No fewer than two policemen were feared dead in an explosion that rocked the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline in Arepo village in Ogun State Sunday.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the explosion followed a shootout between pipeline vandals and the security personnel deployed to protect pipelines at the Arepo area.
The policemen were said to have engaged the vandals, now at large, in a gun duel that saw them retreat into the swamp. The Guardian learnt that the explosion occurred during the shootout as bullets penetrated the steel frame casing the products.
Confirming the incident, the NEMA South-West Zonal Spokesperson, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said the pipeline probably exploded as a result of heavy fire, adding: “Though we are yet to ascertain what transpired that set off the pipelines, we figure the explosion must have been set off by fireballs during the exchange of gunfire.
“The police were alerted late Saturday night that vandals had again struck at Arepo. The team set off to investigate but the vandals tried to pursue them with their gun power, but the police repelled them.
“However, due to the ruggedness of the terrain, we have not been able to carry out rescue operations there, so at the moment, we can’t ascertain the casualty number.”
According to Farinloye, four policemen were rescued alive, and though the terrain is hampering rescue operations, the emergency team on the ground was mapping out measures to conquer it.