23 Jul 2015

Scores killed as another explosion rocks NNPC pipeline in Arepo

For the umpteenth time, another explosion on Wednesday rocked one of the pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the Arepo area of Ogun State and reportedly killed several pipeline vandals.

The incident, which is one in a series of pipeline vandalism at the Arepo area, occurred after some vandals exchanged gunfire.

The vandals, who were said to be from opposing camps, had engaged in a gun duel in a show of supremacy over who should control the pipeline and siphon petrol illegally.

It was gathered from sources that one of the camps had first stormed the pipeline in order to tamper with the valves and then siphon fuel into their waiting jerry cans.

In the process of siphoning the product, the other camp got to the scene to perpetuate the same act, but ran into the first group.

A supremacy tussle over who should steal petrol from the pipeline area then ensued and when dialogue could not solve the problem, they resorted to violence.

It was also gathered that from fisticuffs, the fracas quickly degenerated to a gun duel between the two factions.

It was during the gun duel that a bullet reportedly hit the pipeline, resulting in the explosion.

Sources who reached out to ThisDay said some persons died in the explosion but they were yet to ascertain the veracity of the claim as they had not accessed the site.
The source said: “Since the killing of the pregnant woman in that area, there has been no security there except at Owode.

“Now, even the NNPC fire safety unit can’t access the site because they are scared for their lives. If the area is not secured, how can they put out the fire?

“Already we are worried because the scene of the explosion is just about a kilometre away from residential buildings and it’s close to the Journalists’ Estate in Arepo.”
Confirming the explosion, the South-west Public Relations Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said his men had not been to the scene of the explosion because of the swampy nature of the terrain.
He said: “An unconfirmed report claimed that a clash between different groups of vandals at Arepo led to the pipeline explosion.

“NNPC has been alerted about the explosion and they have immediately shut down the supply valve to stop feeding the fire.

“Meanwhile, efforts are underway to put out the fire by the NNPC Safety Unit. No one can confirm if there are casualties or anyone was injured because the terrain is swampy.

“We are looking for access to the scene of the explosion because the terrain is swampy.”
The latest incident occurred barely a month after vandals struck in the area and six weeks after vandals ambushed and shot in cold blood five policemen deployed to secure the area.

Last February, a similar incident occurred in the same area when some vandals damaged another pipeline at Ije Ododo at two different spots leading to massive petrol spill.

Credit: Chiemelie Ezeobi/ThisDay

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