Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Fresh facts have come to light in the Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL) fire incident, indicating that two suspected illegal oil bunkerers were killed and five seriously injured in a disaster that has forced Aiteo to declare Force Majeure.
Aiteo spokesman Ndiana Matthew, who had confirmed the fire within its Right Of Way (ROW), which occurred on Easter Sunday, disclosed in a statement on Tuesday that the fire has been put out completely.
Investigations by Daily Sun reveal that the suspected bunkerers were involved in the sabotage of the pipeline to steal crude oil when the fire incident occurred.
Findings indicate that operatives of a surveillance team, LABRADOR Security, an outfit in charge of the area, discovered the sabotage and immediately alerted operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF), which in turn informed Aiteo, prompting it to shut down the trunkline.
According to a reliable security source, the LABRADOR operatives heard suspicious noises and were investigating when they heard a loud bang, and on getting to the scene saw two dead bodies while those not affected had evacuated the injured from the scene.
The suspected bunkerers had reportedly punctured the pipeline with an equipment, causing a spark which resulted in an explosion that killed two people on the spot, leaving five others sustaining serious burns.
“There was a loud noise and when the security outfit guys got to the scene they saw two dead bodies and they were told by people that five people with severe burns were seen being evacuated at the waterside,” the source said.
“The two dead bodies are still at the spot as security agents are waiting for those that would come and claim the bodies. The surveillance team is assisting the JTF to trace the culprits.”
Matthew, in the statement on Tuesday, said security agents working with the surveillance team are on top of the situation.
“The Joint Task Force on security has confirmed that the sabotage of the pipeline at Awoba was responsible. It has identified some culprits and is set to act as necessary,” he said.
An official of the JTF, who pleaded anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak on the incident without clearance from Defence Headquarters, said JTF operatives, assisted by the surveillance team, are combing hospitals and traditional healing homes for the suspects with severe burns.
The NCTL, before this latest incident, had enjoyed smooth operations due to the diligence of the surveillance team and security operatives, which immediately fuelled suspicions that the fire may have occurred through an illegitimate third party breach of the pipeline.