|Workers of National Emergency Management Agency during an operation to extinguish a fire caused by pipeline vandalism in Arepo, Ogun State. Inset: Some of the kegs recovered from vandals … on Friday.|
Scores of pipeline vandals and others scooping petroleum products from the vandalised pipeline were burnt to death in Arepo, a village off the Lagos Ibadan expressway, when the highly inflamable product caught fire.
Meanwhile, some armed oil pipeline vandals believed to be part of the gangs that have been attacking oil pipeline in the area are hampering recure work at the scene of the fire as they chased emergency workers and security officials away on Friday.
Men of the National Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Fire Service and National Security and Civil Defence Corps had to scamper to safety when they encounter the hoodlums.
The armed men were believed to have vandalised the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s pipeline that ignited the inferno at Arepo.
The security men and rescue workers were at the scene to remove the corpses of the suspected vandals, who had been killed in the inferno earlier on Thursday.
NEMA officials and civil defence personnel, who had gone to the village to monitor the rescue operations, as well as journalists trying to access the village in canoes, were waylaid by hoodlums, who hid themselves in the bush.
NEMA Information Officer, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, told journalists that the agency and others were at the scene to recover dead bodies littering scene of the fire incident.
He said, “Our intention was to evacuate bodies and to help the fire fighters to extinguish the fire that has been burning since yesterday (Thursday).
“But as you can see, the vandals have refused to allow us to perform our work. We are even lucky to still be alive but we have contacted the military and they are on their way.
“We don’t want the bodies to decompose and begin to pollute the environment. The remains will spill into the surrounding stream and people drinking the water or using it for domestic purposes will definitely be at risk.”
Farinloye, however, gave the assurance that the rescue work would soon commence as the Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sidi, had requested the deployment of military personnel to flush out the hoodlums.
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