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Senate investigates Abia pipeline explosion

The Senate has mandated its committees on Petroleum Downstream and Police Affairs to probe alleged role of security operatives in the pipeline explosion in Abia State, where 150 villagers were allegedly killed.

This followed a motion by Sen. Theodore Orji (PDP-Abia) at plenary on Wednesday.

Orji lamented that the carnage and avoidable loss of human lives in Osisioma Local Government of the state was worrisome.

He further expressed concern over alleged inaction of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the incident.

Orji alleged that the corporation did not wade into the pipe leak that led to explosion and death of many people early enough to avoid the disaster.

He also alleged that the Police resorted to collecting money from villagers to scoop petrol in containers.

“On Friday, the day of the incident, security operatives, particularly policemen allegedly made brisk business at the place of a pipe leak as they allegedly demanded money to allow the villagers scoop petroleum product.

“There was pipeline leakage in the local government which is part of my constituency and people were killed while properties and farm products worth millions of Naira were destroyed as a result.

“The number of dead people has continued to increase daily and as at the time of writing this motion, 150 people have been confirmed dead.

“The explosion and eventual fire outbreak was not as a result of pipeline breakage or vandalism, but due to dereliction of duty by NNPC staff and compromise by the Nigerian Police.

“There are two oil pipelines across the villages affected. One is an old and abandoned pipeline,” he said.

Orji called on the senate to wade into the matter.

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Contributing, lawmakers lamented the death and the inaction of relevant authorities and urged the senate to grant Orji’s prayer.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki mandated the Committees on Petroleum Downstream and that of Police Affairs to look into the matter as part of measures to forestall a recurrence.

Saraki thereafter put the prayer to a voice vote and it unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.

He asked the committees to report their findings to senate within two weeks. (NAN)