A senator, Theodore Orji (Abia Central), has blamed Friday’s pipeline explosion in Abia State on alleged negligence by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigeria Police.
The incident occurred on Friday in Umuaduru and Umuimo villages in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area of the state. At least 24 persons were confirmed dead from with the senator saying about 150 died.
The Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Chikwendu Kalu, has said the state government would probe the explosion.
He said the state government would institute an investigative panel to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the explosion.
Even though the NNPC said the explosion was caused by oil thieves, Mr Orji said otherwise. He also said the number of deaths recorded had reached 150.
“It was a fire outbreak not because of vandalisation but dereliction of duty by NNPC and police. They knew that it was leaking and they even charge villagers N1200 to scoop fuel from the leaking place.
“So it was a phone that rang that day that caused the fire outbreak. Chairman of the local government had called the depot manager but he didn’t come,” he said.
The Senate mandated the committees of Petroleum Resources (downstream) and Police Affairs to investigate the incident and report back in two weeks.
It also urged the NNPC to immediately repair any damage that was caused by the explosion and mandated the National Emergency Management Agency to send relief materials to survivors.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, thereafter, suggested that a delegate be sent to the community to sympathise with the victims – a suggestion which was adopted.