When I was told of the volcanic eruption in Benue state I,like many others did not believe it. The nearest active volcano to was Mount Cameroon and from basic regional geology the most recent volcanic activity in Benue state was as least in the tertiary period . I got even more surprised to find newspaper reports claiming to confrim an eruption. It took a visit by a team set up by the Geodesy and Geodynamics National Space Research Centre led by led by the agency’s Head of Department for Ground Based Systems Department, Mohammed Shuaibu along with Head of the Geology Department at the University of Jos, Professor Uriah Alexander Lar and Director of Mining and Solid Minerals, Benue State Ministry of Science and Technology, Shiaondo Aaga to confirm that it was a landslide and not a volcanic eruption.
At that point my first reaction was to go to see it despite my skepticism (I have always wanted to and hope to see avolcano live). That desire remained even when I realized it was a landslide, even though it wasn’t as urgent as before.
When I told Dr. Ogbonnaya Igwe about the slide on the 29th of November he was of the opinion that we should go to see it as soon as possible. Dr. Igwe is an expert on landslides and is a member of the International Consortium on Lanslides (ICL). His enthusiasm was therefore understandable. What I did not expect was that ‘soon’ meant our journeying in our departmental bus along with another colleague: Okey Nebedum and 2 students: Ikenna Okwara and Mbakwe Innocent to a place we had only the faintest idea idea of on the 1st of December.
We left Nsukka at 10 am on a trip that took us through the major towns of Benue state Oturkpo, Gboko, and Katsina Ala all the way to Adikpo the location of the Kwande local government headquaters . There the Secretary confirmed that it was a slide and gave us more detailed information about the locality of the slide as well as providing us with a guide.
It took us more than an hour on relatively good road to get to the small town of Jako-Ata where the head chief of the district resides. It was already 5pm by then and he advised us to pass the night at his place, offering us lodging, food (head sized mounds of pounded yam and Tiv style okra soup) and also helped us to organized commercial Okada riders to take us at dawn to the place.
It took two hours by bike to get there. We saw the slides and extensively studied one of them. I will post a preliminary report on the study subsequently. It still baffling how the journalists carried the volcanic eruption story. Did they visit, or did they just get to Jako-Ata hear from the first indigene before making their way back to the comfort of their offices to write a sensational story about an earthquake. After an exhausting 4 hour hike up the slide and back we met a team from the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency NGSA who came to verify whether it was a landslide or a volcano.it was bad enough that the NGSA was sending a team a full month after the incidence but what was worse was the team collecting our reports and making their way back to Abuja, leaving before we did!
In further posts I will comment more on this slide.