When some residents of the federal capital territory (FCT) returned home from work on Wednesday, they planned to retire to bed and relax with their family members but that was not to be as the sudden vibration beneath the ground left them worried.
In the confusion that ensued, some abandoned their homes while others reached out to some government agencies. What started as discussions in the neighbourhood made headlines in the newspapers and started trending on social media.
TheCable visited Maitama and Mpape – the two areas where the unusual vibration was felt. The two districts are close to each other. It was observed that no building was visibly affected.
Ability John, a resident of Mpape, said though he has felt the earth shake in the past, the recent incident was violent and made him afraid.
He said it was so fast that it could root people from their feet if they did not lean on to firm objects.
“It took us unaware. When the turbulence started, we had no choice but to look for what to hold on to. It has not happened like this before,” John who works as a security guard said.
“Up till now, we are still living in fear. We hope it won’t happen again.”
Idowu Samuel, another resident of Mpape, said when the incident first occurred, he thought there was a bomb blast.
“It just happened, I was thinking it was a bomb blast and someone confirmed to me that it was a minor or a mild earthquake,” Samuel said.
“But somebody said these construction people working on Mpape hills are blasting up rocks. I think the gods are angry with us, forget about these scientific things.”
On her part, Ramlah Sani, a resident of Maitama, said she was initially scared but decided not to worry when she learnt it was a tremor.
Sani expressed confidence in the relevant agencies to bring the situation under control.
“Not like it is that serious, just slight shakes and loud sounds, we thought it was a bomb at first. I learnt yesterday that it was a tremor and I became calm – I was afraid before,” she said.
“I believe they have it under control. I don’t really know what is responsible for this.”
Martins Aliu, another resident of Maitama, said when he felt the earth shake, he thought an earthquake had “happened somewhere”.
“There were shaking from the foundation of the house. We were thinking – the first time I felt it, I was like I hope it is not a bomb blast. The ground really vibrated,” Aliu said.
“Some people at Mpape told me that it was as a result of rock blasting. Tremors come with earthquake so I was thinking that an earthquake happened somewhere. It started the day before yesterday and I felt it twice today (Friday).”
At Mpape, TheCable visited the yard of Julius Berger to make inquiries on whether recent activities of the construction firm could have triggered the vibration but a security guard simply said that there was no one to talk to.
Kazahyet Yusuf, a geologist told TheCable, that it would be impossible for any part of Nigeria to witness an earthquake.
Yusuf attributed the earth shaking felt to “excessive” rock blasting by construction companies in the Mpape area.
“It is impossible for an earthquake to happen in Nigeria because the west African craton which we are situated has been immobile for millions of years,” the geologist said.
“It is my opinion that the tremor felt was as a result of excessive rock blasting that has made the earth unstable.”
The FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has assured residents that there is no likelihood of earthquake within the territory and the country.
Abass Idris, director general of the agency, said there was no cause for alarm.
“We are urging all residents to calm down and be rest assured that the abnormal situation would soon stop,” he said.
According to him, the possible cause of the incident may be due to earth tremor which he explained, is a “sign of seismic movement within the earth that was caused by a sudden break along a fault line,” he said in an interview.
“This sudden release of energy makes the ground to shake which may be caused by stress in underground rocks and may be due to rock blasting and mining activities in the area.
“When personnel of the agency interacted with residents of Mpape and its environs, they gathered that this was not the first time the shaking has occurred but has happened five years ago.”
He appealed to the residents of the affected area to remain calm as the agency was doing all within its powers to bring the situation under control within the shortest time.
He, however, said that there was need for residents to relocate to a safer zone during the tremor.
He urged the residents to vacate their houses and take cover under desks or tables and hold tight until the shake is over.
He also said that residents should stay away from windows and objects that are likely to fall and also find a clear spot away from buildings, trees and power lines.
Here are some tips on surviving earth tremors.