The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Africa Eye inquiry into the Abule Ado explosion is revealing and has reinforced the conviction of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) account of the cause of the March 15, 2020 blast was inaccurate.
In a statement issued by CAPPA in Lagos, it said that with the spate of pipeline breaches and gas explosions across the country, including the most recent incident on Thursday, September 24 in Iju-Ishaga, there was also need for the introduction of adequate and stringent regulations on how and where Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and petroleum products are stored and conveyed throughout the country.
CAPPA noted that the vibration of the blast in Abule Ado shook many parts of Lagos including Iba, Okokomaiko, Badagry, Agege, Egbeda and Surulere when it occurred. Among the casualties were Reverend Sister Henrietta Alokha the Principal of Bethlehem High School, Abule Ado and a newly wedded couple and their unborn baby. A family of four on their way to church also died. In all, there were 23 fatalities from the incident.
According Mr Philip Jakpor, the Director of Programmes CAPPA, the NNPC claimed that the explosion was caused by a truck that hit an assemblage of gas cylinders near one of its petroleum pipelines. But the BBC Africa Eye Investigation that relied on forensic investigations and analysis by specialists contradicted this claim, insisting that the gas cylinders found at the site of the explosion had nothing to do with the incident.
Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, CAPPA Executive Director said: “The BBC report clearly aligns with our view that there was something suspiciously different about the Abule Ado explosion. The investigation also exposed the fact that the myriad of government agencies and security outfits that descended on the epicentre of the blast to investigate what happened only fed Nigerians lies”
While extolling the BBC for the strenuous efforts its team of journalists put into digging out the facts of the incident, he lamented that the findings have further exposed the culpability of NNPC in the myriad of pipeline explosions across the country,
Mr Oluwafemi also said, “ BBC Africa Eye has exposed a case of criminal negligence against NNPC officials who allowed a truck to be on the pipeline possibly for several days. What happened to those billions NNPC budget for pipeline surveillance every year?
“Nigerians are entitled to the truth, they deserve to know and see justice done in cases like this. That was why we called for the forensic investigation of the blast when it happened. The BBC has graciously conducted that investigation the government refused to do. Nigerians are, however, waiting for the government to act on these startling revelations.
“Those who caused such manner of deaths and destruction as a result of their negligence must be prosecuted. Nigerians must know the owner of the truck that caused the incident and what the truck was doing atop a gas-conveying pipeline owned by the NNPC.”
While commending the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration for setting up a NGN2 billion relief fund for victims of the blast, the CAPPA boss urged the state government to operate the scheme more transparently so that Nigerians can easily verify those contributing to the fund, and the beneficiaries.
Reinforcing the need to hold the NNPC accountable for the Abule Ado incident, he insisted that, “Too many lives have been lost due to the carelessness of the corporation in communities where oil and gas pipelines traverse.
“The Abule Ado incident is one incident too many. Now is the time to hold the NNPC accountable. Lying to cover up its criminal negligence is totally unacceptable”, Oluwafemi insisted.