17 March 2014, Lagos – Barely three weeks after disaster was averted when an oil spill from a faulty Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, pipeline flooded Ijegun-Imore in Lagos, an explosion yesterday rocked another pipeline in the same area.
Confirming the incident, the spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South-west Zone, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said the explosion was caused by vandals at a peninsula around Ijegun late in the night.
He said the explosion was as a result of underground spillage through points of previous vandalism which had been exerted on the pipelines in the past.
He said there was no casualty, adding that the fire was finally put out by the NNPC fire unit after hours of battling the flames, while repairs would commence soon.
This was as operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-pipeline Vandalism Unit, Lagos Command, yesterday foiled plans by pipeline vandals to steal petrol from the NNPC pipeline along Ikate-Akute axis, in Ojodu, Ogun State.
Acting on a tip-off, the operatives led by the Lagos Sector Commander, DSP Samson Olawoyin, stormed the scene and engaged the suspects in a gun duel, leading to the arrest one Abbey Daniel.
Although other suspects numbering about 10 fled to evade arrest, the taskforce was able to recover some of the abandoned equipment including five speed boats containing about 4,000 empty 50litters gallon, with which they planned to carry the stolen products.
Confirming the arrest, the officer-in-charge of the taskforce, Friday Ibadin, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, said they got the tip off that vandals were at the Ikate Akute axis of NNPC right of way at about 1a.m.
He said: “Based on the tip off that vandals had resumed their activities along Ikate Akute , Ojudu, Ogun State on an NNPC pipeline, we cordoned off the area.
“When the vandals realised they were surrounded, they opened fire but later absconded when they realised that their game was up.
“There have been several attempts in recent times by the vandals to operate but our men who are always on ground have stopped them because we are quite aware that these vandals will capitalise on the desperation of Nigerians in search of fuel.”
The suspect however said they only attempted to assist stranded persons who desire to buy fuel but cannot because of the fuel scarcity.
He said: “We got a tip off from our informant who told us that NNPC was pumping fuel through that line and since there is high demand for fuel in Lagos and the buyers are paying good money especially operators of petrol stations, we struck.
“Unfortunately, I was not armed and also cannot swim, so I opted to hide in the bush. I had almost gotten away with it when the police arrested me.”
Ibadin said the taskforce had set out to fortify pipelines especially in the light of the difficulties in buying petroleum products recently.
– Chiemelie Ezeobi, This Day