Explosion rocks NNPC pipeline as vandals destroy facility
Court empowers police to prosecute oil thieves
An explosion yesterday rocked the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline at Ije Ododo area of Lagos, after suspected vandals punctured the facility.
This is coming on the heels of a Court of Appeal, Abuja Division ruling yesterday empowering the police to prosecute pipeline vandals, regardless of which security agency arrested them.
The ruling is coming barely two weeks after suspected vandals ambushed and killed five policemen deployed to secure the area. In February, a similar incident occurred in the same area when some vandals damaged another pipeline at Ije Ododo at two different spots leading to massive fuel spillage.
The vandalism was said to have caused the explosion, which saw billows of flames engulfing the length and breadth of the pipeline, just as emergency services arrived the scene.
The Guardian gathered that the explosion occurred because the vandals had first tampered with the pipeline before inserting valves, with which they siphoned fuel from the ruptured pipes into kegs.
Confirming the incident, the South-west National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, however, said the terrain initially impeded emergency workers.
He said while they were trying to access the scene of the explosion, NNPC engineers had already mobilized by stopping supplies from flowing after they locked up the valves.
“Vandals struck again on the NNPC pipeline at Ije Ododo line and as at now, NNPC has shut down flows and locked the supply valves to stop further supply feeding the fire.
“Action has commenced to put out the fire this morning after securing access to the difficult terrain, which had proven extremely difficult due to swampy nature of the area, ” he added To assist the appropriate agencies in doing their work of protecting the pipelines, Farinloye appealed to Nigerians to help the government in safeguarding the nation’s infrastructure.
According to the judgment delivered yesterday, the Appeal court held that the Police could prosecute all offences, including those under the National Security and Civil Defence Corps Act, 2007. The Force Public Relations Officer, CP Emmanuel Ojukwu, in a statement said the ruling was delivered sequel to an appeal in Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) Vs Daniel Abuh.
He said the ruling is sequel to “where the Federal High Court held that the Nigeria Police Force lacks the vires to prosecute cases of pipelines vandalism brought under the miscellaneous offences Act, 2004.
“Dissatisfied with the ruling, the police appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which in allowing the appeal held that, pursuant to Section 214, 211, 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 23 of the Police Act, a Police officer can prosecute any case whether or not it is laid in his name.”