The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Monday responded to the claims of Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State that the corporation has consistently displayed absolute negligence to the security of its System 2B pipeline network located in Arepo in Ogun State.
NNPC in a statement from its General Manager Governmental Relations, Tumini Green in Abuja disclosed that the government of Ogun State was yet to respond to its proposal to collectively proffer security measures to the distressed pipeline location, adding that the government has no justification to point accusing fingers at it.
In its reaction and confirmation of renewed attack on the System 2B Pipeline at Arepo barely a month after it was fixed following a fire caused by products thieves who had ruptured the pipeline in August 2012, the corporation stated that product thieves had hacked at the pipeline again on Sunday causing fire that reportedly killed three persons.
Green said in the statement: "The corporation is appalled by the repeated attacks on the pipeline at the same spot in Arepo in Ogun State. A similar attack on the pipeline in August last year and the difficulties the corporation had in effecting repairs as a result of security issues caused a lot of hardship in product distribution which was responsible for the emergence of long queues at fuel stations across the country in the last quarter of 2012."
Speaking further, Green noted that the corporation was shocked by the statement credited to the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun who alleged that the incident was as a result of negligence on the part of NNPC.
"It is sad that the Governor of Ogun State who should know the importance of national assets like pipelines and do everything in his power to protect them is engaging in a blame game when every responsible Nigerian citizen is wondering why Arepo which is in his domain has become such an attractive spot for oil thieves and pipeline vandals," she said.
The NNPC thus, urged Amosun to emulate the Abia State government which has mobilised security measures to protect pipeline and petroleum products facilities within the domain of the state and also sustain product supply to the state rather than engage in unnecessary rhetoric.
On Sunday Amosun, while on an on-the-spot assessment tour of the fire scene, lamented that the swampy nature of the terrain made it difficult to organise effective rescue operations.
Green, however, said the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) has mobilised its men to site and effected repairs at the ruptured point of the pipeline after putting out the fire and would have commenced pumping of products but had to stop to effect another repair on the same line at Ijeododo in Lagos again.
Too frequently in recent times, there have been cases of pipeline vandalisation which had led to the death of thousands of Nigerians.
In order to forestall a recurrence, the National Assembly has been tasked to introduce necessary legislations to compel state governments to protect petroleum pipelines as national assets. HURIWA said attacks on petrol pipelines are grave threats to the national security and must be viewed as such.
In a media statement in reaction to the deadly NNPC pipelines explosion at Arepo Village in the Obafemi - Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State which reportedly claimed 25 lives, Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said strong national legislations and legal frameworks must be introduced and enforced to bring into being effective and efficient joint federal and state government NNPC's pipelines protection and monitoring teams to prevent the incessant attack on the nation's petrol pipeline by hoodlums.
HURIWA advised state governments to see it as part of their constitutional duties to put proactive measures to prevent incessant cases of petroleum pipelines' vandalisation perpetrated by hoodlums in their areas of jurisdiction. The Rights group also tasked the NNPC to install state of the art security infrastructure to secure the petrol pipelines which are a national assets.
National Coordinator of the group, Mr Emmanuel Onwubiko and National media officer Miss. Zainab Yusuf of the group challenged President Good luck Jonathan and the 36 State governors to save Nigeria the international embarrassment of being one of the nations in the world where pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft take place and cause economic adversity to its people.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has called on the Federal Government to establish a Pipeline Protection Agency that would be saddled with the responsibility of manning, protecting and providing security for oil pipelines spanning through the nooks and crannies of the country.
The union, in a statement issued by its Acting Secretary, Mr. Isaac Aberare, urged government to equip the agency with helicopter gun-ships, gun-boats as well as trained men and women to police the pipelines in the country.
It stated that the present arrangement of using the Nigeria civil defence corps has not yielded any positive result, noting that the country has continued to lose billions of crude and refined products to vandals.
The union which condemned the recent vandalisation of an oil pipeline in Arepo, Ogun State, insisted that the arrested vandals should be treated as economic saboteurs and made to face the wrath of the law.
The union called for a 24 hour surveillance of the Arepo area, stressing that the swampy area should be cleared to ensure visibility rather than the present bushy environment, where the pipelines traverse.