A pipeline explosion occurred at Ije-Ododo in Ojo Local Government Area, Lagos, following the activities of suspected pipeline vandals.
Vanguard gathered that the explosion occurred at 11:15p.m., Monday, causing panic in the community.
When Vanguard visited the scene at about 12:30p.m. yesterday, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, officials and men of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, were not around.
Only members of Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, contracted by the Federal Government to secure pipelines, were sighted few metres from the explosion point.
Sources said accessing the scene was difficult as the plank bridge constructed by NNPC for easy access to the point had been damaged by the vandals to avoid any disturbance from security officials.
Mr. Tajudeen Olaosebikan, a commercial motorcycle operator, said the explosion occurred few minutes after a downpour.
According to him, “this was few minutes past 11p.m. At that time, I was on my way to Ije-Ododo when there was thunder and few seconds later, I heard a loud bang. The next thing I saw was fire from the pipeline.”
Olaosebikan said vandals must have commenced their operations immediately the heavy downpour started.
OPC on ground
However, the leader of Ikotun-Igando division of OPC, Mr. Taiwo Famuyiwa, said: “We do not know what caused the explosion. What we saw was fire and we have informed NNPC. They will visit the place to ascertain the cause of the explosion.”
The OPC coordinator for the zone, Mr. Mauruf Lawal, said they could not say if the pipeline was ruptured by vandals because the bridge to access the entire stretch of the pipelines had been damaged by the vandals.
He said: “If we can access the point, we will be able to know who perpetrated the act.”
He lamented that the bridge had been damaged for months, adding “we have contacted NNPC to help rebuild it. But all we received was assurance that it would be done.”
Lawal said: “When the bridge was still functioning, we were able to arrest vandals and impound their stolen products. But since it was damaged, we could neither access the point nor arrest any vandals.”
Confirming the incident, South-West Information Officer, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said: “Vandals struck again on the NNPC pipeline at Ije-Ododo line around 11:15p.m., Monday.
“NNPC has shut down flows and locked the supply valves to stop feeding the fire. Action will commence to put out the fire after securing access to the difficult terrain that has proven extremely difficult due to the swampy nature of the area.
“Ije-Ododo line is directly from Atlas Cove, which supplies products to Mosinmi and further distributes to other part of South-West zone.
“Ije-Ododo and Arepo have been very volatile and extre-mely dangerous due to activities of the vandals in recent times.”