Alhaji Waidi Raheem Fasola, (aka Larafash) owner of Fash Oil, whose gas plant exploded and caught fire in 2020 killing some residents and destroyed properties in Baruwa, Lagos, has been arraigned on a 30-count criminal charge before an Ikeja High Court.
The 64 years old Fasola whose plea was taken before Justice Oyindamola Ogala was accused of an act of recklessness leading to the death of at least seven persons and destruction of several houses and shops in Baruwa Ipaja area in Ayobo-Ipaja local government area of Lagos State.
Fasola who pleaded not guilty to all the 30-counts read to him in both English and Yoruba languages was said to have unlawfully permitted the discharge of LPG (cooking gas) from the tanker to his gas dump without taken adequate security measures leading to the unfortunate incident that took lives of innocent neighbors and destroyed properties worth millions in the neighborhood.
According to the charge sheet, Fasola was said to have committed the offence on October 8, 2020 at about 5:45 am at No 61b, Cardoso road, Baruwa, Ipaja in Ikeja judicial division, when his loaded truck was discharging LPG into a dump located in his company.
According to the charge, Fasola’s negligence and “unlawful permitting the discharge of LPG , (gas) into tank” led to the deaths of Aderinsoye Olamilekan, Aderinsoye Mowa, Mohammed Abubakar, Abike Oluwasanmi, Evans Udom, Adebowale Aisha, Adeleke Olusola Amos and. Adeleke Okywadarasinmi.
The alleged unlawful act of “failure to take precautions against danger”, according to the prosecution also led to causing severe bodily harm to Adebisi Micheal, Adache Blessings, causing severe burnt to Bose Oyelumade, Nuru Nasir, Ayo Ademisoye , Emmanuel Evans Udom and bodily injuries to Omorieghe Josephine, severe burnt to one Usman Yakubu, Ronke Gbele, Mrs Juwon Abiodun as well as inflicting head lacerations on one Sunday.
The Director General of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMS, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu had indicted the operators of the gas plant, saying that investigations indicated that the explosion was an entirely avoidable incident caused by carelessness on the part of the operators of the gas station.
Apart from the deaths and bodily injuries done to the fire victims, the prosecution equally alleged that the failure of Fasola to take adequate precaution led to the burnt of houses, shops and destructions of some apartments in the vicinity of the ill fated fire incident.
According to the prosecution, more than five houses, seven shops gutted by the fire ingnited by the gas explosion, while some of the properties were simply damaged.
The prosecution listed some of the houses burnt to include the one belonging to Alhaji Jelili Adebowale at No 21b, Cardoso, two houses belonging to Rev Joseph Akinola Ogungbamigbe situated at Nos 2 & 4 Ogungbamigbe street, the one belonging to Alhaji Waheed Bello at No 63 of the same street, while the fire destroyed ceilings of the house of Apostle Dr Femi Akinsola at No 1, Unity Street, destroying ceiling and windows of a house at 12 Mirakinyo street belonging to Madam Arowoseso.
The destruction also affected four shops at 51, Cardoso street belonging to Alhaji K. A. Sanni and shop belonging to one Alhaja.
After his arraignment, the prosecution counsel, Mrs Abike Oluwasanmi urged the court to oblige them a date to commence his trial.
At this juncture, his lawyer, Mr Dele Adesina, SAN, who did not oppose the trial pleaded with the court to release the defendant to him as legal Practitioner, pending when his bail application will be formally heard by the court while promising to undertake and ensure his return to court whenever he is needed for trial.
In his ruling, Justice Ogala granted the request to release Alhaji Fasola on bail, while adjourned the hearing of the bail application till April 14, 2022, while adjourned the trial of the defendant till May 23, 2022.