Lagos pipeline disaster worsens fuel supply, as PPMC orders shutdown


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• Bodies yet to be evacuated, says NEMA
• Fresh explosion in Ogun, one dead, others injured
• Civil Defence arraigns suspected vandals in court

THE relative stability enjoyed from the recent fuel supply crises across the country may have been worsened by the Arepo pipeline explosion on the system 2B that allegedly claimed over 100 lives on Tuesday.

Due to the crisis, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) took up the challenge to cover up the importation gap created by the aggrieved marketers.

The recent development will be shutting-in substantial quantity of NNPC’s acclaimed 1.2 billion litters of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) reserve, which is expected to be circulated to its various depots across the country to ease supply challenges.

The Guardian gathered yesterday that the corporation has immediately shut the major pipeline, which supplies imported products from the Atlas Cove in Lagos to Mosinmi in Ogun State.

In a related incident, one person was feared died while two others sustained serious injuries in an explosion that occurred yesterday at the Ogun State owned petroleum dumpsite in Abeokuta, the state capital.

The site, which is still under construction is located within the Ogun State Road Maintenance Agency (OGROMA) compound, opposite Agbeloba building, headquarters of Obasanjo Holdings Limited along Quarry road.

The Manager, Corporate Affairs, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Nasir Imodagbe, told The Guardian that they were still trying to access the spot, while the fire has gone down drastically.

“We are trying to gain access to the area and the fire is going down. We will assess the level of damages and effect repairs and then subsequently re-commission the pipeline,” he said.

The spot of the explosion is about two kilometres away, making it very difficult to access and effect the necessary repairs.

However, the number of casualties for the disaster remained another concern, as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed that they are yet to evacuate the dead bodies, therefore leaving the number of casualties unknown.

The spokesman of NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, told The Guardian on phone that the fire has gone off, adding that the pipeline has been shut down to supply.

He said: “The fire went off yesterday evening, because of measures we took by shutting down supply on the line and suffocating the supply of fuel to the fire. We are still trying to gain access to the place now because of the swampy nature of the location.

“You know the pipe is under water and NNPC officials are now trying to gain access. There is no emergency nature again, so we have withdrawn from the area since the fire has gone off,” he added.

On evacuating the dead bodies, Farinloye said: “That is the main issue now, nobody has accessed the scene. So nobody can give any figure. How can I give figures of what I did not see? because the distance to the place is over two kilometres. So, I don’t know where they got the figures flying around. Besides, the place is a swampy area, how would they know?”

The PPMC had recently said it lost crude oil valued at over N376 billion to constant theft from vandalised pipelines within the last five years.

The Managing Director of PPMC, Prince Haruna Momoh, said that from about 497 break points recorded on the various sections of its pipeline in 2009, the company had within the period witnessed a steady rise in the number of breaks on its pipeline.

According to an eye witness working at the construction site in Ogun, the explosion occurred while the victims were working on the three underground tankers that were relocated from the government fuel dump site at the old secretariat, Oke-Ilewo, the city centre.

The source believed that the massive explosion could have been caused by the “poor management of welding works on the underground tanks by the contractor.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) yesterday arraigned four men before a Federal High Court, Lagos over alleged dealing and distribution of petroleum products without lawful authority.

The accused are Owobobola Damilola, Roju Gbokan, Akinyemi Micheal and Ogbolo Godwin. They are standing trial on a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful dealing in petroleum products.

The prosecutor, Mrs. Alimat Owomunigbo told the court that the accused committed the alleged offence on May 8, at 1. 00pm, at Majidun, Ikorodu area of Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the court.

She said that the accused were arrested by NSCDC while dealing and distributing petroleum products without any lawful authority.

She said that the offences contravened Sections 1 (17) of the Miscellenous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation 2004.

The accused pleaded not guilty.

The prosecutor urged the court to remand the accused to prison custody pending trial.

However, Counsel to the Accused, Mr. Ebunola Ogungbamila, urged the court to admit the accused to bail on liberal terms.
He supported his bail application with a 14-paragraph-affidavit and a written address.

The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris granted bail to the accused in the sum of N500,000 each with one surety each in like sum and adjourned the case to September 24 for trial.

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