Earth Tremor: How Prepared Is Nigeria For Natural Disasters?


A couple of days ago, multiple earth tremors were reported in three locations in Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The tremors which occurred in Kwoi, Nok and Samban Dagi left scores of structures with cracks or total collapse. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said over 300 houses were affected by the earth tremor.

Before the Kaduna incident, earth tremor was also experienced in parts of Bayelsa and Rivers states which caused palpable apprehension among residents of affected communities. Some of the effected communities were given as Igbogene and Akenfa in Bayelsa and Akinima, Akie-Oniso (Oruama), One Man Country and Mbiama in neighbouring Rivers State. The people said the tremor started with heavy vibrations about midnight and lasted for some minutes and caused serious cracks on the walls of their buildings, though no injury was reported.

Following earlier reports of earth tremor, the director-general of National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Prof Saidu Mohammed had warned Nigerians to be prepared for any eventualities and urged the Federal Government to quickly rise up to the occasion, saying earthquake was capable of happening anywhere and at any time, Nigeria not in any way exempted. This was even before the Kaduna incident.


While speaking on the sudden occurrences, Mohammed had called for more research and development, pointing out that NASRDA was doing its best to provide relevant information that would help the society.

“The tremor should bring about preparedness in this country. What it means is that we should not deceive ourselves. Earthquake is capable of happening here and we should put something in place. We have put earthquake stations in different locations in Nigeria. We need to do more. Societies cannot survive while sleeping. We must work hard to set up research point in every location. We are training people every day. We are working with NASA and we supply them with reliable data and we are doing our best,” he had said.

According to researchers, the first widely reported occurrence of an earth tremor in Nigeria was in 1933. Other events were reported in 1939, 1964, 1984, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2006. The intensities of these events ranged from III to VI based on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale. Of these events, only the 1984, 1990, 1994 and 2000 ones were instrumentally recorded.

Attributing the Kaduna earth tremor to passive sources, NASRDA said the nature of the source would soon be determined by the agency after the completion of yet another on-going thorough and further investigation of the incident by experts. The head, media and corporate communications of the agency, Dr. Felix Ale, explained that the report of the current findings was the outcome of a preliminary assessment by a team of experts immediately deployed to the affected communities from one of the activity centres of the space agency called the Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics for on the spot assessment as well as a survey and investigation on the incident.

The centres are charged specifically with the mandates of crustal and coastal deformation monitoring, seismic hazard evaluation and monitoring as well as research in natural hazards like earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, subsistence among others.

In a statement, the agency said “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 an epicentre 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, Local Magnitude 2.9 and Moment Magnitude 3.0.”

The agency promised to make its detailed reports known to the public as soon as further investigations on the incident are completed. “The Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics located in Toro, Bauchi State is one of the activity centres of excellence of the space agency located in different geo-political zones of the country”, it further noted.

The agency, the statement also pointed out, had established what is globally known as the Nigeria National Network of Seismic Stations located in Abuja, Kaduna, Ile-Ife, Awka, Abakaliki, Minna, Ibadan, Nsukka and Oyo town to improve seismic data acquisition and encourage more research activities regarding seismicity in Nigeria. It called on residents of the various communities to remain calm, assuring no stone would be left unturned to unravel the situation as more data are being collected from other seismological stations.

Beyond allaying the fears of Nigerians, experts believe that the government should begin without delay preparations about how to prevent loss of lives in the event that the unexpected happens as we see in other countries of the world. In its editorial recently, LEADERSHIP, had an advice for government. “We suggest that what is required at this early stage is a coordinated approach to assuage the anxieties of the people, not just in those areas said to be exposed to the lurking danger, but all Nigerians as to what to do if and when it happens.

“This, in our view, is where the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the security agencies come in. They must be advised to move in immediately and through public enlightenment and drills prepare the people against any eventuality. The resources required at this stage will be minimal and the preventive measures, if taken, will be beneficial to the nation in the long run,” it said.