Pipeline vandalism: Police recover decomposed bodies of 3 NNPC staff

by Stanley Azuakola

On September 8, 2012, three staff of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), were killed by pipeline vandals at Arepo, Ogun State, after they’d gone to put out a raging fire from a burst NNPC pipeline. Yesterday, their bodies were recovered by the Inspector-General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline vandalism.

The dead bodies were recovered in two shallow graves where the killers buried them. The police say one of the recovered bodies which were in their decomposing states  was identified as that of the Deputy Manager in-charge of Pipelines Right of Way, PROW.

On the day of their death, the slain staff had reportedly succeeded in putting out the three-day old raging fire  and were about to effect repairs on the damaged pipeline when the vandals reportedly came and opened fire on them, killing three of them at the spot while others managed to escape with bullet wounds. In addition, the vandals went away with the corpses of their victims.

The police manhunt for the killers led to the arrest of six suspects. During interrogation by the Task Force, one of the arrested suspects, Imerepamu Joel told the operatives that he knew where  bodies of the dead staff were buried.

Head of the Task Force, Mr Friday Ibadin, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, disclosed that it took the policemen six hours to sail to the spot. The search for the bodies involved forty heavily armed policemen on speed boats and a patrol helicopter.

According to Ibadin: “We found in a decomposing state, bullet-ridden bodies of the three victims. We learnt that the body of the local security guard employed by NNPC, Taye aka Dead Man, was cut into pieces and disposed off.

“Shortly after the incident, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, reconstituted
the dissolved Anti vandal team. It became important to get to the root of the incident that led to the death of these  officials. And in the cause of investigation, about six suspects were arrested. We gathered from the confession of one of the suspects, Imerepamu Ijebu Joel, that he knew
where the NNPC staffers were buried.

“Initially, he took our team to a spot and after several hours, the bodies were not found. At night, the Ijaw boys attempted to dig one spot but were stopped by the police who were on guard. And two days later he opened up and agreed to take us to the real spot.

“It took six hours of sailing to get to the spot. We had 40 heavily armed men, and we took along a
pathologist, a coroner, and the medical team from NNPC that eventually identified the bodies. They took us to a place where they claimed they bury non natives. With the assistance of one John Bosco, Peter Opidi, and the suspect, Imerepamu Ijebu Joel, we were shown two shallow graves. It was there that we discovered the bodies and they have been deposited at a mortuary.”

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