and former Director General Nigerian Geological Survey Agency ( NGSA), Prof. Siyan Malomo , told The Guardian data on tremor was low in Nigeria, as most of such were usually sourced from the United States.

“It is a natural occurrence. There are all kinds of things that can cause tremor.

For instance, there are huge rocks in Jos and Vandekiya that could fall and cause tremor.
Fundamentally, there is a gap in data collection.

The Geological Survey Agency of the US collates data for the world and they have observatories in places like Gabon, South Africa me Ghana which experience tremors regularly.”

“It is a gap that the Geological Survey Agency Nigeria should meet, but not meeting. We still depend on the United States for data”

Concerned about the lack of in-depth technical explanations for the occurrence, the Senate has taken a swipe at heads of relevant Federal Government agencies on their level of preparedness for tremor like incidents.

Senate President Bukola Saraki who gave a hint of the plan to summon the agencies yesterday in an interview with reporters in Ilorin, Kwara State, said the nation could not afford to be caught napping after a series of warnings of a likely tremor.

When the Senate resumes, we will meet and find out the level of the threats to our national existence. Then NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) will be invited to tell us their levels of preparedness for the emergencies. Nobody prays for it but we will not wait until the unexpected occurs,” Saraki said.

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