By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed regret over the unnecessary loss of lives and property as a result of the pipeline explosion in the Osisioma Ngwa community of Abia State on Friday.
The president’s condolence message was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Saturday.
President Buhari sympathised with those who lost their loved ones in the unfortunate incident.
He urged communities and state governments hosting oil pipelines to be more vigilant and rise to combat the challenge posed by pipeline vandalism.
He also appealed to host communities to collaborate with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to tame oil pipeline vandalism in their areas.
The president noted that the “Enugu depot of the NNPC has been repaired and ready to function, but remains idle today because of the vandals.’’
Preliminary reports by the NNPC had indicated that the incident was not an accidental explosion, but a result of vandals who pilloried the pipelines to scoop the products.
The reports further shows that “despite repeated warnings, these unscrupulous people have vandalised that particular pipeline 684 times in the last six months alone.
“Each time the pipeline is repaired, they resume their activities, even collaborating with security agents, who are reported to have set up toll gates collecting fees from the vandals.
“A fight broke out as a heist was going on and there was shooting, which is believed to have ignited Friday morning’s explosion, during which three security personnel also lost their lives.’’ (NAN)