Amnesty International on Friday asked the Nigerian Government to urgently investigate the recent catastrophic pipeline explosion in Komkom community in Oyigbo, River state and take urgent step to stop further tragedies.
The International Human Rights Watch in a press statement signed by its Programmes Manager Seun Bakare said at least 48 men and women were reported to have died on 22 June 2019 while people were scooping petroleum product from a ruptured oil pipeline, following a pipeline explosion in their community.
It added that the government blamed the leakage of the pipeline which is managed by the government-owned Pipeline and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) on sabotage and vandalism.
“This tragedy could have been avoided. The long history of deaths as a result of pipeline explosions across Nigeria is an indication that authorities are not doing enough to address these perennial oil leak and pipeline explosions
“Amnesty International investigation indicates the reasonable suspicion that policemen attached to the nearby Afam police station of the Rivers state police command were largely responsible for the explosion.
“Eye witnesses and government sources told Amnesty International that policemen from Afam police station were seen near the scene of the explosion shortly before the pipeline exploded. They alleged that a patrol team from Afam police division fired gunshots into the pipeline because of failed demands for bribes from people stealing petroleum products from the leaking pipeline. The fire started shortly after the policemen shot in the air” Seun Bakare said
“The incident must be investigated and those responsible for the deadly incident brought to book. The government must compensate the victims and ensure that incidents of pipeline leakage and explosion are urgently addressed,” said Mr Bakare.
The International organization further stated that two weeks after the incident, a police spokesman contacted by Amnesty International said they are still investigating. “Pipeline explosion and fuel leakages have become frequent causes of death in Nigeria. While many of the fatalities occur because of people recklessly scooping for fuel, it is the responsibility of authorities to put in place security and safety measures to avert such tragedies,” said Seun Bakare.