President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to pipelines host communities to collaborate with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to tame oil pipeline vandalism in their areas.
The president made the appeal while expressing his condolence over the loss of lives as a result of the pipeline explosion in Osisioma Ngwa community of Abia State Friday morning.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said preliminary reports by the NNPC showed that the incident was not an accidental explosion, but a result of vandals who pilloried the pipelines to scoop the products.
He said despite repeated warnings, the people had vandalised that particular pipeline 684 times in the last six months alone.
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“Each time, the pipeline is repaired, they resume their activities, even collaborating with security agents, who are reported to have set up toll gates collecting fees from the vandals. A fight broke out as a heist was going on and there was shooting, which is believed to have ignited Friday morning’s explosion, during which three security personnel also lost their lives,” the statement reads in part.
The president urged communities and state governments that host oil pipelines to be more vigilant and rise to combat the challenge posed by pipeline vandalism.