President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday 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 Friday morning.
He therefore sympathised with those who lost loved ones in the incident.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President said preliminary reports by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation showed that the incident was not an accidental explosion, but a result of vandals who pilloried the pipelines to scoop the products.
The statement read, “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 the Friday morning’s explosion, during which three security personnel also lost their lives.”
Buhari urges communities and state governments that host oil pipelines to be more vigilant and rise to combat the challenge posed by pipeline vandalism.
He said the Enugu depot of the NNPC had been repaired and ready to function, but currently remained idle because of the vandals.
The President also appeals to host communities to collaborate with the NNPC to tame oil pipeline vandalism in their areas.