Mountains and hills are natural endowments to communities. They are natural beauties and architectural designs to these communities. Such can be found in many parts of Ibarapa area of Oyo State. From Lanlate, Eruwa, to Igbo-Ora, Idere, Ayete, Tapa and the rest, it is one long stretch of rocky beauty.
Two mountains, Imofin and Abarimu, are synonymous to Tapa. Abarimu Mountain, in the 1960s, served as a prayer abode to the Cherubim and Seraphim Church led by the late Pa Moses Olaoke, before the church moved to Agelu specifically in 1961. And since then, the members of the church would worship there during an annual three-day gathering.
Until December 3, nobody had any premonition that some unsettling ecological occurrence would take place on one of the mountains. But specifically on Sunday 4th December, 2016 around 11.09pm, residents of the community had their quiet taken away when disturbing sound rent the air. The noise, according to them, lasted through the night. And while neighboring towns shared in the dreadful experience, Tapa town in its entirety and parts of Ayete were not left out.
Eyewitnesses informed Nigerian Tribune that most people around the base of the mountain within Isale-Eso area, Tapa, had gone to bed when they heard a very threatening noise synonymous with the blast of a rock. They informed that no one was able to come out of their house to confirm the actual happening outside, as they all “tactically ran for cover” and trembled inside their individual homes.
One of the residents of a building directly opposite the base of the mountain, Gideon Samuel, a transporter, in an interview by Nigerian Tribune, revealed how the occupants of the building coped with the harrowing experience that unsettled many parts of the town.
According to Mr Samuel, the deafening sound of the rock went as far as neighboring towns, a situation which made the search for the actual happening till early Monday morning difficult.
While narrating the disquieting ordeal, Samuel stated that “recently, we’ve been experiencing heavy rain unusually. But lately, the weather became unusually hot. So, on this very fateful day, precisely, Sunday December 3, this year, at around few minutes past 11pm, we heard a very loud sound like the rumbling of a grader crushing rocks. The sound rent the air, covering the entire neighborhood. Since we were all already in our various homes, it was clear that we were all having the same disturbing experience but nobody was bold enough to come out of their houses to verify what was actually happening.
“After a long while, there was total silence. While we were happy that some quiet had been restored, we didn’t know that something still noisily awful was still coming. Before long, another blast rent the air. It was almost deafening; and then again, the blasts stopped. After a while, some of us came out of our houses to catch a glimpse of what was happening, at most, we wanted to know where the noise was coming from.
“As we stepped out, the only major thing that we noticed was that the atmosphere had been taken over by dust. The dust covered large sections of the town including neighboring towns. With the help of some commercial motorcycle riders, we searched through out but we were unable to ascertain the cause of the dust or even the sound. But early in the morning when we came out, we noticed some thick dust emanating from the Abarimu Mountain. That was what first gave us a hint of a likely collapse of the mountain.
“Curiously, we ran there to see and we discovered that part of the rock had split. At the base of the mountain were some huge residues of the rocky mountain. A large number of wild animals, including reptiles and bats that had taken refuge in holes in the mountain were killed in the process. Big trees were equally uprooted.”
He added that several other wild animals living in holes within the mountain were trapped, disclosing that many “of them were even trapped and cut into pieces in the process.”
Another resident, Kolawole Oluwafemi, added that the incident would be second in the last 40 years. He revealed that since then, the mountain had become a pilgrimage for people for both tourist and spiritual attention.
He said people come from all areas to confirm if it actually happened, others to see the mystery, while some come with the intention to pray on the mountain. He further added that some went away with small pebbles as symbol of prayer.
Oluwafemi disclosed that “before you came to this point, I am sure on entering the town, you would have concluded that it is a minor incident. Looking at the remnants of the rock that fell on the ground, nobody could weigh the size as big as these. I am sure if anybody tries to remove them from here it will take months to clear the whole place.”
Oluwafemi who conducted our correspondent round the site, however enjoined people who currently have structures around the basement of the mountain to have a rethink for their safety. He said, “Nobody, except a scientist, can determine what actually happened to the rock. And as we know, we learnt that such happened around 40 years ago. So, I don’t think it will be totally safe to have a building around here again.
“We were also told that Odo-Oke hill fell around 50-60 years ago while Idero hill collapsed in part also around 10 years ago. Though, to some Christians here, especially of the Cherubim and Seraphim denomination, it is a sign which God communicated to them because they claim that there had been a prediction as regards such occurrence. But by and large, I think it is safer to live elsewhere.”
The Baba Aladura and Alaga Woli C and S, Agbo Jesu, Abarimu Worldwide, Olu Akinlabi, said the church has continued to worship on the mountain on some particular dates, as ordered by God in a vision in 1955. He said the order, had since became an annual programme for the church. He however denied that they have ever witnessed such an experience since 1961 that they have been congregating at the top of some section of the mountain.
In his assessment of the situation, the Special Adviser to the Oyo State government on solid minerals, who equally is a geologist, Honourable Matthew Oyedokun, insisted that what happened was normal, just as he attributed it to “weathering’.
Oyedokun who stated that he had visited the Abarimu Mountain since the December 3 happening, said the incident was as a result of “absorption of water and minerals over a period of time, thus leading to weathering hills.”
He allayed the anxiety of the people, noting that “weathering is a normal occurrence on hills.” He, however, warned residents to keep off the affected area for safety reasons.