Mr Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says the corporation is working with security agencies to reduce incidents of pipeline vandalism in the country to the barest minimum, describing the problem as a major national security concern.
Kyari spoke on Monday during an inspection visit to the scene of the Jan. 19 NNPC pipeline explosion at Ile Epo, Abule Egba axis of Lagos State.
He said that the NNPC was working with security agencies including the Nigerian Navy, Civil Defence Corps and Police in tackling the problem, but also sought support of communities to achieve greater success.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that five persons lost their lives while several vehicles and houses were destroyed after some suspected pipeline vandals disrupted the Atlas Cove-Mosimi Pipeline, part of the System 2B Pipeline.
Kyari said: “Unfortunately this incident has happened and we lost five lives confirmed and there are many people who were injured, and that is very pathetic for us.
“More importantly, what is happening around the System 2 B Pipeline from Atlas Cove to Mosimi all the way to Ilorin are acts of vandals of all nature along our right of way.
“What they do is that they make insertions into our pipelines, tap petroleum products and at the end it will be disasters we have seen like this. This is happening daily.
“What this portends is danger to all of us. If this incident had happened under a windy condition yesterday, then we would have been talking of thousands of people dying.”
He said that beyond working with security agencies to curb such incidents, cooperation of all Nigerians, especially those residing close to the pipelines, was required to achieve desired results.
“These activities are happening within communities. People are aware of what is happening, and if we allow them to continue doing what they are doing, they will kill all of us and everybody along this corridor will be affected.
“Therefore, we do need the help and cooperation of all members of the community to expose these people when they come.
“It is not secret because as you can see, the point this fire started is in the visibility of everybody around here. That means that we saw it and did not do anything, and this is the result we are seeing.
“We are counting on Nigerians to help us resolve this because it is a major national security concern,” he said.
Kyari said that the affected line which was shut down as a result of the inferno had been restored.
“We are happy that we have restored the line. After the break, we shut down the line to contain the damage it can cause but now we are back on stream.
“Petroleum products are flowing all the way from Atlas Cove to Ilorin as we speak now,” he said.
The NNPC boss, who also visited the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, solicited the support of the traditional and community leaders in tackling the menace.
Also speaking, Rear Adm. Oladele Daji, Staff Officer, Western Naval Command, said the security agencies were cooperating toward restoring sanity to the pipelines and apprehending the vandals.
He said the Nigerian Navy had so far taken out over 300 houses on the right of way across the state with the support of the Lagos State Government, and the exercise was still ongoing.
On his part, Akiolu assured the NNPC boss that the traditional rulers would intensify efforts to protect pipelines and other infrastructure within their respective domains.
He said that the upsurge in pipeline vandalism was due to the greed of some individuals desperate to make money without considering the implications of their actions.