Nigeria arrests 4 masterminds of pipeline explosions

2013-01-25 14:40:55 GMT2013-01-25 22:40:55(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LAGOS, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The police in Nigeria's Lagos State on Friday said it arrested four masterminds of the recent pipeline explosions that plagued Arepo Community located in the southwestern state of Ogun during a raid.

According to Friday Ibadin, Lagos State Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of special task force on anti-pipeline vandalism, the suspects were arrested near a housing estate at Arepo Community, in connection with Wednesday's vandalization of a major pipeline owned by the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The suspected vandals were arrested while returning from the creek after perpetrating a vicious damage on the pipeline, he said.

"Investigation has so far shown that the suspects, and others now at large, wanted to waste the effort of the NNPC and frustrate the effort of police in protecting that pipeline," Ibadin told reporters in Lagos on Friday, adding one of the suspects confessed that they simply carried out instructions given to them by one of their gang leaders.

The top cop said the suspect squealed in his confessional statement that the gang learnt the state-run oil firm was mounting a platform close to the creeks and that would be bad business for them. "It was agreed that they should try and stop them (NNPC), pending when the gang would have enough supply that they can manage before another spot is discovered," Ibadin narrated.

He said investigation further revealed that the vandals, on Wednesday, sneaked in through a river and fetched few gallons of petrol and while they were leaving, one of the suspects lit a cigarette and threw it at the ruptured part which caused an explosion. "The fire was successfully extinguished and NNPC would soon commence flow of premium motor spirit (PMS) through the line, " Ibadin added.

The explosion at the Arepo community on Wednesday was the second that occurred in two weeks in the area. On Jan. 13, an explosion, caused by suspected vandals, killed more than 30 persons, who had ferried across to the creeks to scoop fuel from a ruptured System 2B pipeline of the NNPC.

On Aug. 31, 2012, a massive explosion which damaged the same pipeline had also occurred in the area, killing and injuring an undisclosed number of people.

Stealing fuel from oil pipeline is very common in Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer. But mismanagement and corruption has hit the refining sector, causing chronic fuel shortages.

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