by Isi Esene
The site of the Arepo pipeline, in Ogun State which exp0loded on Saturday is reportedly filled with floating corpses.
A suspected vandal, Sunday Reuben, who was arrested on Saturday by the police close to the site of the explosion had told reporters that over 50 people were involved in the explosion.
According to police authorities, the deceased, Sunday Reuben, died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital on Sunday due to the severe burns he sustained in the explosion.
Two of the vandals had reportedly engaged in a heated argument which led to one of them shooting into the air with his rifle.
Bullets shot from the rifle hit the ruptured pipeline and led to an explosion which engulfed everyone in the vicinity.
According to the now deceased Reuben, “The next thing was an explosion, I was lucky that I wasn’t close to the pipeline. It was the heat of the fire that affected me. I managed to run to my boat where my mother was waiting. There were so many of us both men and women. We are more than 50 persons over there and most of us are still inside that fire. Most of them are still in the creeks dying, please help them. Iya Olabode called a doctor who was about taking me to the hospital when we were arrested by the police.”
Sources say most of the bodies found floating in the creeks showed little signs of burns.
Spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, said evacuation of the bodies would begin late yesterday evening.
Our assessment show that more bodies will still be inside the swamp. This is why we cannot give a specific number of casualties at the moment.
“Two of the bodies found seemed to have floated up from the water. It is likely that more bodies may float later. But we will start the recovery of the bodies found as soon as Red Cross officials and medical team of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation arrive.”
He assured that if there are more bodies in the swamp there are techniques which can be utilized to make the bodies float to aid quick recovery.
Obinna Otuu, the deputy manager, NNPC, in charge of pipeline rights of way explained at the scene that the repair of the damage on the pipeline would take less than a day.
He said, “Fuel supply through the damaged point has been shut off since Saturday, but the repairs will be concluded before tomorrow (Monday). So, there won’t be any fuel scarcity.”
Meanwhile, the Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun has described the incident as a “failure of governance.”
Amosun who was advised by his aides not to visit the site for security reasons insisted on making an on-the-spot assessment of the damage done.
He reportedly said, “his (explosion) is clearly due to failure of governance. NNPC by its inaction is aiding and abetting this and I want to believe it is part of pipeline vandalism.
“How can this local canoe, for example, be used by NNPC to protect a billion-dollar investment? Even if the place is combustive, can’t solar-powered boats be used?
“If NNPC supports us, we will get the whole place cleared and if we’re given between five and 10 swamp boogies, we’ll clear this place, erect platforms and install electronic devices. We will put up the CCTV and also have a control room that will monitor the place.
“How can vandals hold us to ransom? Just look at dead bodies littering everywhere. It took us 45 minutes to access the place. I even understand that it is the same spot where the three NNPC officials were killed last year,” he said.
Arepo was the location were three NNPC officials were killed last year and the deceased suspected vandal, Reuben Sunday was suspected to be connected to the killing. His father, Hakeem, is currently standing trial for the same offence at a Federal High Court.