No fewer than 110 suspected petroleum pipeline vandals were roasted to death at Arepo area of Ogun State on Wednesday after a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline exploded and caught fire.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the vandals were scooping fuel when it ignited the fire, which raged for several hours.
When a Leadership reporter visited the scene, some survivors and other people were seen trying to put out the inferno.
Some people could not identify the corpses of their family members and friends, while those who recogised their relatives moved the bodies in canoes.
The management of NNPC was said to have called the policemen attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism.
Some policemen were stranded because of the swamp, and could not reach the scene where corpses were being removed.
One police officer said, “The vandals attacked members of OPC. We were, however, invited by NNPC to come and secure the area while repairs will be done on the security post. People who were roasted in this inferno should be 110. The best thing to use here is helicopter because it is not motorable”.
The newly posted officer in charge of the taskforce, Valentine Olumese, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) who was also at the scene, said that the police had completed plans to take over the protection of the area. “The tent that was destroyed will be repaired and access to the scene will be created. Our men will maintain presence.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has intensified efforts to put out the fire at its pipeline network at Arepo, Ogun State.
An unconfirmed report claimed that a clash between two rival groups at midnight (Tuesday) led to the pipeline explosion.
Confirming the incident to Leadership, spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South West, Ibrahim Farinloye, said efforts are on to gain access to the swampy terrain by emergency organisations.
“The NNPC has been alerted about the explosion and has shut down supplies to suffocate the fire while efforts are on to put out the fire by the corporation’s safety unit,” he said.